Turn Your Website into Your No. 1 Leasing Tool
While it’s a common belief in the multifamily industry that property websites don’t directly drive leads, many property management companies have transformed their websites into their No. 1 leasing tool by adding AI technology and marketing automation to the online mix.
“We consider the property website as a primary leasing tool,” says Jenny Richard, Director of Marketing at Gene B. Glick Company, which manages multifamily rental communities in 13 states.
“We know prospective renters are completing their apartment research online and making decisions about where they want to live well in advance of speaking to anyone on the leasing team,” Richard says. “That means we must provide the best online experience and ensure we are offering the most up-to-date information regarding pricing and availability, as well as what’s in and around our community.”
AI and marketing automation allows your website to guide the prospect automatically through the leasing process, collecting their data as they interact with engaging online tools, quizzes and calculators to help them figure out the best rental community for them. That puts properties that utilize AI light years ahead of their competitors who present cumbersome, boring websites that look more like a static brochure and oddly similar to one another.
Nolan Real Estate implemented AI technology on several of its multifamily property websites because the company considers the website its No. 1 leasing tool. “No question about it,” says Caleb Bartlett, Nolan’s Digital Sales & Media Manager. “We have structured our entire digital strategy for our leads to touch our website as the first point of contact. In short, it is becoming 100% prospect engagement.”
Easy to implement on an existing website, AI-driven technology can also be used to power an integrated digital marketing cloud to better leverage the website data and convert more online leads by helping the prospect along and providing leasing offices with in-depth insights into each person’s leasing journey.
Through the cloud, companies can tap into the centralized consumer data to automatically nurture online leads in email and text campaigns, personalized with content and incentives related to their current search.
The content drives the consumer back to the website to schedule a tour or engage with more of the interactive website research tools, such as a quiz to match them with nearby activities they indicate as important, a pre-qualify loan assessment to give them a head start on the leasing process, or a calendar where they can instantly schedule a tour of the property.
A marketing cloud gives companies a way to track a prospect throughout the entire renter journey, taking into account all of the various digital and offline touchpoints to deliver detailed consumer information to leasing consultants. That information allows them to make an immediate connection to a prospect when meeting in person for a tour or following up with an email, call or text.
“Finding the connectivity between what they want in a home and the desired lifestyle they are looking for is essential to making a connection and converting to an appointment,” Richard says. “Our website is key in capturing this experience, and providing those experiences in a way that lets our leasing team members receive information about what’s important to each prospective renter, which allows them to build relationships.”
Companies also gain insight into the exact ROI of each digital channel, broken down into cost per lease and per lead. With AI-driven technology on a website, those numbers show a significant improvement over traditional lead generation solutions commonly used in the multifamily industry.
The business data can be analyzed in conjunction with big sets of data stored in the cloud that come from similar stores. Using machine learning, cloud software can use those millions of data points to compute a property’s “ideal prospect” and configure details on the type of person most likely to rent at that property based on the processed data as well as the best ways to target those particular prospects.
Since The Worthing Companies added interactive AI software to a dozen of its property websites, the average time a visitor spends researching on those websites has jumped from 2-3 minutes up to 7-8 minutes. “It’s crazy the traffic that we’re getting off this, and it’s driving people to stay on the website longer,” says Trent Jones, Regional Marketing & Training Director at The Worthing Companies.
Jones says the engaging website leads them through the process, making it such an enjoyable and helpful experience that prospects don’t feel the need to branch out and look elsewhere for a place to live.
“We’re getting tons of leasing off of it,” Jones says. “By the time they talk to a leasing agent, the website has answered all of their questions. When they get here, it’s usually just a tour and then a done deal. Some of them even lease online without coming to tour.”