How a Marketing Cloud Solves Common Multifamily Industry Problems8 min read
The “cloud” may seem like an obscure notion, an ambiguous technology we use often despite understanding very little about how it works, but once mastered a marketing cloud for multifamily properties can address pain points across every level of a property management company.
An AI-driven marketing cloud centralizes a multifamily property’s various technologies and data, streamlining internal business processes while also delivering a better customer experience for prospects who start their apartment search online. Every member of a property management team stands to benefit from the multi-pronged approach to generating, tracking and converting leads.
From asset owners and C-suite leaders to on-site property managers and leasing specialists, to the staff working in marketing and regional management, a marketing cloud gives everyone at the company clear, cohesive and actionable insights into prospect data and calculates return on marketing investments. The cloud also frees up time and energy for the staff by utilizing marketing automation and artificial intelligence for a personalized, yet automated approach.
“Having all of our data in one location to search through, versus having to go to each individual [database source] would be great,” says Trent Jones, Regional Marketing & Training Director at The Worthing Companies, which manages apartment communities in Georgia, Texas and North Carolina. “You could plate it up by zip code or other parameters, so you can get a snapshot of likes for multiple properties and prospects at one time.”
The possibilities a marketing cloud presents a property are endless, particularly when created specifically for multifamily communities. Here’s how a cloud can help property management companies tackle common problems the industry faces at every level of operations.
Improve Property Websites Using AI Technology
With online search engines changing algorithms to focus on local and voice-based searches, which is expected to soon account for half of all searches, more prospective renters land directly on a property’s website instead of first visiting a general third-party leasing website.
Optimizing a multifamily property’s marketing strategy begins by bolstering the website with AI technology, so it can serve as the No. 1 lead and lease source for property managers. The property website is often the first point of contact for prospects, which do most of their apartment research online well in advance of contacting someone at the leasing office. By improving the website so it captures and nurtures more leads, properties can solve multiple problems at once.
Pain Point: Competing against properties on third-party websites.
Why spend more money to compete against other properties on apartment listing sites when more people search direct these days? Stand out from the local search competition with an exceptional property website. With just a single line of code added to an existing site, a property management company can add interactive leasing tools automatically personalized with AI-guided software and behavior tracking.
Pain Point: Only get name and basic contact info from leads, instead of robust profiles.
Websites augmented with web conversion software collects detailed lead data from prospects as they go through the online experiences that help them narrow their list of potential places to live, such as a community assessment that evaluates the neighborhood priorities of individual renters and then shows them related Yelp reviews on places of interest nearby.
“The data gathered on our websites helps us be more personable on our responses,” says Chris Berry, Senior Regional Manager at First Communities Management in Atlanta, when talking about the advantages to collecting more robust lead data on their property websites. “We’re able to tailor our responses, whether it be in an email or phone call.
“I encourage my team to use that information and not just send a cookie-cutter response that’s telling the prospect something they already know about the property. They’ve already been to our website and answered questions. You have to really think about it and put those things they’ve told you into action.”
Automate Lead Generation and Lead Nurture to Increase Leads
Investing in a marketing cloud solution that includes quality lead generation tied to an automated lead nurturing system can save properties significant money by collecting and converting exponentially more leads, without extra work from the leasing or marketing teams.
Pain Point: Expensive and poor conversion rates on third-party leads.
Online visitors who spend several minutes engaging on an interactive site and volunteer personal information are much more likely to convert to a lease than generic leads generated through third-party websites — and at a much lower cost per lead and lease.
Within three months of adding AI-powered software, First Communities experienced an average online lead lift of 865% across four properties and a 200% increase in time online visitors spent on the websites. PERQ data pulled from the website analytics shows the software influenced 25% of all leads at those properties during the first 90 days, with a lead-to-lease conversion rate of 4.78% (industry average hovers around 1%). At a cost of $3.82 per lead conversion and $91.92 per lease, the website software performs well above any other lead generation source the company invests in, according to Berry.
Pain Point: About half of online leads not followed up on properly, or at all.
When connected to a marketing cloud, the website feeds detailed consumer profile information into a cloud-based CRM database where property managers can organize leads based on estimated move date and other essential personal information gathered from online visitors. They can also track who in the leasing office touched a lead, along with when and how they followed up, and how successfully they converted leads into leases.
An AI-driven cloud solution that’s digitally linked to a property’s prospect database also offers properties a way to automatically send lead nurture emails and text messages based on where they’re at in the leasing journey. Leasing specialists can then focus their time on renters ready to sign a lease right away, while prospects who are months away from leasing receive timely, helpful content and incentives that drive them back to the website to re-engage with the property and eventually set an appointment through an online scheduler.
When automated, every lead gets acknowledged in a timely fashion with a personalized, relevant message. No more leads slipping through the cracks of a manual database and tracking system.
Calculate Online Advertising ROI and Base Marketing Decisions on Data
To make better marketing decisions, properties need better data. Marketing clouds featuring next-generation tracking software and machine learning capabilities deliver big data insights into the targeted online audience for a particular property and the ROI of all online marketing efforts, then automatically take appropriate action in response to the real-time results.
Pain Point: Inability to optimize marketing spend based on quality data.
An AI-based CRM tracks multi-touch lead attribution across multiple online platforms and channels to give multifamily companies the complete leasing journey for prospects, as well as broader analytics to spot trends and marketing opportunities. Regional property managers and executives can easily peer into the cloud-based system to see which marketing efforts converted the most leads into leases and evaluate a leasing office’s performance.
“By tracking our leads, we know whether or not our teams are following up and how they’re doing so,” Berry says. “You’ve got to be able to prove it out, that you’re getting the value out of your investment in the software and the people who work for you.”
Pain Point: Difficulty seeing which advertising channels drive leads and leases.
Because it accounts for multi-touch attribution and identifies anonymous leads to build in-depth profiles, a connected CRM gives properties the power to run detailed analytics reports that calculate the exact ROI of every advertising and marketing spend.
Sophisticated marketing clouds utilize machine learning, a subset of AI technology that evaluates large sets of data to predict outcomes and automatically adjust settings, to present properties with an “ideal renter profile” and how to best target those type of prospects. It compares a property’s proprietary data to millions of other data points stored in the cloud to show the best path to conversion for their specific target audience.
Based on the real-time data, the unified cloud systems can work together to evaluate every online advertising campaign for a property and automatically adjust spending to maximize results.
“Feeding them too much data is overwhelming,” says Bob Romine, owner of R.C. Romine and Associates, a full-service marketing agency that primarily serves multifamily clients. Many businesses use enterprise cloud systems designed for big corporations that aren’t industry-specific. A cloud-based system built for the multifamily industry instead makes the data more manageable for local property management companies.
“They’re basically saying, ‘Hey, I just want to know who my perfect customer is and then give me more of those kinds of people,’” Romine says. “Being able to bring all of that data into one integrated system and look at it in one place, to identify your avatar, that works really well for any business, big or small.”