Arguably one of the most important metrics for multifamily and property management, lead to lease conversion is key to understanding if your operations are working efficiently. It takes a lot of work and effort to get leases signed and keep residents satisfied and wanting to renew. In recent years there’s been a lot of development and innovation in multifamily technology and property management solutions. From virtual leasing to leasing AI, multifamily has more tools than ever to gather better data, meet consumer buying habits, and more personalized follow-up/lead nurture. Let’s dive into what leasing AI is and how it helps lead to lease conversion.
AI LEASING ASSISTANTS
AI Leasing Assistants have made waves in multifamily this past year, but what is so special about them and are they worth the investment? There are a few on the market and the differences seem subtle but they make a huge difference. We have a blog post already dedicated to the difference between natural language chatbots and rule based chatbots that you can read here.
PERQ’s AI Leasing Assistant lives on your website and uses natural language to chat with prospects and answer their questions 24/7. The AI Assistant keeps the conversations, text and email, so when the prospect is ready to talk to a leasing specialist, the team member can see what was talked about between the lead and the bot. It also collects insightful data and has real time reporting for the most accurate tour schedules and availability.
This data and knowledge that it gives to leasing specialists supports them by better equipping them to have those first initial conversations and cater the tour to highlight and spotlight what it is they are looking for. More personalized experiences and follow-up leads to higher lease conversion numbers. Unified Residential is seeing this first hand after hiring PERQ’s AI Leasing Assistant.
You might’ve Googled “how to follow up on a prospect to lease an apartment”, “sample thank you letter after apartment tour”, “sample follow-up email after apartment tour”, “leasing follow-up template”, or even “follow-up email for apartment prospect template” in hopes of finding that magic copy that grabs prospects’ interest in their inbox and brings them closer to signing a lease. The problem is getting stuck on the idea that there is an apartment tour follow-up email template out there that is going to work on every prospect.
The AI Leasing Assistant’s follow-up is more personalized to your property and to the prospect than any old sample follow up email to prospective client you can find online. With PERQ, you can customize your follow-up messaging to be in your brand colors and brand voice. It sounds and looks less automated/robotic and more human. Even though many prospects know it’s most likely an automated email, the personalization gives it that edge that makes it stand out in their inbox.
To the right is an example of what a follow up email after apartment viewing, follow up email after rental application, or thank you letter after viewing an apartment would look like with PERQ. The brand color and voice really makes the email stand out and grabs your attention. This kind of follow-up leads to more leases because it gives a positive impression of the property and the team and is more recognizable than a leasing follow-up email template.
To learn more about how an AI Leasing Assistant can help your multifamily property increase lead to lease conversion, talk to one of our specialists today and check out our resources.
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 AI Leasing Assistant knows when to follow-up and when to reel it back in so as not to bombard the prospect’s inbox. With PERQ’s AI Assistant, 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 AI Assistant 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 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 Leasing Assistant. 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 AI Leasing Assistants improve 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.
Dalia Kalgreen, Director of Marketing, decided to hire PERQ’s AI Leasing Assistant for the job. The numbers speak for themselves. Unified increased their website conversion 3X and their lead to tour by over 83%. “It takes a lot of time for your leasing team to sift through what we call ‘looky-loos,’ when they could be working on more serious leads,” says Kalgreen.
Having the AI Assistant work on their property websites has increased their operational efficiency and made their website more engaging and interactive. This means that prospects are staying on their website longer and looking at more info. You can read more about Unified Residential’s success and see just how many of their metrics improved after hiring PERQ for the job.
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.”
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.
Additional Multifamily Resources
Blind spots when driving are hazardous and they’re just as dangerous (and costly) for a business that has an obstructed view of what’s driving in-store purchases. To better understand your customer and potentially increase revenue, it’s crucial to get rid of those blind spots by tracking online traffic to in-store furniture sales.
Retailers understand shoppers conveniently use the internet to save time, compare prices, assess variety, read reviews and avoid crowds. Notably, 88 percent of consumers research products online before buying in-store, according to the Ecommerce Foundation. Plus, consumers spend more inside stores than they do online. It pays off for home furnishing retailers who track online traffic as it relates to in-store sales.
Steinhafels, a fourth-generation home furnishings business with 18 locations in Wisconsin and Illinois, leverages their online traffic through PERQ’s interactive website conversion software. In addition to knowing how far along a customer is on their buying journey, the furniture retailer gains insights into the consumer’s personal preferences, such as the type of sofa they’re shopping for and their design style.
“Our beautiful showrooms and expert sales staff set us apart from other retailers” says Dani Dagenhardt, Marketing Coordinator at Steinhafels. “Getting online shoppers into our brick-and-mortar stores is our main goal and that is exactly what PERQ does.”
Get Qualified Website Customers Through the Door
Even as more people shop via the internet, 51 percent of consumers find not being able to touch, feel or try a product the biggest drawback of online shopping. Additionally, 61 percent of consumers prefer to shop with brands with a physical location than with online-only e-commerce companies, according to Google.
Steinhafels wanted a program that utilized their existing website to get qualified customers into stores. With PERQ’s AI-powered software, Steinhafels averages over 2,000 unique leads a month with a 14% lead-to-sale conversion. They were able to attribute $1.9 million in sales to PERQ online leads in the first 90 days. “We started with PERQ in December and after some finessing, we saw immediate change,” says Dagenhardt. “Our managers are happy with the leads we are getting.”
Using Lead Data to Your Advantage
Capitalizing on your home furnishing’s website data helps your salespeople better meet a lead’s needs, enhances engagement, and gives insight into what your potential customers search for on the store website.
By offering interactive shopping experiences, Steinhafels builds relationships with customers before they visit the store. The software allows customers to pick up where they left off online and remembers what they looked at to make suggestions based on past behavior.
“When people come in for their in-store meeting, our sales team already knows significant information about the customer’s furniture interests and needs, making it easier for the sales associate to find the customer their perfect product,” Dagenhardt says.
Measure ROI of Marketing Spends
Edward Massood, Owner of Home Inspirations of Thomasville in New Jersey, uses the analytics PERQ’s software delivers to tie in-store sales to specific online leads. “We can backtrack to see who started on the website and then came into buy,” Massood says. “It’s a good way of tracking the dollars these leads are generating and understand how they convert in the store.”
While once elusive to retailers, advanced tracking software means stores can now turn anonymous online leads in Google Analytics into identifiable leads and see details from every platform they engaged with online. That data shows retailers which marketing spends contributed to a converted lead and see exact ROI for each online channel.
“Tracking is critical. If you’re not tracking, you don’t know what to change or do better,” says Justin Bowen, Web Content Manager with The Great American Homestore.
Understanding the data helps increase functionality, engagement and the perceived value of your site.
Steinhafels witnessed a 71x return on their investment in PERQ’s web conversion software. “Digital is where people are now,” Dagenhardt says. “That’s where their eyes are, and we use the information we are getting to merge that digital arena with our brick-and-mortar locations.”
Additional Home Furnishings Resources
Over 74,000 consumers perform a Google search per second. That’s a lot of opportunities to improve your property management company’s digital marketing and SEO efforts.
As renters use technology to access the vast amount of information available online to help them find an apartment or condo, an expansive amount of valuable data becomes available to your business. Imagine capturing detailed online data for every potential tenant who visits your property website, any time of the day, every day.
“It has significantly opened our eyes to how many current prospects will be reviewing a single community at one time,” says Caleb Bartlett, Digital Sales & Media Manager at Nolan Real Estate, of the website conversion software the multifamily company added to several property websites. “We see about 150 unique visitors to our individual websites each day, and PERQ has changed how we go about managing all of those qualified leads.”
Use Website Data to Improve SEO Strategy Across Channels
Capitalize on your property’s website data to help your leasing specialists better meet a lead’s needs and enhance prospect engagement, while also gaining insight into what renters in your market are specifically searching for and which trending keywords your SEO team should target on your website, in digital ads, social media and content marketing. By constantly tweaking your SEO strategy based on real-time data, you’ll drive more organic traffic to your website, and improve your search page ranking and visibility.
PERQ assigns a unique ID to online visitors in order for clients to take anonymous Google Analytics data and marry it up to lead and PERQ analytics in order to accomplish the cross channel/device tracking but also to see who is signing a lease at the physical property. This goldmine of information helps property management companies connect the dots between a prospect’s online activities to spot common words, phrases and renter trends that your SEO team or third-party vendor can use to maximize website growth and attract more leads.
Your Market, Customers and Ways to Search Continue to Change
SEO is not a one-and-done type of task; it is an ongoing effort. To add to the dynamic nature of search, Google continually updates its algorithm. In 2018, Google reported 3,234 improvements to its search platform.
Optimizing your website requires continual analyzation and modifications. Data collected from customers’ online behavior using artificial intelligence is automatically analyzed and updated to provide properties with a treasure trove of information to influence search engine optimization.
When stored in a marketing cloud, that data can flow between your property’s various technologies and data collection systems to give you a broader picture of each prospect’s journey and your customer base as a whole.
Trying to anticipate how the market, your prospects or search methods will change or evolve is tricky business, but website data provides a view into what’s popular at the moment. When analyzed alongside big sets of industry data, your property can also make predictions on what’s coming next and make automatic adjustments to your digital marketing accounts.
Audit Online Consumers to Make Better SEO Decisions
Ryan Cox, Digital Marketing Manager at J.C. Hart Company, gives this advice to any property looking to improve their digital marketing: “No. 1, even if you have to hire outside to do so, do a comprehensive online customer audit of your residents and potential residents. Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.”
He urges property management companies to examine customers’ purchasing habits, styles, likes and dislikes. “Just because you have a budget, doesn’t mean you’re spending it effectively,” Cox says. “If you’re just throwing money at [digital advertising], and spraying and praying, you’re doing it wrong.”