Data should drive your company’s digital marketing decisions, and we’re not simply talking clicks, impressions and visitors.
Online traffic doesn’t measure sales performance of digital advertising, or give any information about the people engaging with the content or whether they purchased or leased. It’s only one piece of the marketing intelligence puzzle that uses data and technology to create a complex picture of a company’s specific market dynamics.
“For all of their digital advertising, [businesses] are used to hearing about clicks, impressions and the volume of visitors. It never gets talked about in terms of revenue and sales, which is what really matters,” says Russ Chandler, PERQ Marketing Product Manager. “There’s a huge gap in their ability to do that, they being clients and other vendors.”
Targeting Consumers with Smart Campaigns
By collecting data on every consumer who interacts on your website and tracking those shoppers across multiple channels and devices, you’ll mine valuable insights about your customer base and see which leads tie back to actual sales.
You can then use that centralized data to develop targeted advertising campaigns and personalize the consumer’s journey along the way. It also gives businesses a way to discover true return on investment for their marketing spend and a verifiable path to improve results.
“Looking at the consumer data, we see which profiles are the most valuable and which customers are most likely to convert, and we can then retarget them with digital advertising,” says PERQ Executive Chairman and Co-Founder Scott Hill. “We can decide which channels are most likely to get us in front of those type of individuals, and which kind of offers and products help to convert the best.”
A recent Forbes blog defines marketing intelligence as a category of AI-powered marketing technology that businesses use to manage data, analytics, visualization and activation across a single source of truth. It describes “single source” as a unified view of data pulled from various integrated technologies often used in marketing and consumer engagement, such as a customer relationship manager (CRM) and automated email nurture, for the purpose of smarter insights, intelligence and leveraging consumer data across the entire customer life cycle.
The Forbes article points out that, while this kind of AI technology is rapidly improving, it’s presently difficult for businesses and marketers to find an industry-friendly solution that can integrate the different business tools required and centralize the real-time data in a way that’s actionable and measurable.
PERQ’s newest developments in marketing cloud technology and machine learning make those goals achievable for smaller, independent companies, which can then use the information to create targeted digital ads geared toward their ideal customer.
“We’re able to centralize all of that data, collected from our website technology, from Google Analytics reporting, as well as sales and transactional data, and data from any advertising we’re conducting,” Chandler says. “That data powers any advertising decisions with what we call Smart Campaigns. We use the data to go out into the marketplace and find customers with similarly looking profiles — the ideal website visitor, lead and purchaser in your showroom.”
Looking at the compiled data, a company learns in great detail which digital experiences and consumer paths convert the most leads, and predict what kind of consumers are most likely to buy from that particular business.
“When those ads get in front of those people, it draws them back to your website, where we can automatically personalize their interactions by rotating in a call to action or prompting an interactive experience that’s relevant to what brought them there in the first place,” Chandler says.
Virtual leasing became essential in order to actually get leases signed during the pandemic, and the multifamily industry had no choice but to adapt and change to meet demand. The concept of marketing intelligence, Artificial Intelligence (AI) leasing assistants and machine learning may sound complicated when it comes to running your multifamily website, but it’s the advanced technology and automation that makes closing a deal on a lease more efficient than ever before.
AI for multifamily websites comes in various technologies for multifamily. There are AI chatbots, AI leasing assistants and other forms of AI technology available in the market. But not all AI is created equal, and they often serve different purposes.
USING AI TO SAVE TIME FOR ONSITE TEAMS
Covid changed a lot in the rental market. Not only did more people begin moving, more people also became comfortable with buying everything from groceries to cars and houses online. Renting behavior changed and multifamily responded by employing chatbots to pick up the volume of frequently asked questions and, in some cases, automate the scheduling of tours.
Not all chatbots are AI powered. Some are rule based. Rule based refers to a chatbot that steps you through the logic of the questions it can answer. If the chatbot doesn’t allow you to ask questions, but rather prompts you to select from topics, then it is a rule based chatbot. Natural language processing (NLP) is another type of AI used in chatbots. NLP chatbots allow for prospective renters to ask questions like they would ask a person. NLP is smart, and even when the same question is worded in different ways, it can ascertain the meaning and answer the questions. Generally speaking, NLP chatbots provide prospective renters with a better experience because they can ask, and get answers to, any question they have.
The use of chatbots has helped ease the pain for overworked and thin onsite teams, but it did not address the changes in buying behavior that have been seen in the multifamily rental market.
KEEP LEADS MORE ENGAGED TO CONVERT BETTER
Study after study shows renters are beginning to look for properties earlier and doing more online research than ever before they move. Their expectations for website experiences are high because they are shaped by all the interactions, they have with consumer brands’ websites.
Some leasing AI for multifamily helps to solve for this. In the case of PERQ, we’ve augmented our chatbot tools on web, SMS and email with 2 very important pieces to the customer journey: interactive onsite experiences and personalized nurture. We recognize that static websites that aren’t interactive simply aren’t enough for today’s renters.
Today’s renters want to explore and research and engage. And, at the same time they’ve come to expect more from multifamily in terms of how we reach out to them. They don’t want 300 emails that ask them if they want a tour. They expect a seamless experience that’s relevant to them, in all the channels they interact with a brand.
A renter’s online journey often takes place over several weeks to months and on different devices. PERQ research shows the more experiences a prospect interacts with on a website, the more likely they are to convert.
Keeping rental prospects engaged with multiple experiences on the website makes a difference in signing more leases versus losing an online visitor to a competitor, says Caleb Bartlett, digital sales and media manager at Nolan Real Estate. “We have increased the likelihood of them taking that next step in the sales cycle.”
To keep you in the know about a prospective renter’s engagement with your property, PERQ’s Leasing AI collects a consumer’s information as they engage with interactive web experiences on your property website or on an internet listing service. We house that information to be passed along to onsite teams and we also use it to personalize their digital interactions and deliver content tailored just for them to them via their preferred channels.
Outbound communications to prospective renters that aren’t yet ready to engage with onsite teams is a growing practice with multifamily PMCs. Doing this and doing it well leads to higher conversion to tour and lease, and ultimately lower costs per lead and lease. Not all AI leasing technologies do this kind of nurture outreach.
Several do “follow up,” which is static outreach where everyone gets the same messages. But, today, multifamily PMCs can do better. Technologies like PERQ, that capture renter preferences, can personalize this outreach and time it in ways that it keeps properties top of mind at all the right times. This personalized nurture approach outperforms basic follow up.
COMBINE AI WITH MACHINE LEARNING
While the terms AI and machine learning are often used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. AI involves technology that carry out tasks based on smart algorithms. Machine learning refers to the ability of machines to receive data and learn for themselves, then change algorithms based on the processed information.
Combining advanced technologies like AI and machine learning is considered a best practice for leveraging technology for automation. In the case of leasing AI, technology can automate much of the sales process for property management companies and delivers predictive analysis to help create a comprehensive property marketing strategy based on actionable insights. Leasing AI that employs machine learning can respond to real-time consumer data collected and do things like learn to answer more and differently worded questions.2
A multifamily lead management platform powered with an AI decisioning engine, like PERQ’s, not only collects better consumer data and automates lead nurturing for all of the leads in your funnel, it also hands off agent ready leads exactly when they are ready to speak to a leasing specialist. PERQ’s AI lead management platform handles the lower intent leads on its own using natural language processing chatbot in combination with automated lead nurturing outreach, so the onsite team can focus solely on the agent ready leads who are ready to speak with you.
Richard Bullen, Property Manager of Grand Villas Apartments in Katy, Texas, says the data collected by PERQ on his multifamily property’s website gives his leasing agents information on a prospective renter’s preferred contact method, move-in time frame, budget needs and pre-qualification status.
“It helps tremendously,” Bullen says. “It allows us to get a better sense of what they are looking for before we even make contact. And when we do make contact, we are able to specialize and pitch to them more effectively. It eliminates a lot of back-and-forth.”
When considering AI leasing technologies, it is important to understand the differences. There are questions to ask yourself as you consider the options, including:
Am I looking to save time or increase conversions? If I just want to save time, maybe an AI chatbot is enough.
Do I want to provide my customers with the option to ask any question they have, or do I think they will tolerate a prompted approach?
Would I like my AI chatbot to learn and improve over time?
Does my website need more engaging experiences on it?
Would I benefit from understanding the preferences of prospective renters?
Would I like the AI technology to handle outreach to prospective renters that aren’t ready to speak to our team yet?
Am I looking to maximize conversions by nurturing the prospects? If yes, you’ll want to look for an AI leasing technology with personalized nurture outreach capabilities.
If you’d like to learn more about how PERQ outperforms other multifamily AI leasing technologies in side-by-side tests, visit this page or request a demo.
For multifamily property managers, an online scheduling tool is one of the most powerful calls to action possible. It’s convenient for consumers, productive for leasing offices, and it guides an online shopper to the next step in the research process, thus, bringing them closer to signing a lease.
PERQ’s Schedule a Tour experience converts 23.8% of leads to leases on average, making it one of our highest converting interactive tools on multifamily property websites. In a world of instant gratification, an interactive scheduling tool on a property’s website allows prospects to see available tour appointments in real time and book it at their convenience with a click of a button.
Katrina Greene, Senior Property Manager for Sheehan Properties, says she knows a prospect means business when they schedule a tour online. Those leads typically have a higher probability of closing. “I love it when they cut to the chase and tell us exactly what they want and when,” Greene says. “It’s clear their purpose is less about fact-finding and more about needing to ‘test drive to buy.’”
Nurture Leads Until Ready to Rent
Our recently released Consumer Insights Report found only 8.31% of online consumers who visited multifamily property websites are ready to rent right now. To keep the 53.21% of prospects (who are 30 to 90 days away from signing a lease) engaged and motivate them to schedule a tour, properties must nurture leads with continual communication. They must also offer assistance as they make a decision. “We see that a huge percentage of prospects use self-scheduling tools before or after some kind of contact with the company.
They’ll send an email and then schedule a tour — or schedule a tour and follow up with a phone call if they have questions,” says Todd Katler, CEO of Anyone Home, a CRM (customer relationship manager) and software provider that helps multifamily property management companies track leads through multiple touchpoints. Katler says his software data shows self-scheduling tools convert at 2.5 times the rate of the average lead.According to our insights data, 15% of PERQ leads captured on multifamily property websites end up booking a tour. But before they schedule a tour online, 72% of those prospects went through at least one other interactive experience on the website, such as the expense calculator, pre-qualify or floor plan assessments, and 58% interacted with at least three website experiences before picking a tour date.
Website Tour Scheduling Tool Streamlines Leasing Process
Using AI technology to link the online scheduling tool directly to a leasing specialist’s digital calendar is a win for everyone involved.
Leasing specialists benefit by collecting leads around the clock. Even as they sleep, their work calendar automatically updates with newly scheduled property tours booked by interested and engaged renters.Prospects no longer have to wait to hear back from a leasing office and coordinate schedules before making an appointment to tour the property. That delay can cost companies valuable leads as competitors swoop in with a more consumer-friendly and convenient approach that puts prospects in control of the renting process.
“Before, we had to rely on phone calls and emails to get the appointment, which often required a bit of back and forth,” Greene says. “The tour scheduling tool allows us to rearrange our schedules to make it work for the prospect so we’re starting the relationship with efficiency.”
Interactive website technology captures detailed lead data on each person who engages with it and entices online shoppers to submit contact information. Companies can leverage consumer data to target their sales approach, change the lead management process, improve business amenities, and gain insight into what consumers want in their market.
“It gives us better information on what prospects are most interested in when looking to rent and makes it much easier for us to get the information to contact them,” says Sandy Carmin, Director of Property Management at Englert Management Corporation.
Consumer data collected on the Englert websites also led its property managers to readjust their lead follow-up process. “We have evolved in how we contact prospects. Previously, it was mainly phone. Now, we constantly monitor email to return inquiries promptly in the way they prefer to be contacted,” Carmin says. “Most inquiries ask for email returns and we like to honor that request. We prefer phone calls so we can actually talk to a prospect, but email seems to be the preferred contact method.”
Improve Your Business Based on Customer Data
Prospective renters who took the Community Fit Assessment on websites that use the PERQ Online Guided Shopping solution rank socializing with friends, being outdoors and shopping as their top three priorities when looking for a new place to live, according to PERQ’s Consumer Insights. Englert capitalized on these trends by adding renter social events at their Indiana and Illinois multifamily communities.
“We’ve increased our resident functions, such as wine tastings, smores around the fire pit, ice cream socials, garage sales, and a pet pool party,” Carmin says. “We have a property with an older demographic and they love coffee hours in our office.”
Capture Consumer Data to Customize Communications
Getting specific customer data from each website visitor enhances communication, says Sandra Dellolio, BDC Manager at Atlantic Automall in West Islip, N.Y. The dealership created website lead follow-up templates that are customizable based on information captured through online interactive experiences as well as tracking consumer data that shows where the online visitor clicked and which pages they spent time on.
“We can see they have a vehicle valued between $2,500 and $3,000 based on the trade-in tool, so we’ll mention that specific range and invite them to come into the showroom because our manager thinks we might be able to get them an even better deal,” Dellolio says. “If they looked at specific Toyota models online, we’ll use that information when we contact them.”
Use Consumer Data to Track Lead-to-Sale Conversion
Ed Massood, owner of Home Inspirations Thomasville, says his company converts close to 20% of its website leads by nurturing those consumers through the buying process with the detailed lead data captured on his home furnishings website. His New Jersey retail stores plug that consumer data into automated email drip campaigns to keep leads engaged, personalizing both the timing and messaging.
Massood also uses customer data to backtrack and see when a website lead comes into the store and spends money, or when a shopper visits the showroom and then goes home to browse the store website.
“It’s a good way of tracking the dollars these leads are generating and how those leads convert in the store,” Massood says. “The insights we’re gathering online are invaluable, from seeing what customers are looking for and making sure if we see a trend that we represent it in the store, to learning that some customers are shopping purely for price and standardizing how to respond to those pricing requests.”
Website visitors who hand over their personal information in exchange for helpful guidance tend to be more qualified, engaged buyers who are serious about making a purchase, so make the most of the details they volunteer consumer data.
“We try to understand the customers who are participating in our process,” Massood says. “They take the time to engage, so it’s valuable data from people already interacting with your brand.”
Similar to your smartphone app that delivers detailed driving directions, retailers can guide consumers on their buying journey with a lead management plan that personalizes the online shopping experience and helps consumers avoid detours.For many consumers, the online interactions they experience matter as much as the final destination. Instead of asking shoppers to follow a road to nowhere, get the conversation started online by using your website to engage consumers with helpful information, and lead them to a thoughtful purchasing decision.
Get Quality Leads with Online Guided Shopping
Websites with AI and other interactive technologies help retailers collect details about each visitor, such as which pages and products they looked at, where they spent the most time, what calls-to-action they clicked on, and how they prefer to be contacted.
Online guided shopping software allows consumers to personalize their research through interactive tools, such as trade-in comparison tools on auto dealer websites, mattress assessments on home furnishing websites, and rental expense calculators on multifamily housing websites. The shopper gets helpful information to assist them in making a buying decision, while your sales team gets detailed lead information. This makes lead management processes much more efficient as there is insightful data ready to use and platforms like PERQ use AI to understand when that lead is ready to hand off to the CRM with said data. A cleaner CRM full of only qualified leads means leasing teams can work more efficiently and increases lead to lease conversion.
Nurture Leads with Personalization and Automation
What is lead management once the lead has interacted with the tools on your website? The best lead management plan requires personalization, optimal timing and a focus on being helpful. Adopting technology to automatelead follow-up doesn’t mean forgoing a personalized approach. Instead, interactive technology captures detailed information about the consumer, which emboldens your team.
By tracking customers across multiple touchpoints and delivering helpful content at each stage of the buying journey, your team can have personalized messaging, and even provide incentives to buy the exact item shoppers searched for online.
Improve Conversion Rates with Online Lead Management
With PERQ, your property will have a complete solution to help funnel down only the high-intent, quality leads to your CRM while handling the rest of your pipeline. This has helped free onsite teams over 160 hours of work and helps properties increase their website conversion. Unified Residential uses PERQ’s platform on a number of their properties across their portfolio. Unified has seen their website conversion increase 3X and their lead to tour increase from around 50% to over 83%. Sounds amazing, right?
PERQ’s platform includes a natural language chatbot that engages with prospects 24/7 and answers all of their questions so the leasing team won’t have to. PERQ uses leasing AI to collect insightful data, give real time reporting, and will continue to nurture leads further down the pipeline so your leasing team doesn’t have to worry about it.
One thing I’ve found quite eye opening over the last few months is that a lot of retailers (across numerous verticals) believe customers who are on their website are “ready to buy now.” The bold reality is that 50% of customers AREN’T.
In fact, customers who are still shopping around actually visit your store’s website more frequently before they determine that they’re ready to make a purchase. Consumers are coming and going from your website. New data suggests that sessions and frequency increase as those consumers continue to conduct research.
Long story short, your consumers (when researching) are all over the place. As they continue to visit your website, leave and visit again, they’re cycling through various parts of the standard purchasing funnel.
It’s very rarely a seamless “top of the funnel” to “bottom of the funnel” journey. Consumers might go back up the research phase after just encountering the consideration phase and then back down again. This is especially true for shoppers who are about to make a large purchase or investment.
Consumer shopping behavior can be unpredictable
Because consumer shopping behavior can be quite unpredictable at times, it’s incredibly important to listen to what they’re saying through the actions they take on your website. How long has it been since they visited your website? Did they stay a long time? Have these consumers been visiting far more frequently than usual? These are important questions to address, because they provide more insight than you would think.
Consumers can’t, and often won’t, speak to us directly, so we need to guess their wants and needs based on the data you can collect online. I’m not talking about a name, phone number and email address.
Instead, you can use your website to leverage the power of interactive software, coupled with artificial intelligence (or A.I.) to make the best marketing and consumer outreach decisions. Interactive software, like PERQ’s Online Guided Shopping Solution, can help align the best experience to each individual consumer’s actions.
Obviously, this can be a tad frustrating when you take into consideration the number of consumers who DO linger on your website without making a purchase. If they’re in the research phase, and they’ve gone through multiple experiences, how do you target them in a way that isn’t aggressive and allows the consumer to have the freedom to browse? Email nurture can help.
Email nurture is when your store “nurtures” its relationship with specific consumers who have indicated that they’re potentially going to purchase, but who are still on the fence with other stores as well.
For those consumers who have gone through different stages of the shopping funnel (and your website), email nurture might be a great way to hook them back in and really solidify that relationship. Just like A.I., email nurture is about giving consumers the right message, at the right place and at the right time. In this case, however, the outreach is even more catered based on the data collected through the interactive experiences.
“Email nurture is about giving consumers the right message, at the right place and at the right time.”
For example, if a customer who’s already went through the “new customer welcome” experience and through a “What’s Your Design Style?” assessment, it’s clear that they’re already engaged with your store. However, they might still look at their other options. In order to push them toward a purchase, your store wants to keep those consumers as engaged as humanly possible. You want them to come BACK to your website and ultimately, step foot into your physical store.
With the last step being a “design consultation,” it’s clear that they’re already somewhat invested in your store. A relationship has been forged, but you don’t want to come off too strong. A good way to continue engaging those consumers is by sending an email that advertises a possible next step based on the information they provided.
One good email to send out (in this case) would be “we see you just completed a design consultation, so you have a good idea of what style of furniture is suitable for your home. Why not come to the store to see the furniture selections in person?”
Use Consumer Behavior Data to Pay More Attention to Needs
By catering to a consumer’s specific needs, you stand a better chance of getting that online visitor to revisit your website, schedule an appointment and come into your store.
Taking the time to listen to your consumers can and will have a HUGE impact on your relationship with them. Even if you don’t know precisely what their next steps are going to be, you can make educated guesses based on their previous actions and their current behavior on your website. The information these consumers provide you (from the website) will help your store to guide them toward their next purchasing decision.