December 1, 2020 |
Updated July 16, 2021
How marketing technology helps property managers keep leasing on track and prospects feeling safe.
The digital marketplace has become more crowded as the search for multifamily housing continues to initially take place online, now even more so amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today’s prospects peruse dozens of listings that vie for attention with photos and videos — sometimes including 3D floor plans, maps and descriptions — all of which showcase why they warrant and in-person look and, ultimately, a lease.
In fact, some marketing works so effectively that renters lease apartments, senior living facilities and student housing without ever setting foot on the premises.
In the last nine months, many online marketing strategies have been ramped up because of the pandemic, making it all the harder to woo, lease and move-in residents.
Here’s how property managers can use RENTCafé Reach, advanced marketing software by Yardi, to attract prospects and meet leasing goals.
Because prospects spend so much time on their own studying possibilities, today’s marketing tools must meet their high bar of expectations. RENTCafé Reach describes its marketing website offering as the equivalent of a virtual front door. It welcomes online prospects into your community for a digital preview.
Websites are packed with content optimized for search and critical information renters often seek such as location of vacancies, level of pet friendliness, price, enticing visuals and resident ratings. Having everything in one place improves prospects’ sentiments and builds brand authority, according to Yardi.
When Jamin Harkness, Executive Vice President of The Management Group (TMG), an Atlanta-based real estate asset management provider, looked for solutions once COVID-19 challenged the rental process, he was impressed with RENTCafé Reach.
To update his company’s marketing solutions, Harkness liked these options:
- Links above floor plans for virtual tours. “That allowed us to remain ‘open’ for business, even when we had to shut down properties,” he says. “Prospects simply clicked on a link on our site and saw a leasing consultant offer a tour. It had a genuine feel, according to feedback we received.”
- Add “real” photos of each apartment online. “People wonder what a kitchen really looks like, not the model, but the one they’ll move into,” Harkness says.
- Integrate a smart speaker. Harkness says doing so enables renters to communicate with their office, pay rent, place work orders and more.
Safe, Flexible, Self-Guided Tours
Another feature of RENTCafé Reach that property managers and renters find useful — especially as COVID-19 numbers again increase — is the built in self-guided tours capability. Prospects can schedule their own self-guided tours directly from the property website. Harkness started using it last March as the pandemic bagan.
But even now that TMG’s properties are reopened, many prospects still prefer the self-guided option, according to a RENTCafé Reach study of 3,500 renters. They cited different reasons: 63% said they prefer to go at their own pace and 59% said they like the idea of practicing social distancing.
Here’s how it works: A prospect schedules a self-guided tour through a property’s RENTCafé website. After they complete ID verification, they receive a secure, one-time access code and then is able to tour the unit at their own pace. They might want more time to examine a kitchen or spend time sitting on model furniture to imagine themselves living there.
The approach also benefits property management. Tour hours can be extended without hiring additional staff and each tour triggers an automated confirmation and follow-up to track conversions.
Harkness tested the feature at four properties. “To our surprise, we allotted 30 minutes for tours, but people have been spending 45 minutes, and our closing ratios are 75 percent versus our standard 40 percent,” he said. “The comments have been so positive they almost seem scripted. We’ve heard things like, ‘I could really see myself living here!’”