Inbound Marketing for Multifamily Properties

Whether you’re a new or seasoned multifamily marketer, chances are you’ve been scratching your head lately and questioning how to best attract, convert and retain renters to your multifamily properties.

The past couple of years have been a season of dramatic transition in consumer behaviors, digital habits, and renter journeys. That rapid transformation will continue as AI advancements fuel new automation, access and conveniences, reshaping consumer expectations once again.

In our experience helping multifamily marketers supercharge conversions, we see five themes driving significant changes in multifamily inbound marketing programs:

The renter’s journey is now longer and more complicated.

Our analysis of tens of thousands of digital renter interactions shows the average renter’s journey is now 46 days, with many taking more than six months to find an apartment. The “Looky-Lous” of yesterday are now your typical prospect.

They’re also conducting much of that search in hidden mode, favoring self-service resources and making decisions about your properties long before they’re willing to interact with a leasing agent.

There’s a generational shift happening too. A lot of our renters are now younger, and they’re used to a more automated experience and the instant gratification that comes with that. They don’t want to talk to anyone on the phone, ever. They would much rather have a chatbot experience or have somebody emailing or texting.

Meagan Struve, Marketing Analyst, Mission Rock

Consumer expectations are sky-high…

…as they should be, considering how much they’re spending on an apartment lease. As one multifamily leader told us, you’re now competing with the ease, speed, personalization and on-demand support consumers enjoy with Amazon, Apple, and AI assistants.

People buy everything from groceries to cars online and enjoy cohesive and personalized experiences across multiple digital channels. This isn’t happening in multifamily. When a prospective renter goes to a property website, then jumps to an internet listing site, then calls the onsite team, those experiences completely lack personalization and continuity. They are constantly starting over and have to work hard to get questions answered.

Mounting pressures on leasing/marketing teams.

Your onsite team is still expected to manage these expectations amidst rising burnout and turnover. As the renter’s journey grows longer and more complex, emails don’t get returned, calls don’t get answered, and tours aren’t personalized to prospect data captured from online interactions, such as preferred floorplans, budgets or features. Rampant worker turnover is creating a never-ending cycle of hiring, training, rinse and repeat.

All this leads to a tremendous waste in marketing dollars and frustration for multifamily teams. That’s especially true when you can’t fully leverage your website for leads and must rely on expensive leads from paid listing services that rarely get adequate follow-up.

The good news: All of these challenges have already been solved in other industries. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. That’s where a tested, AI-powered inbound marketing strategy comes in.

Inbound Marketing in a Snapshot

Put simply, an inbound marketing strategy is the process of attracting prospects, encouraging them to make the first move, then fueling buying intent with personalized nurture.

A high-performing inbound marketing program typically includes four components:

  1. Capturing the attention of potential renters.
  2. Compelling them to share their personal information (i.e., lead capture) by exchanging that info for valuable resources (helpful content, interactive tools) on your website and digital channels.
  3. Nurturing leads with automated messaging that’s personalized to their preferences, engagement behaviors, and other interests they have revealed about themselves.
  4. Passing only leads that are ready for a real buying conversation to the sales team.
inbound marketing definition image

Item #4 above is one that many marketers get wrong and see their efforts flop, so let’s expand on it: When marketers hand leads to leasing agents too early (that is, before they’ve had a chance to drive engagement and buying intent), leasing agents invariably cherry-pick leads, putting some on hold or letting others fall through the cracks without follow-up. In multifamily, roughly 20% of apartment rental leads go ignored — a practice that adds up quickly when leads can cost upward of $50 each.

a chart showing the process before inbound marketing

Rather than treating all leads as equal, inbound marketing shoulders the responsibility of qualifying and warming up leads before passing them on to sales.

In this model, leasing agents focus on tours, lease applications and signings with high-intent prospects, while inbound marketing automation does all the rest, from lead capture to nurture and on-demand support.

a chart showing the process after inbound marketing

Automatic Lead Capture and Nurture with AI

With that overview out of the way, what does it take to compel those self-lead searchers to share their contact info, or even reveal personal moving plans and preferences?

Increasingly, it comes down to your website’s ability to deliver the types of “made-for-me” experiences consumers routinely enjoy from their favorite retail and entertainment platforms: instant answers personalized to their interests.

Interactive quizzes, calculators, floor plan matches, AI chatbots, virtual tours, and how-to guides are some of the ways you can sway visitors to share their contact information so you can follow up later, nudging them to return and take the next step.

interactive website experiences chart

Once you’ve captured prospect information, multifamily automation technology can take that info and tailor nurture communications (email, SMS) that’s relevant to each prospect’s interests, website behaviors, and other insights you’ve captured via interactive tools.

Allow us to stress one important point: Your lead nurture can only be as personalized as the data you have, which is why those early website experiences are so important. As you capture more information about each lead, you’re then able to customize a myriad of nurture communications, including:

  • The cadence of touches based on the renter’s move-in window
  • Content based on preferred floor plans or budget
  • Content based on other preferences like how your community supports pets, disability access, fitness or community areas, for example
  • Nudging next steps based on the prospect’s last recorded behaviors
  • Availability notifications for units that match their interests
  • Follow up on themes or questions they asked your chatbot

How effective can lead nurture be in times of slow demand? Let’s consider Q4, 2022 — a period when multifamily properties experienced a dip in move-ins. Even so, we saw the influence of lead nurture grow from Q3 (28.85%) to Q4 (39.26%) with more move-ins responding to nurture efforts during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

Multifamily Case Study: 90-Day Results

Marketing leaders at Laramar Group, a Chicago-based property management group, were looking to revamp their inbound marketing and lead management. With limited staff and lots of leads, Laramar teams were struggling to keep up and discern high-value leads from low-value ones, spending a ton of time on low-impact activities like answering FAQs. Good leads were slipping through the cracks and the team was frazzled trying to juggle the volume of inquiries and unqualified leads coming at them.

Laramar decided to pilot PERQ at select properties for 90 days, then compare results against metrics from the previous year for the same properties.

Initially, the Laramar team had been focused on an AI chatbot capability to manage FAQs on its websites. With PERQ, they realized the conversational AI component could also learn from each interaction to customize nurture communications. The more users interacted with the property’s website and inbound marketing channels, the more the AI learned, and the more it could use that intel to personalize messaging, cadence, calls-to-action, and more.

Three months later, Laramar reported:

  • 182% increase in lead-to-tour conversions
  • 113% increase in website traffic to lead conversion
  • 90.4% of tours scheduled via website interactive tools, requiring zero human interaction
  • 2,858 fewer hours spent managing leads, equating to $57,160 in payroll value
  • $43,116 in savings or cost avoidance in lead generation (more sales generated from website traffic, plus more tours from nurtured leads)

Our conversion rates went up and we saw an immediate impact on the team. We began getting positive feedback from site teams that they no longer have to spend time to figure out which are the hottest leads because now they’re getting qualified tours…We’ve been running under budget on marketing by a couple thousand dollars a month.

Anna Shea, Senior Director of Marketing, Laramar Group

What a difference, and in just 90 days! Laramar’s results aren’t isolated examples. Rather, they’re consistent with what we’ve seen with many multifamily marketing programs applying the inbound marketing approach we’ve shared. (Hear from other multifamily marketers in their own words, here.)

With the right lead nurture automation and personalized nurture tools, your multifamily team can supercharge renter conversions and onsite team performance. You might even reduce spending and workload significantly, all while delighting prospective renters. It’s the beauty of blending AI-powered automation and personalization with human talent to get the best of both worlds.

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