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.
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 automation platforms 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, around 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 automation platform tackles 70% of routine inquiries and captures 3-5X more prospect data points. As a result, they’ve experienced a 2x increase in lead to tour conversion and up to an 80% reduction in cost per lead. The same is possible for your team!
HUMAN + MACHINE = MORE ENGAGED EMPLOYEES
Shorter sales cycles, greater productivity and revenue are big benefits of leasing AI, 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, judgment, 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, tackling lead management through an AI leasing automation platform helps 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.
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.
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.
Finding and maintaining the perfect balance of occupancy and pricing is crucial for multifamily communities to achieve revenue success. In Multifamily Real Estate (MFRE,) it is considered a best practice to train employees to understand that the value of an asset comes in the form of it being a healthy, stabilized asset. That, by definition, is an asset that has not just achieved high occupancy, but that has achieved a balance of maximizing rent growth while maintaining/achieving stabilized occupancy.
Anyone can achieve “high occupancy.” In fact, it would be really easy to get to 100% occupancy if a property simply dropped rents 20% below market rate. That, of course, would not achieve the true goal of a property, which is rental revenue. In order to have a truly performing real estate asset, you must push an asset’s rent growth while also increasing occupancy. It’s a balancing act.
This balancing, today, is hard. Pricing algorithms in revenue management systems will suggest how much a property can push on renewal rents and new rents. But, really, it is the job of a property manager — and all those that support that role — to understand what the market can truly handle in new rent. And this can only come from knowing the market.
THE BIG RUB
When a property is high occupancy, there is sudden tension between work needing to be done to manage residents and their needs, versus all the other things that get done out of the leasing office. It’s difficult to know what leasing will look like in the next quarter and availability will remain unknown until you are sending out renewal offers. This difficulty leads to unawareness of what units will be open and how they should be priced. When occupancy isn’t at risk, multifamily teams often end up not realizing how much they are shifting their attention away from maintaining this balance in the future.
The logic behind the decision seems sound, but this is a big mistake that puts both the occupancy and the pricing elements at risk. The loss in visibility of the market economics affects a property manager’s ability to properly price units. And, being out of market for new renters can make it nearly impossible when you need them.
SMARTER PRICING BASED OFF DEMAND
Engaging with the market during those high occupancy times helps your team better understand market trends. When you keep your leasing activity alive, you gain visibility into:
Future demand for specific floor plans
Volume of active future leasing activity
Budgets of active future leasing prospects
This kind of actionable data empowers you to make smarter decisions on rent growth and price your units based on demand and what renters are willing to pay for specific units. Not only will you know if your units are underpriced, you will also understand if they may be overpriced. As a result, you will better understand your prospective renters’ budgets months before they make the move.
But how do you get this visibility if you’re not actively marketing and looking for renters?
FUTURE LEADS ARE LOOKING NOW
We all know the pandemic had a considerable impact on the MFRE industry. But it also had an impact on renters. To find the property they seek to call their home, they need to begin looking earlier. Data collected by PERQ shows that over 22% of rental prospects are looking to move 6 months out from when they begin searching. So, while your property may be high occupancy, the leads that are coming in during these high occupancy months are still serious about renting at your property, but they aren’t ready to move for months.
It is becoming a best practice for PMC’s to continue with their marketing and leasing activity during these high occupancy months. Therefore, if the current resident in an apartment chooses not to renew, you already have a list of qualified leads who are ready to move in. This leads to quicker turnover of vacant units as well as the added benefit of pricing your units based on demand.
PERQ works with leads and pulls them down the pipeline, so when a vacant unit does open up, your team has a list of prospects who are qualified and ready to move. It nurtures all of those quality leads that have stated they are over 90 days out from moving, without adding more work on your leasing teams. PERQ’s proprietary solution of assistants, interactive online experiences, and cross-channel lead nurture keeps those prospects engaged, while also capturing important insights that help to qualify prospects and personalize their experience.
Without a technology like PERQ to pick up the work, these important leads are at risk of falling through the cracks. And, knowing how many leads are in your pipeline lets you more precisely budget marketing spend during your busiest leasing months.
High occupancy now doesn’t guarantee high occupancy in the future. Just because you’ve found a good balance now doesn’t mean there isn’t work to do to maintain that balance.
Lead nurture tools can help fill the talent gap, giving your prospective renters a consistent, engaging experience without the need for a leasing team member. And, it can help you understand the balance between occupancy and pricing by giving you more insight into demand, renter budgets, and improve your operational efficiency year round.
That’s a concept that’s good for everyone.
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.
Today’s consumers have come to expect automation. They enjoy the convenience and instant gratification they can get from modern businesses. The ability to get answers 24/7 is important and now that consumers are familiar with interacting with technology, they don’t care if a robot is supplying them answers. When a robot can’t help anymore, today’s consumers expect to be connected to a real person who is up to date on what was already discussed with the bot, and can start giving them the answers they need right away.
The best chatbot software uses artificial intelligence (AI) to power its knowledge base and capabilities. AI comes in many forms today. We’ve all interacted with an AI chatbot when talking to customer service at some point, whether on a website or over the phone. Chatbots have also extended to SMS and email messaging capabilities as well. In multifamily, other leasing AI software, in addition to AI chatbots, have been making waves recently. This is mostly because chatbots are beginning to be incorporated into other leasing technologies.
There are many chatbots available that are geared towards multifamily for the purpose of talking to rental prospects, but they have their differences. Let’s get into one of the most defining differences that impacts the consumer experience; the two different processing technologies that power AI chatbots.
NATURAL LANGUAGE PROCESSING VS RULE BASED
An AI chatbot is either a natural language processing (NLP) chatbot or a rule-based one. NLP chatbots are the ones where you message it directly and it responds as if it was writing back to you. The prospect can type “How many 1 bedrooms are available in 30 days?” and the bot will reply back with the answer.
A rule-based chatbot gives the prospect prompts that they have to answer in order to get what they are looking for. Instead of getting straight to the point, this takes more time and the prospect has to go through questions they might not want to answer. The best example of an AI chatbot that gives a better idea of what a rule-based chatbot is would be when you call customer service for your phone, internet, etc and you get a robot menu that you have to go through before getting a person on the phone.
We all know those menu bots on the phone are very frustrating to deal with. It takes forever and sometimes you leave the “conversation” without the answers you need. When it comes to the best chatbots to talk to, a natural language processing chatbot is definitely the best. After all, the user is actually asking their question in natural language and not being forced to answer irrelevant prompts. When it comes to the best chatbot for website, it’s clear that a NLP chatbot is better because it’s quick and efficient. It gives prospects more time to go through your website instead of trying to get their questions answered through prompts.
THE WHOLE AI LEAD MANAGEMENT PACKAGE
The chatbot component is very important to help leasing teams save time over having to answer the same questions repeatedly. Today, chatbots come as either stand alone technologies or as part of more complete solutions that save time and improve conversion. Most of these technologies, whether a chatbot or a complete lead management platform, integrate with your customer relationship management system, or CRM.
There are pros and cons to the different approaches. When you invest in a bunch of single point solutions that come from different vendors, you have to integrate and manage all these technologies, and hope that they work well together. On the other hand, when you choose a more complete solution, you get the capabilities you need in an all-in-one, whole solution from one vendor. This leaves you with less to manage and less concerns about compatibility. In addition, some of these complete lead management solutions tout impressive results and can double your lead-to-tour conversion and decrease cost-per-lead by 80%.
PERQ’s AI Lead Management platform is a complete, all-in-one solution with a natural language processing chatbot that works on your website, in SMS and in email. The chatbot works in conjunction with interactive website experiences and personalized outreach to prospects to engage, nurture and convert every lead. PERQ’s lead management delivers higher website conversion, personalized lead nurture that delights prospects, and higher quality leads for onsite teams that convert to lease at a higher rate. With PERQ working on your multifamily property website, you can scale your engagement across more visitors than your team could handle and develop every lead to its potential. And, because PERQ tracks all its engagement with prospects, you get access to insightful lead data, including what was discussed between the AI chatbot and the prospect to help you build better face to face relationships..
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 expect a unified, consistent experience from the brands they choose to buy from — across all their favorite channels. And, if you’re not providing that to them – they’ll find it elsewhere.
To learn more about how PERQ can help your properties make the most of every lead, schedule a demo with one of our specialists.