Leasing specialists contact a prospect up to seven times on average before they lease an apartment with Boyd Homes, according to Stephanie Drake, marketing manager for the multifamily property developer and management company based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The leasing consultants at Boyd Homes properties manually track leads in a basic tasks program, adding notes and setting reminders spanning over months. They also personally email information to leads.
To eliminate this time-consuming and error-prone process, Drake says the company is looking to add marketing automation tools this year to better capture and nurture prospects who are 90 days out. Boyd’s data aligns with other industry data, which shows most renters are still a couple of months away from signing a lease when they begin research online. “We need to contact them on a regular basis and continue to do so until they either tell us to stop or they fall through the funnel,” says Drake.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is making marketing automation easier than ever. Property managers can use AI to automate lead capture, tracking leads across platforms and devices, and nurturing prospects until they’re ready to rent. The best part is, that AI allows property managers to personalize a prospect’s digital experience based on lead data, making prospective renters feel that they are being listened to and that their needs are being met versus an impersonal email blast.
Here are the top three ways to implement marketing automation to improve lead and lease rates in an efficient, sustainable way.
1. Add AI to your website
Automating a property website with AI software allows it to operate like a digital leasing agent, guiding the renter along by providing helpful information, interactive tools and personalized incentives. Prospects can research everything about a community in one easy-to-navigate resource, while leasing consultants on the other side of the screen get detailed lead information on each person who engages with the website.
For Caleb Bartlett, digital sales and media manager at Nolan Real Estate, the common behavior that stands out when he evaluates Nolan’s website data is consumers’ desire to learn and capture as much information in the shortest time possible. “Our website allows us to provide prospects everything they may need to know about our communities,” Bartlett says. “That delivers us with a much higher conversion rate once the prospect comes to visit the property.”
2. Automated lead nurture solutions
Property managers can utilize that website data to automate the lead nurturing process, freeing up the leasing consultants’ time to focus on the smaller pool of prospects who are ready to rent right now.
Automatically contact leads through email and text to encourage them to engage with the property website further, schedule a tour through an interactive tool and get pre-approval for a lease—all without any assistance from leasing agents or management. By using website behavior and lead data profile, an automated lead nurture solution delivers timed, personalized content and calls-to-action to drive engagement.
3. Automated lead management and analytics
Tying into the two marketing automation tools explained above, automated lead management and data analytics software gives property management companies a better way to track and measure all of these moving pieces. It’s much easier than manually tracking leads like Boyd and many other multifamily property companies currently do.
Consider implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) system to automatically log and digest information gathered about a lead as they do online research and interact with the property website or staff. With a multi-touch attribution approach, property managers can better follow a prospect’s journey to see which paths generate the most leases. They can then tap into the centralized data to get detailed data insights, and also use the CRM system to assign leads and track performance.
Increase conversions with quality leads
While automatically collecting leads from the website means more leads to manage, it’s much more manageable thanks to marketing automation technology and the high quality of the lead information. By creating efficiencies, marketing automation can reduce a property’s cost per lead and lease.
Caleb Bartlett says integrating automated AI technology on the Nolan property websites allowed them to focus on the more detailed website leads that tell the leasing specialists everything about a prospect from whether they have a pet or kids, what floor-plans they like, and their budget.
Collecting detailed information like that on a prospect makes it much more likely they’ll sign a lease. It gives leasing consultants a huge head start on the lead nurturing process with website visitors who already engaged with the brand and who volunteered their information.
When Bartlett trains new hires at Nolan, he says he teaches them the value of looking over the prospect’s information gathered through the property’s interactive website. “Prospects tend to be very specific with their needs,” he says. “If we can properly utilize the information they have provided, we’re already three steps ahead.”
“I believe if we can get them every piece of information and engage with them in a very unique fashion, we are 20-25 percent more likely to capture that lease once they step foot in our community,” Bartlett says. “All of our website visit to lease numbers have really skyrocketed since putting this in place.”
Author: Patricia Crawford is Vice President of Multifamily Sales at PERQ. Her enthusiasm about technology solutions that solve challenges for the industry make Patty an ideal evangelist for bringing PERQ’s AI-powered Marketing Cloud to more multifamily owners and managers. Patty has 20 years of experience in Multifamily on both the Owner Manager and Supplier side. She’s been invested in education at a local and national level, is an NAA Lyceum graduate, and currently serves as the NSC Region 4 liaison for the National Apartment Association.