With the plethora of online platforms and consumer data now available to businesses, you’re likely seeing more leads stream into your CRM than ever before. It’s a delicate balance between building a relationship with each new potential customer and making them feel immediately welcomed, and overloading your sales staff with an unwieldy list of leads.
To separate the window shoppers from the serious buyers, it’s time to define which qualified leads your sales team should pursue first and put in place an automated lead nurturing process to take care of the rest until they’re closer to making a purchase.
How to Qualify Leads
The ability to qualify leads comes down to collecting quality lead data on your website and other online touchpoints. By adding AI-driven experiences to the website, your company can gather intel on where in the sales funnel each lead falls, when they expect to make a decision, and insightful details on exactly what they’re seeking and why.
“Bring in intelligent lead automation to capture more interested consumers on the website,” says Scott Hill, Co-Founder and CEO of PERQ. “When you dramatically increase the leads, you need to start qualifying the true opportunity of those leads. Are they worth your human capital for follow-up?”
If a lead engages with an online assessment or quiz, they’re likely still in the research phase trying to figure out what’s important to them. These marketing qualified leads need more time and information before making a purchase or signing a lease. They’re also not likely ready to speak to a salesperson just yet, so having an associate reach out too soon, may turn the consumer off.
On the other hand, prospective customers who engage with financing tools or pre-qualifying applications, and those who click on banners and buttons to view Special Offers or Request More Info, all show signs they’re ready to buy now. Make sure the most promising leads quickly receive your sales team’s utmost attention and don’t accidentally get overlooked. Assign these sales qualified leads within your CRM directly to a salesperson, so they can inject a human interaction at a critical moment in the consumer journey.
If you’re not screening website visitors already, find a way to ask them when they plan to move or make a purchase, or employ online experiences that leverage AI to gauge where they’re at in the buying process, while also providing prospects with the digital assistance they desire.
“Fit today’s consumer habits into the processes you have,” Hill says. “Introduce bottom-of-the-funnel engagement opportunities to capture consumers’ information and their attention. Once you have the data, you can qualify the leads.”
Use Customer Data to Personalize Automated Marketing, Lead Follow-Up
Your company can utilize online shopping data and consumer insights to not only prioritize leads, but also personalize the lead nurturing process regardless of how you plan to follow up.
An automated lead nurture solution tied to your CRM personalizes messaging and delivers relevant digital content to the consumer related to their interactions on the website. They receive an immediate acknowledgment of their first visit, then scheduled messages to keep your brand top of mind and help the shopper move closer to signing a lease or making a home furnishings purchase.
Time the drip campaigns based on how far along they are on the buying journey, and give incentives to drive them back to the website to engage further with the AI experiences until they’re ready to make their move.
Your digital sales team can also tap into the consumer data organized in your CRM, focusing first on leads flagged by AI technology as “likely to buy” based on historical and real-time data. With knowledge like the products they searched and personal preferences, an assigned team member can confidently approach a shopper more easily.
“Solve the gap from where the consumer is doing online research to where there’s actually in-person engagement that requires a team,” Hill says.
Building any kind of relationship, personal or professional, takes time and effort. With the vast majority of consumers starting their research online before investing in a big-ticket purchase, it’s more important than ever to find new ways to start building that trust and commitment to your brand from the moment they click on the company website.
Upping your website game as well as upgrading the internal tools your team uses to analyze and organize online consumer data will help you stand out from the crowd and close more sales. An AI-driven website paired with personalized lead follow-up gives your online customers a shopping experience that’s comparable to the dedicated service they’ll receive when they finally visit in person.
To unlock a top-notch consumer journey for your online leads, keep in mind these 4 keys to forming a successful relationship from the get-go.
1. Prioritize Leads and Important Information
Improving the lead follow-up process starts with collecting better data on each online consumer who visits the website or clicks on a digital ad. Add interactive web experiences to increase engagement with your brand and also gain opportunities to learn more about each consumer who engages with the quizzes, incentives and digital tools you add to the site.
By tying an AI-driven interactive website to a marketing cloud and aggregating all online consumer data in a CRM system, companies can store all consumer data in a centralized spot for better analysis and lead organization. A quality CRM can help your sales team sort leads and prioritize consumers ready to take action right away, and track every touchpoint along the way.
“We utilize our CRM to leverage our data as best we can,” says Marcella Eppsteiner, Vice President of Marketing at Mission Rock Residential, headquartered in Denver. “We overlay our website insights in terms of prospect engagement with a series of other data points, from our property management software and Google Analytics, just to better understand the activity of the consumer.”
Julia Critelli, General Manager at Critelli’s Fine Furniture, uses the website information stored in a cloud-based, connected CRM to sort and prioritize “hot leads” the sales associates should pursue first.
“We can also see how many deals are open and the value of those deals, along with probability of sale,” Critelli says. “I’m able to export certain lists or organize it in different ways, which I think is a good tool for myself and the sales staff.”
2. Personalize Lead Follow-Up
Knowing exactly which experiences a lead interacted with online and seeing what they’re searching for on the website gives your team a leg up on the lead follow-up process. The sales team can personalize their responses and tailor the information they provide the consumer to prioritize what features they indicated online they’re most interested in. Feeling like you already know them and their preferences helps establish a relationship with the consumer before you ever meet in person.
“It helps be more personable in our responses,” says Chris Berry, Senior Regional Manager at First Communities based in Atlanta. “We’re able to tailor our response, whether it be in an email or a phone call. I encourage my team to use that information gathered on the website, and don’t just send a cookie cutter response telling them something they already know.”
To eliminate the extra work for your sales team, consider automating email or text nurturing through a marketing cloud and CRM database. When connected to an AI-driven CRM, automated emails and text messages are personalized based on each consumer’s information and timeframe for purchasing.
3. Communicate with Consumers on Their Terms
Do you know what time of day your customers prefer to be contacted and their preferred method of communication? That’s valuable lead information that’s unique to your industry and market, so be sure to collect that data whenever possible.
For the multifamily industry, PERQ online data shows 48% of prospects prefer to be contacted in the morning hours and 54% like emails from properties over other forms of communication. Emails tops the list for the majority of home furnishing customers PERQ surveyed as well, although the data shows text is quickly becoming a favored form of communication for consumers across all industries.
However, every person is different. You know that friend who always responds to texts with an unwarranted phone call and leaves voicemails you never check? Don’t cross that miscommunication line as a company trying to connect on a personal level with a consumer.
To increase your chance of successfully building a lasting relationship, offer a variety of communication avenues for consumers who wish to reach out to your company with questions or to gather additional details, such as an online chat-to-text tool in addition to email and phone options.
Big Sandy Home Furnishings Superstore recently introduced text-to-chat on the store website and are finding consumers who use the feature are highly engaged and more likely to convert than the average online visitor.
“They’re further along in the buying cycle,” President Bryan Scott says. “The interesting thing though is it seems like it’s all ages of demographics who engage. Everybody wants to text now.”
4. Manage Leads Through Entire Consumer Journey
Consumers who divulge personal information and devote significant time when researching on a company’s website expect you’ll reciprocate in the relationship, giving them something in return. Reward their commitment with relevant incentives to entice them to take the next step, and offer them your team’s industry knowledge and personalized advice to make them feel like they have a friend in the business.
Even if you don’t manage the newest property on the block or run the biggest retail furniture superstore this side of the Mississippi, you can win the battle for a consumer’s heart by delivering outstanding, personalized service.
“That’s where customer service and a more tailored leasing experience — and resident experience — becomes crucial,” Eppsteiner says. “That’s the only way you can compete with a new build or a bigger company with a bigger budget.”
Utilize technology to follow leads throughout the consumer journey, touching base every step of the way to offer helpful guidance. Continue that commitment to concierge-type customer service beyond the lease or sale and build long-term loyalty that only comes with time and consistent work.
Scott says being able to track the entire buying journey online makes all the difference when trying to connect with a customer. “It helps us build that relationship with the consumer before they actually come through the door,” he says. “We know all about them and we’re able to build trust.”
As we head into the final quarter of the year, regional property managers and their marketing department colleagues are already concentrating on next year as they finalize their digital marketing budget property management and set goals for multifamily budget season.
We asked three experienced thought leaders in the multifamily industry what essentials they recommend including in a digital marketing multifamily budget for a property management company, as well as some insights into their overall budgeting process. Here’s their best advice to help with how to create a property budget:
Hindsight is 2020 During Budget Season
As Vice President of Marketing at Denver-based Mission Rock Residential, Marcella Eppsteiner oversees the marketing plan for 107 multifamily apartment communities. With such a large portfolio, she applies a precise formula to evaluate the company’s performance for the previous year and forecast what to prioritize when updating the annual marketing for property management budget.
“We first examine historical factors, so we’ll kind of look backwards and evaluate the efficacy of each of our advertising efforts, and which [lead source] generated the most effective cost-per-lease,” Eppsteiner says. “We see what worked and what hasn’t, and also evaluate our sales over the past year. How have our email sales vs. call sales vs. in-person sales stacked up to our overall organizational benchmarks and industry benchmarks?”
Evaluate Market Conditions for Multifamily Budget Planning
After reviewing past performance, Eppsteiner and her marketing team of six then turn to current construction and future projects coming down the pipeline, along with any market changes on the horizon.
“We’ll look at those factors and determine, OK, if we continued all of the effective advertising and that was it, could it get us through what’s happening in the local economy,” Eppsteiner says. “If the answer’s yes, then that’s kind of our starting methodology. If the answer is no, then we’ll start taking a look at how we can optimize that strategy.”
Cut Your Marketing Budget Last
For Chris Berry, Senior Regional Manager at First Communities in Atlanta, Georgia, nothing’s more frustrating than a property owner who wants to slash the multifamily marketing budget.
“Marketing should not be the first thing that you cut. I think you get more bang for your buck if you spend more on marketing,” Berry says. “I try to train the clients and asset manager, and I fight back. I tell them, ‘You cannot have this small of a marketing budget. Otherwise, I fear you will not be successful.’”
Berry emphasizes the importance of looking at how all of the digital marketing pieces work together to get results, instead of focusing on each strategy as an independent part of the budgeting puzzle. He says once all forces work cohesively to get positive results and you’ve reached maximum potential, then it’s OK to peel back on spending — but just a little bit.
Analyze Data and Vendor Performance
Bigger property management companies can negotiate better contract terms and deals with vendors based on volume. Budget season is the prime time to reevaluate the details of every partnership and contract to see if there’s room to save money or increase effectiveness.
When considering new digital marketing technologies or advertising channels, analyze the property’s current data to verify a vendor’s past performance and use those analytics as a bargaining chip as you renew agreements for the coming year. Set performance incentives and seek trial periods for untested methods you may want to cancel or scale down as results roll in.
“Large communities, because we’re big enough to have a national contract, we’re not locked into the standard 12- or 24-month advertising contracts that some smaller properties are forced into,” Berry says. “A little 100-unit property makes it so tough on the marketing budget. I’ve got a couple of those in my portfolio and there’s just no room to add anything.”
Berry says when times get tough, it’s time to spend more on marketing instead of less.
“On some of our advertising, we don’t cancel, we just ease back,” Berry adds. “Then, when good times turn tough, we round it up and get the platinum or premium package.”
Data reporting looms large in the decision-making process for Mary Herrold, Senior Director of Marketing at Redwood Residential, which is based in Chicago and manages multifamily communities in six states.
“I always opt for business models and partners with ‘pay for performance’ because, to me, that’s a fair exchange,” Herrold says. “I’m not a fan of the fixed-cost model.”
Investment in New Technology is Essential
In mid-2018, Redwood Residential added PERQ Web Conversion to the property websites, making 2019 its first full year using the AI-driven software that delivers in-depth analytics on individual prospects and tracks multi-touch attribution.
Herrold merges PERQ’s data and her own analytics research to produce marketing intelligence insights that Redwood uses to determine the effectiveness and cost of each digital marketing effort in relation to each other. Like Berry, it’s important to Herrold to know, for example, how Pay Per Click and PERQ enhance one another to drive conversions.
“I will say this, I would not cut PERQ from my budget now that I have it. It’s never going on my chopping block,” Herrold says. “Unless somebody comes up with a better mousetrap, it would be a foolish thing to undo.”
Berry agrees PERQ’s performance speaks for itself when evaluating the year’s data and results. “We’re noticing an up-tick in closing ratios and our authenticity is up,” Berry says. “All I can say is I’m not increasing my spend with ILS.”
When it comes to specific marketing spend essentials, Eppsteiner says her budget includes money for the property website, national strategic campaigns and partnerships, digital advertising, and internet listing services.
Over the past few budget cycles, Mission Rock Residential added PERQ’s software and virtual tours to the property website, which she calls “a game changer” for her sales team.
“I would say what we, as the marketing team, try to do during budget season is zoom out,” Eppsteiner says. “Take a look at the industry as a whole and ask ourselves how our strategies can be even more innovative than our competitors. We really try to evaluate the existing innovation in the industry, but also up-and-coming technologies.”
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Home Furniture retailers trying to fight Wayfair or Amazon at their game is poor business strategy. Good strategy: look at your advantages and try to bring those weapons into the battle. For the brick and mortar retailers, those weapons are local stores and helpful salespeople designed to win the fight for the larger and more complex furniture purchase.
Let’s agree that brick and mortar stores shouldn’t be looking at their website and trying to compete against the giant players in e-commerce. If the consumer is looking to spend less than $200 for a table lamp to throw into the guest room before company arrives the following day, the battle to win this definite e-commerce purchase is a losing game.
Wayfair’s average ticket price is $250, and we know the normal brick and mortar PERQ client averages $1,500+. Why? Because the consumer WANTS to take advantage of the built-in advantages of a local store and salespeople when they’re making a larger purchase.
The key is to bring your “weapons” into the process when a consumer is still at home researching a purchase online. Every brick and mortar retailer should look at their website and ask: “What can I do to leverage my website to help the consumer decide to purchase from me in-store?”
Below are my top 5 tips for how to bridge the website to in-store shopping process and have your website lead to more revenue:
1. Generate sales opportunities for your staff through your home furnishings website
The pictures of your products, details and price are just initial steps in the digital to in-person transaction process. These are the normal website tips. But, you must have a way to turn anonymous website visitors into actionable customers with real information about them. These are “Digital Ups”. With tools and quizzes you can learn a lot of information about each visitor: what they’re interested in, when they’re in the market to buy and much more.
Your sales team can now reach out during down times and build actual relationships with “Digital Ups” leveraging that unique shopper data. This is what you do in your store when you greet each in-person — you greet each person and ask them questions to get to know what they’re looking for. You must do this on your website as well. It works and it is a way to let salespeople produce more sales versus complaining there isn’t anyone in the store on a 10 a.m. on a Thursday.
2. Use your website to facilitate an easy conversation between the consumer and your home furnishings sales team
E-mail and Live Chat used to be the way to communicate with consumers online, but that is no longer the case. We highly recommend to our clients that they have text communication in place. Texting a consumer is a much more natural way to communicate now.
Scott Hill, PERQ co-founder Texting a consumer is a much more natural way to communicate now, and you want to communicate with consumers the same way you would a friend. When is the last time you were e-mailing or in a “live chat” box with one of your friends?
Make it easy for shoppers to engage in a deeper and more prolonged conversation with your staff that can help them make decisions prior to coming into the store. Texting makes it easier on the consumer and your staff to get the help needed and build a relationship that can lead to an in-store visit.
3. Leverage lead scoring and personalized automation
Your sales team will not be able to have an actual conversation with every “Digital Up” you generate from your website. You need to have a way to prioritize Digital Ups into which ones will receive follow up from your staff and which ones will receive automated email messaging personalized to the consumer.
With today’s technology, there is no excuse to just be sending blast e-mails once a month. When someone has engaged on your website, you now should have everything you need to set up the right personalized automated email messaging designed to nurture them into being ready for a conversation with a member of your sales team.
4. Create a “VIP Appointment” process
With all of these conversations your sales team is having with prospects before they come into the store, you need to have a way to make it easy for them to take the next step and visit.
Allow shoppers to set a “VIP Appointment” where they receive special treatment and a faster experience. Let them know you will be waiting for them, have some recommendations ready, drink of their choice, financing approval already done, etc.
5. Take advantage of a CRM to handle the organization/ communication of all the sales opportunities from your website
Everything mentioned above will require a quality CRM. For pure in-store customers, you might have been able to handle the potential buyers, but to efficiently handle a high volume of “Digital Ups” and help shoppers come into the store, you need a better way to organize and keep track of leads.
A CRM platform helps you determine which prospects to reach out to first, gives messaging recommendations, enables text messaging, gives performance reporting, etc. It becomes your Digital Sales Manager, making it easier for you and your sales team to follow up with shoppers.
The process of how to take your website to be a great tool to get consumers to come into the store was solved by the automotive industry first (and where these 5 tips originally came from)! They created the technology and process to help their staff connect to consumers on the website looking for help when making a purchasing decision. Take advantage of tips to make your website the best it can be for consumers so you can win the online to in-store battle.
See How Much the PERQ CRM Costs Home Furnishings Retailers to Manage Leads: SEE PRICING
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Every market varies slightly when it comes to the type of renter seeking an apartment, how much they’re willing to pay, and what amenities mean the most to them. How well do you know the prospective renters for each multifamily property you manage or oversee at a regional level?
Properties in your portfolio can leverage these market variables to edge out the local competition by analyzing all of the online data prospects provide during their search for an apartment community to call home.
More than 80% of rental prospects start their apartment search online, according to the newly published PERQ Multifamily Field Guide, which analyzes 193,000 consumer responses from nearly 320 multifamily property websites.
With so many renters starting their research of apartment communities online, staying a step ahead of the local competition means constantly improving the property’s website experience, and successfully using the lead information you gather online to nurture prospects until they’re ready to sign a lease.
“We use both the individual data and aggregate data to help us make sound decisions during the leasing process, but also to be sure we’re catering to our current resident base as well,” says Katrina Greene, Senior Regional Manager at Sheehan Property Management, which utilizes PERQ’s web technology to collect leads and their personal preferences, while guiding prospects in the rental process.
Add AI Technology to Property Website to Gather More, Detailed Leads
It’s a challenge to capture the attention of prospective renters with so many other property websites vying for it. Busy consumers want websites to be responsive, intuitive, informative and helpful — or they move on to the next site in a quick click.
By adding AI-driven technology to a property website, visitors enjoy an interactive and personalized shopping experience similar to what giant e-commerce retailers like Amazon deliver, and what savvy consumers say they’ve come to expect from brands competing for their money and attention. Provide that experience on a local level to make your property stand out in a crowded multifamily market.
“At one property, we know as many as 40% of our current residents engaged in a PERQ experience,” Greene says of how well the interactive software converts online leads. The information gathered on those now-residents comes in handy when planning new community perks that appeal to current renters, and when it’s time to encourage those residents to renew their leases.
Engaging visitors with a hub of useful planning tools and assessments designed to help renters find their ideal apartment boosts the time spent on the site, which in turn increases brand awareness and how much information the property managers receive in real-time from interested renters.
Highlight In-Demand Apartment Amenities: Online & During Property Tour
With the assistance of AI technology, leasing teams receive lead information on everything from a prospect’s preferred floor plan and move-in timeframe to how many kids or pets they have, what they like to do in their free time, and types of businesses they want in their new neighborhood. It gives properties both a granular view of a specific renter’s journey and a holistic look at what renters in that market value most.
Renters rank in-unit laundry as the most-desired feature in an apartment, followed by modern appliances and walk-in closets, according to the Multifamily Field Guide. It also showed 81% of prospects are a month to 90 days out from wanting to move in — a 13% increase in the number of renters looking at apartments while at least three months away from signing a lease since PERQ’s previous insights report in 2018.
Property management can use that online intel to personalize their lead follow-up approach through automated lead nurture email and text messages sent to website leads, keeping the property top of mind as they finalize their decision.
During tours, leasing specialists should strive to highlight that particular property’s most popular amenities as well as any must-haves the prospect revealed while researching online. Properties can also prominently feature a property’s top-ranked assets on the website, in digital advertisements and on social media, based on the new data streaming in from the website’s interactive experiences.
Target Prospects: Use Marketing Cloud Insights to Meet Local Demand
By tracking leads from all of those various online platforms and linking them to individual website visitors in a cloud-based CRM database, properties can finally account for multi-touch attribution and easily view a prospect’s entire online journey.
That comprehensive profile data, when stored and analyzed within an AI-driven Marketing Cloud, delivers in-depth insights into which featured amenities drive the most traffic, what online platforms convert the best, and the ROI of all of a property’s digital marketing campaign, including the cost per lead and for each lease converted.
When powered by AI technology, a marketing cloud offers machine learning capabilities to identify the ideal prospect and continuously tweak a property’s connected digital marketing accounts automatically. Based on the property’s own data and millions of other data points stored in the cloud, the centralized analytics predict the type of renters most likely to lease there, along with the common attributes and actions taken by those prospects and where to successfully target them.
Pouring over the online consumer data helps property managers identify what nearby activities and amenities attract local renters, so they can focus on building relationships with those types of businesses in the area and plan events that best cater to renters’ interests.
“The ‘Explore the Area’ assessment provides data regarding their preferences on favorite activities,” Greene says. “Our reporting may show that a prospect, for example, is interested in sporting activities and shopping. We are sure to highlight proximity to these preferred places, and with residents, it helps us to determine what social functions will appeal most to them.
“We may organize a viewing party for a big football game at our clubhouse, or post coupons for the outlet mall on social media as a result of the data.”
Across the nation, 20% of renters picked “social activities” as their top priority, according to the PERQ multifamily data. Shopping and outdoor activities tied for second place at 17%, and family activities (12%) and pets (11%) rounded out the list of favorite activities prospects enjoy most, giving property managers at those surveyed properties a good idea of their residents’ main priorities and lifestyle.
“We have found the questions we ask online helps us tremendously on centering in on the prospects’ likes in reference to social activities,” says Trent Jones, Regional Marketing & Training Director at The Worthing Companies based in Atlanta. “This gives us a great opportunity to cross-market with restaurants, shopping, outdoor activities, etc.”
Coupons Convert Leads: Pricing Ranks Top Priority Among Renters
Incentives drive impressive lead-to-lease conversion results because two-thirds of renters put pricing above all else when picking an apartment. The PERQ data discovered multifamily properties that presented online prospects with a coupon or offer, such as free month’s rent for signing a 12-month lease, increased lead conversions by 73%.
Of the prospective renters surveyed, 67% said pricing was the biggest factor in their decision on where to sign a lease. Play up the community benefits and utilities included in the rent price, and offer creative budget incentives like discounted dog walking services for residents arranged through a local provider.
At one apartment community managed by The Worthing Companies, Jones says 60% of the prospects clicked restaurants as a favorite place to visit in the neighborhood. “This gives us the knowledge to do a perks program for discounts with restaurants nearby, and even host events at different restaurants for the residents,” Jones says.
The PERQ Multifamily Field Guide contains multifamily insights, regional trends, renter profiles, and self-proclaimed pain points others in the industry face and how to solve those common challenges using AI-driven technology. Click below to request your copy of the full Multifamily Field Guide.
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“You have all of these property websites that are fantastic,” says Bartlett, digital sales and media manager at Nolan Real Estate, which operates apartment communities in Texas, Kansas, Illinois and North Carolina.
“Once you get to the website, there’s all of this information, but not really a piece that engages. I think we do an awesome job once they walk in the door, but before that I think there are just so many options. It’s tough to narrow your search down.”
To drive engagement and increase leads, Nolan Real Estate recently launched website conversion software on four of its property websites. According to Bartlett, Nolan plans to implement the AI-powered software on the company’s remaining multifamily property websites in the near future.
“I think there’s a similarity between renting a home and leasing a car,” he says. “When you go to an auto dealership’s website, it’s all about engagement, right? There are different tools to help you, and to show you what you think you need before you even know what you need.”
Many multifamily properties remain stuck in the past when it comes to digital marketing. It’s a comment we hear time and time again when talking to the marketing experts in the industry who are working to convince upper management to test new marketing strategies.
Cindy Scanlan, director of operations at Thalhimer, a property management company with apartment communities across Virginia and North Carolina, agrees that the industry lags behind when it comes to digital marketing technology.
“There are so many new products in the marketplace now; I don’t believe we have the time necessary to really look at what is out there,” she says.
The evolution of digital marketing technology using artificial intelligence and automation spawns a whole new realm of possibilities for property management companies looking to reanimate their marketing approach. Here are the top three reasons property management companies give for not upgrading their digital marketing approach, and why those excuses are ancient history.
Tried-and-true marketing strategy
Many companies keep doing what they’ve always done because they believe it works. We’re not saying ditch all non-digital advertising or abandon digital marketing efforts already in place, but perhaps it’s time to diversify to bring in new business and better results. Advanced digital marketing technologies can improve what you’re already doing to attract leads, and also help you better track and convert those leads into signed leases.
“Traditional marketing would suggest you don’t want your consumer spending ‘high amounts’ of time on your website with the fear that we may miss out on the opportunity to engage with them in person or over the phone,” Bartlett says. “I believe if we can give them every piece of information and engage with them in a unique fashion, we are 20-25 percent more likely to capture that lease once they step foot into our community. All of our visit-to-lease numbers have really skyrocketed since strategically putting the conversion software in place.”
How do you measure the success of your current marketing to know what’s working? Use digital marketing solutions that deliver detailed data on each prospect who engages. That way you can track which leads convert to leases and figure out the property’s return on investment for each specific marketing campaign. With more data in-hand, companies can easily adapt and experiment with new marketing channels, target audiences, keywords and messaging—tweaking as needed based on real-time information.
Boyd Homes in Virginia Beach leverages its website data to spot market trends and to create the company’s marketing plan, says Digital Director Stephanie Drake. She says the company increased online lead to lease conversions and decreased bounce rates after adding an engagement experience on the property websites.
“I like the analytics portion of it, where you can see what people are interested in,” Drake says. “We use the information from the data to form our marketing plan and what to highlight for people.”
Digital marketing learning curve
The concepts of AI, marketing automation, machine learning and marketing clouds can seem complicated and overwhelming to multifamily property managers with little tech experience. They don’t know enough about the technology or how to implement new systems, and can’t afford to devote additional resources to manage the technology, let alone perform data analysis on a regular basis.
With the right approach, technology actually streamlines business processes by providing a more efficient and effective way to capture and nurture leads. Leasing specialists spend less time manually handling leads and answering questions if the website uses AI to engage prospects and automatically guide them along the renter’s journey. When connected to an automated database and email nurturing solution, prospects continually receive personalized information and suggested interactive tools to assist in their research until they’re ready to rent.
New digital marketing technologies require very little effort and time to get started, and less manpower to maintain than manually tracking leads. It’s even less labor-intensive when you partner with a knowledgeable tech provider that can crunch the data for you, guide your efforts using industry knowledge, and provide proof of ROI.
Scanlan says Thalhimer, which used to focus primarily on commercial real estate, is behind the times when it comes to utilizing the full capabilities of AI to improve efficiencies on the residential side of its business. To catch up with competitors and gather more leads, Scanlan says Thalhimer decided last year to give new technology a try and implemented PERQ’s website conversion software.
“It captures more information about the customer than most products do,” Scanlan says. “Adding it to our website tripled our contacts on the property and we achieved at least a 25 percent lease return. It also lets us mine the information to get good demographics on our prospects and where they came from.”
Fear of more leads to manage
Some multifamily property companies worry that if technology does as promised, the sudden increase in leads may be too much to manage for their time-strapped employees and could hurt the brand if not handled properly. Maybe it’s time to try a new approach if your leasing offices are already struggling to balance the demands of helping new prospects, giving tours, closing leases and assisting residents.
Technology can improve overall workflow and make it easier to convert leads to leases. Consider adding an online scheduler, a pre-qualify tool or perhaps a virtual tour so prospects can help themselves. Connecting automated email nurturing to your prospect database can automate the nurture process and help your company better track leads and conversions.
It’s important to consider digital marketing solutions that not only increase lead count but also improve the quality of lead information that’s gathered and simplify processes for your leasing team. By collecting details like when the prospect plans to move and what amenities and floor plans they prefer, leasing specialists can use that information when following up with leads and move them along quicker, while also establishing an instant connection with prospects.
This article was originally posted on Multihousing Pro. You can see the article here.
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