Redwood Uses Marketing Intelligence to Maximize Digital Investments
Redwood Residential maximizes the data they receive through marketing intelligence to make smarter marketing decisions for their multifamily properties. They see what’s converting in real time on their website, learn valuable consumer insights to gain a better understanding of what rental prospects are looking for, and see what marketing sources are driving the most valuable leads and leases.
Established in mid-2018 as a residential division of the parent company Redwood Capital Group, the business is no stranger to digital marketing and relies heavily on data as they oversee more than a dozen apartment communities in six states, with more plans for expansion.
By being able to measure, report and change up their marketing spend, Redwood drives more website leads, tours and leases when they need it most. “We benchmark everything,” says Mary Herrold, Senior Director of Marketing at Redwood.
At any time, they can also use their data insights to precisely control their pay per click (PPC) digital advertising budget. They have visibility to turn up their spend when they need to fill units or turn down spend when occupancy is full to prevent wasted marketing dollars.
The team at Redwood has also learned PPC digital advertising, mainly in the form of Google paid search ads, drives the most leads to their property websites. To covert that traffic into more leads, tours and lease, they implemented PERQ’s AI-driven software on each new property’s website and are seeing results.
“Industry average for website conversion is pretty low. It varies, but people tend to say 1.5 to 2.5% is great,” Herrold says. “Five percent was my goal at one point early on, but now it’s 30%. Our website isn’t just a lead source, it’s a conversion tool.”
Redwood Property Websites Turn Online Traffic into Leads, On-Site Tours
With more than 80% of renters starting their apartment search online, looking at all times of day and night on various devices over the course of several months, Redwood Residential decided from the start to turn the property websites into online leasing consultants. They wanted a technology solution that not only generates leads, but actually converts those online leads into tours and leases.
“I absolutely consider our website a leasing consultant. Just like a live human leasing consultant, it needs to do its job. It needs to convert,” Herrold says. “I think of all our ad sources as leasing associates and we need for them to work together to convert leads.”
“PERQ as a standalone boosts website conversion. Then, when you combine it with PPC, it drives an even bigger increase in conversions.”
Mary Herrold, Senior Director of Marketing at Redwood
Redwood integrates AI-driven software with its multifamily property websites to help facilitate a prospect’s research while also capturing high-quality lead information on each consumer who engages with the interactive leasing tools and quizzes. Each time they return, whether from a digital ad on a Google search results page or another online lead source like Zillow, the websites remember the visitor and pick up where they left off.
Redwood’s data also ranks PERQ’s online tour scheduler as the top appointment source, generating 26.3% of tours scheduled. “Since the beginning of time, the gap for properties has always been between the lead and tour,” Herrold says. “The lead-to-tour cavern has always presented a challenge. PERQ basically increases the momentum.”
Redwood can also see exactly which combination of sources drove that lead to the website and which leads turned into an onsite tour appointment or a signed lease.
“PERQ as a standalone boosts website conversion,” Herrold says. “Then, when you combine it with PPC, it drives an even bigger increase in conversions. I wouldn’t do PPC without PERQ, because I’d be sending all of this traffic to the website and you only have a couple of chances to convert. PERQ gives me like nine more chances.”
With their marketing intelligence data, Redwood discovered that without the combination of PPC advertising and PERQ web conversion software, the properties would have converted between zero to 2% of new website visitors into leads if solely relying on the website’s guest card. During that time period, PERQ web conversion software contributed to 60% of web traffic-to-lead conversion with over half of the leads coming from PPC advertising.
“I see PPC and PERQ as a winning combination,” Herrold says. “PPC advertising increases website visits and affords our websites more opportunity to convert ‘lookers’ to leads. One can glean from the data that conversion is greatly enhanced when you use both.”
Property Management Company Uses Marketing Intelligence to Drill Down Into Data Analytics
Google Analytics alone only delivers a slice of the online data Redwood Residential relies on to measure a lead source’s true ROI and performance. Because Google Analytics results don’t account for what happens after a prospect takes an initial inquiry action and only delivers anonymous leads sourced by generic channel groupings, Redwood Residential utilizes PERQ’s Marketing Intelligence reporting to bridge the information gap and show the continuum from lead generation to lease.
Watch: How Marketing Intelligence Data Helps Properties Make Smart Marketing Decisions
The ability to identify individual consumers and track them with multitouch attribution allows Redwood to match offline tours and leases back to online leads so they can measure the effectiveness of their PPC spend performance.
The group optimizes campaigns and adjusts keywords and ad groups for SEO rankings to help them convert more traffic to each of their property websites. It also helps them to eliminate duplicate or non-lead “noise” from the reporting. Herrold says this is valuable because they can identify non-productive sources and adjust the company’s digital marketing spend, while seeing the cost/return on their dollars spent.
Dividing lead sources into more specific listings in the reporting, such as Facebook organic leads versus lumping all “social” together, gives Redwood clearer insight into exactly how well each aspect of its digital marketing performs compared to the cost of that channel.
“The quality of leads that we get through PERQ are far superior to the ones that just come from the straight website,” Herrold says. “We’ve done the comparison. It’s never going on my chopping block now that I have it. It would be a foolish thing to undo.”
Properties See Returning Website Traffic with Automated Lead Nurture
In the multifamily industry, regional managers often talk about all of the website leads that get ignored — up to 50% in some instances. Properties and management companies are wasting their digital marketing dollars to generate website traffic to increase leads when leasing specialists aren’t following up.
With an automated and personalized lead nurture solution, properties have stopped wasting their money and actually see the return on their investment. “This is going to be a game changer,” admitted Heidi Jehlicka, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Employee Development at The Bainbridge Companies, when she first heard about it. She jokes that the most common automated email in the multifamily industry has been the “out of office” email.
While marketing teams often write email campaigns, it’s up to a leasing agent to personalize each of those emails before they’re sent. That typically isn’t the option when it comes down to a leasing agent’s time, who is already strapped by daily demands.
Properties who use lead nurture say it drives traffic back to the website, helping them to maximize the return on each of their digital marketing channels and tie those visitors back to tours scheduled and leases.
In fact, 13% of tours are directly tied to PERQ’s lead nurture solution, which is powered by artificial intelligence. Nurtured leads who re-engage with your website, on average, are 7x more likely to schedule tour than visitors from other traffic sources.
“We can focus on a lot of other things instead of manually nurturing and chasing leads, like taking care of the customer, having better tours as well,” Jehlicka says.
Leasing Agents Get Valuable Insights about Each Rental Prospect
As visitors come to a property website, they want to narrow down their choices to decide if a community is right for them. Properties that use website conversion tools, such as assessments and quizzes, do just that while also collecting valuable data about each online visitor. Multifamily trends 2021 are leaning in towards using leasing AI to help create engaging and interactive websites that collect valuable and more insightful prospect data.
Once someone goes through the PERQ experiences on our website, they’re far more qualified and serious than someone who hasn’t.
Mary Herrold, Senior Director of Marketing at Redwood Residential
Leasing specialists learn the best time of day a visitor prefers to be contacted (nationally, 48% say morning, btw!), how they prefer to be contacted, number of bedrooms and bathrooms they want, and what features are most important. They then leverage that data in a call, text or email.
“You’re able to touch on so much more when you know about that prospect,” says Chris Berry, Senior Regional Manager at First Communities Management, adding that it’s much better than just an impersonal email. “It’s a waste of time to send them a cookie cutter response. Really think about it and put those responses into action.”
Mary Herrold, Senior Director of Marketing at Redwood Residential, says no one is nurturing leads that are further out and not quite ready to rent, but it’s a must and what makes a company stand out from the rest. “Once someone goes through the PERQ experiences on our website, they’re far more qualified and serious than someone who hasn’t,” she says.
Still, Herrold admits that a successful way to nurture a lead must absolutely include a phone call. Using those lead details only helps you to personalize your communication to each customer to get them to tour and lease, she says: “Our website gets them all the way to the door, figuratively and physically. Pick up the baton and run with it, get it to the finish line. Speed the lead.”
Properties Use Lead Nurture Emails to Stay Top-of-Mind and Increase Tours
Almost 60% of rental prospects say they are 90 days from when they want to move in, according to the 2019 Multifamily Field Guide, and 23% are still a month out. Those leads who don’t get contacted or don’t feel like they’re connecting with their community find another property that will.
Communities that use the automated lead nurture solution keep their property top of mind for rental prospects. Multifamily industry leads and multifamily research shows for up to 90 days after engaging with their website, rental prospects receive automated emails based on the actions they took online. The emails drive them back to the community website, where they continue to explore the property and pick up where they left off on the site.
“That’s been great,” says a client with 51 properties across the U.S. using PERQ’s solution, who asked us not to use their name. “The messages with offers have converted. I had an instance not too long ago where a person came in to tour within 28 days from the initial lead nurture email. The third email had an offer. They printed it out, came to the office and said, ‘I want a tour and here’s the email I got. We wouldn’t have gotten them otherwise.”
After a visitor schedules a tour, the lead nurture solution automatically sends a confirmation via text message, and one reminder on the day of the tour, to increase show rate and ultimately signed leases.
“Just because you book a tour doesn’t mean they’re actually going to come in for a tour,” Herrold says. “Confirm it and give people the sense that you are going to have the apartment that’s right for them.”
While your team is focused on leads ready to tour and lease now, 2021 multifamily trends show that Lead Nurture drives traffic back to your site — maximizing the investment you made to drive and acquire website visitors in the first place. Teams who use lead nurture say they have more time to be available for their residents, more time to give tours and can personalize their conversations much better with the valuable lead data.
Bainbridge Leverages Marketing Intelligence to Cater to Rental Prospects
The Bainbridge Companies needed a better way to understand their prospective renters online to influence more leases. Their website acted more like an online brochure and their leasing specialists were doing a lot of manual work to follow up with prospects to get to know them on a personal level so the prospect would book a tour.
“As marketers, we’re often trying to predict what the customer wants,” says Heidi Jehlicka, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Employee Development at Bainbridge. Jehlicka chose an urban Tampa community Ybor City and 930 Central Flats in St. Petersburg, Florida, to test website conversion software powered by artificial intelligence during the slow leasing months of December and January. Her hopes: increase the number of leads and information about those prospects.
“We’ve got a lot more intelligence on these two properties now,” Jehlicka says. In addition to the significant increase in online leads generated from the automated marketing solution, the company gains valuable insights into what prospects desire most in each market. “That’s critical information. Now we know what’s important and where to focus.”
Leasing Specialists Use Consumer Details to Get More Tours
Bainbridge made online interaction with prospects more conversational and easier to navigate. The website automatically serves up options to the visitor based on what they say they’re looking for in an apartment. Jehlicka says it makes the decision for prospects to rent with Bainbridge less complicated and therefore quicker.
It’s an experience where the end user feels like they’re having a conversation with us.
Heidi Jehlicka, Bainbridge Senior Vice President of Marketing and Employee Development
“If I’m shopping for a pair of black high heels and tell the salesperson I want a half-inch heel in this size and style, and they hand me the exact pair of shoes I’m looking for, why would I keep searching?” Jehlicka explains. “I’m getting everything I wanted. It’s the same for the renter who gives us all of the details on what’s important to them in a home.”
The interactive assessments and tools on the property websites, such as Floor Plan Match, Rent Calculator and Community Fit, gather great insight into what renters want, making it easier for leasing agents to follow up with prospects.
“It’s an experience that really engages the customer,” Jehlicka says. “The built-in technology gives them options, so they’re not just looking at a website. It’s an experience where the end user feels like they’re having a conversation with us.”
Bainbridge Makes More Efficient Marketing Decisions with Better Data
Jehlicka says turning their website into a more engaging experience for visitors has influenced a great percentage of their leases at both properties. “I mean, who tests in this industry during winter? What we saw was fantastic,” Jehlicka says.
Watch: How the Marketing Cloud Helps You Better Understand Your Rental Prospects.
By tracking prospects across multiple sessions and devices, gathering 5x more lead data than average websites, Bainbridge can use the information to make better, more efficient marketing decisions. “We’ve got a lot more intelligence on these two properties,” Jehlicka says. “We’ll continue to add communities, so we can be better.”
She says reviewing the in-depth analytics made her realize the lack of data and transparency they were relying on previously. “We’re going to explore some major Google Analytics training. [Before] we were just trusting our pay-to-click vendors and not getting enough data in return. Now we can have higher-level conversations and make better decisions.”
Bainbridge Lowers Cost Per Lease
At Bainbridge Ybor City, they went from a benchmark of 10 leads per month to an average 92 per month. Their cost per lead conversion totaled $4.45 and cost per lease conversion totaled $249.70. That’s significantly lower than the industry norm for lead generation costs.
Bainbridge was able to increase leads at 930 Central Flats from a benchmark of 40 website leads per month to an average of 231 website leads per month in just 5 months. Cost per lead conversion for the property equaled $1.85 and cost per lease conversion was $49.79.
“Our costs per lease using PERQ are far better than any other solution we’re currently using,” Jehlicka says. Not only did their costs to acquire go down, she says they were able to free up valuable time on their leasing agents’ calendars. “We can use that time to focus on a lot of other things instead of manually nurturing and chasing leads, like taking care of the customer and giving better tours.” Jehlicka says. “When prospects come to us after visiting the website, they now know exactly what they’re looking for, which increases our likelihood of leasing.”
Multifamily Management Company Offers Tailored and Immediate Interaction to Rental Prospects Online
Gene B. Glick, a multifamily housing development and management company, wanted to make a connection with customers, converting the online experience into an appointment before even speaking with a leasing agent. The leasing professionals at Glick understood that customers make decisions online about where they want to move and that by providing a helpful and memorable online experience, they would generate more leads and appointments from the property website.
“We know that prospective renters are completing their apartment research online and making decisions about where they want to live well in advance of speaking to anyone on the leasing team,” says Jenny Richard, Glick’s Director of Marketing. “This means we must provide the best online experience and ensure we are offering the most up-to-date information.”
A long-time leader in the multifamily housing industry, the Gene B. Glick Company was founded in 1947 and remains one of the largest privately-held real estate management groups in the U.S. The Indianapolis-based company currently owns and manages more than 20,000 units in 13 states.
“Customers choose their home based upon their lifestyle choices. Our website analytics and online engagement experiences provide us with data to help us see what is important to our renter,” Richard says. “The multifamily experience continues to evolve and improve. The tailored approach is more recent.”
Gene B. Glick Unlocks the Value of their Website for Lead Generation
Historically, Glick’s leasing teams used customer data more as a checklist for what the prospect desired in a property. Now, by providing an enhanced AI-driven online website conversion experience for each online visitor, they approach the data captured about each prospect as valuable information to connect with the customer.
“Our website analytics capture essential details and trends about what is important to our renter,” Richard says. “Additionally, the data we collect helps us better understand how our prospective renters are making decisions in regards to items such as their preferred floor plan.”
Glick’s management regularly reviews the website analytics to measure performance, with a strategic focus on appointment conversion, response times, lead attribution and overall customer experience.
“We use the results of the data to meet with our property managers, to set benchmarks and monitor the results of our efforts,” Richard says. “The data we receive from the website allows us to make better decisions. Collecting what amenities are important from one property to another, where they like to spend their time outside the community, understanding our customers’ journey and how far in advance they are looking before they move are some examples of what we focus on.”
Find the Connection, Convert to an Appointment
Richard says Glick considers the property website a primary leasing tool and views it as the final step in the customer’s journey, before setting an appointment and engaging with the leasing team.
Watch: How the AI Leasing Assistant Helps You Better Understand Your Rental Prospects.
By adding an online appointment-setting feature, Glick offers customers the opportunity to immediately schedule a tour of the apartment community while finishing up their online research. Onsite team members use a prospect’s online data to plan and adapt tours to each customer — ensuring the best first impression when the guest arrives at the property.
“We know the importance of responding promptly is imperative to reduce the risk of losing a potential renter,” Richard says. “Utilizing the PERQ tool, we have seen a higher level of leads and an increase in the number of appointments set by prospective residents.”
Creating the Personalized Customer Experience
Richard says integrating a variety of different interactive website conversion experiences onto their property website allows Glick leasing specialists to develop more engaging relationships with prospects and provide better customer service. Prospective residents conveniently acquire all of the information they need to make a decision, without being forced to contact the leasing office or submit a guest card.
“PERQ allows us to offer an enhanced experience for the customer, and provides us with the data of those interactions to help our teams ensure a better experience and build relationships.”
Jenny Richard, Glick’s Director of Marketing
Glick starts gaining trust before rental prospects visit in person. Communicating with consumers in a timely, personalized way makes them feel comfortable and confident with the support they’ll receive from the property management staff after signing a lease.
“PERQ allows us to offer an enhanced experience for the customer, and provides us with the data of those interactions to help our teams ensure a better experience and build relationships,” Richard says.
Barrett & Stokely Engage More Website Visitors with PERQ
Barrett & Stokely, a third-party multifamily property management company based in Indianapolis, currently manages over 13,000 multifamily properties in nine states. With more than 40 years of apartment management experience, Barrett & Stokely has earned a high-quality reputation in the rental property management industry.
In December, Barrett & Stokely decided to arm the highly trained and customer-focused leasing specialists at four of its properties with a new tool, PERQ’s multifamily software, to help them better engage website visitors and close the leasing deal. “We really wanted to get people to stay on our sites longer, to enhance what we already have by adding the experience that PERQ provides,” says a Barrett & Stokely representative.
After watching a PERQ demonstration last year at the Indiana Apartment Association conference in Indianapolis, the team at Barrett & Stokely decided to implement the online guided shopping software on the websites of four properties: 82 Flats in Indianapolis; Ascent in Plainfield, Indiana; Crossroads Westside in Kansas City; and Axis on Lexington in Louisville, Kentucky. “Their numbers spoke very loudly,” says Barrett & Stokely. “They’ve been very good for us in the short time we’ve had them.”
The Barrett & Stokely team says the interactive software, which helps guide website visitors who are searching for an apartment through different experiences such as “Which Floor Plan is Right for Me?,” was extremely easy to implement. “It’s very intuitive, very easy, and the implementation team just takes it and runs with it,” says a team representative. “Going forward, if there are properties we are going to take over or if we’re building new ones, we’ll definitely consider PERQ.”
In just three months, Barrett & Stokely experienced a 1,235% average lead lift per Barrett & Stokely property and increased its average web to lead conversion by more than 3%. “PERQ is providing high-quality, good leads,” the team says, pointing out how the software measures lift to leads and conversions, while Barrett & Stokely measures success by the number of leases signed.
“We are seeing, on average, about one lease per week from their product, which is very good,” they say. “We are OK with that, but in the future, we want two leases per week; we’ve set very aggressive goals.”
More Engaging Experience Builds Rapport with Prospects
The software assists website visitors who are potential renters by narrowing down the floor plan that best fits their needs, allowing them to schedule a tour of the property, say when they need to move, and walk through a pre-qualifying assessment. It helps to build a relationship with people instead of just “feature dumping,” says the Barrett & Stokely team.
“This product leads them through a comprehensive experience that gets them really thinking about our product, our property, a specific floor plan or a specific amenity to get them in a leasing mood,” they say. “People buy and lease from people they like. It’s just common sense. It makes it a lot easier if you like the person and can build a rapport. PERQ allows us to do that on a much deeper level.”
The software goes beyond just capturing the name and address of a web visitor; it produces high-quality prospects who know what they’re interested in, which makes the process of closing a lease much easier. “We’re starting to see a lot of the leads that first went through the experience coming back,” says the Barrett & Stokely team. “The return is much nicer than what you do with a standard ILS.”
With the opening of a new Barrett & Stokely property, Satori Flats in Avon, Ind., in June 2018, they plan to add the software to its website. Additional features like the personal finance calculator and community fit experience will soon be added to all five properties.
“I know the ROI is very positive. We plan to stick with PERQ on these properties, and add properties,” says the Barrett & Stokely team.
124 LEADS FOR FLATS AT SWITCH (BENCHMARK WAS 10/MONTH)
635% AVERAGE LIFT IN MONTHLY LEAD CONVERSION FOR FLATS AT SWITCH
278 LEADS FOR LOCKERBIE LOFTS (BENCHMARK WAS 24/MONTH)
480%AVERAGE LIFT IN MONTHLY LEAD CONVERSION FOR LOCKERBIE LOFTS
PERQ Software Increases Leads from Property Websites
With a focus on two property websites, Flats at Switch and Lockerbie Lofts, TWG property management group and PERQ worked together using PERQ’s web engagement software to increase consumer engagement on the property websites, resulting in a tremendous increase in the amount of leads provided to their leasing teams and in-person tours scheduled.
TWG, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, has a portfolio of 30 properties ranging from market rate to affordable housing and is dedicated to providing a high level of commitment and care to their residents.
In addition to knowing more about their web audience, the goal of partnering with PERQ is to get qualified renter profiles in the hands of the leasing agents, and therefore increase occupancy rates by having a steady stream of applicants.
With experiences such as “What floorplan is right for me?” and “See if you Pre-Qualify”, TWG captures renters in all stages of the renting process, not just those ready to sign immediately.
In addition, these property websites now provide enhanced consumer experiences, allowing for more meaningful interaction between the property and the renter. With each experience being tailored towards the needs of each individual property, the consumer experience is unique and meaningful.
By adding the web engagement solution to both websites, TWG now has increased visibility into the leads and leases that are directly tied to their web audience.
“You can really see what you are paying for. The team at PERQ is great to work with and willing to update and make changes to the product to make sure it fits at each different property.” Anna Barabas, Marketing Principal at TWG
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