Even prior to the pandemic, renters were practicing social distancing when searching for their next apartment — only coming to visit the property in person for a tour (if at all) once they gathered as much information as possible on their own online.
Follow how renters search for the perfect place to live to gain valuable insights. Learn how they find your website, track every time they return to continue research, and see which engagements drive them to sign a lease.
Below, we follow the real leasing journeys of three rental prospects on three different property websites. The data, collected by PERQ, identifies each lead who engages with a property website and assigns them a lead number to track their activity across digital platforms, devices and multiple visits.
“Today’s renter has certainly changed. They expect a different process in renting,” says Marcella Eppsteiner, V.P. of Marketing at Mission Rock Residential. “People are window shopping online, and they are doing this for apartments. They are doing their research.”
How Renters Search: Tigard, Oregon, Example
Smartphone Organic Search
Prospect uses a mobile phone to do an organic Google search for available apartments in the area. The consumer selects a multifamily property from the search results, arriving on the property homepage.
New Customer Assesses Apartments & Neighborhood
Completing the “New Customer Welcome” box for a chance to win a free year of rent at the multifamily property, the prospective renter fills in contact information and divulges details like projected move-in date and best time of day to reach them.
They view the online photo gallery, floor plans, amenities, and take a 360-degree virtual tour of the property. The prospect also clicks the “Explore the Area” assessment, answering quick questions about favorite pastimes and their current stage of life, and gets a list of relevant businesses and community offerings located nearby (20+ restaurants within 5 miles!), along with Yelp reviews for those neighborhood establishments.
During that first visit, Lead 10976 spends just over 28 minutes on the property website, views 9 pages and engages with 2 interactive experiences.
Repeat Visits to Online Application, Floor Plans
Prospect returns to the same property website 4 out of the next 5 days. On the third day, the lead launches the “Apply Now” feature on the site and spends 7 minutes reviewing the online lease application.
They return later that night and spend another 79 minutes on the online leasing section, then view the Floor Plans and Available Units pages on the apartment website. From there, the prospective renter sporadically returns to the website over the next month, browsing various floor plans each time.
Moves Into Apartment After 33 Days
Just over one month after their initial visit to the apartment website, the consumer moves into a unit at the property with a $2,470 monthly rent. Later that same day, the renter visits the website once again to browse resident services.
Overall, Lead 10976 engaged with 3 website experiences across 31 days and spent more than 3 hours browsing the apartment website before deciding to become a resident there.
How Renters Search: Washington, D.C., Example
Organic Google Search
Prospect uses a computer to search Google for available apartments in the area and selects the link to an apartment community in Washington, D.C., from the search results. Arrives on the main page of the property website and completes the “New Customer Welcome” engagement to get a personalized online experience.
Takes Several Assessments on Property Website
The consumer tagged as Lead 4792 views the Amenities page before going through the “Floor Plan” assessment, then directly into the “Explore the Area” assessment. They pick their top 3 hobbies or interests from a list of 8 different types of leisure activities, and answer other personal preference questions to learn about what’s available in the surrounding neighborhood.
Researches Site, Virtually Requests a Tour
After browsing several pages, including Floor Plans, Amenities, Our Story, and Gallery, the prospective renter launches the “Schedule a Tour” tool.
They then exit the website, after spending nearly 48 minutes gathering information and narrowing down the apartment unit they want to lease.
Digital Ad Drives Quality Re-Engagement
The next day, Lead 4792 clicks on a Google Paid Display ad retargeting leads and revisits the property website to view floor plans again.
Prospect then fills out their Personal Shopping Profile information, including email and phone number, to prompt a personalized experience on the website.
For their final engagement, the consumer selects the “Apply Now” option in the website hub of interactive tools, which takes them to the online leasing application.
Lead Moves Less Than One Month Later
Prospect moves to the apartment community less than one month after their first visit to the property’s website, signing a lease for a unit priced at $2,399 per month.
The renter spent just over an hour total on the property website, visiting 2 times and completing 4 experiences, before committing to that property as their new home.
How Renters Search: Highlands Ranch, Colorado, Example
Organic Search Leads to Pricing Floor Plans
Prospect lands on the property website after doing an organic Google search. The consumer first views Floor Plan Pricing for the multifamily community.
Schedules a Property Tour
After dismissing multiple website prompts offering assistance, the online shopper completes the “Schedule a Tour” experience to set a property tour date and time with the on-site leasing team.
Special Offer Experience
The prospective renter browses the Gallery page of property photos highlighting amenities and prime features offered at the multifamily community, such as the saltwater pool with mountain views, an on-site dog park and dog-washing station, and the luxurious finishes inside the apartments.
Lead 14027 then reviews the available Floor Plans, before selecting the “Special Offer” experience within the website’s hub of interactive tools.
They type in their current zip code, select which feature ranks most important in a new apartment (Space, Pricing, Amenities or Location), pick the best time of day for the property to reach them, and give their projected rental timeline, along with all of their contact information, in exchange for personalized Move-In Ready Specials.
Prospect leaves the site after browsing for 7 minutes 17 seconds and viewing 9 pages.
Repeat Visits Over 2 Weeks
The online rental prospect returns to the apartment website the next two days, and once again a few days later. Those 3 visits total about 10 minutes of time spent on the website.
They return less than a week later and look at 8 pages on the property website.
Moves In 28 Days After Initial Website Visit
Lead 14027 signs a lease and moves into an apartment unit at the community 28 days after first arriving on the property’s homepage through a Google search.
Through the interactive experiences, the leasing specialist learned this particular prospect wanted to move to a new apartment community within a month and which floor plans they liked.
Prospect selected the “Special Offer” incentives for 3 floor plans, and saved a corner apartment layout to their “My Favorite Floor Plans” accessible within the website hub every time they returned to do additional research.
Overall, the renter completed 3 AI experiences spread out over 7 sessions, and browsed the website for just over 20 minutes total.
Take time to review how renters search for an apartment on your website to make improvements and tie back visitors to tours and leases. Good luck![/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]
Consumers want options. The way we shop, do our research online and who we choose to do business with all comes down to each individual person. There’s no difference when it comes to touring your property. Giving consumers options online for how they can tour your property on their own terms is necessary, whether that’s a video, virtual tour, self-guided tour or in-person tour.
While the majority of prospects will start their research online, the next steps they take depends on their comfort level of interacting with your team during this pandemic and how soon they’re ready to rent.
During our recent webinar, we talked to Karen Gladney, co-founder of Power Pro Leasing, about touring options, while focusing more specifically on how to offer better self-guided tours. She visited 100 properties in 100 days and says the results were alarming. “Forty-six precent of the time, I had to wait or was sent away. Just think if I had been offered a self-guided tour experience and how I could have been taken care of in that moment,” Gladney says.
When they started their “Tour Your Way” campaign eight months ago, Gladney says the studies were showing 95% consumers prefer to shop alone while going through a buying decision and 90% want to speak to a human being during that time. “How do you blend those?,” she asks. “You don’t operate in two different silos.”
Better Self-Guided Tours Start with A Plan
Self-guided tours aren’t new. Look at hotels, for example. We’re able to all check in at a desk, grab the key card and find our way to the room without hotel staff walking us there. “Walk through your property and make sure your signage is as strong as it can be to help guide prospects where they should go,” Gladney advises. It seems simple enough, yet so many properties lack the necessary signage.
Look at your current touring situation, too. What type of tours do you offer? How can you improve? As technology and smart locks continue to improve, so are self-guided tours. Gladney says even if you don’t have the budget to incorporate new features, leaving a key on a table and putting a touring plan in place will help you succeed. “You are going to see higher returns if you offer more tour options,” she says. “That’s just a fact.”
Start by sharing on your website the different options of tours you offer. Give people on your website the ability to book the type of tour they want and most importantly follow up with those who tour your property.
For someone who schedules a tour, confirm the tour time and ask them if they have any questions in advance. After the tour, ask them which unit they preferred if they looked at multiple options or ask them what their favorite features were of the property. It’s all about communication. “Follow up matters because you remain relevant and top of mind,” Gladney says.
First and foremost, be yourself when you’re talking to a prospect. “We are all salespeople, but be your authentic self. Some people will buy you and some people won’t,” Gladney says. You just have to try.
Self-Guided Tour Options Here to Stay
Training your team to role play can help each leasing specialist better understand what it feels like to be in the prospects shoes. “Make sure every team member acts like the prospect. Have them go online, go to your online scheduling tool, select the tour and then have another team member deliver the experience.” You’ll find gaps, missing signage, and most importantly how to improve.
As you map out your touring experience, you should also be able to identify gaps in technology you might have. Gladney recommends requesting a demo, not a slideshow, from vendors you’re considering. You’ll be able to see exactly how that technology will help your property.
“The best experiences and collaboration comes out of working with people you enjoy,” she says. “Be careful of vendors who try to be everything to be everyone. Typically, a jack-of-all-trades is a master of none.” Operators have the power to ask how vendors can work together to get the most benefit.
As we move into the future, remember that everyone has a different comfort level and you and your team will need to stay sensitive to that. By offering different touring options, including self-guided tours, you’re letting each prospect choose the best option for themselves. “I believe self-guided tours will stay and properties who keep it will be ahead of the curve against their competition,” Gladney says.
In the past 10 years, data has become a necessity in sales and marketing, not only for attracting buyers, but for retaining customers as well. In this episode of The Bridge Podcast, Andy and Muhammad talk with Desiree White and Colin Cloud, members of NE Property Management’s marketing team, and discuss how to train and align the marketing and sales teams to use data to personalize the leasing experience and provide the best customer experience.
Right now, leasing teams have more data than ever before to assist in getting more tours and leases. Through website interactions and analytics, you can find out personal information about the renter that allows you to truly customize the renting experience. “The lead is no longer a cold call,” White says. “Make the renter feel like they are truly being helped… you don’t need to act like you are selling it to them.”
If you want to learn more about how NE Property Management is personalizing the renting experience and utilizing data to drive sales, along with how they’re training their teams, check out this episode of The Bridge podcast now.
The Bridge is available wherever you get your podcasts including, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, and Spotify. You can see all of the episodes, on your podcast app of choice by visiting this link.
In today’s reality, social distancing has become a part of normal business. Brick and mortar stores have closed storefronts or have limited business hours, forcing customers to shop online. How do you make the consumer feel important when you can only interact through a screen?
Providing a personalized, top-class shopping experience should not only happen when the consumer enters through your front door. Building any kind of relationship takes time and effort. Start building that relationship online the moment the consumer visits your website. Utilizing an AI-focused website and personalized lead follow-up approach gives the online consumer an experience similar to what they would receive during an in-store visit. Here’s how your business can create a VIP customer experience.
Personalize your lead follow-up while selling remotely
Utilize data when it comes to personalized lead follow-up. Retailers should be relying on tools on their website, such as assessments and quizzes to collect as much information as possible from their customers. You can learn what style of furniture they like, what room they are looking to furnish, or how soon they are going to buy. You are also able to collect basic information such as name, phone number and email address.
With that information, your sales team is equipped to personalize the outreach. If your customers are looking for a new bedroom set, leverage targeted content through email with a catalog of this year’s hottest bedroom trends. If you’ve already been in contact with them, send a picture through text message of the new set you just got in. This is also an easy way to send incentives or discounts of products to encourage them to buy.
Personalizing the marketing experience for your shoppers is an easy way to make them feel valued and continue to shop your products.
Communicate with the consumer through text messaging
Allowing the consumer an option to ask a question via a chat tool online, which gives your sales team the opportunity to follow-up with that customer immediately by text. From there, they are able to send pictures and videos of products in the showroom that the shopper isn’t able to see. This is an effective tool because unlike a chat box, the message is delivered directly to the customers phone as opposed to a chat bot online.
Text messaging helps build the relationship with the customer before they enter the store. By being intentional and personalizing the message, shoppers will be more inclined to respond and be engaged later when they are ready to buy.
Prioritize video calls over phone calls for the VIP customer experience
When shoppers were able to go in the store, video follow-up and video appointments were nice to have. Now, video appointments are essential and will likely be a preference for shoppers to save time in the future.
Instead of just a simple phone call, video calls bring an extra level of personalization to the conversation. Shoppers are able to see the face of the person they are speaking to much like they would in an in-store visit. Through video calls, you are also able to give tours of the showroom and let the consumer see the product for themselves as you are speaking about it. Tools like Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime and Zoom are all platforms you can use to host video appointments. Follow these tips to ensure you host a successful video appointment.
Using these tips to treat the shopper like a VIP will ensure they choose you over another brand. Making someone feel important goes a long way in building consumer trust. Good luck!
If you’re puzzling over how to increase property tours and leases, your apartment website may be the missing piece. Sure, your multifamily team posts dazzling photos and highlights all of the amazing amenities, but does the website invoke any strong emotions or inspire prospects to take action? Or, is the site simply an online brochure that’s static, boring and just like every other multifamily property website in your market?
Multifamily brands that treat the property website as a top leasing tool, like another leasing specialist on staff, collect and convert more online leads to leases. As an on-site leasing agent works to establish good rapport with rental prospects by being helpful, your property management website should also guide website visitors along the leasing journey and build a connection with leads using a personalized approach.
Figure out how to move prospects emotionally and you’ll move them closer to signing a lease. Create these 7 feelings with an innovative apartment website that leverages artificial intelligence to win over online leads and increase leases.
Acknowledge online visitors the moment they land on your community’s website. Welcome them with a personalized message in a pop-up, banner or chat window. Offer to show them around the website with a quick virtual tour or point out some of the helpful tools you offer on the site to get them started.
Lead management is key. Sending each lead an automated email after their initial visit is another way to show prospects you’re happy they visited the property website and invite them back to continue their research. Use AI technology to personalize the marketing automation process, so the follow-up emails or texts include the lead’s name and information hyper-relevant to what they searched for on your property website.
Prospects do a large portion of their apartment searches online and are far along in the sales funnel by the time they actually reach out to speak or interact with an on-site leasing specialist. Give them access to all the research they seek on your website, such as information about nearby neighborhood businesses and public resources that serve the community, without making them pick up the phone or fill in a generic form to request more information.
Online consumers prefer to self-serve, so let them gather information at their own pace. The more educated a prospect feels, the more ready they’ll be to confidently make an informed decision on where they want to live.
While prospects prefer to gather information on their own, they do appreciate it when a website guides them along in the process. Use AI website conversion software to intuitively lead consumers in their leasing journey as they look for their next home.
Direct them to the products in your portfolio that best suit their search, and set up your apartment website so it guides them to the next best step to take in the leasing process based on the data you’ve already collected on them as they clicked around. Did they already look at or save floor plan options they’re interested in on your site? Now offer them a rent calculator to see what the full cost would be with utilities, website service and optional pet fees or garage/storage fees, for example.
Consumers naturally choose to do business with helpful brands when it comes time to make a decision. Right now, with so much uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to make prospects feel like you’re authentically trying to help and are there to assist their search for an apartment in any way possible — without pressuring them to sign a lease.
Use your apartment website to assist prospects with technology, through a chat tool, interactive experiences and a multi-option tour scheduler that allows them to pick if they want a virtual tour or in-person tour, for example. Show them the best floor plans for their needs based on a few online questions.
Serve up relevant incentives and personalized deals to help them out. Consider waiving the leasing fee or giving a free month’s rent to those who book a virtual tour.
By being helpful and guiding prospects, your website builds trust and a connection with online leads before they ever communicate with a leasing specialist. Quick, personalized responses let prospects know they can count on your leasing office.
Set up personalized automated emails to greet each new lead after they visit your apartment website, and ensure on-site staff immediately addresses any questions or requests that come in by text or email. Prospects who value technology also value an instantaneous response that’s personal and relevant.
A property website should cultivate a belief your multifamily company truly cares and offers support in their apartment search. Nurture leads by personalizing content on the website and delivering free experiences to help them narrow their choices of floor plans, explore the neighborhood and calculate estimated monthly bills for that apartment.
By collecting lead data as they interact with the website, multifamily properties can deliver automated emails tailored to the lead’s online behavior and known preferences. Leasing specialists can also use the logged website data to personalize their lead follow-up approach when reaching out to the prospects who indicate they’re ready to rent right now.
“We use the data and analytics available to us to help tailor our approach, and to ensure we can connect in an authentic way with our customers,” says Jenny Richard, Director of Marketing at Gene B. Glick Company.
Above all else, prospects who spend time searching your website, handing over personal information in exchange for a more personal concierge experience, deserve to feel special.
Add a personal touch by sending a customized video to introduce your leasing office and invite their questions to spark a conversation. Send them a video highlighting the exact unit they’re most interested in, showing them around the place with a personalized narrative to make them feel comfortable.
“We’ve had a handful of leasing associates really shine and put their personality to good use in the videos that are now so critical,” says Katrina Greene, Senior Regional Manager at Sheehan Property Management.
Give prospects the VIP treatment online by always addressing them by name, welcoming them back every time they return and showing helpful information catered to their individual search for a new apartment. Assist them in making an appointment by offering an online scheduling calendar, and send pertinent follow-up information to help them prepare for the virtual or in-person tour.
Your apartment website should leave prospects thinking, “That was easy!” and inspire them to take the next step toward signing a lease. Get them excited about the idea of moving to your community, and give them the online technology to make the process effortless.
How do you leverage your website to enhance the customer experience and convert more online leads into sales? In this episode of The Bridge Podcast, Andy Medley and co-host Muhammad Yasin discuss digital sales training for home furnishings teams with Bryan Scott, President of Big Sandy Superstore, a one-stop-shop for home furnishings with 21 locations and counting.
As president of one of the nation’s fastest-growing retailers, Scott has a unique perspective on growing a business within a shrinking industry. “The website is more important than ever, it starts that consumer’s journey,” he says. “It is our job to collect that customer information to be able to engage with that consumer online.”
Listen in as Bryan shares the secret to Big Sandy’s success and how they leverage cultural incentives and digital sales training on this episode of The Bridge.
The Bridge Season 2 is available wherever you get your podcasts including, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast and Spotify. You can see all of the episodes, on your podcast app of choice, by visiting this link.