Why CRM isn’t Always the Answer

Why CRM isn’t Always the Answer

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.

 

 

MAKING CRM WORK BETTER

As a database, CRM does what it should. A challenge is that CRM is being used as a marketing reporting source, which is not its original intent. Further, in multifamily, where roughly 20% of apartment rental leads go unfollowed, and the cost of a lead is on average $17 to $24, CRM is clearly not helping the team manage all the leads in their funnel. So what’s the solution?

 

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.

 

IN SUMMARY

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.

SuperHuman: How Leasing AI Supports Multifamily Teams

SuperHuman: How Leasing AI Supports Multifamily Teams

Picture a typical day in a typical leasing office: You have your typical leasing agent daily checklist — leads to look through in a crowded CRM, tours to give, residents who need support, and a steady flow of routine inquiries — some from promising prospects, others from people kicking the tires who’ll never engage with you again. By the time you climb your way out of the daily minutiae, it’s closing time and you’ve barely squeezed in high-impact activities like developing a new marketing campaign, meeting with high-potential leads and getting signatures on rental agreements.

 

If only you could clone yourself or add more hours to your day, right? It turns out you can.

 

What would be possible if you found a way to automate low-impact, time-sucking tasks without sacrificing customer care so you can do what you most enjoy and are best at? That’s what AI leasing assistants can do for your team.

 

Making brands more human, and humans more efficient

As ironic as it sounds, natural language AI leasing assistants actually make brands feel more human. That’s because they enable brands to engage consumers on a more personal level at scale, writes Mike Kaput, a senior PR consultant and Chief Content Officer at the Marketing AI Institute.

 

As humans, there’s a limit to the number of one-on-one conversations, relationships and tasks we can manage, let alone manage well. It’s no wonder workers get burned out and customers feel frustrated by delays, miscommunication and hit-and-miss exchanges. AI plugs that gap.

PERQ bot icon | AI Leasing Assistant

“With chatbots and other forms of conversational AI, marketers can participate in one-to-one conversations at scale, 24/7/365. And consumers, 90% of whom want to communicate with businesses through messaging, now have the means to connect with companies on their own terms, whenever they want,” says Kaput.

 

Kaput goes on to list specific things AI assistants can do to benefit workers and consumers. (We’ve added a few of our own to this AI Leasing Agent Resume.)

  • Provide instant answers in real time, ‘round the clock.
  • Eliminate or supplement lead generation forms.
  • Schedule property tours, calls or meetings — even while your leasing agents sleep, go out to lunch, or serve other customers.
  • Engage cold leads and warm them up for leasing agents.
  • Deliver support to less qualified or lower-priority leads so your team can focus on high-potential prospects.
  • Execute consistent follow-up and lead nurture.
  • Capture prospect preferences and behavior insights, learn from every interaction and adapt so messaging is increasingly relevant and personalized.
  • Make personalized recommendations.
  • Shorten the sales cycle and accelerate revenue growth.
  • Capture prospect data and instantly sync up with your CRM.
  • Facilitate decision-making, reveal blind spots and money-making opportunities with rich behavioral data.
  • Increase the value of connected technologies like your CRM and internet listings.

 

Multifamily property managers who’ve partnered with PERQ report they’ve been able to free up 10-12 hours of leasing specialists’ time per week as the AI leasing assistant tackles 70% of routine inquiries and captures 3-5X more prospect data points. As a result, they’ve experienced a 200-400% boost in leads, and up to 50% increase in tours and lead-to-tour conversions. The same is possible for your team!

 

Human + machine = more engaged employees

Shorter sales cycles, greater productivity and revenue are big benefits of AI leasing assistants, for sure. But for the humans on your team, it’s also a way to sharply reduce tasks that keep them from doing impactful work that requires human leasing agent skills.

 

“Organizations can use AI to automate mundane tasks, freeing up human workers to apply their uniquely human capabilities (such as interpretation, communication, judgement, and empathy) to less-routine tasks, as well as explore new problems and opportunities,” reports Deloitte researchers. “The focus is on augmenting people, not replacing them.”

 

Consequently, AI assistants help create an environment that’s more fulfilling for workers — a much-needed antidote to the wave of burnout and attrition growing across all industries.

 

From innovation to industry standard

Like the advent of cars, computers and smartphones, AI is just another revolution in a string of revolutions designed to enhance human experiences. And it’s quickly evolving from innovation to an industry standard, driven by consumer demand for instant gratification, deep personalization, and anytime/anywhere access.

 

“The landscape has changed,” reads the 2021 State of Marketing AI Report. “Leading marketers know that in order to deliver the personalization and experiences modern buyers expect, marketing must become smarter. It must be marketer + machine.”

 

There will always be jobs. Will AI change job functions? Sure. And that’s something to be excited about.

Halloween Themed Ideas for Apartment Communities

Halloween Themed Ideas for Apartment Communities

It’s officially spooky season! This is a great time for onsite teams to do some fun and festive events, contests, social content, and promos for local events. Depending on your location, this could be a time of year where there is a lull in leasing and you’re focusing more on resident satisfaction. Resident events, while for residents, can be used for your own marketing and SEO purposes as well. Taking photos and writing recap blog posts of these events can help boost your search rankings organically and give you more fun content to pull from when promoting posts on social media or running your ads later.

 

 

CONTESTS AND EVENTS

witch bot | PERQ AI Leasing AssistantHalloween is a great theme for events. Some themed activities you can do for your community include:

  • Door Decorating Contest
  • Costume Contest
  • Scary Movie Nights
  • Trick or Treat
  • Craft Night
  • Carving Jack O’Lanterns
  • Halloween Trivia/Bingo Night

 

It can be difficult to get resident participation, and this varies from community to community. Creating some incentives for winners and participation can boost your attendance numbers. For every post on social media, and for attending, you can give them a raffle ticket for either gift cards to local businesses or for online shopping. You could also do physical prizes like a new vacuum or pots and pans.

 

The best part about these kinds of events is that you can take photos and videos of them to use for content on your website, Instagram and TikTok. This will help break up the stock photo like posts of gallery photos and random community reminders. You can also write recap blogs about the events for your website. This can help boost your local SEO and give prospect’s a reason to stay on your site longer. People like to know about what life is like in different communities. That’s why reality tv and vlogging is a huge segment of entertainment.

 

If your community is all ages or has kids, hosting a trick or treat or a craft night for kids to help with door decorating will be a great win for prospects and residents with children. They want to live in communities that care about their children. Making it a fun place for kids to live will attract more families and encourage the ones that are there to renew. Not many communities tend to focus on the kids but if your property has a lot of families, you need to have some events and activities to cater to them as well.

 

These ideas can be done year after year. Tag us on Instagram or TikTok, @perqmarketing, if you end up doing any of these. Happy Halloween!

Standing Out in the Apartment Search

Standing Out in the Apartment Search

Leases all come to an end, and so the hunt for the next apartment begins. LocalIQ conducted a study of renters and found that 93% of respondents used an online search engine when looking for their next rental. 80% of respondents in the same study noted that they visited three or more property websites before deciding where to tour. This is how renters look for their next lease these days and in order for your property to be top of mind, it needs to be top of the search results. 4 out of 5 renters will look at a few property websites and if your property isn’t high up on the results page, it won’t be taken seriously.

 

 

STRATEGIZE

Local apartment SEO is important and needs to be prioritized. Digital marketing for apartments can have a lot of fun and creative elements, but if a prospect can’t find your website when they Google “apartments near me”, all that effort goes to waste. There are SEO strategy agencies as well as tools like Moz or SEMRush that can help you understand what keywords prospects are using in their search.

 

Knowing the keywords will help you optimize your website for search. Adding those keywords to the copy on your website pages is how search engines will be able to find your property and rank it higher organically. There aren’t a lot of areas of copy on property websites so how can multifamily SEO adapt?

 

 

BLOG ABOUT IT

Blogging is a great way to have more written copy on your property website. This is where you can add all sorts of keywords including ones that are more obscure. This is also where digital marketing for apartments can be more fun, creative, and unique. Dedicating time to write one blog a week will help increase your online search visibility more than you think. Businesses that blog have 55% more monthly visitors than those that don’t. More content means more for search engines to find and pull from.

 

What sort of content can you write about? Some ideas include:

  • Moving in/out tips
  • Storage/decor tips for specific floor plans
  • How to request maintenance
  • Recap of resident events
  • Reviews of local businesses

 

Blogging about the local community your property is a part of is a great way to boost your local SEO results. Renters who are looking to move into a new neighborhood will do research on what local life is like. Placing your multifamily property website as the hub of information of what’s what in the neighborhood will attract more rental prospects. Your website will show up in their research on the area and not just when they search for apartments. This allows for more visibility and gives the impression that your property is a fixture in the community.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media marketing for apartments seems to never change, no matter how many blogs are out there giving advice. The best apartment Facebook pages and Instagram feeds are the ones who are posting consistently. This takes time, energy, and effort. Make it one person’s responsibility to keep your socials up to date and posting content weekly.

 

TikTok is huge when it comes to apartment related content. Creating short videos of life at the apartment community will get you property in front of prospect’s in a place they least expect it. The best part is you can reuse these videos as a Reel on Instagram — their version of short videos on the app. You can spin some of the blog content into content for socials. Create a video explaining how to request maintenance or share moving tips for your property. You can even post about the local businesses and tag them.

 

Apartment SEO is a big task but it’s essential. Today’s generation of renters are more in tune with tech than ever and your property needs to be able to meet their expectations.

Walking the Line Between Occupancy and Pricing

Walking the Line Between Occupancy and Pricing

Finding and maintaining the perfect balance of occupancy and pricing is crucial for multifamily communities to achieve revenue success. In Multifamily Real Estate (MFRE,) it is considered a best practice to train employees to understand that the value of an asset comes in the form of it being a healthy, stabilized asset. That, by definition, is an asset that has not just achieved high occupancy, but that has achieved a balance of maximizing rent growth while maintaining/achieving stabilized occupancy.

 

Anyone can achieve “high occupancy.”  In fact, it would be really easy to get to 100% occupancy if a property simply dropped rents 20% below market rate. That, of course, would not achieve the true goal of a property, which is rental revenue. In order to have a truly performing real estate asset, you must push an asset’s rent growth while also increasing occupancy. It’s a balancing act.

 

This balancing, today, is hard. Pricing algorithms in revenue management systems will suggest how much a property can push on renewal rents and new rents. But, really, it is the job of a property manager — and all those that support that role — to understand what the market can truly handle in new rent. And this can only come from knowing the market.

 

 

THE BIG RUB

When a property is high occupancy, there is sudden tension between work needing to be done to manage residents and their needs, versus all the other things that get done out of the leasing office. It’s difficult to know what leasing will look like in the next quarter and availability will remain unknown until you are sending out renewal offers. This difficulty leads to unawareness of what units will be open and how they should be priced. When occupancy isn’t at risk, multifamily teams often end up not realizing how much they are shifting their attention away from maintaining this balance in the future.

 

The logic behind the decision seems sound, but this is a big mistake that puts both the occupancy and the pricing elements at risk. The loss in visibility of the market economics affects a property manager’s ability to properly price units.  And, being out of market for new renters can make it nearly impossible when you need them.

 

 

SMARTER PRICING BASED OFF DEMAND

Engaging with the market during those high occupancy times helps your team better understand market trends. When you keep your leasing activity alive, you gain visibility into:

  • Future demand for specific floor plans
  • Volume of active future leasing activity
  • Budgets of active future leasing prospects

 

This kind of actionable data empowers you to make smarter decisions on rent growth and price your units based on demand and what renters are willing to pay for specific units. Not only will you know if your units are underpriced, you will also understand if they may be overpriced. As a result, you will better understand your prospective renters’ budgets months before they make the move.

 

But how do you get this visibility if you’re not actively marketing and looking for renters?

 

 

FUTURE LEADS ARE LOOKING NOW

We all know the pandemic had a considerable impact on the MFRE industry.  But it also had an impact on renters. To find the property they seek to call their home, they need to begin looking earlier. Data collected by PERQ shows that over 22% of rental prospects are looking to move 6 months out from when they begin searching. So, while your property may be high occupancy, the leads that are coming in during these high occupancy months are still serious about renting at your property, but they aren’t ready to move for months.

 

It is becoming a best practice for PMC’s to continue with their marketing and leasing activity during these high occupancy months. Therefore, if the current resident in an apartment chooses not to renew, you already have a list of qualified leads who are ready to move in. This leads to quicker turnover of vacant units as well as the added benefit of pricing your units based on demand.

 

While each property is different and property management companies can have portfolios of varying sizes, 20 – 30% of your marketing budget needs to go to lead nurture and automation. According to DemandGen’s reporting, companies that have lead nurture campaigns show an average 20% increase in sales opportunities than non-nurtured leads. Cutting out lead nurture while you have high occupancy will make it harder for onsite teams to be successful with leads further down the pipeline.

 

But how does the leasing office manage all this activity as well as the added work of managing high-occupancy properties?

 

 

HOW PERQ CAN HELP

PERQ was built to solve this problem. With PERQ, you can maximize the effectiveness of all your marketing and leasing activity, and minimize the need for the team to do more work. PERQ uses AI to manage your top of funnel activity; managing communication, nurture and digital experiences for rental prospects before they are ready to speak with a leasing agent.

 

PERQ works with leads and pulls them down the pipeline, so when a vacant unit does open up, your team has a list of prospects who are qualified and ready to move. It nurtures all of those quality leads that have stated they are over 90 days out from moving, without adding more work on your leasing teams. PERQ’s proprietary combination of assistants, interactive online experiences, and cross-channel lead nurture keeps those prospects engaged, while also capturing important insights that help to qualify prospects and personalize their experience.

 

Without a technology like PERQ to pick up the work, these important leads are at risk of falling through the cracks. And, knowing how many leads are in your pipeline lets you more precisely budget marketing spend during your busiest leasing months.

 

 

CONCLUSION

High occupancy now doesn’t guarantee high occupancy in the future. Just because you’ve found a good balance now doesn’t mean there isn’t work to do to maintain that balance.

 

Lead nurture tools can help fill the talent gap, giving your prospective renters a consistent, engaging experience without the need for a leasing team member.  And, it can help you understand the balance between occupancy and pricing by giving you more insight into demand, renter budgets, and improve your operational efficiency year round.

 

That’s a concept that’s good for everyone.

Creative Ideas to Boost Your Apartment Marketing

Creative Ideas to Boost Your Apartment Marketing

The last couple of years have been all about adapting, evolving, and finding new solutions when it comes to how we market apartment communities. While the world has gone digital for quite some time, it wasn’t until the pandemic hit for remote lifestyles to become more normalized. Today’s generation of renters are different from any generation of renters before them and we have access to insightful data on their buying habits and what they want from a rental unit. Let’s dive into ideas that will strengthen your apartment marketing efforts from SEO to creative social media content.

 

LOCAL SEO MATTERS

You need your apartment community to show up on the first page of Google. In order to do this, you need to lock down a local SEO strategy. SEO, or search engine optimization, is the practice of finding what keywords and phrases your target audience is using when they search on Google or other search engines. Knowing these keywords allows you to add them to the copy on your multifamily property websites so your sites get ranked higher up on search results. We all know how important it is to be on the first page of results. These websites get more visibility and let’s be honest, how many times have you gone to the second or third page on Google?

 

LocalIQ conducted a study of renters and found that 93% of respondents used a search engine when looking for their next lease. 80% of respondents in the same study noted that they actually would visit three or more property websites before deciding which ones to visit in person. This shows that it’s important to be ranked higher up in searches when 4 out of 5 renters will look at multiple property websites. Local SEO needs to be prioritized in your marketing strategy. There are SEO strategy agencies that can help you or you could have someone dedicated to this by using SEO tools like Moz or SEMRush.

 

A WEBSITE TO REMEMBER

Once you’ve got your apartment SEO down, you need to have a property website that’s engaging and set up to collect insightful data on the prospect. There are a lot of fun marketing ideas for apartments that talk about social media, which is important and we will touch on, but another important and creative marketing idea is blogging.

Blog Assets | PERQ AI Leasing Assistant

Creating and maintaining a blog can be a lot of work but it’s worth it. Businesses with blogs have 55% more online visitors than those that don’t. Writing blogs will allow to have more places to add keywords onto the copy of your website page helping boost your search visibility. There are lots of things you can write about as a property to including:

  • A Move-in/Move-out Guide
  • Decorating tips for specific floor plans
  • How to put in maintenance requests and what to expect from them
  • Renter friendly storage ideas and DIYs
  • Recap of resident events
  • Local business reviews

 

There really is so much you can write about it. This is great not just for prospects but for residents as well. Creating a neighborhood/city guide will position your property website as the hub of information for what’s what in your local neighborhood. When renters sign a lease with your community, they are also committing to the neighborhood too. They want to know what life is like there and if it fits their needs — whether it’s vibrant nightlife or a quiet community, this impacts renters decisions too.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT

Apartment related content has over a billion views collectively on YouTube and TikTok. Getting your property in these tags will help you meet today’s renters where they are online. A lot of fun marketing ideas for apartments include Facebook contests, but let’s be honest, Gen Z don’t care for Facebook. A lot of them don’t even have an account.

 

While it’s important to keep a Facebook presence, your social media strategy needs to be focused on Instagram and TikTok. Luckily with Instagram you can easily share your posts on Facebook too so you don’t have to waste energy keeping your Facebook active.

Untitled design 21 | PERQ AI Leasing Assistant

When it comes to TikTok, a lot of the ideas of things you can blog about can easily be transformed into video content. Stay up to date on what the trending tags and sounds are as this is how you will be found.

 

Even if some of the trending hashtags don’t relate to what you are posting or relate to apartments in general, the way the TikTok algorithm works is based on adding those tags as well as #foryoupage and #fyp in order for your video to show up on renters’ feeds. Some ideas of posts, which can be done on both Instagram and TikTok include:

  • Pet of the month
  • Meet a member of the onsite team
  • Move-in/Move-out tips
  • Resident Event vlogs/recap posts
  • Local business review

 

Apartment marketing needs to be more creative in order to get the attention of Gen Z renters. They will look at your competitors before making a decision so you need to make sure you stand out and really show how your community can be their future home.