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Better Understanding the Resident Journey

Resident Journey

By Donald Davidoff

Understanding marketing-channel effectiveness is only one benefit to figuring out how your prospects find you.

I was recently reading a blog from a leading call center and customer relationship management (CRM) software company where they shared some interesting data that all apartment operators and marketers should pay careful attention to:

  • The average prospect generates 1.5 to 2.0 guest cards per company (more if you go across all management companies). I’ve had clients track this and typically see numbers in the 2.0 to 2.3 range
  • 20 to 44 percent of prospects leasing with any management company are leasing at a property that is not the first community of that management company they toured
  • 50 percent of inbound email leads are just looking to schedule a tour
  • 56 percent of those who are looking to schedule a tour want to do that tour within the next 24 hours
  • 42 percent of all agent-prospect communication is about scheduling and re-scheduling tours

This leads to two important conclusions:

  1. It’s critical to understand the full prospect journey if we want proper lead attribution to understand marketing channel effectiveness
  2. A lot of human interaction is of low transactional value and probably should be replaced by automation thus freeing sales associates up for higher value communication

Lead attribution through an entire prospect journey in apartment housing is notoriously difficult. Since the same person (or persons in the case of couples or roommates) can behave in ways that create multiple guest cards with minor differences, normal methods of collecting the data and making exact match connections are not sufficient.

The good news is that there are solutions to this problem, whether internally developed or purchased from vendors with contemporary capabilities. If you don’t have a solution that does the following, you’re missing significant opportunities to understand your prospects better and develop more effective and efficient marketing tactics:

  • Capture all emails, web chats, text and calls
  • Compare your move-in database to your complete lead database
  • Use “fuzzy logic” to compare names, emails, phone numbers, dates of interest, etc. 

Using fuzzy logic is the key extra step. IT allows you to establish degrees of a match instead of a simple “match” versus “no match.” These “degrees of match” are based on the similarity of entries (for instance, “Gonzalez, Jr.” and “Gonzalez Jr” fails an exact match but has a very high probability of a match via fuzzy logic). You may not ever get quite to 100-percent matching, but with well-tested algorithms, you’ll match far north of 95 percent with few false positives. That’s more than enough to get the knowledge you need to improve the quality of your marketing program.

When it comes to the other conclusion—the waste of human effort on transactional activities like scheduling and re-scheduling appointments—there’s equally good news. Several vendors now offer off-the-shelf scheduling widgets that allow prospects to self-schedule (and self re-schedule). These tools give more control to your prospects while freeing time for your staff to invest in higher value interactions with prospects and residents.

Implementing one of these tools on your website seems like a no brainer. They’re inexpensive, will create a better user experience and will free up leasing associates from mundane tasks. Of course, then you need to make sure your leasing teams know how to use their newfound bandwidth to more deeply engage prospects in the leasing conversation. That’s a great topic for a future article!

Donald Davidoff is President of D2 Demand Solutions.