Email fatigue. We have all experienced this once or twice in our lives. The state of being so burnt out on receiving emails that we simply ignore, delete or send unwanted emails to the spam folder. Since going digital back in early March, email fatigue is a problem that most consumers seem to be facing at an alarmingly high rate. From retail to newsletters we unknowingly subscribed to when we checked off a box on website to just general spam, inboxes everywhere are cluttered more than ever.
This requires businesses to have to be creative in how they reach their audiences. Sometimes an email, which might have been used in the past, simply won’t cut it these days. So how do you standout in a sea of people vying for the same person’s attention?
Know your audience
It is easy to get stuck in a rut when prospecting via email. Knowing your audience and how to respond to emails is an easy way to begin seeing traction with your outreach. In a recent lunch and learn, Liv Gabrielsen, Director of Marketing for Bainbridge said that the biggest downfall with email marketing is we have become so accustomed to automation. Liv says “We treat leads as a lead and fail to recognize where they are in their buying journey.” Liv goes on to explain that a lead with a 30 day close time versus a lead with a 120 day close time should be communicated with differently and not receive the same response.
The age of renters may not have changed but the generations have. The oldest of Gen Z have entered the age of renting and adulthood. This generation expects automation and instant gratification that comes from AI technology. They also are experts at using social media, specifically Instagram and TikTok, to look up their next purchases and financial commitments. Later in this article we’ll get into Instagram for apartment communities and some apartment social media post ideas.
Pick up the phone and call the prospect!
Another great way to stand out from the crowd is by simply not sending an email at all. Instead, pick up the phone and call your prospect. Especially now, everyone is so used to staring at their screens all day. Talking with someone over the phone and allowing them to put a voice to the name can be a great change of pace. However, having a Caller ID would be a good idea. We live in an era of flooded inboxes and also an era of relentless spam calls. Having a Caller ID set up will help get more prospects to answer the phone instead of decline the call. They’ll know it’s from you and not some spam robot.
Lean into other forms of media
Lastly, when email isn’t working, check out other forms of media to get in front of your contacts. Exploring new avenues such as social media marketing for apartments is an easy way to connect with prospects and current renters. When you are trying to engage your communities, some apartment social media ideas. you can do are using things like interactive social features including: instagram polls, swipe ups on social media, hashtags to engage audience, TikTok videos and contests! For prospective renters, make the tone of your emails and outreach more conversational. The less you are trying to “sell” to them and the more “human” your interactions seem, the higher the engagement there will be.
When it comes to Instagram and TikTok, short form videos have really taken off. You can do tours of floor plans, how to put in a maintenance request, move-in tips, and decorating tips that are renter friendly. Apartment videos on these platforms have billions of views. Putting your property in those categories is great for visibility and subtly promoting your property to the new generation of renters.
We also have a few blog posts that cover outreach marketing ideas for apartments that explore more ways social media, email marketing, and local businesses can all intersect for prospecting and resident giveaway ideas.
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.”
Armed with an array of digital apartment rental leads generation sources, multifamily properties can find themselves inundated in an unmanageable tangle of online leads coming in from all digital directions. Intelligent lead automation simplifies the lead nurture process for a multifamily property management company and frees up the leasing specialists so they can focus on contacting the highest priority prospects first.
“In the current state of online lead management, you have more online leads than ever before,” says Marcella Eppsteiner, Vice President of Marketing at Mission Rock Residential. “How do we know they are really ready to move or make a decision? Currently, our industry follows up with a broad-stroke approach and we really need a laser-focused approach.”
AI-powered technology sharpens a property’s entire lead nurturing process, starting with website software that delivers interactive, personalized content to visitors and collects detailed lead data. You can prioritize leads based on the data analytics, such as when a prospect indicates they plan to move, and the resulting machine learning insights predict the most likely path to lease conversion at that property. AI Leasing Assistants also give the most up to date rental listings and tour availability so the prospect can look at the most accurate listings.
An intelligent automated lead nurture system separates prospects into two distinct groups: hot renter leads ready to rent right now and leads higher up in the sales funnel who are still researching options. To streamline lead volume, onsite leasing specialists only receive qualified leads deemed by the data to be the most likely leads to convert, so they can focus on following up with the highest-priority prospects.
“Let the heavy human capital handle the important follow-up,” says Scott Hill, Co-Founder and CEO at PERQ. “Condense opportunities down to those leads most likely to tour and that most fit the profile.”
A smart lead automation approach helps properties solve the challenge of attracting too many low-quality leads and effectively reduces the lead volume the leasing staff needs to focus on at one time. Use the following tips for adding automation to improve your multifamily property’s lead management process and increase the percentage of online leads that convert to tours and leases.
“You’ll see a higher lead-to-tour and tour-to-lease rate, because you’re following up with the right people,” Hill says.
Collect More Data on Rental Prospects Who Engage on Your Website
Engage your website visitors to help them educate themselves and do research on your multifamily properties, while you get valuable lead data about each prospect who engages with the personalized hub of AI-driven leasing tools, such as a chatbot that can answer questions 24/7, Explore the Area or Find Your Floor Plan assessments.
“Get more data from your website and look for ways to get the consumer to give you more information, because it is valuable,” Hill says.
Collecting detailed lead data allows your property to identify which leads are ready to rent now, and which prospects should be nurtured using intelligent lead automation until they’re closer to signing a lease. Your marketing department can adjust the digital marketing strategy and messaging to specifically target the different segments of leads.
Prioritize Your Online Leads
By capturing lead data from all of the website visitors who engage with the site’s content and dynamic incentives, you’re building a pipeline of potential leads not quite ready to rent. Treat these as your property’s “Waiting List.”
“Capturing more consumers earlier in the process enables you to have a tremendous amount of data. There are ways to do it where the consumer wants to share information because they get information in return,” Hill says. “Once you have the data, you can qualify the leads. Send the most important leads to your leasing team while you nurture other leads until they are worth your team’s time.”
You can score potential leads based on their answers to your interactive content, individual website behavior and their willingness to talk to a leasing agent or schedule a property tour. Leverage your CRM if it comes with this advanced functionality, or create best practices for your leasing teams so they know how to prioritize online leads.
“Any sales staff is going to be strapped for time to some extent, and there’s only going to be so much manual follow-up they can do. So, it’s important to take some of that load off their shoulders and automate where you can,” says Michael Norris, Chief Marketing Officer at Youtech, a full-service marketing and advertising agency that recently partnered with PERQ to assist clients using the AI technology or are interested in trying the cloud-based marketing software. “There are just certain things that machines can do better than humans.”
Train Your Onsite Leasing Team
Leasing specialists should be the forefront of your brand, and possess the experience and strong sales skills to close the deal when a prospect is ready to sign a lease on the spot. Invest in sales training for your onsite leasing team, and make sure they know which conversations you want them to have with potential renters.
For leads ready to rent now, leasing specialists should contact those right away to avoid losing them to a competing property. Prospects expect prompt responses to digital requests and require a personalized response that shows your leasing team wants to help.
“The leasing agent becomes a concierge to help prospects along and make an easier facilitation of the leasing process when they are ready to engage,” Hill says.
Norris agrees it’s of the utmost importance to respond to inquiries quickly and in a personalized way since consumers are accustomed to the world catering to them “with social media algorithms and dopamine hits.”
“It’s important to follow up in a personalized manner, too, and this is something I think PERQ does well,” Norris says. “Not only is it automated to an extent, but it’s also personalized to the individual.”
Use Lead Automation to Keep Rental Prospects Engaged
Automated email nurture campaigns can tie into how you score leads and follow a pre-set schedule based on where they’re at in the leasing journey. The timely messages keep your multifamily brand top of mind while they continue researching, no matter how long their apartment search takes.
“With automated prospect emails, our lead management system generates an introduction to engage the prospect prior to involving the onsite team,” says Meagan Struve, Marketing Manager at Mission Rock. “This automated engagement essentially gauges the prospect’s interest before a person steps in to further the conversation towards leasing the apartment.”
With AI technology, automated emails are personalized and curated to only include content relevant to their search on the property website. Say a prospect plans to move from another state, your leasing team could email a video highlighting their favorite floor plan, according to their responses on the website.
Entice them to take the next step like schedule a tour through an automated scheduling tool online, driving them back to the website to re-engage, or encourage the prospect with a personalized incentive. If they own pets, send them an email showing off your pet-friendly amenities and fun “yappy hour” events or include “welcome” offers from neighborhood dog groomers, dog walkers or vets.
Since implementing PERQ’s AI-driven technology to automate lead nurturing and engage online prospects on the Mission Rock property websites, Eppsteiner says the company sees a 50% tour-to-lease conversion rate compared to the average industry closing ratio of 35%.
“Our sales teams are rockstars, and it’s also because the people coming in are ready to lease,” she says. “Where I anticipate automation going, we’ll actually convert more and should anticipate the conversion ratio going up to 60%. The people your team are reaching out to have already been nurtured. These leads are ready, true prospective residents.”
Trust the Automated Lead Nurture Process
Despite your instinct to try and follow up with every lead that comes in the digital door, it’s more efficient and effective to trust the automation process and listen to what the data tells your team about a lead’s readiness to commit to a lease.
“With automation, we have ways to sort and use data which has given me time back to focus on the bigger picture,” Struve says. “I’m not in the day-to-day manual management of data. Yet, I am leveraging the data more usefully while gathering pertinent information for a smoother process.”
Follow up first with prospects the lead management system identifies as a top priority, flagged for being more likely to rent based on gathered data. Trust that it’s better to use automated lead nurture to target lower-priority leads instead of taking away from a leasing agent’s precious time.
Follow the Data to See Results in Lead Automation
By implementing all of the above, you’ll capture better data to help improve operational efficiencies and give better insights into property performance to make better decisions. Richer lead data makes personalized lead follow-up possible.
Your property can tap into online data to track multi-touch attribution for every tour, lead and lease. Easy-to-digest Google Analytics reports show how visitors interact on the website and which platforms convert the most leads into leases, along with ROI of all lead generation sources and digital ad campaigns that target keywords like “apartments for lease near me” for higher visibility.
“We have properties that compete against each other, so we are constantly using automation data and watching to ensure that we have a smart spend in those markets,” says Desiree White, Marketing Manager with NE Property Management. “My team does a lot behind the scenes, getting reports and analytics to make sure we’re staying at the top of our market and our onsite teams are seeing success.”
Continuously study the results to spot ways to adjust and improve, and be sure to share reports across all teams in your property management company to keep the big picture in focus.
“This takes collaboration. Marketers are basically data analysts. That analysis is shared with your operations team, your leasing team, and your training team,” Eppsteiner advises. “With these engagement pieces, we are able to get insights into properties. We can share this with our training team to incorporate that information. Data has to be shared with your leasing team.”
There was a time when multifamily communities could still rely on a simple “Contact Us” website lead form, or force prospects to pick up the phone or send an email if they’re interested in touring the property. That approach often results in a lot of back-and-forth communication on what kind of floor plan the renter wants, any special needs or amenity requirements, and available dates and times that work for both the prospect and leasing specialist.
More than 80% of prospects start their apartment search online by typing something similar to apartments for lease near me into Google, according to data analyzed for PERQ’s new Multifamily Field Guide. They’ll go to apartments.com or zillow before the property website. They spend up to three months narrowing down what one or two properties they will visit in person before signing a lease.
Capitalize on that vast amount of time prospects spend researching communities online, and make it simple for those prospects to take the next step in the leasing process. Follow these five tips to collect higher quality leads and book more property tours:
1. Turn Your Website Into a Leasing Consultant
Meet apartment rental leads where they’re shopping and serve them the information they seek in one convenient place, such as how much money they should budget for utilities and rent and the quality of restaurants in the neighborhood.
In return, your property gathers quality personal data on each lead that can make converting them into a lease much easier when it comes time for a tour. You’ll already know what they’re looking for, and they’ll already have a good idea of what they want. It’s much more detailed lead information than the name, phone number and email address properties receive from standard static forms or internet listings.
“I consider our website a leasing consultant,” says Mary Herrold, Senior Director of Marketing at Redwood Residential, which uses PERQ on all of its multifamily community websites to collect, analyze and convert online leads. “Just like a live human leasing consultant, it needs to do its job. It needs to convert.”
PERQ’s AI Leasing Assistant delivers prospects with interactive online experiences to help them narrow down the perfect apartment to call home, offers 24/7 support with an AI chatbot, and an online scheduling tool for booking tours.
Herrold says she uses PERQ to train new apartment rental agent or when onboarding a new property, telling them to pay attention to the questions the AI software asks and in what order, then mimic that lead nurturing process when talking to a prospect on the phone or in person.
2. Bridge the Gap Between Renter Leads and Tours
“Since the beginning of time in the multifamily industry, there’s been a gap between lead and tour,” Herrold says. “The lead-to-tour cavern has always presented a challenge.”
Herrold credits the online scheduler tool with building a bridge to successfully traverse that costly cavern. “PERQ increases the momentum,” she says. “The commitments that are made along the experiences, they’re small commitments, but they lead up to an ultimate commitment. So, little yeses mean a big yes, and that’s the main goal.”
She says before the online option, even if a lead to agreed to an appointment, prospects often didn’t take the next step to actually schedule the tour or failed to keep their scheduled appointment with a leasing specialist.
When prospects engage with the AI-driven interactive experiences on a property website, they invest their valuable time and personal data. According to PERQ data, that makes them statistically more likely to pick that community as the one or two apartments they’ll visit in person.
Because they’ve already dedicated so much of their focus to the brand, made the no-pressure appointment on their own, and volunteered their name and information, they’re also more likely to honor an appointment they make to tour the property.
3. Prompt More Prospects to Book Tours
If a prospective renter searches for their new apartment home at 10 p.m. on a Wednesday night, you want to give them the option to schedule a tour without picking up the phone or waiting for an email response the next day. By adding an interactive calendar tool on the website that allows consumers to schedule a tour at their convenience, a community can compel more prospects to book an appointment at the property.
For PERQ multifamily clients, 15% of online leads captured by our Web Conversion Technology schedule a tour on the property website after engaging with the interactive experiences to learn more about the community.
It’s the convenience and instant gratification of booking right then that drives prospects to take the next step in the leasing process, whenever they’re ready to move forward and tour the community in person.
4. Focus on Quality Leads for Best Lead Nurture
In our experience working with PERQ clients and studying industry data, high-quality traffic gives properties a higher probability of conversion. Collecting more detailed and robust lead information increases the likelihood those online leads will convert into signed leases.
From an efficiency standpoint, leasing agents should spend their time engaging and following up with quality leads that can convert, as opposed to chasing unqualified leads that take up more time.
Properties can use a CRM to sort and prioritize leads based on when they say they’re ready to buy.
5. Measure Online Traffic & Lead Conversions
A multifamily community can increase the quality of their online traffic by measuring the sources they utilize to drive traffic. Google Analytics is a helpful tool for analyzing your traffic to see which channels drive the most online leads and the most conversions.
When paired with PERQ’s own tracking software, anonymous leads in Google Analytics transform into identifiable leads who can be followed across devices, multiple viewing sessions and different touchpoints on their leasing journey.
It’s important when tracking online traffic to set benchmarks and goals at the beginning, and regularly check the data to ensure things are headed in the right direction. Be prepared to tweak your online approach as you review the results, compare them to the conversion goals you set and measure which traffic source is performing the best.
By investing in AI-driven technology, properties can collect higher quality leads, entice more online prospects to book tours, and convert more leads.
There are no hard-and-fast rules for digital marketing. It’s an aspect of business that’s ever-changing and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Internet platforms and social media channels popular today didn’t even exist just a few short years ago when everyone (and, yes, even their mother) began shopping around online prior to making big purchases, such as buying home appliances, a vehicle, or leasing an apartment.
Every company must take a custom approach to their digital marketing strategy based on their own target audience, marketplace, team members and business goals — then adjust accordingly after analyzing the results to see which marketing endeavors increase leads and revenue, which is everyone’s ultimate goal.
That may be the single aspect of digital marketing we all share as business owners and leaders: we want to attract more people (leads, customers, partners, influencers, advertisers, media, and other industry thought leaders) and we want to increase our profit, or at least reduce inefficiencies for a better margin.
A couple of weeks ago, we kicked off a three-part blog series on digital marketing to help you navigate the new as well as the tried-and-true digital marketing methods that work for an experienced group of business professionals I recently interviewed.
Some sell furniture and some lease apartments. Some specialize in digital marketing consulting and some specialize in technology so businesses can better manage digital marketing. For Part 2 of our blog series, I’ve compiled the top three proven tips my sources say helped them improve digital marketing performance.
How these tips apply to your business depends on your particular industry and existing marketing plan, but the overarching principle pertains to every kind of business that invests in any online advertising and marketing — which really should include every kind of company at this stage of the digital revolution.
Do These 3 Things to Improve Your Digital Marketing
1. Invest in digital marketing avenues that deliver trackable ROI data tied to revenue. When evaluating new digital marketing technology, always pay attention to the analytics side of the tool. What data does it deliver, and more importantly, does it calculate ROI results or track the number of leads to sales?
“If you’re not sure where to spend your marketing money, go with something that can be tracked,” says Justin Bowen, Web Content Manager for The Great American Home Store, one of the many success stories of PERQ’s Marketing Cloud. “Tracking is critical. If you’re not tracking results, you don’t know what to change or what to do better.”
Bowen says knowing precise ROI for each digital platform makes it easier to make educated digital marketing budget decisions, such as investing in a new technology solution or cutting a campaign that isn’t working out as planned.
“Last year, we had a budget issue and were told we had to cut back because certain efforts weren’t providing the right amount of return on investment,” Bowen says. “Anything we spend on digital has to be trackable. The opportunity to do so is there if you choose the right platform. Demand that from any vendor; make them prove it delivers actual sales.”
2. Set analytic metrics and goals for each digital marketing platform. Simply collecting data isn’t enough. Before launching any marketing campaign, you need to set metrics and expectations so you can measure effectiveness over time.
By setting a benchmark, your digital marketing department can decide which investments are worth the cost and easily justify increasing or decreasing the budget for an online marketing tool or ad campaign.
Not all leads can be compared by the same standards. An in-depth lead profile from someone who’s already engaged with your website and volunteered their personal data delivers more value than a cheaper lead generation source that merely gives you a name and email address but no information on what the consumer is looking for, when they plan to buy or lease, how they prefer to communicate or any other personal buying preferences.
“The data we receive from our website allows us to make better decisions,” says Jenny Richard, Director of Marketing at Gene B. Glick Company, a multifamily property management company. “Collecting what amenities are important from one property to another, where they like to spend their time outside the community, understanding our customers’ journey and how far in advance of their move-in date they are looking are some examples that we focus on.”
Richards says they focus on metrics like appointment conversion and lead attribution, regularly meeting with their property managers to review the online analytics and collaborate ways to achieve benchmarks they set.
“With the wealth of data available to us, our strategy includes setting benchmarks and monitoring the results of our efforts on a bi-weekly basis to pivot as needed,” Richards says.
Additionally, Glick put into place a benchmark for response time on e-leads and SMS inquiries of 4 business hours. “We have a goal to significantly improve this response time as we know the importance of responding more promptly — it’s imperative to reduce the risk of losing a potential renter,” Richards says. “We look forward to more robust technology to provide us additional visibility into this.”
3. Add AI automation technology to increase efficiencies and conversion rates. Within 150 days of adding AI-driven software to its existing store website, The Great American Home Store saw a 3,740.41% return on investment and 2.38% conversion rate on unique leads captured through the interactive website experiences.
The explosion of AI technology means smaller businesses can now provide an online experience that rivals giant e-commerce and national brand websites, while also managing internal lead processes and analytics the same way big corporations do.
An AI-powered digital marketing cloud offers companies a powerful tool to increase staff and investment efficiencies and better manage all of their data in one place. Companies use cloud technology to automatically store lead data and internal notes, track consumers across multiple touchpoints, tie sales data to online leads, assign leads to sales staff, and add marketing automation like email and texting to nurture online leads long-term. When built to serve your specific industry, a digital marketing cloud can deliver a huge boost in efficiency, actionable insights and consumer satisfaction.
Above all else, a marketing cloud that features machine learning capabilities can analyze millions of consumer data points collected from online shoppers across hundreds of B2C websites alongside your own company data to better predict customer conversion and narrow down a target audience for specific platforms, as well as automatically adjust your various digital marketing campaigns in real time.
Start with Solid Digital Marketing Data and Analytics
When it comes to digital marketing, everyone I’ve talked to all agree: start with the fundamentals. Make sure your entire team is on the same page about what success looks like for any given marketing campaign and you have the tools in place to properly measure the results.
Be willing to switch directions if something doesn’t pan out, but also give it some time to ramp up and grow. If you change too much at once or switch things around too quickly, you won’t get a clear idea of its true potential. The wait is worth the reward when you find a winning digital marketing strategy.
Check back next month for the final piece of our 2019 digital marketing series to see what three common mistakes sources say they either learned the hard way or often see other businesses make when managing a digital marketing strategy.