As the multifamily market evolves and becomes more competitive, PMCs are putting pressure on the business expenses that roll up to NOI, and this affects marketers directly. Whether occupancy is high or not for a particular community, marketers are being pressured to reduce marketing costs because it helps the profitability of the business and gives the property manager room to be competitive on rental rates if and when they need to be. But knowing what to cut and why is a challenge multifamily marketers often face — unless equipped with the proper tools.
Nearly a century ago, famed magnate John Wanamaker is quoted as saying, “Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Nearly 100 years later, those words are still true for many marketers.
What if you could pinpoint, with certainty, which of your marketing efforts and dollars are going to waste? Or where opportunity lies to meet your revenue goals, cheaper and faster?
It turns out you can. It’s why many of your peers have embraced lead source attribution, a practice that’s vital for multifamily marketers looking to outperform competitors and meet revenue goals in 2022 and beyond.
How conventional methods cost you more and deliver less
Traditionally, marketers seeking evidence for how their marketing channels, campaigns and lead sources were performing had to spend hours corralling incomplete data, with little payoff for their effort.
For starters, you had to chase source data on separate platforms: Google analytics, social networks, ILS, email, and other traffic sources. You’d try to compile all this disconnected data, then stitch it together in a way that could be recorded in your CRM and accessed easily by your team. During that process, catch-all attributions like labeling everything “website” or relying on fellow agents to fill in referral sources failed to capture specific touchpoints (like a Google ad or Facebook campaign) that moved the prospect to make contact.
With so many manual steps and low visibility into true lead sources, the process was a tremendous resource suck, prone to error and rife with blind spots. And yet, it’s still how many multifamily marketers operate today.
Such methods also failed to measure traffic quality, notes Curt. Platforms like Google Analytics might tell you how much traffic they brought you, but not what happened to those visitors after they landed on your website. Did they become a viable lead? Book a tour? Sign a lease? “You might be able to tell the quantity of traffic but not the quality of it,” he explains.
Thankfully, there’s a better way. It’s why forward-looking marketers have sought to integrate and automate attribution insights with PERQ.
AI-powered, integrated attribution
You’re a marketer, not a data scientist. We’re guessing you have no desire to spend hours poring over data instead of building relationships, fine-tuning your strategy, or driving conversions. By pairing your team’s skills with AI-driven insights, you enable your team to perform at a higher level while countering burnout, wasted effort or spending.
Attribution insights can help your team answer questions like these:
What customer segment gives us the greatest chance to meet revenue goals?
What’s our cost-per-lead, cost-per-lease, conversion-to-tour, and conversion-to-lease by each lead source?
What’s the best combination of digital touchpoints to attract renters to our doorsteps?
Which tactics/campaigns/channels deliver best-fit, high-intent leads?
Where are we wasting dollars reaching the wrong audiences?
How can we cut costs without compromising results?
What evidence can I use to defend my proposed strategies/investments to our senior leaders?
It’s important to note lead source attributions shouldn’t be limited to website traffic. “We’re able to track attributions cross-channel; not just the first touchpoint,” says Kara: “When we reply to a prospect, or if a prospect engages with one of our SMS nurture messages, we carry their attribution source between channels. The same goes for emails: When the AI replies or sends a nurture email, we dynamically build links and signatures to ensure attribution is passed through if the prospect switches to another communication (e.g., clicking an email link to visit the website, calling or texting the phone number in the signature field).”
Altogether, it takes website attribution, ILS leads, marketing numbers, and lead nurture working together to ensure the attribution sticks with the individual consumer, regardless of what channel they start engaging with versus what channel they ultimately become a lead on, Kara explains.
How it works
In a nutshell, multifamily marketers install PERQ on their website and integrate PERQ with their lead sources. From there, PERQ can see the origin of every conversion, regardless of its source. It maintains this data while the prospective renter goes along their journey.
But it doesn’t stop there. PERQ also engages prospects through interactive website experiences, AI chatbots, SMS, email and more, “warming up” those leads and maintaining attribution insights for every prospect.
Once a lead is agent-ready, it passes the prospective renter card to your CRM along with the clean lead source information it maintains.
In addition to helping you identify what’s working (or isn’t) to attract leads, this level of visibility also makes your lead sources perform better because we’ve used personalized intel to nurture each lead.
Improving your marketing performance, visibility and ROI
When you’ve been operating in the dark, it can be tough to discern next steps. At the same time, you shouldn’t have to become a data expert to benefit from it. We’ll help you clarify your next best move.
Do you really know your renters and what moves them to choose one property over another? In the latest installment of PERQ’s Sofa Seminar Series, we’re joined by two of your peers in exploring how multifamily data can help you turn more leads into renters and advocates.
Special guests Stephanie Rubino (Owner, Rubino Consulting) a marketing consultant who works with Boyd Wilson on their digital marketing tactics and leasing strategy and Lisa Delgado (VP of Asset Management, Boyd Wilson) share actionable tips for attracting and converting more leads into profitable, lasting relationships.
Following are some highlights of that discussion. (You’ll find the full Sofa Seminar presentation at the end of this post.)
Capturing intel on stealth shoppers
We know most renters are beginning their property search early — typically three-plus months out, and mostly online. Long before you know who they are, they’re researching, narrowing options, and making decisions about your property.
With that in mind, many multifamily marketers are putting systems in place to facilitate online journeys, and also to capture meaningful insights to maximize the chances of turning those visitors into renters. Desired floor plans, move-in timelines, budget, desired amenities and other preferences are some of the insights you can capture long before prospects are willing to speak with a leasing agent.
Competing for renters’ attention, preference, and dollars
For years, many multifamily marketers had attempted to incorporate tech-driven conveniences and automated support to prospects and residents, but were met with resistance from change-verse or budget-conscious decision makers. Once COVID came on the scene, those tech advances became a necessity — a change that’s now permanent as consumer behaviors evolved to become more and more digital-dependent.
“During COVID, our two main words were ‘fluid’ and ‘pivot.’ Nowadays, they’re ‘choice’ and ‘experience,'” says Lisa. To that end, Lisa’s team uses PERQ’s AI chatbot on their website — they call it the iCare bot — to offer choices and create a compelling experience for website visitors.
Stephanie recalls a prospective renter who came to the website with questions about pets, utilities, and the application process at 10 p.m. one night. “Ms. iCare answered all of it,” she shares, referring to the AI chatbot. The idea is to provide instant support and a warm, personable touch when renters can’t (or prefer not to) interact with a leasing agent.
Identifying hang-ups, removing friction, and anticipating needs
By having visibility into how consumers are experiencing your property online channels — what’s working or isn’t, what’s drawing them in or turning them off — property marketers can get ahead of stumbling blocks that might hinder the results they’re chasing.
An AI-powered lead management system like PERQ’s makes those hidden tripping points visible, enabling you to meet renters’ expectations and give them ’round-the-clock support, without adding to your team’s workload.
Improving follow-ups and outcomes
Believing that personal follow-up is crucial for converting leads, Lisa and Stephanie note that the iCare chatbot has helped to weed out low-potential window shoppers who do need their questions answered but aren’t likely to convert any time soon (and thus aren’t the best use of leasing agents’ time).
In the meantime, lead capture and nurture automations keep those slow-moving prospects engaged and “warmed up” until they’re ready to tour and engage with an agent one-on-one. By then, agents have visibility into what that prospect wants so they’re better equipped to have a productive (and profitable) conversation. “We do train our teams to read the prospect’s conversation with the iCare bot before responding,” Lisa adds.
That’s where the human element shines, versus weighing agents down with low-impact activities or conversations that are better managed by an AI Assistant. “Our number-one reason for adopting PERQ was to be available to renters 24/7. Unless we started three shifts of leasing teams, this is how we can make it possible,” Lisa explains. “I know with 100% certainty that any digital lead coming into Boyd Wilson is being addressed, I was never able to say that before.”
Reducing marketing costs
Lastly, Lisa reports the AI lead management automation has enabled her to stop or reduce advertising spend in other channels, without hurting results. “It gives us more money to spend on other things, for sure,” says Lisa. Instead, she redirected media dollars into the automation software.
Asked what advice she’d give to fellow multifamily property marketers, Lisa recommends looking to AI: “If you want to be impactful in your business, you have to automate. No doubt. Find the right partner for your business.”
Wondering what might be possible for your own marketing efforts? We invite you to learn from the full discussion below and sign up for the May Sofa Seminar before you leave today. We hope to see you next time!
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.
Personalization is the act of tailoring an experience or communication based on information a company has learned about an individual. Just like you may tailor a gift for a friend, companies can tailor digital experiences or communications based on information they learn about their prospects.
In multifamily, the COVID-19 pandemic brought a lot of change for PMCs. The need for isolation meant that relationship building, which was typically happening in person, needed to happen online. At the same time, consumers became more digital; embracing technology in new ways to research and purchase everything from groceries to cars. With everybody spending all of their time at home, many people decided to relocate to a more suitable place for their new situation, whether it was out of the city or a different floorplan to accommodate their new needs. This led to a surge in leasing activity unlike anything multifamily has seen before.
As the volume of renters in the market rose, supply and demand changes forced those renters to begin exploring their options earlier. In fact, a recent PERQ study indicated that nearly half of renters begin looking online 3 or more months in advance, a shift over prior years’ results. This is a clear indicator that prospective renters’ shopping behavior has changed.
With renters not ready for a tour or lease, they crave information to learn on their own and explore the options before they decide to tour or speak with a person. And they are used to the kind of digital engagement they get from other consumer brands. In short, they want and expect engaging and interesting content that is relevant to them.
According to a recent survey by McKinsey, personalization matters more than ever, with COVID-19 and the surge in digital behaviors raising the bar. Three-quarters of consumers switched to a new store, product, or buying method during the pandemic. So this shift in buying behavior is pervasive.
The call for personalization
Since today’s apartment shopper is looking months in advance and doing considerable research on their own before they are ready to tour, multifamily PMCs need to be able to engage with them in this new way. What do they want? They want to research multiple properties, understand the amenities of different neighborhoods, compare floorplans and rental rates to develop a short list. They want the properties to be in touch, but not TOO in touch. And they don’t want to be spammed. They want to talk to a person when they’re ready.
This puts a lot of pressure on the PMCs to change the way they’ve been engaging with their prospective renters. PMCs have begun to adopt chatbots and leasing assistants that can be there to answer FAQs 24/7 for these digitally savvy prospects. Doing this has helped lean multifamily teams that are just not equipped with the staff to engage with these shoppers in this way.
But today’s consumer is savvy and their standards are high for the websites where they gather information. Studies show that websites that include interactive experiences and offer some level of personalization outperform static websites. Thankfully, these interactive experiences allow for the gathering of the data that is needed to drive personalization.
With renters looking at websites well in advance of their intended move, it’s natural for a property to want to remain top of mind. Historically, that was the role of the onsite team, who would send follow up emails and outreach via phone to touch base. Some AI Leasing Assistants replace this follow up, sending automated touches in an attempt to get a tour scheduled. But consumers expect personalized outreach. In fact, the McKinsey study also found that 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions. And 76% get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.
Personalization is all about helping your customers discover what they love and engaging with them in ways they would respond to. When you successfully provide your customers with meaningful personalized efforts, your customers are more likely to return to your website and engage with your brand. The below chart from the McKinsey report shows the kinds of personalization consumers enjoy.
How PERQ can help
PERQ takes the call for personalization seriously, employing it as a tool to bring automation to the next level. PERQ installs on an existing property website and serves interactive experiences and widgets along with the website chatbot. As PERQ converses with prospects and they explore the experiences, it also collects the interactions in its system so it can be used to personalize automated nurture messaging in SMS and email. PERQ reaches out proactively to the rental prospect to keep a property top of mind, using the channels, timing and content that are the right fit for that individual prospect. When the lead is agent-ready, PERQ passes all of this data along in the renter guest card so the onsite team can tailor their conversation with the prospect accordingly, further personalizing the prospect’s experience.
Interactive website experiences and personalization pays off for multifamily properties. PERQ customers enjoy 2X the lead-to-tour conversion and an 80% savings in cost-per-lead over other lead automation technologies.
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.
There are lots of ways to generate apartment rental leads. The most important way is having an engaging website that is set up to collect insightful data on the prospect as they click through your website. Recent trends have resulted in more casual, online shoppers on property websites.
This has led to a dramatic increase in leads, but many of these “leads” aren’t serious prospects or are going to move 3+ months out. There are two main things to keep in mind when trying to generate better quality leads for your multifamily community — SEO and an interactive website.
Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, is an important part of any marketing strategy in the digital age. Prospects aren’t looking for their next home on community boards or Yellow Pages. They look at an ILS or search online and typically don’t go past the second page of results. Getting your apartment website ranked higher up in organic searches is a great way to capture more people’s attention and have them go directly to your website.
How can you rank higher up? You need to know the keywords that prospects are using to search for apartments. There are tools and even agencies out there that can help you with this. Knowing if they are looking for “apartments near me” or “apartments for rent” is important. Once you know which keywords you need to hit, you can add those into your website copy so it can be easier to find.
While this helps your multifamily property website become easier to find, it still doesn’t help that there’s a huge amount of casual online visitors clogging up your system. Unified Residential is one of many multifamily property companies facing this issue. The way they solved it was with leasing AI.
How does that work? Since many people begin their searches months in advance, the AI Leasing Assistant knows this and tailors the follow-up to meet their timeline. This way when it is time for them to talk to a leasing specialist or go on a tour, the Assistant will have kept your property top of mind and give the leasing team detailed information on what that lead is looking for.
Generating more leads doesn’t mean to clog up your system and have leasing teams spend their time sifting through the clutter. Having a tool that helps identify which leads are important, which ones it can nurture for a bit, and which ones are just “looky-loos” will improve your operational efficiency and increase your website conversions.
There was a time when touring an apartment had to be done in person and with a leasing specialist. There was no platform or way to have multiple tour types, schedule them, and make sure they’re all effective and a tailored experience to the prospect. The more personalized a tour can be, the more likely the rental prospect will sign a lease.
In the last few years virtual leasing and leasing AI really have taken off in the multifamily industry. While the pandemic sped things up, the trajectory has always been going towards virtual. Consumer buying habits have changed over the last decade and more major life purchases are being done completely online. Purchases, like a new car, that we never thought could be done online.
Leasing and apartment renting were bound to come this way eventually. The new generation of renters, Gen Z, have grown up with a digital world and expect automation and instant gratification. This generation wants the ability to do it all from their couch on their laptop or phone. Before we get to the checklist, we need to talk about the tech you need in order to meet these needs.
With platforms like Realync, it makes it so much easier to host virtual tours on your site or with prospects. From pre-recorded videos to live tours, the options for video tours give prospects the ability to tour an apartment even if they live out of town or are feeling ill. This kind of accommodation is a must have in a post 2020 world.
With pre-recorded and live videos, leasing teams can point out specific amenities and areas of the unit that they know the prospect is looking for. AI Leasing Assistants do a great job of collecting more insightful data so leasing teams can be equipped with this knowledge in order to personalize the tour more. If the prospect has told the chatbot it’s looking for a unit with a lot of natural light, highlighting that during a video tour is important.
APARTMENT TOUR CHECKLIST
Some things that need to be included before, during, and after the tour are:
Study up on specific prospect’s data
Make notes of things to highlight during the tour
Ask if they have any apartment tour questions
Go over next steps post touring
Talk them through the move in journey
Follow-up through email or text with the info for next steps
Having the tech to support leasing teams in touring will make going through the checklist easier and more efficient. An AI Leasing Assistant will give you access to more insightful data that is easily put into the guest card or CRM so leasing teams can study up before the tour and really tailor the experience. Apartment viewing etiquette hasn’t really changed, it’s just the way one can view an apartment has.
Another fun perk of an AI Leasing Assistant is the follow-up capabilities. PERQ’s AI Leasing Assistant allows you to personalize the follow-up in your brand colors and voice. This kind of personalization also makes your property look more polished and put together to prospects. While they expect automation, it doesn’t mean you still can’t wow them with automated nurture.
Virtual touring shouldn’t just be an option you have to fall back on during difficult times, it should be a solution to how you meet this new generation of renters’ needs. We get wrapped up in that 2020 mindset, but virtual touring and leasing has proven to be effective post 2020 and for more than just rental prospects who want to sit at home and tour. Many people are working remotely and have the ability to move wherever they want. Out of state prospects, even before 2020, tended to not be able to view an apartment in person before signing the lease. Virtual leasing has allowed multifamily communities to be more accessible to rental prospects who are moving from farther away.
Consumers have changed and in order to meet up with today’s demand, your multifamily property needs to be up to their standards. Since 2015, over a million new multifamily properties have been developed in the US. The market is becoming more saturated and in order to keep up you need to invest in tech that can support virtual touring and that personalized automation and instant gratification that Gen Z demands.
Unified Residential, like most multifamily companies, saw a dramatic increase in online leads while having limited onsite team members because of the pandemic. Dalia Kalgreen, Director of Marketing, knew she needed to find a solution that would increase their operational efficiency while still maintaining a personalized, high-touch experience for prospects. Kalgreen decided to hire PERQ’s AI Leasing Assistant to her leasing team to help with lead management and follow-up. The results speak for themselves
Unified increased website conversion by 3x, lead-to-tour to 83.84%.
Before hiring the AI Assistant, Kalgreen estimates that Unified Residential property websites were converting about 2% of traffic. With PERQ’s AI Leasing Assistant working to convert online traffic on Unified’s property websites, rental prospects now have more ways to get their questions answered while being able to interact with the property 24/7. They aren’t forced to wait for business hours to get the information they are looking for. After 60 days with the AI Leasing Assistant, Unified’s property websites were converting traffic to records at 6.26%.
Keeping online visitors engaged and nurturing casual website visitors over text message and email, Unified is seeing more qualified leads and tours, with less distractions. “It takes a lot of time for your leasing team to sift through what we call ‘looky-loos,’ when they could be working on more serious leads,” says Kalgreen. Across Unified’s portfolio, the AI Leasing Assistant sends an average of 325 leads per month to Unified properties; of that, 83.84% had already scheduled a tour.
Cecilia Smoyer, Assistant Property Manager at Unified’s Karric Place of Dublin says, “PERQ leads are more reliable since they screen people beforehand and write down exactly what they want. PERQ leads are the ones where the people are interested in setting up a tour and talking to us.”
Improved closing rates across channels
Along with turning their websites into more engaging ones and converting prospects, PERQ’s AI Leasing Assistant works on multiple marketing channels, such as ILS, with direct experience links and the ability to text the AI Assistant 24/7
With an AI leasing Assistant available across multiple channels Dalia is able to ensure that her entire pipeline of prospects, no matter the move-in timeline, are getting their questions answered in less time and in the easiest way possible. What they’re finding is; “everybody loves texting.” Once prospects find out they don’t have to talk to a person to get the answers they need, prospects are saying “ ‘if I can just text you and do this, we’re doing it that way.’ ”
Better data proves efficiency for Kalgreen
Real-time reporting makes it easy for Dalia to review the performance of her AI Leasing Assistant, just like any other member of her team. “The data and performance I’m seeing from the PERQ Assistant is profoundly valuable, my team is working more effectively and I get easy reporting to prove it.”