You will find dozens of articles and blogs about how amazing CRM, or customer relationship management, software is for any business. These articles aren’t wrong, a CRM can do wonders for any business when it comes to centralizing their leads and sales activity. The multifamily world is fairly new to adopting this kind of tech, and while it has helped the leasing funnel modernize from using paper contact cards, it doesn’t offer a complete solution to managing multifamily leads.
THE TECH GAP
So where is the disconnect? CRM is a database of all the data collected on every lead. As they get worked by the onsite leasing teams, the lead’s contact record is updated by your team with activity. Most people will tell you their CRM is full of dirty data and needs to be cleaned up. As a database, it will keep everything that comes in. The net result of a dirty CRM is weakened operational efficiency and difficulty with reporting. Leasing teams must sift through all of the junk to find their work and data.
While CRMs typically purge leads that are marked dead after a short period, CRMs are still challenging to keep organized. When you plug multiple data sources into your CRM, you are at risk of making the problem even worse.
The answer lies in B2B marketing history. In the late 1990s, a marketing automation revolution began in B2B.
An investment banking researcher at Bain Capital named Mark Organ conducted research that showed that the most successful salespeople were in companies that figured out how to give the team really good leads. This gave birth to a startup called Eloqua.
Originally envisioned as a technology for sellers to chat with prospects on the company’s website and an engine for marketers to send bulk email, Eloqua carried some big hype. But their team learned quickly that the chat product wasn’t being used by the salespeople. Instead, the sellers would cherry pick out the leads that had clicked through to the website from marketing emails that had been sent by the marketing team through Eloqua.
The “cherry picking” scenario is pretty similar to the challenges that multifamily is seeing today; leads don’t get followed up on, onsite teams don’t have time to chat with tire kickers, and marketing dollars get wasted. Maybe multifamily doesn’t need more leads, but rather better leads for the onsite team?
So going back to our multifamily CRM, the problem isn’t necessarily the CRM technology. It’s the way this technology is being used. Let me explain.
Today, CRM treats every lead like it’s equal. Whether it is someone very early in their leasing process, a person PERQ calls “low intent”, or someone who is more ready to sign a lease, aka “high intent,” records are added to CRM as a “lead”. At PERQ, we believe this concept is largely flawed. Leasing CRM should be reserved for REAL leads, people who are ready to talk to someone on the onsite team. PERQ believes people who are low intent aren’t yet a “lead,” even though they are valuable records that deserve attention.
Returning to our Eloqua story, the smart people at Eloqua realized they were onto something with the leads being cherry picked out by the salespeople, and they made a change. They stopped using CRM as a catchall and began getting more sophisticated around lead strategy for the valuable contacts that were not quite ready to speak to a salesperson:
Leads were only put into the hands of salespeople when they were ready to talk to salespeople
Lead records only entered the CRM when they were ready for sales activity (otherwise they stayed in Eloqua), and
Marketing took on the early engagement with the customer to get them ready for sales and it was all tracked in the lead nurturing automation system to be passed into the CRM when the person was ready to speak with a salesperson.
What this new strategy did was free up salespeople from having to treat every lead like it needed equal attention to focusing on only the leads that were really ready to engage in a sales conversation, or “high intent.” The people that had not demonstrated high intent remained as marketing contacts in the Eloqua system for marketing to “nurture”.
A lot of good things came from this “nurture” approach and it ushered in a new era of marketing sophistication that was desperately needed to ensure that the customer experience and the buyers’ journey was providing prospects the engagement then needed before they were ready for a conversation.
As a result of this approach, the consumer experience was consistent and always to brand standards from first touch to signed agreement. Conversions at every stage of the funnel improved. Salespeople got better at closing deals due to their increased focus. Marketing became experts in why people buy and tuned their marketing messages and marketing spend so that it was exactly what was needed to get results.
I’m sure you’re saying to yourself “this all sounds good, but I don’t have a multifamily technology whose purpose is built to address this.” And, chances are, you don’t have people on your team that can write and send this kind of volume of nurturing communication messages to your low intent marketing contacts.
Both true, and both changeable.
POWERING A MULTIFAMILY MARKETING REVOLUTION
PERQ was developed to address this specific problem. We have the benefit of being able to look back at the history of marketing technologies like Eloqua and their competitors through today’s more sophisticated technology lens.
PERQ has cracked the code on the consumer experience for leasing, automating your engagement with consumers on your website, SMS and email. PERQ complements your CRM and, reduces the CRM mess by engaging and nurturing low intent contacts until they are ready to speak to a person, but we do it better than it was done in the 1990s. We leverage today’s technology to improve the consumer experience using built-in nurture science and AI. With this technology, low intent contacts receive cross-channel engagement that is personalized to them. Once they’re ready to speak to someone live, the lead is passed to CRM and the leasing team. And, PERQ is always on the lookout for capturing more contacts to nurture, offering communications and experiences across channels to convert unknown visitors to known.
CRM is not your funnel’s savior and it was never meant to be. If you are frustrated by your current marketing approach or want to see first hand how PERQ’s platform is revolutionizing lead capture and automation, schedule a demo.
Lease to lead conversion is one of the most important metrics for multifamily properties and also one of the toughest to see growth and improvement. A study done by MarketingSherpa found that 79% of leads don’t convert due to a poor lead management solution. Luckily, in the last few years, multifamily and property management in general has seen a lot of innovation in technology solutions that center around lead management.
FOLLOW-UP & LEASING AI
One of the biggest breakthroughs in multifamily tech is the rise of leasing AI. AI Leasing Assistants are able to effectively manage your pipeline and only hand off qualified leads that are ready to talk, tour or lease.
A huge component to increasing your lead-to-lease conversion numbers is having good follow-up and lead nurture. The problem is, with an increase in online leads, onsite teams are overloaded and are unable to spend the time they need to only work on qualified leads who are more likely and more ready for leases. This is where an AI Leasing Assistant goes to work.
PERQ’s lead generation and automaton platform is powered by AI. PERQ knows when to follow-up and when to reel it back in so as not to bombard the prospect’s inbox. With PERQ’s platform, multifamily properties have a complete solution that incorporates an AI Assistant with automated lead nurture. The follow-up can be personalized to fit your brand colors and your brand voice. While the messaging is still coming from a bot it’s more personalized to your property and more effective in meeting today’s consumer buying habits. It isn’t just a standard follow-up email template or apartment tour follow-up email template.
It uses the data that the leasing AI software has collected on the prospect during their time on your site and through any messaging with the chatbot. It knows exactly what the prospect is looking for and when. The follow-up is much more personalized to the actual prospect too. The best part is that the leasing specialist has access to all of this data and messaging between the AI Assistant chatbot and the prospect. With better automated follow-up and lead nurture leads to better conversations between the onsite team and the prospects.
To the right is a sample follow up email to prospective client through PERQ’s AI platform. You no longer have to Google “how to follow up on a prospect to lease an apartment” because the AI Assistant does it for you and does it efficiently. This isn’t just fiction, it’s backed by the increase in lead to lease conversion.
SUCCESS FOR UNIFIED RESIDENTIAL
The only way to truly know if leasing AI software improves your lead to lease conversion is to see the data and success. Unified Residential, like many multifamily companies, wants to improve their lead to lease conversion especially after the massive increase in online leads in recent years.
You’ve heard it many times before because it’s true — your website is your biggest asset. Prospects start their next apartment search online and your website will most likely be the first impression they have of your community. When it comes to apartment marketing, the way your multifamily website design looks can turn your website into your own marketer. Here are 3 digital marketing for apartments ideas to make your apartment website stand out from the crowd:
Create a Blog
Did you know businesses that have a blog see 67% more leads monthly than businesses that don’t? It’s true. Not only do they see more leads, but they also 55% more visitors than businesses without a blog. Most property management companies don’t have their own blog incorporated into their multifamily website design. This means that property management companies and multifamily websites are losing out on potential leads and increasing their online visibility.
Apartment marketing ideas don’t always include blogging but apartment blogs are great for other multifamily professionals as this is where people in this industry go for the newest trends, tips on how to increase their lead conversion numbers, and stay up to date on the newest technology. They’re also great for prospects and residents. It builds trust and makes your apartment seem like a reputable and credible source. Blogging needs to be incorporated into your multifamily digital marketing plan and strategy because it’s a simple and effective way to getting property management companies and multifamily websites ranked higher in organic searches.
When it comes to content for apartment marketing websites and for apartment website design in general, there is a lot that you can do and create. You can even ask residents to submit blog posts about what they think about their unit, a day in the life in your community, or anything that is relevant to apartment content. Testimonials are great, but a few blog posts written by residents are more authentic and will be a more candid conversation.
Content that should also be included in your multifamily digital marketing plan are videos. You can create videos all about apartment decorating, moving tips, daily life in the community, reviewing local businesses, and more. These videos don’t need to have a lot of production. A steady hand on the camera with good lighting is really all you need. Adding video elements to your apartment website design will make your multifamily websites more engaging to prospects and they’ll spend more time on your site.
Good marketing ideas for apartments need to include video because apartment videos are incredibly popular on YouTube and TikTok. The apartment hashtags on both collectively have over a billion views. Having your apartment in that category will boost your online reputation and make you stand out to prospects. These videos are more authentic and relatable than just a regular old pre-recorded tour of an empty or staged unit. You can do a video on small space decorating ideas or best ways to arrange your furniture for the best flow, etc. Apartment related videos on these platforms have billions of views collectively. While it’s dense and saturated, prospects are constantly craving for more apartment content. Your multifamily websites and multifamily website design need to be visible in these categories.
Apartment marketing includes marketing the neighborhood/city your apartment is located in too. Make your multifamily websites the hub of information for what is happening in the local community. List the businesses nearby and include a map that shows your property and the businesses around. This will help boost your property management companies and multifamily websites in local online searches and improve your SEO rankings as well.
This can even be incorporated into blog pieces that are neighborhood specific that are found on this page. If there’s a local festival that happens once a year, write up a blog post about what it’s like to attend and be sure to include pictures. If your property is close to a lot of nightlife, write up a piece on the best bars near you. Multifamily digital marketing needs to be more than just highlighting the property and units, it needs to include all aspects of what living at your community looks like. Renting has an emotional aspect to it as well and that can get lost in a lot of multifamily website designs. Creating pages and content that focus on life in your community is a great way to market to and appeal to the emotional side of renting. We have a blog all about outreach marketing ideas for apartments that include the local neighborhood businesses and establishing your property as a fixture in the community.
There’s a lot of creativity in how you can do the marketing for apartment communities and property management companies. Rethinking the content on your multifamily websites is a good place to start. Below are some resources for apartment social media ideas and generally just fun marketing ideas for apartments. We also have some blog posts on apartment lease-up strategy, marketing ideas for apartment lease up, and overall apartment leasing strategies so your team can get the lead to lease conversion numbers they are aiming for.
Incorporate targeted special offers and promotions on your company’s website to increase sales and traffic. The key is knowing your audience and what deals matter most to them.
Online incentives motivate consumers to shop at one store over another because of the perceived value. Our human brains love a good deal. We’re wired to get excited when something’s marked as clearance or offered at a discount.
“When my wife shops, it’s always something she purchased on sale. Not because it was the cheapest, but it was the best value,” says Bob Lapointe, CEO of Tailbase, a web solution and digital marketing company. “Show value proposition. What am I going to save by going to your store? What is the incentive?”
Clearance centers are the second-most visited pages on most retailer websites, according to Lapointe’s experience and research. “Just in case they can find a deal. We do that instinctively as consumers,” he says.
Website promotions not only increase foot traffic in a showroom or leasing office, they also drive revenue if they’re relevant, timely and targeted.
Motivate Online Consumers to Visit In Person
In a study published in Marketing Land, 91 percent of consumers surveyed said they’ve visited a brick-and-mortar retailer as a result of an online promotion.
Retailers and multifamily properties can differentiate themselves from competitors and inspire consumers to visit in person by delivering unique, direct value with personalized coupons that reflect what they’re searching for on the website.
“When people go to a website, they’re looking for the best value for them based on what they find online,” says PERQ National Sales Director Doug Stump. “They’re trying to make decisions on which retailer they’re going to go to, because they’re not going to six or seven stores. Incentivized offers can be very powerful for converting that online traffic.”
Deals and discounts drive even more in-store traffic if you make it compelling for the consumer to buy today. This is a popular neuromarketing strategy commonly used in advertising. Make the offer good for a limited time or mention a current sales promotion in your store. Bob Lapointe says “What will get me off my couch, into my car and driving down to your store today?”
Deliver Savings in Return for Consumer’s Information
To gain insight into an individual shopper’s needs, incorporate interactive website experiences like free planning or budgeting tools that capture detailed leads and useful analytics. You can also offer quizzes and assessments to help consumers figure out the type of mattress, car or apartment floor plan that best fits their needs.
“Consumers expect something in return for giving their information.”
In return for offering resources to consumers, your company learns what type of product or apartment the shopper prefers, where they’re at in the buying process as well as their specific pain points. Tap into that information to serve up a targeted incentive to close the deal using AI and predictive software on your website.
Consumers expect something in return for giving their information. Again, it’s just the way our brain works. After a consumer completes an assessment, deliver a result and then offer a related coupon, such as one-month free rent, $150 toward a trade-in vehicle or $100 off a new sofa, to increase the likelihood they’ll buy from you.
Additionally, exit intent incentives are one of the highest lead-converting tools. Entice online visitors to volunteer their information, if they haven’t already, before leaving the website. Your company will capture a new lead while the consumer gets an interactive scratch-and-save coupon that encourages them to give your brand a second look. “We’ve leased units from exit intent,” says Katrina Greene, senior regional property manager at Sheehan Property Management.
Free Giveaways and Contests Get Results
Nothing gets our consumer brains revved up like the word “free.” All of our clients choose a new welcome message that requests the consumer’s information in exchange for an exciting incentive or contest entry. One such incentive could be the chance to to win two years of free rent. The website experience is then personalized based on their responses.
Clients can choose to use PERQ’s $25,000 giveaway as the new customer incentive. Our annual drawing had more than 302,000 registrants last year across all verticals we serve (auto dealerships, multifamily properties and furniture retailers).
“Incentives do help,” says Patty Crawford, PERQ’s Vice President of Multifamily Sales. “It doesn’t have to be free rent. You can use creative ways to market the incentive.” Crawford gives the examples of a free trip giveaway or a contest to win all new furniture. “There’s huge value in it, because everybody likes to register for things like that.”
Align Promotions with Your Audience
While we know incentives work to convert online leads, companies must consider the target audience and evaluate how the special offer impacts the bottom line. “I think the nature of the incentive is less important than the strategy of personally delivering it to them based on what they engaged with on the website,” says PERQ’s Doug Stump. “That is the most important component of it.”
Stump works with retailers to identify areas where they have some cost flexibility so the promotion doesn’t negatively impact profitability. Maybe it’s offering free shipping for orders over $1,000. They’re not cutting into the manufacturer’s price point and overall markup, instead shifting it to something more controllable, like the cost of operating their own delivery trucks. Price-match guarantees are another popular incentive. Notice how both of those incentives sound familiar? Big e-commerce brands use them for a reason. They work.
“Any strategy you take with regards to a sale or some other incentivized way to drive people into your store, you have to find the audience that aligns with that deal,” Stump says. “Not everybody wants $200 off a leather sofa sectional. Some might be looking for a rocker instead.”
Be willing to test different types of incentives, messaging and placement, then carefully track the results. “As long as you can have some flexibility with your incentives and are able to try different things to find out what works the best, that’s the strategy we want to take with stores,” Stump says. “Deliver something of value versus a blanketed offer for everybody. You’re going to end up winning by having some diversity in your offerings.”
Justin Bowen, Web Content Manager at The Great American Home Store, agrees incentives increase traffic and sales but must be targeted for a specific market and clientele. “We’ve probably tried every conventional type of incentive. I definitely think personalized and targeted promotions are more effective,” Bowen says. “Customers have strange perceived values when it comes to enticing offers. What we may not consider to be a ‘good offer’ may actually be highly valuable in the customer’s eyes.”
After surveying customers in their markets, Bowen says The Great American Home Store found that while a 20-percent off coupon might technically be a bigger discount than free shipping, it’s the most valued offer.
“One promotion at our company may not work well at another company, because there are so many variables,” Bowen adds. “Take every opportunity to get to know your target customers as in-depth as you can to figure out what their needs and problems are, then solve those with promotional offers that matter most to them.”