The rental housing industry has long discussed the notion of analysis paralysis. Apartment operators are inundated with data on pricing and revenue, on lead conversion and even maintenance performance. It’s simply too much.
Well, not for the marketing mavens at NAA’s Apartmentalize session, “Mining Data and Analytics from Online Prospects to Grow Your Business.” They challenge analysis paralysis by digging into the data.
“You can no longer passively wait for data,” said Kelley Shannon, Vice President of Consumer Marketing for The Bozzuto Group. “We actively get data for ourselves, like PPC, Google, SEO, and using those insights in real time to optimize performance. We know more and guess less. I am in a better position to make a recommendation and back it up with data.”
New Tools of the Trade
“As we needed to collect more data there have been a lot of changes in technology and software during the past five years,” said Heidi Jehlicka, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Employee Development for The Bainbridge Companies. “Five years ago, most multifamily housing marketers weren’t able to gather much more data than a prospect’s contact information and maybe a timeframe for when they were looking to rent.
“New software options and more business intelligence (BI) allow us to deliver a tremendous amount of value to clients and our company,” Jehlicka said. “Combining BI and revenue management tools for rent growth delivers a greater understanding into exactly when someone wants to move, allowing us to control availability in a much broader way. The data helps us bring more value and drive asset value.”
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) also can be a game-changer, says Shannon. “It can be expensive to lift and shift [from lead management to CRM platform], but the data is invaluable.”
She argued that multi-touch attribution is close in terms of understanding the renter’s journey, but her teams have learned through the CRM data that the journey isn’t linear. CRM provides greater visibility into how a prospect moves through various channels to learn about a property. This type of insight simply wasn’t available five years ago.
Mission Rock Residential’s Vice President of Marketing, Marcella Eppsteiner, takes CRM’s uses further by validating its data with the property management system. It provides even more data on data points such as cost per lead or cost per lease and offers the ability to slice and dice by advertising source or even by origin such as phone, email or text.
Eppsteiner shared that by layering Google Analytics about the backend of your website and the consumer engagement with the site – including how much time they are spending and where they come from—offers greater referral source transparency.
“This information is critical to better determining the ROI from a source,” she said. “By aggregating all this data, we discovered that 25 percent of our leads were coming from one ILS. That’s invaluable from a budgeting and performance standpoint.”
Lifestyle Should Play a Role
Marketers are now also recognizing that the customer journey should look at both the rent aspect as well as the lifestyle perspective.
More and more consumer data are now captured, said Jehlicka. For example, if the data indicates a prospect who is looking at our properties has also looked for more information about daycares in the neighborhood, they are able to arm our leasing agents with very specific data about what the prospect is looking for, she shared.
“This allows us to craft our outreach content with tailored messages and match our messages with what our prospects are looking for,” Jehlicka said.
Eppsteiner agrees there is an opportunity to connect marketing and the ability to target the lifestyle and experience preferences. Her teams also capture data on what a prospect is looking for in a neighborhood experience.
“Recently, we’ve gathered insights into what specific grocery store or fitness center a prospect is interested in. This data enables us to be nimbler in how we spend our marketing dollars and really hone-in our efforts,” she said. “We can quickly change and optimize our strategy to partner with business knowing that our property’s consumer base is interested in certain aspects of the neighborhood. This knowledge empowers our ability to enhance the overall customer experience and improves the longevity of our residents.”
Jehlicka, a self-proclaimed shoe-a-holic, joked, “Show me the walk-in closet with ample shoe storage and point out the closest shoe store and I’m sold!”