Managing multifamily leasing activity has never been more painful. While it’s commonly expressed in different ways,
My leasing team is not following up on leads
Leads are falling through the cracks
We have too many “looky Lous”
Chances are it sounds familiar to you.
The conundrum is that you’ve generated more leads than the team can handle, but you also need to keep that volume going to ensure that enough leases get signed to maintain your occupancy numbers based on current conversion rates. But that’s not actually where the problem starts.
The actual root cause stems from the way we have been managing leads in multifamily. It no longer works for today’s rental audience.
Why Multifamily Lead Management Needs Change
The COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot for consumers. The need for isolation meant more needed to happen online, and consumers became more digital; embracing technology in new ways to research and purchase everything from groceries to cars. With so many people spending more time at home, a great many of them decided to relocate to more a suitable place for their new situation, leading to a surge in leasing activity unlike anything we’ve seen before. With more young renters and those that are new digital buyers all in market for apartments at the same time, leasing activity began to shift to be more online.
As the volume of renters in the market rose, supply and demand changes forced those renters to begin exploring their options earlier. In fact, a recent PERQ study indicated nearly half of renters begin looking online 3 or more months in advance, a change over prior years’ results.
In multifamily today, leads are passed directly into the CRM as soon as contact info is known. The leasing team is expected to contact them and work that lead into a tour and lease. But the renters aren’t ready for a tour or lease: their shopping behavior has changed.
Since today’s apartment shopper is looking months in advance and doing considerable research on their own before they are ready to tour, we need to be able to engage with them the way they want. They want to look into multiple properties, understand neighborhoods, compare floorplans and rental rates to develop a short list. But, multifamily teams are not equipped with the staff to engage with these shoppers in this way. It’s simply more than leasing teams can handle.
PERQ was invented to solve for all of this. A next-generation technology for multifamily, PERQ engages prospects from your website and lead sources and nurtures those leads with interactive website experiences, cross-channel natural language chatbots, and SMS and email personalized nurture outreach, all powered by an AI decision engine that gives every renter exactly what they need along the renters’ journey until they are ready to tour or request to speak with a person.
Multifamily leasing funnels that nurture leads enjoy higher conversions and lower marketing costs.
The results: increased leads from your website, increased conversions from lead sources, higher quality tours and increased lead to tour conversion; all helping to drive down the cost of paid leads and optimize your leasing funnel.
Today’s multifamily rental prospects are more digitally savvy and accustomed to buying online than ever before. They crave information to learn on their own and explore the options before they decide to tour or speak with a person. And they are used to the kind of digital engagement they get from other consumer brands. In short, they want and expect engaging and interesting content that is relevant to them. And they expect a unified, consistent experience from the brands they choose to buy from — across all their favorite channels. They want to be nurtured.
PERQ integrates with your existing website and lead sources to engage, nurture and convert every lead, improving the multifamily leasing journey for everyone. Learn how it works or request a demo.
Every year, PERQ releases the Multifamily Field Guide. The Multifamily Field Guide is a report filled with renter insights from national trends to going even further and breaking down the data by region. In last year’s edition, renters’ lifestyles had changed a lot due to the pandemic. Work and learning went remote either partially or permanently. This change has continued into 2021 and as 2022 begins.
A rental unit is not just a home anymore; it’s an office, a gym, or a classroom. That’s a lot to expect from a 1-bedroom unit but with guidelines going back and forth, as time goes on, multifamily properties need to see this change in lifestyle as more permanent.
With lead generation and nurture tools, property management companies can tailor and personalize follow-up, the tour, and other aspects of the leasing journey to an individual prospect’s needs. However, it’s important to know what trends are showing up in renter behavior so properties can be prepared. As time goes on, these needs and behaviors change.
Here’s a sneak peak at what some of the data shows.
When it comes to the unit there are a few changes from last year. Notably, when describing their ideal rental, 46% of renters said “simple and budget friendly.” In years past, “comfortable yet economical” was typically how the majority of renters described their ideal apartment. While this is a slight change it does correlate with the fact that over 70% of renters find budget to be more important than square footage.
With budget friendly being more important to renters than ever, focusing on luxuries, high-end features shouldn’t be a priority coming into 2022. One thing that has maintained constant is the need for 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom units. Over 40% of renters are looking for a 1-bedroom and nearly 60% of renters are looking for a 1-bathroom.
The Field Guide has data on more than just the specifics of the unit, move-in timeframes, etc. There also is valuable data on what renters are looking for in the community. A constant need that has shown up in every edition is renters wanting grocery stores and dining options available near them.
Why is this important to know? Listing on the property website or mentioning during the tour where the nearest grocery stores are and talking about the different dining options helps paint a fuller picture of life in this community. Leasing specialists aren’t just selling the units to prospects, they need to sell the whole community too.
ACCESS THE FULL MULTIFAMILY FIELD GUIDE
PERQ’s Multifamily Field Guide goes into detail about what renters are looking for when it comes to pets, appliances, features, etc. The Field Guide goes further by breaking down the data by region so property management companies can get a fuller picture that is accurate to their geographical location.
You wouldn’t bring a bicycle to a car race, yet that’s what marketers do when their digital toolbox doesn’t have enough power to meet market demands or match their competitors’ capabilities. Moving into 2022, consumers have adopted new buying behaviors and expectations, including seamless cross-channel experiences, greater convenience and hyper-personalization. “We are all designing for a new kind of customer,” note WGSN researchers.
Is your multifamily marketing team well equipped to compete in the 2022 digital marketing for apartments landscape? We’ll start with a broad view of four foundational components to meet your prospects’ demands and digital habits:
Speed: From fast-loading websites to “anytime/anywhere” support, Today’s prospective renters crave instant answers in their property search, without having to engage a human.
Personalization at scale: Made-for-me experiences and messaging tailored to each prospect’s interests, preferences and past behaviors. The “care of one,” as McKinsey puts it, is quickly becoming standard.
Automations & integrations: Get disparate systems to “talk” to one another and put recurring tasks on autopilot so leasing agents can focus on higher-impact, money-making activities.
Actionable & adaptable analytics: It’s great (and essential) when marketing data is easy to understand and act on. One of the most important data analytics digital marketers can have is attribution. This optimizes marketing spend and helps with planning future campaigns.
With these pillars in mind, below is a simplified rundown of what your digital marketing for apartments tech stack should be able to perform if you hope to outshine competitors and remain profitable for the long haul.
When prospects can’t find answers on your website, they should have a way to access instant, “anytime” support. AI-powered, natural language chatbots make this possible without making prospects wait for a leasing agent to respond, or for your office to open. AI chatbots are key when it comes to leasing marketing strategies going forward as they provide the best consumer experience.
First-time visitors to your website shouldn’t be strangers for long. Begin personalizing interactions from the very first contact and design your interactions to help capture insights on their behaviors and preferences.
Engage online visitors (and capture valuable prospect intel) with interactive experiences, such as chat-to-text communications, interactive quizzes, video tours, and automated tour scheduling.
Automatically populate CRM with new prospect information and behavioral insights.
Use AI to learn each prospect’s preferences and adapt communications accordingly. This allows for PMCs to communicate with prospects across channels in their preferred method and at the preferred time of day.
Build rapport with apartment seekers via automated outreach through either text or email nurture.
Messages should be at a cadence that will move them along their renter’s journey and relevant to who they are, what they’re looking for, and the stage of their buying journey.
Automate recurring, mundane tasks (e.g. lead capture, tour scheduling, routine requests or FAQs) so teams can focus on higher-impact activities and “hotter” leads.
CRM, email and text communications should be integrated in your marketing ideas for apartment lease up to help drive leads back to your website and move prospects to action with personalized incentives.
By the time leasing agents speak with a prospect, that prospect should have been “warmed up” by automated nurturing messages, and agents should have rich information on how to best engage the prospect. Integration between your website, AI leasing agent, CRM and other connected platforms (e.g. online listing services, email, text) makes this possible.
Data should be clear, comprehensive and actionable, helping you discern what prospects want, factors impacting buying decisions, and what elements are converting (or falling flat) on your website, in real time.
Your data should also reveal lead sources that drive the most valuable leads at the lowest cost. This gives the ability to track attribution across the funnel.
Data should capture trends and pinpoint opportunities specific to your online audience. It should also inform your SEO and content strategy.
You’re able to track the ROI of all your digital marketing spend so no efforts or dollars are wasted.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, hire more tech-savvy staff or sink your time into areas where your team lacks expertise. Instead, reputable technology partners can illuminate pitfalls or opportunities that would have eluded you otherwise.
Who to trust? The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Your chosen technology partner(s) should demonstrate:
A track record of helping other multifamily marketers solve the same challenges that are holding you back.
Solid support beyond the sale, continuously offering guidance on how to improve your results. Vendors that offer free pilots give you a chance to actually test out the product and see what kind of results it will give you before investing money into it.
Yes, we’re biased, and we’d love to show you why multifamily property managers seek PERQ to multiply their conversions. We’ll gladly point to how your peers are tackling challenges just like the ones you’re facing. These leasing marketing strategies will strengthen your ability to stand out to prospective renters. There are more resources on marketing ideas for apartment lease up on the PERQ blog for more inspiration and tips.
When it comes to digital marketing in multifamily, the landscape is definitely evolving. Artificial intelligence as an emerging technology is helping multifamily be better marketers, both in the ability to scale engagement activity and also in giving PMCs more actionable data than before.
PERQ integrates with your existing website and lead sources to engage, nurture and convert every lead, improving the multifamily leasing journey for everyone. Learn how it works or request a demo.
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.
Property management companies know that their apartment websites are one of their biggest assets when it comes to lead capture. A lot of multifamily websites look the exact same. Gallery photos of staged units and some property photos as well. Nothing about it is exciting or gives the prospect an idea of what life is like at your property or in that community. This is the state of apartment website design today.
When it comes to apartment web sites, taking inspiration from apartment therapy content on social media and multifamily blogs is a great place to start rethinking what the content on your website should look like. The multifamily world really hates the word “complex” and instead uses “community” when describing their apartments and properties. It’s understandable. The word complex is so sterile and feels bland and boring. Community on the other hand feels like it’s full of life, it’s a place someone would want to call home and live in for a few years.
The understanding of this is there in property management companies, and yet the websites read more complex than community. How can this be fixed? Let’s dive into a few ways to bring more life to your apartment website.
The first thing that can be updated is the photos. While it’s important to have those stock like gallery photos of the units and property, including photos of people actually living in the units and property is a great way to bring life to your website.
Usually multifamily websites have a reel of photos playing on the main landing page. This is where some of the more lively photos should live while the staged ones should live just in the gallery portion of your website. Photos of resident events are also great to add through your landing page as well as photos of the community your property is located in.
This will make your website stand out to prospects because the majority of apartment website design looks like what we described above, complex-y. Taking a more community approach the photos and videos you display on your homepage will make your website more attractive and appealing to prospects.
SEO AND BLOGS
SEO strategy is critical to have. It’s how your apartment website gets ranked in search results organically. Investing time and effort in narrowing down what keywords prospects are using, like “apartments near me”, will help you add that kind of copy to your website. The more areas in which you can add your primary keywords, the easier it will be for search engines like Google to rank you higher up in search results.
The thing is, there usually isn’t a lot of copy on multifamily websites. That copy is also hard to add keywords into as well. Creating a blog that is specific to your property and local neighborhood is a fun way to create space to add copy that can contain all sorts of keywords while also centering your website as a go to for information on what to do in the neighborhood.
Apartment therapy content is a loved category by many and entering that space will help you keep prospects on your website longer and even attract prospects that might have not been able to find you before. There are so many things you can blog about including:
Reviews of local businesses
Recaps of local events
Decorating and design tips for specific apartments
Move in tips specific to your property
How to request maintenance
Recap of resident events
Keeping prospects on your website longer will help you capture more insightful data, if it’s designed to do this.
ENGAGE WITH AI
Leasing AI has really changed how lead capture and automation work. For starters, it has made it more efficient and with platforms like PERQ, there are complete solutions that can do the engaging, capture, automated nurture, real time reporting, and more. PERQ uses a natural language chatbot to answer prospect questions 24/7. It keeps the history of the chats and uses the information the prospect provided in it’s follow-up messaging and can understand if they are low or high intent.
PERQ only hands off high intent leads into the CRM that are ready to talk to the leasing team. No more crowded CRMs and time wasted trying to sift through all the bad leads to find the good leads. Leasing teams save time by only focusing on quality leads while PERQ takes care of the rest.
These three components — community centered, SEO and blogging, leasing AI — when combined together make for an apartment website that is designed to keep prospects engaged, gather information, and place your property as the go to place to live in the neighborhood.
After March 2020, many multifamily companies saw a dramatic increase in the number of property management leads coming from their website. That sounds amazing, a huge number of leads to pick perfect tenants from. The reality is these aren’t all real leads. Some of these are just casual online shoppers or trash leads that go nowhere. The increase in leads comes from a lot of factors, one being that lifestyles have become more remote. With more people at home, they have more time to look up property websites and think about moving from their spaces more often to feel less cramped.
Let’s dive into some tips on how to improve property management business when it comes to lead capture, nurture, and automation.
POWERED BY AI
One of the biggest developments in multifamily tech recently has been the integration of artificial intelligence. AI in leasing has proven to fill a lot of the gaps in property management marketing. For starters, the insightful data that AI can give can improve your follow-up and first initial conversations. Leasing teams are more empowered as they have more information on what the prospect wants, needs, and what their budget is. Not to mention they save hours of time each week not having to sift through a crowded CRM. They know that every lead follow-up is one that is high intent and qualified.
You might be thinking, shouldn’t a CRM be enough? A CRM is just a database. It doesn’t do lead capture, nurture, or automate anything. Without an AI platform, like PERQ’s, every lead from the top of the funnel gets put in your CRM and makes it harder for the leasing team to find what they are looking for and, in some cases, make them follow trash leads.
AI platforms include an AI Leasing Assistant that can engage with prospects on your website through chatbots and interactive experiences. Through this, it can collect insightful data on what the prospect wants and needs, their timeline and budget and more. AI is smart enough to hold off on sending those leads to the CRM until they have reached the bottom tiers of the funnel and are ready for a human to lead them through the leasing process.
Leasing AI also keeps those leads nurtured through automation using the data it has on the lead. It’ll keep your property top of mind until the Assistant knows it’s time to send the lead to your leasing team.
Adding AI to your property management marketing materials is part of the evolution of digital marketing and sales. In the late 90’s, Mark Organ, an investment banking researcher at Bain Capital found that the most successful salespeople were the ones that were a part of teams that were able to hand them only good leads. This led to the creation of Eloqua, a startup that would engage with prospects through chatting on the website and help marketers send bulk email. What they found was that the salespeople weren’t looking for leads that had chatted with the chat product, but were cherry picking leads they saw come from the marketing emails.
This is a mirror of what is going on in multifamily today. Leads don’t get followed up on and leasing teams waste time trying to chat to looky lous and other unserious leads. With Eloqua, they began to realize 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
Lead records only entered the CRM when they were ready for sales activity, 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
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 begin going through the sales process with a human. The people that had not demonstrated high intent remained as marketing contacts in the Eloqua system for marketing to “nurture”. This innovation is what led to marketing automation and lead capture evolving and is what PERQ’s platform does specifically for the multifamily industry.