[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]As the owner of a home furnishings store, you have the best intentions to focus on priorities that will make your business successful and generate revenue. Focusing on the customers you can’t actually see is one of those crucial areas that may be hard to prioritize. How often do you have a plan for the day that includes focusing on your website customer?
Odds are you have several things more pressing and more present on your everyday agenda. The tangible responsibilities tend to take over — scheduling deliveries, processing payroll, taking care of the customers walking through the front door. If you have an online presence, you have customers coming in your digital storefront. What do you know about them? Maybe the customer who just walked in the showroom and purchased appliances spent a considerable amount of time on your website first. How would you know?
Getting caught up in the whirlwind of activities necessary to run a business is common. Yet without focusing on all your customers, in-store and online, you may be missing out on more sales. Committing time to define your digital marketing strategy, as much as anything else, is critical to moving your business forward as e-commerce competition increases. Your digital efforts drive customers to your site, now focus on converting those potential leads to actual customers.
Online Data Gives Valuable Insight into Your Customers
Time is valuable for business owners and management, so it’s important to streamline the process for collecting lead data and nurturing the sales process. What do you know about your online customer? How do you collect the data? What are you doing with this information? Nurturing online leads often falls down on the list of priorities when running a retail business, yet without them, there may not be a business.
“Furniture retailers started as traditional brick-and-mortar entities. They have refined the sales process of the person who walks in the door,” says Eric Sears, Account Executive at PERQ. “They are their No. 1 priority to capitalize on at that moment. Other customers are visiting their websites and retailers may not view these activities to understand how to capitalize on those customers.”
Sears adds that home furnishing retailers sometimes give the excuse they don’t have the time to create a process to leverage all online leads. He stresses the value in looking at common online customer behaviors, then building activities based on that learning, which helps retailers create a playbook. For example, if the online customer completes a sleep assessment and indicates back pain and they tend to sleep hot, this provides the retailer valuable information to capitalize on that opportunity and provide specific recommendations automatically.
Find a Lead Management System That Works for You
To drive engagement and increase leads, select a marketing cloud that automatically does the analytical work to understand your online customer using artificial intelligence. An AI-powered marketing cloud and technology can track a consumer using cookies and behavior mapping technology. It collects shopper’s data and remembers them when they return to your website allowing for personalization, such as targeted incentives, recommended products or interactive tools to help guide them along. All of this data provides stores with valuable customer insight, and therefore a more qualified lead. It also gives stores a way to track online leads to in-store sales, so they can measure how well a lead generation source works at converting.
Dave Weiss, marketing manager with Sherman’s in Illinois, utilizes PERQ’s Web Conversion solution. “One benefit is that we only forward the hot leads to our salespeople, so they’re highly qualified and it keeps the volume manageable,” Weiss says. “For the leads that indicate they’re still in the early researching phase, PERQ offers a very nice email nurturing program to keep us top of mind as the customer progresses through their purchase journey. It’s easy to justify the relatively small expense of the solution and calculate the strong return on investment given the number of sales we can directly attribute to PERQ.”
Converting Customers in the Showroom
When retailers collect detailed information on customer behavior, they have more power to convert sales by personalizing the experience for the customer. Weiss recommends being patient with the process. “Through a little trial and error, we’ve developed some best practices for following up and shared that with our teams so they are set up for success with every lead that comes in,” Weiss says. “We find that our hot leads either convert to store visits rather quickly, or not at all.”
Understanding the online customer does take time, but it’s worth it. “Some sort of process is better than nothing,” says Sears. “Without measurements in place, it is difficult to determine the customer journey.”
As a business owner, it’s evident you have more than enough work to do on a daily basis. Consider a marketing cloud as another member of your team, working around the clock, freeing up your time and making your sales team more productive so you can focus on the business at hand.
This article originally appeared on Furniture World. [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
Additional Home Furnishings Resources
[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]With innovation, comes change, often disruptive, fast and frequent. The speed and prevalence of these developments impact markets, businesses, how people shop, and more importantly, your team. So what can you do to help your teams handle the necessary disruption, typically in the form of technology, to move forward and grow the company’s revenue in 2020?
Businesses understand that change is necessary and important to meet your customers’ needs, especially in today’s information society, yet not everyone embraces this process. As the leader of your organization, the way you implement change impacts the success of that change. You need real tactics in place to help your team better adapt.
Technology can help your team work smarter instead of harder in the sales process by giving them the tools to increase conversions and improve lead follow-up. From chat-to-text tools, interactive quizzes and virtual tours to automated emails and a marketing cloud with a connected CRM, these powerful tools fuel productive teams. With the right training and technology, they will increase the satisfaction of your customers and your staff. Which in turn, will lift your bottom line.
“The multifamily industry continues to be faced with interruptions and challenges, making it difficult for their teams to stay focused on daily operations,” says Keir Schutte, Owner of KP Consulting Services, a property management consultant for apartment communities. “We must continue to educate ourselves, and our teams. Also, it is important to have the tools that help us/them stay focused and organized.”
Start with the ‘Why?’ When Implementing New Technology
Why undergo the change? What exactly will change, and how will it impact your team or the customer — or both?
Explaining the bigger picture engages your staff to focus on the benefits of the technology and how it supports the vision of the company. Be sure to involve your team in important planning discussions before rolling out new technology, and maintain open communication as you work through the decision-making process around this particular change. Allocate time to answer questions and get input.
Even if you are the ultimate decision-maker, soliciting input from your team will help them feel a sense of ownership while also getting familiarized with the tools they’re gaining.
How Innovation Benefits Your Team
Will the technology make your team’s job easier or streamline a currently laborious process? Will the change increase sales or shorten the sales cycle?
Find the benefits and share those with your team. You may understand how this disruption will result in a better experience for all, yet don’t assume everyone knows what you know. Clearly state the desired result of implementing the latest solution.
“We share with our team how the change is going to benefit them,” says Joey Weathers, Internet Specialist at Furniture Mall of Kansas, which recently rolled out the “Ask a Question” chat-to-text feature on their website. “We share how it is going to help them connect with our guests, improve their follow-ups and sales.”[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”29445″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” qode_css_animation=””][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
Teach Your Teams How to Use New Tools
Arm your staff with instructions and educate them on the updated processes. Hopefully, your parents didn’t put you on a bike without any instructions and tell you to go. Provide the appropriate time and space for training. It may feel like time you can’t afford, yet it will save you time and money in the long run, especially if your team ends up under-utilizing your latest investment because they don’t know how to use it.
“We have training sessions with the staff, usually once a month,” Weathers says. “They are able to ask any questions they have and we make sure they understand it all.”
Tim Whitaker, Sales Manager at Furniture Mall of Kansas adds, “Our No. 1 priority is for our guests to have the same type of valuable experience online as they get when they’re in our store, and that has a lot to do with educating the full team.”
Orient the sales managers and their teams with the digital information captured from the customer. “Help your team communicate with the customer via their preferred method — call, email, or text message,” says David Kain, President of Kain Automotive, a digital marketing and consulting firm for the automotive industry. “The website is the new floor. The salesperson who reaches out to the customer will be the one creating engagement and a good customer experience.”<
Ask Team Members for Feedback
By simply asking for feedback, you invite your team to provide new insights you may miss because you’re not on the front lines every day. In return, they feel like they are contributing to the success of the organization.
According to an article in Forbes, if leaders encourage and recognize staff suggestions, 62% of employees would recommend the organization as a great place to work. Take that feedback to your technology partner. A true partner will want that feedback to continuously improve their products.
When your team provides their thoughts on the new changes, it may uncover additional pain points you can address, ultimately leading to a more satisfied employee.
Celebrate Successes Innovation Brings
Share the successes your team achieves as a result of adopting new technology. Storytelling is a great way to solidify buy-in. Powerful success stories can create a safe space to try something new, encourage growth and convey a feeling that change is part of your culture and will be rewarded. A study conducted by IBM indicates employees who aren’t being developed are 12X more likely to leave.
When you start with the end in mind, better technology for a better customer experience and happier employees, think through the process and set your team up for the best success.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]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.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”29445″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” qode_css_animation=””][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
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.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]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.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”29445″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” qode_css_animation=””][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
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.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
Additional Multifamily Resources
[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]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.”[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”29445″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” qode_css_animation=””][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
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.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
Additional Home Furnishings Resources
[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]The “cloud” may seem like an obscure notion, an ambiguous technology we use often despite understanding very little about how it works, but once mastered a marketing cloud for multifamily properties can address pain points across every level of a property management company.
An AI-driven marketing cloud centralizes a multifamily property’s various technologies and data, streamlining internal business processes while also delivering a better customer experience for prospects who start their apartment search online. Every member of a property management team stands to benefit from the multi-pronged approach to generating, tracking and converting leads.
From asset owners and C-suite leaders to on-site property managers and leasing specialists, to the staff working in marketing and regional management, a marketing cloud gives everyone at the company clear, cohesive and actionable insights into prospect data and calculates return on marketing investments. The cloud also frees up time and energy for the staff by utilizing marketing automation and artificial intelligence for a personalized, yet automated approach.
“Having all of our data in one location to search through, versus having to go to each individual [database source] would be great,” says Trent Jones, Regional Marketing & Training Director at The Worthing Companies, which manages apartment communities in Georgia, Texas and North Carolina. “You could plate it up by zip code or other parameters, so you can get a snapshot of likes for multiple properties and prospects at one time.”
The possibilities a marketing cloud presents a property are endless, particularly when created specifically for multifamily communities. Here’s how a cloud can help property management companies tackle common problems the industry faces at every level of operations.
Improve Property Websites Using AI Technology
With online search engines changing algorithms to focus on local and voice-based searches, which is expected to soon account for half of all searches, more prospective renters land directly on a property’s website instead of first visiting a general third-party leasing website.
Optimizing a multifamily property’s marketing strategy begins by bolstering the website with AI technology, so it can serve as the No. 1 lead and lease source for property managers. The property website is often the first point of contact for prospects, which do most of their apartment research online well in advance of contacting someone at the leasing office. By improving the website so it captures and nurtures more leads, properties can solve multiple problems at once.
Pain Point: Competing against properties on third-party websites.
Why spend more money to compete against other properties on apartment listing sites when more people search direct these days? Stand out from the local search competition with an exceptional property website. With just a single line of code added to an existing site, a property management company can add interactive leasing tools automatically personalized with AI-guided software and behavior tracking.
Pain Point: Only get name and basic contact info from leads, instead of robust profiles.
Websites augmented with web conversion software collects detailed lead data from prospects as they go through the online experiences that help them narrow their list of potential places to live, such as a community assessment that evaluates the neighborhood priorities of individual renters and then shows them related Yelp reviews on places of interest nearby.
“The data gathered on our websites helps us be more personable on our responses,” says Chris Berry, Senior Regional Manager at First Communities Management in Atlanta, when talking about the advantages to collecting more robust lead data on their property websites. “We’re able to tailor our responses, whether it be in an email or phone call.
“I encourage my team to use that information and not just send a cookie-cutter response that’s telling the prospect something they already know about the property. They’ve already been to our website and answered questions. You have to really think about it and put those things they’ve told you into action.”[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”29445″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” qode_css_animation=””][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
Automate Lead Generation and Lead Nurture to Increase Leads
Investing in a marketing cloud solution that includes quality lead generation tied to an automated lead nurturing system can save properties significant money by collecting and converting exponentially more leads, without extra work from the leasing or marketing teams.
Pain Point: Expensive and poor conversion rates on third-party leads.
Online visitors who spend several minutes engaging on an interactive site and volunteer personal information are much more likely to convert to a lease than generic leads generated through third-party websites — and at a much lower cost per lead and lease.
Within three months of adding AI-powered software, First Communities experienced an average online lead lift of 865% across four properties and a 200% increase in time online visitors spent on the websites. PERQ data pulled from the website analytics shows the software influenced 25% of all leads at those properties during the first 90 days, with a lead-to-lease conversion rate of 4.78% (industry average hovers around 1%). At a cost of $3.82 per lead conversion and $91.92 per lease, the website software performs well above any other lead generation source the company invests in, according to Berry.
Pain Point: About half of online leads not followed up on properly, or at all.
When connected to a marketing cloud, the website feeds detailed consumer profile information into a cloud-based CRM database where property managers can organize leads based on estimated move date and other essential personal information gathered from online visitors. They can also track who in the leasing office touched a lead, along with when and how they followed up, and how successfully they converted leads into leases.
An AI-driven cloud solution that’s digitally linked to a property’s prospect database also offers properties a way to automatically send lead nurture emails and text messages based on where they’re at in the leasing journey. Leasing specialists can then focus their time on renters ready to sign a lease right away, while prospects who are months away from leasing receive timely, helpful content and incentives that drive them back to the website to re-engage with the property and eventually set an appointment through an online scheduler.
When automated, every lead gets acknowledged in a timely fashion with a personalized, relevant message. No more leads slipping through the cracks of a manual database and tracking system.
Calculate Online Advertising ROI and Base Marketing Decisions on Data
To make better marketing decisions, properties need better data. Marketing clouds featuring next-generation tracking software and machine learning capabilities deliver big data insights into the targeted online audience for a particular property and the ROI of all online marketing efforts, then automatically take appropriate action in response to the real-time results.
Pain Point: Inability to optimize marketing spend based on quality data.
An AI-based CRM tracks multi-touch lead attribution across multiple online platforms and channels to give multifamily companies the complete leasing journey for prospects, as well as broader analytics to spot trends and marketing opportunities. Regional property managers and executives can easily peer into the cloud-based system to see which marketing efforts converted the most leads into leases and evaluate a leasing office’s performance.
“By tracking our leads, we know whether or not our teams are following up and how they’re doing so,” Berry says. “You’ve got to be able to prove it out, that you’re getting the value out of your investment in the software and the people who work for you.”
Pain Point: Difficulty seeing which advertising channels drive leads and leases.
Because it accounts for multi-touch attribution and identifies anonymous leads to build in-depth profiles, a connected CRM gives properties the power to run detailed analytics reports that calculate the exact ROI of every advertising and marketing spend.
Sophisticated marketing clouds utilize machine learning, a subset of AI technology that evaluates large sets of data to predict outcomes and automatically adjust settings, to present properties with an “ideal renter profile” and how to best target those type of prospects. It compares a property’s proprietary data to millions of other data points stored in the cloud to show the best path to conversion for their specific target audience.
Based on the real-time data, the unified cloud systems can work together to evaluate every online advertising campaign for a property and automatically adjust spending to maximize results.
“Feeding them too much data is overwhelming,” says Bob Romine, owner of R.C. Romine and Associates, a full-service marketing agency that primarily serves multifamily clients. Many businesses use enterprise cloud systems designed for big corporations that aren’t industry-specific. A cloud-based system built for the multifamily industry instead makes the data more manageable for local property management companies.
“They’re basically saying, ‘Hey, I just want to know who my perfect customer is and then give me more of those kinds of people,’” Romine says. “Being able to bring all of that data into one integrated system and look at it in one place, to identify your avatar, that works really well for any business, big or small.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
Additional Multifamily Resources