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How REACH by RentCafe Helps Property Managers Succeed in the New Normal

A new, full-service digital marketing agency offers apartment managers effective and efficient ways to reach their audience, goals and potential as COVID-19 continues to challenge.

When Yardi, the property management software company based in Santa Barbara, introduced its RentCafe platform a decade ago, it helped companies attract renters, convert prospects and provide resident services. Through the years, the technology powerhouse developed new strategies and services for digital marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising (PPC), display advertising and more.

“As renters became more tech savvy, digital marketing strategies expanded to help apartment managers reach them. This includes not only advances in ILS marketing, but SEO, PPC, social media and more,” says Esther Bonardi, Vice President.

During the peak of COVID-19 when many prospects, residents and staff worried about in-person contact, even more business was transacted online. Yardi knew that it could introduce new innovations and new services to the table to lessen concerns and meet new marketing demands.

REACH by RentCafe debuted in August as a full-service digital marketing agency. A complement to the RentCafe technology suite, REACH delivers more than software. REACH is designed to become a true extension of its clients’ marketing department.

Why create an agency?

With an eye on ROI, Yardi was able to identify the best performing marketing channels and was determined to help clients lower marketing costs and improve results by working on their behalf as a search marketing partner. Lead and lease performance data pointed to SEO and PPC as top sources.

Yardi also knew how the pandemic had altered the process. “In the past, prospects may have narrowed their apartment search online to about four communities before heading out to tour. But the pandemic pushed even more of their search activity to the internet, leading to longer search phrases that allow them to narrow even further, to just one or two communities,” Bonardi says.

Adding in Gen Z

Top among those who use longer search terms, Yardi found, is the Gen Z cohort, also known as Zoomers, 24 to 25 years old at the upper range. They’ve rented for a few years and represent the next big wave of renters. Through surveys, Yardi knew that the average search they perform uses 4.9 words—higher than any generation before them.

REACH by RentCafe gives property managers the ability to create websites for this demographic—and others—with compelling design as well as the right SEO words and phrases to rank high in searches that match their communities’ offerings. Search engine optimization is proven to deliver the best return on ad spend, and when combined with compelling websites with features that convert, it is a property manager’s top strategy for marketing success.

But marketing and leasing support with RentCafe and REACH by RentCafe goes well beyond SEO.

Avenue5 Residential, a property management company providing third-party portfolio management services in 13 states and Washington, D.C., found that by partnering with Yardi throughout the marketing and leasing process, it could gain insight into its customers’ behaviors to help make informed business decisions. Says Chase Hunt, senior manager of digital marketing, “We’re committed to generating measurable results for all the customers that we serve.”

Improving pandemic transactions

During the pandemic, Yardi helped clients share with prospects better ways to view an apartment, which helped renters and staff stay safe. Avenue5 experienced this firsthand. According to Hunt, it combined Yardi’s enhanced RentCaffeine websites, along with its RentCafe Self-Guided Tours and RentCafe Chat IQ, to better position properties for leasing and service success.

The integrated self-guided tours became more popular due to the ease of logging onto a site, verifying identity, asking questions in a chatbot and showing up at a pre-arranged time to tour an apartment with a smart lock code. “People still want human contact, but during the pandemic, one survey showed that 60% preferred a nonhuman-led tour, such as a live video tour or self-guided tour,” Bonardi says.

The company also learned that having strong Wi-Fi was the No. 1 rated amenity, more than any physical feature. Keeping everyone informed was also essential, achieved through customized messages that could be added to each community’s RentCafe website and shared through the RentCafe resident portal and app.

Looking ahead

Yardi’s business intelligence and revenue management software tools also help property managers better balance revenue by deciding if rents should go up or down based on supply and demand. “In uncertain times like these, it’s more important than ever to automate revenue management versus depending on labor intensive and subjective manual pricing processes,” Bonardi says. With technology, managers can assess the market daily and correctly price an apartment to begin with, she says. From the marketing analytics software available with REACH to revenue management and asset performance intelligence available elsewhere in the interconnected Yardi ecosystem, it is now easier to quickly pull all the data needed to make better decisions to achieve optimal performance at every level.

Because the digital world keeps changing. Bonardi encourages managers to be open to new changes. “Analyze, look at the data, spend where you get the best return, which means not always doing what you’ve done before, just because it’s familiar,” she says.

Avenue5 Residential gets this approach completely. “We’re excited to continue partnering with Yardi and its REACH digital marketing agency in order to anticipate and adapt to changes in the months and years ahead,” Hunt says.