You will find dozens of articles and blogs about how amazing CRM, or customer relationship management, software is for any business. These articles aren’t wrong, a CRM can do wonders for any business when it comes to centralizing their leads and sales activity. The multifamily world is fairly new to adopting this kind of tech, and while it has helped the leasing funnel modernize from using paper contact cards, it doesn’t offer a complete solution to managing multifamily leads.
THE TECH GAP
So where is the disconnect? CRM is a database of all the data collected on every lead. As they get worked by the onsite leasing teams, the lead’s contact record is updated by your team with activity. Most people will tell you their CRM is full of dirty data and needs to be cleaned up. As a database, it will keep everything that comes in. The net result of a dirty CRM is weakened operational efficiency and difficulty with reporting. Leasing teams must sift through all of the junk to find their work and data.
While CRMs typically purge leads that are marked dead after a short period, CRMs are still challenging to keep organized. When you plug multiple data sources into your CRM, you are at risk of making the problem even worse.
The answer lies in B2B marketing history. In the late 1990s, a marketing automation revolution began in B2B.
An investment banking researcher at Bain Capital named Mark Organ conducted research that showed that the most successful salespeople were in companies that figured out how to give the team really good leads. This gave birth to a startup called Eloqua.
Originally envisioned as a technology for sellers to chat with prospects on the company’s website and an engine for marketers to send bulk email, Eloqua carried some big hype. But their team learned quickly that the chat product wasn’t being used by the salespeople. Instead, the sellers would cherry pick out the leads that had clicked through to the website from marketing emails that had been sent by the marketing team through Eloqua.
The “cherry picking” scenario is pretty similar to the challenges that multifamily is seeing today; leads don’t get followed up on, onsite teams don’t have time to chat with tire kickers, and marketing dollars get wasted. Maybe multifamily doesn’t need more leads, but rather better leads for the onsite team?
So going back to our multifamily CRM, the problem isn’t necessarily the CRM technology. It’s the way this technology is being used. Let me explain.
Today, CRM treats every lead like it’s equal. Whether it is someone very early in their leasing process, a person PERQ calls “low intent”, or someone who is more ready to sign a lease, aka “high intent,” records are added to CRM as a “lead”. At PERQ, we believe this concept is largely flawed. Leasing CRM should be reserved for REAL leads, people who are ready to talk to someone on the onsite team. PERQ believes people who are low intent aren’t yet a “lead,” even though they are valuable records that deserve attention.
Returning to our Eloqua story, the smart people at Eloqua realized they were onto something with the leads being cherry picked out by the salespeople, and they made a change. They stopped using CRM as a catchall and began getting more sophisticated around lead strategy for the valuable contacts that were not quite ready to speak to a salesperson:
Leads were only put into the hands of salespeople when they were ready to talk to salespeople
Lead records only entered the CRM when they were ready for sales activity (otherwise they stayed in Eloqua), and
Marketing took on the early engagement with the customer to get them ready for sales and it was all tracked in the lead nurturing automation system to be passed into the CRM when the person was ready to speak with a salesperson.
What this new strategy did was free up salespeople from having to treat every lead like it needed equal attention to focusing on only the leads that were really ready to engage in a sales conversation, or “high intent.” The people that had not demonstrated high intent remained as marketing contacts in the Eloqua system for marketing to “nurture”.
A lot of good things came from this “nurture” approach and it ushered in a new era of marketing sophistication that was desperately needed to ensure that the customer experience and the buyers’ journey was providing prospects the engagement then needed before they were ready for a conversation.
As a result of this approach, the consumer experience was consistent and always to brand standards from first touch to signed agreement. Conversions at every stage of the funnel improved. Salespeople got better at closing deals due to their increased focus. Marketing became experts in why people buy and tuned their marketing messages and marketing spend so that it was exactly what was needed to get results.
I’m sure you’re saying to yourself “this all sounds good, but I don’t have a multifamily technology whose purpose is built to address this.” And, chances are, you don’t have people on your team that can write and send this kind of volume of nurturing communication messages to your low intent marketing contacts.
Both true, and both changeable.
POWERING A MULTIFAMILY MARKETING REVOLUTION
PERQ was developed to address this specific problem. We have the benefit of being able to look back at the history of marketing technologies like Eloqua and their competitors through today’s more sophisticated technology lens.
PERQ has cracked the code on the consumer experience for leasing, automating your engagement with consumers on your website, SMS and email. PERQ complements your CRM and, reduces the CRM mess by engaging and nurturing low intent contacts until they are ready to speak to a person, but we do it better than it was done in the 1990s. We leverage today’s technology to improve the consumer experience using built-in nurture science and AI. With this technology, low intent contacts receive cross-channel engagement that is personalized to them. Once they’re ready to speak to someone live, the lead is passed to CRM and the leasing team. And, PERQ is always on the lookout for capturing more contacts to nurture, offering communications and experiences across channels to convert unknown visitors to known.
CRM is not your funnel’s savior and it was never meant to be. If you are frustrated by your current marketing approach or want to see first hand how PERQ’s platform is revolutionizing lead capture and automation, schedule a demo.
This has been a transformative year for multifamily properties and renters. More of the leasing process is becoming automated and the way people tour continues to evolve. This year, what renters use their apartments for has changed a lot. A 1-bedroom apartment is no longer just where a renter sleeps and relaxes after work. It’s their home, classroom, office, gym, vacation destination, and a place to do hobbies or crafts.
Listening to your renter’s individual preferences and tailoring the leasing journey to meet their expectations will help you stand out from your competition. But how do you find out what renters really want?
This year, PERQ’s Multifamily software collected over 6 million consumer responses from renters across the country. Get your copy of our latest Field Guide for over 100 pages of national and regional trends we saw including the most popular alternative tour types, floor plans, top desired features, and more.
Here’s a sneak peak of what the national data shows us.
When asked how to describe their ideal apartment, nearly half of renters wanted something that is comfortable yet economical with simple and budget friendly coming in at second place. Renters typically are not looking for apartments that are high end and luxurious. This doesn’t mean that renters aren’t also looking for modern appliances, in fact modern appliances are one of the top three most important features that renters are looking for.
In addition to how renters described their ideal apartment, we asked if budget or square footage was more important and how many bedrooms they wanted. 72% of renters chose budget and 45% chose 1-bedroom. When building or renovating a property, it’s important to keep in mind that renters want something affordable and don’t necessarily prioritize needing a whole lot of space.
The neighborhood a property is located in also plays a role in a renter’s decision. Social activities, shopping, and outdoor activities rank as the top three activities renters enjoy the most. These can all be incorporated in resident events. Partnering up with local businesses is also a great way to promote the neighborhood and create unique events that a resident could only experience in your community.
Food and Fitness
When it comes to businesses residents want close by, grocery, dining and fitness all come out on top. Prospects want to be able to imagine what life at your property will be like. Mentioning the businesses that are close by on tours or your website is a great way to help create that image for them especially if they are touring virtually or will be signing a lease without visiting the property in person.
Get Access to the Full Guide
PERQ’s latest edition of the Multifamily Field Guide goes into more detail about what residents want when it comes to amenities, specific appliances, pets, and more. The Field Guide breaks it down nationally and regionally so multifamily properties can have the insight on what renters want in their specific area. Along with data about what renters look for there is also data about the state of touring in the multifamily world.
Our EVP of Marketing, Muhammad Yasin, had a chance to hang out with Katrina Greene (CAM, Senior Regional Property Manager, and NALP Instructor) in a virtual chat on leasing agent training to find out why she views training as an ongoing process, not a one-time event. She had strong opinions on how training itself serves as an introduction or launch of behavior that will then require practice. She also stressed that you must be brave to succeed as a leasing agent, understand your value, and appreciate having a conversation, rather than taking orders.
During her chat with Muhammad, Katrina conveyed the importance of:
Human interaction in the leasing process
The benefit of listening to calls to identify training opportunities
Using positive affirmations with prospects
Demonstrating knowledge to earn the right to sell
She also shared tools and tips to make the communication effective and the experience memorable for prospective renters.
Much of the conversation with Katrina centered on reviewing phone conversations between leasing agents and prospects. She uses these calls to reinforce what’s working and identify opportunities for improvement — not only for the leasing agents but also for the properties as a whole. She says it’s important to give your team permission to fail and permission to succeed while demonstrating ways to improve — not just telling them what to do.
After listening to Katrina, it is obvious why the oath she keeps for every interaction works:
“I did everything I know to do using my knowledge, personality and skills to help this person understand my community is a great place for them.”
One thing I’ve found quite eye opening over the last few months is that a lot of retailers (across numerous verticals) believe customers who are on their website are “ready to buy now.” The bold reality is that 50% of customers AREN’T.
In fact, customers who are still shopping around actually visit your store’s website more frequently before they determine that they’re ready to make a purchase. Consumers are coming and going from your website. New data suggests that sessions and frequency increase as those consumers continue to conduct research.
Long story short, your consumers (when researching) are all over the place. As they continue to visit your website, leave and visit again, they’re cycling through various parts of the standard purchasing funnel.
It’s very rarely a seamless “top of the funnel” to “bottom of the funnel” journey. Consumers might go back up the research phase after just encountering the consideration phase and then back down again. This is especially true for shoppers who are about to make a large purchase or investment.
Consumer shopping behavior can be unpredictable
Because consumer shopping behavior can be quite unpredictable at times, it’s incredibly important to listen to what they’re saying through the actions they take on your website. How long has it been since they visited your website? Did they stay a long time? Have these consumers been visiting far more frequently than usual? These are important questions to address, because they provide more insight than you would think.
Consumers can’t, and often won’t, speak to us directly, so we need to guess their wants and needs based on the data you can collect online. I’m not talking about a name, phone number and email address.
Instead, you can use your website to leverage the power of interactive software, coupled with artificial intelligence (or A.I.) to make the best marketing and consumer outreach decisions. Interactive software, like PERQ’s Online Guided Shopping Solution, can help align the best experience to each individual consumer’s actions.
Obviously, this can be a tad frustrating when you take into consideration the number of consumers who DO linger on your website without making a purchase. If they’re in the research phase, and they’ve gone through multiple experiences, how do you target them in a way that isn’t aggressive and allows the consumer to have the freedom to browse? Email nurture can help.
Email nurture is when your store “nurtures” its relationship with specific consumers who have indicated that they’re potentially going to purchase, but who are still on the fence with other stores as well.
For those consumers who have gone through different stages of the shopping funnel (and your website), email nurture might be a great way to hook them back in and really solidify that relationship. Just like A.I., email nurture is about giving consumers the right message, at the right place and at the right time. In this case, however, the outreach is even more catered based on the data collected through the interactive experiences.
“Email nurture is about giving consumers the right message, at the right place and at the right time.”
For example, if a customer who’s already went through the “new customer welcome” experience and through a “What’s Your Design Style?” assessment, it’s clear that they’re already engaged with your store. However, they might still look at their other options. In order to push them toward a purchase, your store wants to keep those consumers as engaged as humanly possible. You want them to come BACK to your website and ultimately, step foot into your physical store.
With the last step being a “design consultation,” it’s clear that they’re already somewhat invested in your store. A relationship has been forged, but you don’t want to come off too strong. A good way to continue engaging those consumers is by sending an email that advertises a possible next step based on the information they provided.
One good email to send out (in this case) would be “we see you just completed a design consultation, so you have a good idea of what style of furniture is suitable for your home. Why not come to the store to see the furniture selections in person?”
Use Consumer Behavior Data to Pay More Attention to Needs
By catering to a consumer’s specific needs, you stand a better chance of getting that online visitor to revisit your website, schedule an appointment and come into your store.
Taking the time to listen to your consumers can and will have a HUGE impact on your relationship with them. Even if you don’t know precisely what their next steps are going to be, you can make educated guesses based on their previous actions and their current behavior on your website. The information these consumers provide you (from the website) will help your store to guide them toward their next purchasing decision.
Understand the pain points of your online shoppers when making complex and expensive buying decisions, deliver the information they seek online with an engaging website that guides them down the sales funnel, and know what they searched for when they’re ready to come in and close the sale.
Buying or leasing a new car, selecting furniture or appliances for your home, or choosing which apartment community to move into are all big buying decisions for any consumer. To get the best deal, these complex purchases require some forethought, extensive research and comparison shopping.
But where do shoppers start with so much information available online today? The more informed consumer conducts as much online research as possible — comparing prices, reviews and amenities before narrowing down which showrooms or living communities to visit in person. When they actually visit in person, they are typically ready to buy and just want to confirm the details, incentives and offers before finalizing the purchase.
With so many auto, furniture and multifamily property websites optimized only for online shoppers who are ready to buy, consumers find themselves exhausted when conducting hours of in-depth research, only to be forced to contact a salesperson or leasing agent for more information.
Consumers avoid talking to salespeople, but they expect an educated response when they do reach out. They want a more personalized online shopping experience, much like how Amazon or Google remembers what they searched for, without the pressure of a lurking salesperson. They expect a seamless transition from an online search to an in-store purchase.
Learn more here from consumers about their fears and expectations when making complex buying decisions, as well as their suggestions for making the process a little easier.
Avoiding Buyer’s Remorse
“I try to research everything that I can before making any sort of large purchase,” says Tracy Slavens, a Waynetown, Indiana, mother of two who tried to do her homework before leasing a new car in 2017. She researched online first, then called local car dealerships for more information. Unfortunately, some listed the wrong inventory online or never called her back.
“I try to research everything that I can before making any sort of large purchase.”
While Slavens ultimately settled on a $490-per-month lease for a 2017 AWD Chevrolet Traverse, she says she since experienced buyer’s remorse over a car she didn’t really want. She explains that the “kind, patient and knowledgeable car salesman” on the phone turned into a “pushy ogre” once she drove an hour to the auto dealership, and then wrangled over pricing and other details for more than four hours.
“He wore us down. He knew I was a ‘Frantic Fran’ on the phone. He knew I needed a vehicle and that I was going to travel with the whole family to his dealership. He knew we wouldn’t want to start all over again with a new vehicle search. He was absolutely correct. We fell right into his perfect plan,” she says. “Talk about buyer’s remorse. I’m not a stupid person and I try to educate myself to be smarter than the average purchaser, and look what happened. I got sucked in just like everyone else.”
“I got sucked in just like everyone else.”
Knowing More Than the Salesperson
Josh Palmer of Fishers, Indiana, conducted extensive online research before deciding to buy his dream vehicle, a 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport. He researched dealer websites, industry-focused review sites, and consumer forums discussing common issues, annoyances and maintenance problems.
“I am an obsessive researcher when it comes to big purchases, and besides my house, this was the biggest purchase I’ve ever made,” says Palmer, who admits he researched the Toyota pickup truck for two years before buying. When he finally visited a dealership, he knew the model, color, trim package, options and price of the vehicle he wanted. He also asked to deal directly with the online manager who had confirmed the vehicle was on the dealership’s lot.
“It was a little frustrating asking detailed questions and not getting the answers I was looking for.”
“The one downside to doing too much online research is that I knew more about the car than he did,” Palmer says. “Although he filled in some blanks and details that only the dealer could know, it was a little frustrating asking detailed questions and not getting the answers I was looking for.”
Hiding the Price Online
Susan Miller of Carmel, Indiana, says she’s currently searching for a new sofa for her seniors-only apartment. She’s conducted online research for about a year, and plans to start visiting showrooms this summer.
“I thought I had found the exact sofa I wanted on the website of a local furniture store, but the price wasn’t listed. You could click to get more information, so I did. I never heard back from them,” Miller says. “And now, do you think I can find that sofa on their website again? Nope. I have tried numerous times and I can’t locate it. It must have been a mirage.”
Miller had better luck four years ago when searching for a new apartment. “I found that most apartment complexes have quite a bit of information online, so you can see right away if what they offer will work for you,” she says. “The one I ended up moving to showed floor plans but not pricing, so I went in person, got a tour of the floor plan I was interested in, and lucked into the tail end of a current special.”
“Some websites are a breeze to navigate, while others are not all that user-friendly.”
Her biggest pet peeve when searching online are websites that force you to talk to a salesperson to get more information. “Some websites are a breeze to navigate, while others are not all that user-friendly,” Miller says. “I prefer to be anonymous. I just want to look and see what’s available, and I don’t want to chat online with a salesperson.”
Making the Buying Decision Easier
Consumers who shop online want a more personalized experience on a website (one that remembers who they are, what they searched for). They also demand transparency on pricing and other details without the pressure of talking to a pushy salesperson.
Remember Tracy Slavens from earlier? She says she purchased a large kitchen sideboard online without ever talking to anyone. “I was actually shocked at their easy-to-use search function and all of their options,” Slavens says of the popular furniture website Wayfair.com. “I’m not sure I would order any ‘comfort’ furniture like mattresses or sofas online. People have different opinions on what is firm or comfy.”
And Susan Miller thinks it’s important for multifamily property sites to provide information about the living community, such as crime rates, convenience to shopping, distance/route to work, etc. Slavens agrees, suggesting property managers should invite potential residents to visit at least twice. “It’s easy to fall in love with an apartment, condo or house during your first visit,” she says. “Try to visit at different times of the day or night to see what your actual neighbors or neighborhood is like.”
Lastly, Josh Palmer thinks car dealers could do a better job of tailoring the sales experience to match a buyer’s persona and where they are in the buying process. “Respect the fact that I’ve done my homework. Give me more information about the car and ownership experience. Put me in touch with other buyers. Let me read testimonials about the car-buying experience with your dealership, but make sure they’re authentic. Nothing smells as fishy as a phony review,” he says.
It’s no secret that multi-channel promotions can help enhance consumer engagement. After all, seeing the same imagery and messaging across multiple advertising channels can help keep brands top-of-mind. While brands are expected to see a substantial number of leads generated with multi-channel, PERQ’s texting add-on can help generate even better response rates. In our latest video, you’ll learn why our texting service is such a valuable addition to your multi-channel efforts.
Ready to add texting to your multi-channel promotion? Call your account rep at 800.873.3117 now!