Innovation may carry different meanings to different people, equating it with newness, technology, change or modernization. Regardless of your definition, innovation should bring value to the customer and, ideally, a more efficient path for you and your employees. With access to an almost-infinite amount of information at our fingertips, position your website and digital marketing to maximize profit in 2020.
Change is the only constant today. Technology keeps connecting customers to products in new and innovative ways. What are you doing to attract and retain more prospects? What do you know about potential renters before they walk in the door? In the words of Jack Welch, former chairman and Chief Executive Officer of General Electric, “Control your own destiny or someone else will.”
Innovate with AI Technology and Multifamily Property Video Tours
Introducing technology may feel overwhelming, yet there is no declaration that you must adapt it all at once. “The industry as a whole is five to ten years behind almost every other luxury purchase item or industry,” says Ryan Cox, Digital Marketing Manager at J.C. Hart Company, a luxury apartment builder, developer and management company. “Be really good at one or two channels and tactics — don’t try to be everything to everyone everywhere.”
Ivan Barratt, Founder and Chief Executive of Barratt Asset Management, welcomes innovative tools and technology that help his company and employees prosper. “I’m always on the hunt to help build this beautiful machine of ours, which in today’s modern times, our business is like a cybernetic organism — part human, part technology,” Barratt says. BAM specializes in the acquisition and management of multifamily apartment communities. “I’m always on the hunt for better tools to empower our people to be better at their jobs.”
Barratt added he’s currently looking for ways to effectively deploy artificial intelligence (AI) within his business operations and when interacting with renters. “It gives residents or potential residents the ability to communicate in a way they enjoy or prefer, 24/7, year round,” Barratt says of AI’s appeal. “It allows us to provide that level of service.”
Barratt feels the multifamily industry continues to chase the hospitality industry and those trends usually work their way down to multifamily. Think of how intuitive and helpful hotel and travel booking websites have become in the past decade. “Prospective residents can communicate more and learn about the property in a way where they don’t necessarily realize they are speaking with AI,” he says.
Videos remain the most popular and engaging type of online content going into 2020. For Katrina Greene, Senior Regional Property Manager at Sheehan Property Management, sending prospects actual video footage of a property helps their leasing specialists stand apart from the competition and be more effective salespeople. “Prospects who are out of state or even out of the country are able to make a confident buying decision without physically being at the property,” says Greene. “Consumers also appreciate the convenience of not having to come into the office and fill out forms.”
To increase online engagement and lead conversions in the multifamily industry, explore utilizing a video tour feature. “There may be people on your website today who prefer to experience your community from afar if possible,” says Matt Weirich, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Realync, a video-leasing platform company that recently partnered with PERQ so customized property tour videos can be embedded on the AI-powered website platform.
Using Realync, leasing agents are able to shoot personalized videos and send them to prospects as a first look or when following up. “Prospective residents can gather information online, engage with a video tour, and, for a growing number of consumers, that’s enough to make them convert and sign a lease. Video is the way to do that,” Weirich says.
Collect the Right Prospect Data to Strike Gold in 2020
Technological innovation is imperative to growth and staying above the competition in 2020. Start with your property website, gathering as much information as possible on each prospect who engages with the site. AI technology can automate and personalize the website experience for prospects, helping them narrow down their choices while also delivering properties with detailed lead data.
“The amount of data you can gain through our portal about prospects is excellent,” says Nicoletta Ruhl, Brand and Marketing Expert for AG Spanos Companies, a family-owned builder of multifamily housing and planned communities. “The website helps potential renters distill down what their main interests are and match them to what they are looking for in a property.”
Ruhl said in addition to seeing positive results since implementing the AI-driven marketing cloud software, the resulting analytics help them better understand who visits their site, what they are most interested in and other important demographic information. The customer journey becomes more clear as the technology identifies once-anonymous online leads and tracks them across multiple visits from mobile, desktop and tablet devices.
“Through the [marketing cloud], we can send the prospect messages or schedule a tour,” says Ruhl. “The prospect automatically goes into our prospect list for nurturing.”
Ruhl reports that with the new interactive web platform their prospects spend almost triple the amount of time they were spending before on their website. “Once you start gathering prospect data, it will help you if you are doing paid search or social media advertising,” she adds. By collecting granular information about prospects, the data informs the decisions you make on the digital marketing side.
“What is still, and will always be, important is having the right people and leadership on-site,” Ruhl says. “Arm them with the right data points and that’s just gold.”