Will an AI Leasing Assistant Really Help?

Will an AI Leasing Assistant Really Help?

It’s all anyone can talk about in multifamily these days. There’s a few different leasing AI out there and some of them promise things that seem too good to be true. As we come into budget season, multifamily properties are starting to figure out which AI Leasing Assistant, if any, they want to invest in for the upcoming year. Let’s dive into how an AI Leasing Agent can help and what criteria you should keep in mind when trying to pick one.

 

NATURAL LANGUAGEpeople standing with chat bubbles above them | AI Leasing Assistant

Some AI Leasing Assistants, not all, have natural language chatbots while others have rule based chatbots. The big difference is that one is more conversational and can answer the prospect’s questions directly through a texting format and get them serviced quicker while the other makes the prospect follow prompts that hopefully answer their questions. Leasing AI that continues to learn from the data and questions that prospects ask will only make your multifamily property stand out more and that kind of AI Leasing Agent will give customer service you can trust.

 

Rule-based leasing AI takes a longer time to answer prospect’s questions and has more of a chance of not being able to answer all of them. This is why a natural language AI Leasing Agent is a better investment and more convenient for prospects. This kind of AI Leasing Assistant can give the onsite teams better and more personalized data for online prospects which will only help the team be more prepared and give better service to prospects who are ready to talk.

 

While we are accustomed to talking to robots on sites, natural language multifamily chatbots have the ability to answer more questions and are less frustrating for prospects as they are able to have their questions answered 24/7. They won’t have to wait for the leasing office to be open and the AI Leasing Assistant won’t hand off the lead until they are ready to talk, tour, or lease. This saves leasing specialists so much time as they won’t be stuck answering every question a prospect has and focus on qualified leads who are ready to continue onward in the leasing journey.

 

AUTOMATION

An AI Leasing Assistant can also help with automating the leasing journey. We’ve already mentioned how they can answer prospects’ questions 24/7 but they can also handle the follow-up conversations and even help connect other marketing channels, like an ILS, with your site for a more connected experience.

 

PERQ bot icon | AI Leasing AssistantAI Leasing Agents, like the one at PERQ, follows-up with prospects through their preferred mode of communication and sends messages based on their move-in timeline. Too many messages can be off putting to prospects, especially when those messages sound robotic and almost like spam. A unique part of leasing AI, is that it also knows when to pull back and not send a message so the prospect is not annoyed by having their inbox blow up with constant messages.

 

This also is great for leasing specialists as an AI Leasing Assistant can help them manage their pipeline and take care of responding to prospects throughout their move-in time frame and will hand them off to the leasing team once they are ready to speak to a person. The leasing team will also have access to the personalized data the AI Leasing Agent has kept track of in the prospect’s guest card so they know exactly what the prospect is looking for and when. A unique feature of PERQ’s leasing AI is that it also personalizes follow-up messages from a brand perspective. Using that multifamily property’s brand colors and voice, follow-up messages from PERQ’s AI Leasing Assistant feel more human, less spam. Using your own brand voice, leasing AI helps make your automated follow-up sound like it is coming from the leasing office and not an AI Leasing Agent.

 

AI Leasing Assistants make your leasing team stronger and more knowledgable by giving them the time to focus on qualified leads, knowing that they aren’t forgetting about follow-up because the AI Leasing Agent has it covered, and gives them all the details they need to know about a prospect before the first initial conversation or tour. With automated follow-up and connected channel experiences, leasing AI is the way forward in leasing and will only help your onsite and marketing teams evolve and work more efficiently.

 

Interested in learning more about how leasing AI and AI Leasing Assistants can help your multifamily team and property? Schedule time to talk to one of our specialists.

 

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You Need to Take a Look at Your Apartment Website

You Need to Take a Look at Your Apartment Website

 

We know that the majority of prospects start their apartment search journey on an ILS (Internet Listing Service) such as Apartments.com or Zillow or on other apartment marketing websites. It can be really hard to make your ILS listing all that much different from the other ones on there. You can have high quality photos and a really informative description, but that’s kind of it. Apartment rental website design tends to be boring and they all kind of look the same after looking at more than a few.

From an ILS, the next step prospects take is to go to the property company website or the apartment website. This is one of the only few opportunities you have to show what is different and unique about your property through your multifamily website design. Daniel Paulino, Vice President of Digital Marketing at Bozzuto, says that the website is your chance to tell the prospects the story of who you are.

“Consumers have an obsession these days with floor plans,” Paulino says from his experience with his own property management group’s websites. He saw that apartment rental website design with the best floor plan experience capture the prospects attention and they stay longer than the property management websites that didn’t. It doesn’t mean that you have to get a 3D floor plan of each unit, but showing how many available units per floor, having high quality images and detailed information about each floor plan is crucial. Marketing ideas for apartments tend to include more outward reaching tips and don’t always touch on how important multifamily website design is when it comes to multifamily digital marketing.

 

 

Tech Stack

 

When you’ve got prospects on your property management websites, it’s important to keep them on there as long as possible and to be effectively gathering data on what floor plan they are looking at, pricing, move-in timeline, etc which can be done through your multifamily website design. When it comes to what tools you invest in your tech stack to help keep the prospect on your property company website and gather data, Paulino says, “Bottom line, there’s two main driving points that are extremely important; what does the prospect need, what is important to them, and what is your business actually trying to address this in the prospects journey.”

 

When it comes to figuring out what tools in your tech stack that live on your website are worth keeping and which ones need to be cut, Paulino emphasized the importance of A/B testing. A/B testing is when there are two versions of your page with two different variants. While this test runs, online users will see one or the other at random and continue on the page as normal. It’s the clearest way to show what the tool is actually doing when it comes to driving traffic to certain buttons, converting leads to tours, and what journey the prospect ends up taking on your site. This is an important aspect to multifamily digital marketing. Testing our different versions of your multifamily website design to see which has more impact is how you can understand if your tools are working for or against you.

 

Paulino also points out that you can’t just test one metric to see if a tool has value. Leads to lease conversion is an important metric and should always be looked at since that is the bottom line of what your efforts are trying to do. That doesn’t mean you should ignore other metrics like keyword rankings, cost per lead, bounce rate, etc. You won’t understand if your multifamily digital marketing is working and making the impact it should be making if you don’t look at all the key performance metrics. Apartment marketing companies are also a great resource for help if you see that your multifamily website design isn’t performing as well as you want it too.

 

There are lots of tools out there to help boost our multifamily website design performance, but not all of them are worth the money. The tools you invest in need to help the leasing team work more efficiently by collecting better data and make your apartment website stand out from competitors. If all they do is add clutter to your apartment rental website design and hand off leads regardless of whether or not they are qualified then those tools need to go. It can be hard to tell if a tool will help you, but with Paulino’s advice you can know whether or not your investment was worth it and you can feel more secure in your multifamily website design.

 

 

 

The Multifamily Search: Organic Vs. Paid

The Multifamily Search: Organic Vs. Paid

What is life without search engines? Being able to instantly look up apartment communities with availability in the area you are looking to move has changed the way we market towards prospective renters. 68% of everything that happens online begins with a query in a search engine. Google alone has over 5 billion searches made every day.

 

There are two kinds of searches to know when you begin to think about how you want to target prospects through search engine marketing, organic searches and paid searches. Organic searches are when a prospect enters their search and naturally finds your website and clicks on it. Paid search is when a prospect clicks on a paid ad (Pay-per-Click or PPC) within the search results page. Paid searches mean that your business has paid the search engine to rank your website up in the top search results or it can mean that prospects clicked through one of your ads.

 

Ads vs SEO

Paid searches will take a lot less effort and creativity when it comes to getting your website ranked higher up on the search results page but it doesn’t guarantee clicks. While 75% of online consumers that PPC makes it easier for them to find what they are looking for, 53% of all website traffic is done through organic searches.

 

What can you do to rank higher up in organic searches so you don’t have to pay for an ad? This is where search engine optimization, or SEO, comes into play. SEO is critical for any digital marketing plan in today’s world. No one goes to the second page of search results so it’s important to get your multifamily website ranked higher up.

 

First identify the keywords or phrases that your prospects are looking up to find their next apartment. Once you’ve understood what your prospects are looking up, you can start to optimize your apartment website for SEO purposes. Add keyword-rich copy to your landing page and on other pages of your website, but be careful. Using too many keywords in your copy can in the end be penalized by search engines.

Best of Both Worlds

 

If you really want to get your apartment website in front of online prospects, combining SEO and PPC is your best bet. By using the keywords in your PPC ads on top of optimizing your website with SEO, you are guaranteed to see an increase in website traffic. An increase in website traffic means the possibility of more qualified leads that eventually will go to tour and sign a lease.

 

SEO and PPC can work together in harmony to get you the most out of your digital marketing efforts. Search engine marketing is a critical component of multifamily marketing as it will help your community engage with prospects and leads online and move them down the sales funnel. Whether you want to boost your website traffic through paid searches, organic searches or both, SEO and PPC offer a foolproof method to increase website traffic and your online presence.

 

 

Reeling in a New Generation of Renters

Reeling in a New Generation of Renters

Generation Z, Zoomers, or just Gen Z aren’t just teenagers on TikTok. The oldest of Gen Z are in their early to mid 20’s. They are at the age where they are renting on their own — whether it’s in their college town or in the city they move to for their first jobs. What do we know about this generation and how can your multifamily community attract them to your property?

 

 

The Basics

Generation Z accounts for people born between 1996 – 2012. A main difference between Gen Z and Millennials, some of which are over 40 now, is that they grew up with the internet and the digital world. They are more tech savvy and have an easier time with learning new technologies because they have been since they were born.

 

With the oldest of this generation turning 25 this year, it’s important for multifamily property teams to reevaluate their amenities and offers to cater to the needs of this new generation of prospective renters.

 

 

Online Presence

 

They are the digital generation, that means your community needs to be up to date on all things digital and social. There’s no denying the power of social media as a digital marketing tool. Gen Z is knows social media better than any other generation, they literally grew up with it and spend most of their free time on it. This means that advertising and sponsoring posts on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc will be an effective marketing strategy to attract the young adults of today.

 

This means amping up your content and posting frequently. Having a bad or just not good social media presence is a major turn off for this generation and can impact their decision making. Some content ideas include:

  • Pet of the month
  • Recap of resident events
  • Get to know an onsite team member
  • Day in the life at your community

 

A social presence is a must for any business today and especially for apartment communities. There’s millions of apartment related posts/content on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Pinterest. This generation loves moving vlogs, apartment tours, decor ideas, etc. Putting your property among these videos and posts will boost your online reputation and attract more young adult renters to your community.

 

 

The Property

 

Once you’ve gotten their interest online and get them to your website, the actual unit and amenities you offer are what’s really going to sell it to them. Being born into a world where everything is online, this generation of renters are looking for high-speed internet and will run if they see reviews citing internet issues at your property. Investing in the internet your community has ensures resident satisfaction and places your property ahead of the competition for prospects.

 

Spacious kitchens and modern appliances are important to Gen Z renters. If you have an older property, it might be time to renovate older units and bring them up to speed. A lot of young renters have pets or plan to adopt a pet whether it’s for emotional support or companionship. A pet-friendly community is very important to have. Ways to be more pet friendly include:

  • No Pet Rent
  • No Breed/Weight Restrictions
  • Events and Amenities centered around pets

 

If you are worried that the above suggestions are bad for the bottom line, Jamin Harkness, EVP at The Management Group, has gone into detail about how these pet policies are actually great for creating more resident satisfaction and how he’s seen an increase in revenue because of them.

 

 

It’s time to start thinking about Gen Z as young adults who are looking to rent because the oldest of them are doing exactly that. They grew up in a world that is fast paced and more digital than ever. These tips will help you reel in these prospective renters and keep them satisfied.

The Reality of Package Handling

The Reality of Package Handling

Package handling for multifamily and apartment communities isn’t new yet all of the solutions that we have seem to cause unforeseen problems. In the second quarter of 2020, UPS delivered over 21 million packages. That’s only one quarter and one mail carrier.

With more people working/learning from home, online shopping and online deliveries have gone up. Is your package handling solution equipped to handle the growing number of deliveries? Many property managers came up with a few solutions to handle this last year. Let’s take a look at 5 solutions and see which ones worked and which ones need to be left behind.

 

 

Dedicated Employee

Some multifamily communities allotted part of their budget and schedule to have one full-time employee who handles the packages. Since space was limited last year and the number of people who could be in the office was typically only one or two, assigning one person to handle packages as their sole duty that day was seen as a possible solution.

How did it hold up? This allowed many on-site teams to keep up with the increased package volume but it didn’t solve the issue of space and where to put packages. This employee would also only work business hours or leasing office hours which means that package pick up is restricted to a 9 – 5. That makes it difficult for residents to pick up packages during the work week and if the office closes for the weekend or has limited Saturday hours, residents would have to plan when to go get their packages.

 

 

Doorstep Delivery

 

Instead of the on-site team handling packages, some communities decided to opt for doorstep delivery. This seems convenient and cuts out the on-site team as the middle man of package delivery. There are lots of mixed feelings about this. For starters, unless a resident designates a delivery time to ensure they are home, it leaves their packages out in the open. This leads to damages and possibly theft.

 

 

Designated Room

 

Another solution to solve the storage issue was creating a designated package room. Some properties have their package room only accessible through a key fob or code while others have it in the leasing office and only accessible to on-site teams.

This is a better solution in the sense that residents feel like their packages are kept in a private, locked room that only select people have access to. But a room isn’t infinite. The average number of packages in the summer of 2020 exceeded that of the 2019 holiday rush for multifamily communities which has lead to overflow and some packages being left outside of this room. This again opens up the possibility of damage and theft again.

 

 

 Package Lockers

 

The last solution that is currently in practice is installing package lockers. Similar to package rooms, package lockers are only accessible to select people. If a resident has a package stored in the locker only they can access it. This sounds like the best solution when it comes to resident satisfaction.

That isn’t the case though. Just like the package rooms, package lockers have limited space which means there will be overflow and the possibility of damage and theft is still there. A lot of multifamily communities are starting to look at third party package management solutions, like an Amazon Hub.

A third-party package management system takes the burden off of the on-site team and puts all the responsibility onto the third party. They notify residents of package deliveries through text or email and residents can go to their system and receive their packages.

While this takes the burden off of the on-site team, it still has the same problems as package lockers and rooms when it comes to overflow. Many on-site teams have also had a hard time with third-party package delivery drivers and the actual way they handle packages.

 

Package management and handling is tricky. Every solution has its pros but they also have a lot of cons. Finding what works best for your team and residents will be a lot of trial and error. One of the best things you can do is communicate with your residents about the cons of the solution you choose. If it’s restricted office hours, let them know that and maybe work to have some time after 5 that they could come pick up packages. If you have a locker or room solution, let residents know that with higher volumes, packages will be left outside of this room and the lockers.

The reality of package handling is that there is no one solution that has no negatives. The best way to work around it is to have clear communication with your residents. Keeping them in the loop will build trust and keep residents satisfied.

 

 

Outreach Marketing Ideas for Apartment Communities

Outreach Marketing Ideas for Apartment Communities

We talk a lot about apartment marketing on our blog. A lot of it includes aspects of digital marketing. While that is important and shouldn’t be neglected, there are some outreach marketing ideas to help make your multifamily and apartment community a permanent fixture in the local neighborhood.

 

Some ways you can do this include:

  • Partnering up with local businesses
  • Resident events
  • Working with volunteer organizations

 

Local Businesses

 

In another blog post we discussed how creating a neighborhood/city guide on your website was a great way of making your website the hub of information for what’s what in your community and increase your local online search visibility. Partnering up with local businesses is also a great way to do some outreach marketing to the locals in your community and build good relationships within the community.

 

You can work a deal with them where residents get a discount at their store or restaurant. On certain “National” holidays like “National Beer Day” or “National Cookie Day”, giving residents a taste of some of the local beer or offering cookies from the local bakery/coffee shop. You can even blog about these events and reviews of the businesses to add to your website to help prospective renters, especially out-of-town ones, visualize the neighborhood and what it is like in your community.

 

Resident Events

 

This is a mix of partnering up with local businesses and working on resident satisfaction. When you have a resident event, work with a local business to have a pop up at the event. They can set up a table of their products, clothes, or whatever else they sell during the event. It’s a great way to give them some exposure and give residents a unique experience.

 

Be sure to take photos/videos to promote the event on your social media and as a recap. This will help add variety to your feed and make your profile stand out from other multifamily communities.

 

Volunteer Organizations

 

Being a part of the community means helping keep it clean and giving back. Encourage your leasing team and residents to sign up for community clean ups or joining a community garden. It’s a great way to give back, meet others in the community, and build relationships with residents outside of the property.

Another way to give back is doing donation drives to local charities or during back to school season. Outreach marketing will help build trust between your property and the locals. Establishing yourselves as a fixture of the community will help your reputation both on and offline. With warmer weather on the way, there’s lots of opportunities for different forms of outreach.

 

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