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.
Are you ready to take the next step in property management lead capture and automation with PERQ? Schedule time to chat to one of our specialists or book a demo.
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 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.
“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.
How can you transform your property websites so they stand out in a crowded search?
BRING PHOTOS TO LIFE
It’s safe to say that most multifamily websites look and feel the same. There’s gallery photos, a list of amenities, and ways to explore different floor plans. For some reason, many property websites have this cold, gray tone to them. Not all of them do, but there tends to not be any life in the color palette of these websites.
Multifamily properties don’t like the term “apartment complex”, they prefer the word community instead. The thing is, when your website is more generic and just photos of the property and staged units, it feels less like a community and more like…well a complex. Creating a community oriented website starts with the kinds of photos you have on there.
Yes, it’s important to have staged photos of units but that doesn’t mean it has to be super gray and boring. You can add pops of color to your staged photos with different kinds of rugs or throw pillows. It would even be interesting to have a person or a couple in some of the photos too. After all, it is going to be a place where people live. It can just be a person sitting on the couch and watching tv or working on a laptop.
You can even do short, stock-like videos, of someone cooking in one of the kitchens or making themselves a sandwich as part of your gallery that runs on the landing page. Adding some sort of life will go a long way in creating a lasting impression. You’ve got them on your website but you need them to stay long enough to capture insightful data and make more of an impact. This is where blogging comes in handy.
Blogs are great for spicing up your website but also for helping your SEO strategy. Blogs give you more areas to include keywords on your website, making it easier for search engines to find your website and rank it higher organically. Blogs also help create a community oriented website vs that dreaded “apartment complex” look most multifamily websites have.
Apartment related content is huge on all social platforms, with billions of posts and views. It’s no surprise since a lot of Gen Z enjoy reality entertainment, from tv shows to influencers who vlog. Your blogs can also include YouTube or TikTok videos that relate to the topic as well. Some content ideas include:
Moving tips, specific to your property
Move-in Day vlog
Renter friendly decor ideas
Small space storage ideas
How to request maintenance
Reviews of local businesses
Recap of resident and local events
There are a ton of topics you can blog about. Prospects will get a more intimate glimpse of what life is like at your community compared to all of the other websites that are generic and typical. They can begin to picture what it would be like to move in and settle into one of your units and a general idea of what it would be like to live in that neighborhood. You can also ask residents if they’d like to write a guest blog on your website. If you’re a student housing community, this is a great opportunity for residents who are looking to expand their writing portfolio for internships and jobs post graduation.
If you run out of ideas, don’t worry, you can easily look up #apartment on TikTok or YouTube and there are billions of videos that you can gather inspiration from.
ENGAGING AND INTERACTIVE
The last way your multifamily website can stand out is by having an engaging and interactive website that is also capturing valuable prospect data. Investing in a 24/7 natural language chatbot that can provide support round the clock to prospects is a must have with this new generation of renters.
Gen Z’s consumer buying habits are centered around instant gratification and automation. They expect this kind of service even for big financial commitments like buying a car or renting an apartment. Leasing AI is one way to help meet these buying needs. PERQ’s AI Leasing Assistant combines a 24/7 natural language chatbot, personalized lead nurture and follow-up, and keeps your website engaging and interactive for prospects while gathering data your onsite team will need to get that signature.
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 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.