A better approach to lead management


Armed with an array of digital lead generation sources, multifamily properties can find themselves inundated in an unmanageable tangle of online leads coming in from all digital directions. Intelligent lead automation simplifies the lead nurture process for a multifamily property management company and frees up the leasing specialists so they can focus on contacting the highest priority prospects first.

“In the current state of online lead management, you have more online leads than ever before,” said Marcella Eppsteiner, vice president of marketing at Mission Rock Residential. “How do we know they are really ready to move or make a decision? Currently, our industry follows up with a broad-stroke approach and we really need a laser-focused approach.”

AI-powered technology sharpens a property’s entire lead nurturing process, starting with website software that delivers interactive, personalized content to visitors and collects detailed lead data. You can prioritize leads based on the data analytics, such as when a prospect indicates they plan to move, and the resulting machine learning insights predict the most likely path to lease conversion at that property.

An intelligent automated lead nurture system separates prospects into two distinct groups: hot leads ready to rent right now and leads higher up in the sales funnel who are still researching options. To streamline lead volume, onsite leasing specialists only receive qualified leads deemed by the data to be the most likely leads to convert, so they can focus on following up with the highest-priority prospects.

“Let the heavy human capital handle the important follow-up,” said Scott Hill, co-founder and CEO at PERQ. “Condense opportunities down to those leads most likely to tour and that most fit the profile.”

A smart lead automation approach helps properties solve the challenge of attracting too many low-quality leads and effectively reduces the lead volume the leasing staff needs to focus on at one time. Use the following tips for adding automation to improve your multifamily property’s lead management process and increase the percentage of online leads that convert to tours and leases.

“You’ll see a higher lead-to-tour and tour-to-lease rate, because you’re following up with the right people,” Hill said.

Collect more data

Engage your website visitors to help them educate themselves and do research on your multifamily properties, while you get valuable lead data about each prospect who engages with the personalized hub of AI-driven leasing tools, such as Explore the Area or Find Your Floor Plan assessments.

“Get more data from your website and look for ways to get the consumer to give you more information, because it is valuable,” said Hill.

Collecting detailed lead data allows your property to identify which leads are ready to rent now, and which prospects should be nurtured using intelligent lead automation until they’re closer to signing a lease. Your marketing department can adjust the digital marketing strategy and messaging to specifically target the different segments of leads.

Prioritize your online leads

By capturing lead data from all of the website visitors who engage with the site’s content and dynamic incentives, you’re building a pipeline of potential leads not quite ready to rent. Treat these as your property’s waiting list.

“Capturing more consumers earlier in the process enables you to have a tremendous amount of data. There are ways to do it where the consumer wants to share information because they get information in return,” Hill said. “Once you have the data, you can qualify the leads. Send the most important leads to your leasing team while you nurture other leads until they are worth your team’s time.”

You can score potential leads based on their answers to your interactive content, individual website behavior and their willingness to talk to a leasing agent or schedule a property tour. Leverage your customer relationship management (CRM) software if it comes with this advanced functionality, or create best practices for your leasing teams so they know how to prioritize online leads.

“Any sales staff is going to be strapped for time to some extent, and there’s only going to be so much manual follow-up they can do. So, it’s important to take some of that load off their shoulders and automate where you can,” said Michael Norris, chief marketing officer at Youtech, a marketing firm. “There are just certain things that machines can do better than humans.”

Train your onsite leasing team

Leasing specialists should be the forefront of your brand, and possess the experience and strong sales skills to close the deal when a prospect is ready to sign a lease on the spot. Invest in sales training for your onsite leasing team, and make sure they know which conversations you want them to have with potential renters.

For leads ready to rent now, leasing specialists should contact those right away to avoid losing them to a competing property. Prospects expect prompt responses to digital requests and require a personalized response that shows your leasing team wants to help.

“The leasing agent becomes a concierge to help prospects along and make an easier facilitation of the leasing process when they are ready to engage,” Hill said.

Norris agrees it’s of the utmost importance to respond to inquiries quickly and in a personalized way since consumers are accustomed to the world catering to them “with social media algorithms and dopamine hits.”

“It’s important to follow up in a personalized manner, too, and this is something I think PERQ does well,” Norris said. “Not only is it automated to an extent, but it’s also personalized to the individual.”

Keep rental prospects engaged

Automated email nurture campaigns can tie into how you score leads and follow a pre-set schedule based on where they’re at in the leasing journey. The timely messages keep your multifamily brand top of mind while they continue researching, no matter how long their apartment search takes.

“With automated prospect emails, our lead management system generates an introduction to engage the prospect prior to involving the onsite team,” said Meagan Struve, marketing manager at Mission Rock. “This automated engagement essentially gauges the prospect’s interest before a person steps in to further the conversation towards leasing the apartment.”

With AI technology, automated emails are personalized and curated to only include content relevant to their search on the property website. Say a prospect plans to move from another state, your leasing team could email a video highlighting their favorite floor plan, according to their responses on the website.

The next step, like scheduling a tour through an automated scheduling tool, drives users to the website to re-engage, or encourages the prospect with a personalized incentive. If they own pets, send them an email showing off your pet-friendly amenities and fun “yappy hour” events or include “welcome” offers from neighborhood dog groomers, dog walkers or vets.

“What we are calling automation are those communications or touchpoints with leads,” Eppsteiner said. “This is an evolution. Multifamily has made tremendous strides as an industry.”

Since implementing AI-driven technology to automate lead nurturing and engage online prospects on the Mission Rock property websites, Eppsteiner said the company sees a 50 percent tour-to-lease conversion rate compared to the average industry closing ratio of 35 percent.

“Our sales teams are rockstars, and it’s also because the people coming in are ready to lease,” she said. “Where I anticipate automation going, we’ll actually convert more and should anticipate the conversion ratio going up to 60 percent. The people your team are reaching out to have already been nurtured. These leads are ready, true prospective residents.”

Trust the process

Despite your instinct to try and follow up with every lead that comes in the digital door, it’s more efficient and effective to trust the automation process and listen to what the data tells your team about a lead’s readiness to commit to a lease.

“With automation, we have ways to sort and use data which has given me time back to focus on the bigger picture,” Struve said. “I’m not in the day-to-day manual management of data. Yet, I am leveraging the data more usefully while gathering pertinent information for a smoother process.

Follow up first with prospects the lead management system identifies as a top priority, flagged for being more likely to rent based on gathered data. Trust that it’s better to use automated lead nurture to target lower-priority leads instead of taking away from a leasing agent’s precious time.

Follow the data

Implementing these steps allows better capture of data, helps improve operational efficiencies and gives better insights into property performance to make better decisions. Richer lead data makes personalized lead follow-up possible.

Properties can tap into online data to track multi-touch attribution for every tour, lead and lease. Easy-to-digest Google analytics reports show how visitors interact on the website and which platforms convert the most leads into leases, along with ROI of all lead generation sources and digital ad campaigns.

“We have properties that compete against each other, so we are constantly using automation data and watching to ensure that we have a smart spend in those markets,” said Desiree White, marketing manager with NE Property Management. “My team does a lot behind the scenes, getting reports and analytics to make sure we’re staying at the top of our market and our onsite teams are seeing success.”

Continuously study the results to spot ways to adjust and improve, and be sure to share reports across all teams in your property management company to keep the big picture in focus.

“This takes collaboration. Marketers are basically data analysts. That analysis is shared with your operations team, your leasing team, and your training team,” Eppsteiner advises. “With these engagement pieces, we are able to get insights into properties. We can share this with our training team to incorporate that information. Data has to be shared with your leasing team.”

Author Kristy Esch, PERQ