The what and the why
Personalization is the act of tailoring an experience or communication based on information a company has learned about an individual. Just like you may tailor a gift for a friend, companies can tailor digital experiences or communications based on information they learn about their prospects.
In multifamily, the COVID-19 pandemic brought a lot of change for PMCs. The need for isolation meant that relationship building, which was typically happening in person, needed to happen online. At the same time, consumers became more digital; embracing technology in new ways to research and purchase everything from groceries to cars. With everybody spending all of their time at home, many people decided to relocate to a more suitable place for their new situation, whether it was out of the city or a different floorplan to accommodate their new needs. This led to a surge in leasing activity unlike anything multifamily has seen before.
As the volume of renters in the market rose, supply and demand changes forced those renters to begin exploring their options earlier. In fact, a recent PERQ study indicated that nearly half of renters begin looking online 3 or more months in advance, a shift over prior years’ results. This is a clear indicator that prospective renters’ shopping behavior has changed.
With renters not ready for a tour or lease, they crave information to learn on their own and explore the options before they decide to tour or speak with a person. And they are used to the kind of digital engagement they get from other consumer brands. In short, they want and expect engaging and interesting content that is relevant to them.
According to a recent survey by McKinsey, personalization matters more than ever, with COVID-19 and the surge in digital behaviors raising the bar. Three-quarters of consumers switched to a new store, product, or buying method during the pandemic. So this shift in buying behavior is pervasive.
The call for personalization
Since today’s apartment shopper is looking months in advance and doing considerable research on their own before they are ready to tour, multifamily PMCs need to be able to engage with them in this new way. What do they want? They want to research multiple properties, understand the amenities of different neighborhoods, compare floorplans and rental rates to develop a short list. They want the properties to be in touch, but not TOO in touch. And they don’t want to be spammed. They want to talk to a person when they’re ready.
This puts a lot of pressure on the PMCs to change the way they’ve been engaging with their prospective renters. PMCs have begun to adopt chatbots and leasing assistants that can be there to answer FAQs 24/7 for these digitally savvy prospects. Doing this has helped lean multifamily teams that are just not equipped with the staff to engage with these shoppers in this way.
But today’s consumer is savvy and their standards are high for the websites where they gather information. Studies show that websites that include interactive experiences and offer some level of personalization outperform static websites. Thankfully, these interactive experiences allow for the gathering of the data that is needed to drive personalization.
With renters looking at websites well in advance of their intended move, it’s natural for a property to want to remain top of mind. Historically, that was the role of the onsite team, who would send follow up emails and outreach via phone to touch base. Some AI Leasing Assistants replace this follow up, sending automated touches in an attempt to get a tour scheduled. But consumers expect personalized outreach. In fact, the McKinsey study also found that 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions. And 76% get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.
Personalization is all about helping your customers discover what they love and engaging with them in ways they would respond to. When you successfully provide your customers with meaningful personalized efforts, your customers are more likely to return to your website and engage with your brand. The below chart from the McKinsey report shows the kinds of personalization consumers enjoy.
How PERQ can help
PERQ takes the call for personalization seriously, employing it as a tool to bring automation to the next level. PERQ installs on an existing property website and serves interactive experiences and widgets along with the website chatbot. As PERQ converses with prospects and they explore the experiences, it also collects the interactions in its system so it can be used to personalize automated nurture messaging in SMS and email. PERQ reaches out proactively to the rental prospect to keep a property top of mind, using the channels, timing and content that are the right fit for that individual prospect. When the lead is agent-ready, PERQ passes all of this data along in the renter guest card so the onsite team can tailor their conversation with the prospect accordingly, further personalizing the prospect’s experience.
Interactive website experiences and personalization pays off for multifamily properties. PERQ customers enjoy 2X the lead-to-tour conversion and an 80% savings in cost-per-lead over other lead automation technologies.