Flip Your Budget Part 3: Speed Up the Conversion Process, Without Accelerating Your Spend
Even before stepping foot into your leasing office, apartment shoppers are touring your property’s features online. They’re researching floor plans available, pinpointing current pricing, unleashing the property’s pet policy, mapping out local neighborhood hotspots, and overall picturing the look and feel of their future home. However, during this time they’re also researching other apartment communities and narrowing their list of options, which puts your property in direct competition before the prospective resident ever schedules a tour or makes contact with your leasing office.
It’s critical that we capture these potential leads early, and quickly convince these prospects that your community is the best option for them.
However, we don’t have to accelerate your spend to accomplish this goal. Every year apartment marketers are asked to do more with less when writing their multifamily budgets, and this year will certainly be no different. In episode three of “Flip Your Budget,” 30 Lines’ Kristi Fickert walks through inexpensive ways to persuade and ultimately convert leads faster, without creating more work for your leasing team or spending excessive amounts of marketing dollars.
Together, we’ll review the journey apartment shoppers take when looking for a new home and identify smart, budget-friendly tools and strategies that will move them towards the ultimate goal of moving in.
Check Out Episode Three of “Flip Your Budget”
Learn more about the behaviors apartment shoppers exhibit.
Here at 30 Lines, we take a behavior-based approach to apartment marketing, aligning our tools, strategies, and analysis with the journey prospective residents take when they’re searching for an apartment today. You’ll often hear us refer to this multifamily conversion funnel as ‘Look, Learn, Lease, Love.’
Each phase defines a step of the renter’s journey from the start (when they begin their apartment search) to the finish (when they share their experience as a happy resident).
Initially, your prospects are in the ‘Look’ phase and are conducting a very broad search for an apartment. They’re not yet searching for your community by name. During the ‘Look’ phase, our goal as apartment marketers is to create awareness for our property or brand. We just want to show up on the prospect’s radar and become an option on their list of potential properties to call home.
Next, apartment shoppers move into the ‘Learn’ phase. They have created a list of options, and now they are going to begin doing more research to narrow down their selections. During the ‘Look’ phase, our goal as apartment marketers is to persuade and convince the customer that we are the right option. Yes, our community is wonderful. Yes, we have the right amenities that meet your needs. Yes, we have raving reviews from our current residents.
Then we move into the ‘Lease’ phase, which is where apartment shoppers begin to transact with your property. Now, transact does not necessarily mean they are signing the lease on the dotted line. However, they are taking mini-actions, such as scheduling an in-person tour or requesting a video tour, that leads up to them performing the ultimate act of signing a lease. We want to make these transactions as seamless for the prospect as possible.
Finally, we move onto the ‘Love’ phase, which is initiated as soon as the prospect signs on the dotted line and begins the move-in process. As apartment marketers, we want to nurture current residents and give them an experience they’ll want to share. When residents love you and tell others they love you, it goes all the way back to the top of the funnel to help create awareness for your property.
A cost-effective way to capture prospects earlier in their apartment search.
‘Learn’ is the second phase of our behavior-based funnel. Prospects have found your property, but now we have some work to do to convince them (before your competitors) that your property is the best option. Overall, we want to speed up the process of converting the lead.
How can you accelerate lead conversion without breaking your multifamily budget, or creating additional burdens for your leasing team?
One of the easiest things you can do is add a Lease Magnet, or smart website pop-up, to help capture prospects earlier in their search. Website pop-ups function in a number of different ways, but we don’t want it to be intrusive or create friction for our customer.
We know from studying customer behavior, however, that a lot of prospects visit your website as a part of their initial search. At this stage, they’re probably not ready to set an in-person tour or fill out an application. Instead, they’re going to come to your website and browse, perhaps review your floor plans or check on pricing and availability. Then, they’ll probably leave your website and most likely do the same thing with some of your competitors. After they’ve done their research, they’ll probably come back to your website and complete an online guest card, especially if you’ve done a good job of convincing them your property is the right choice.
We want to capture and convert these prospective renters much earlier in the process. We want to get our brand message in front of them, and even automate some of these processes. Again, we don’t want to create more work for your leasing team.
A website pop-up places your marketing messaging front and center, even if that message is not a special or concession. As apartment marketers, we just want to convince and persuade prospects to stay in our funnel, not venture out to competitors. We also want to make it easy for prospects to quickly submit their basic information, such as name and email. This process should not be as detailed or time-consuming as filling out an online guest card.
At 30 Lines, we see that properties that have a pop-up on their website average 40 more leads per month than properties that do not have a pop-up.
Want to earn more leads per month?Click below to receive your complimentary Lease Magnet, an offer exclusive to “Flip Your Budget” viewers. This smart website pop-up can be designed to share a customized message, as well as match the branding of your property’s website. Try Lease Magnet
Build your email list, and get prospects clicking, responding, and buying.
After a prospect opts-in through a pop-up on your website, you can use that information to build a really effective email and prospect list. As marketers, we need to have a way to communicate with these prospects, keep our brand top-of-mind, and convince them our property is the best option; however, we don’t want to put more work on the leasing team or put a strain on your multifamily budget.
Through email drip marketing we can not only automate follow-up communication but also maximize the return on our marketing spend.
So, how does it work? When a prospect provides their information through a pop-up that information can then be automatically added to your email audience, or email list. Then, we can send a series of timed messages to that prospect, which we refer to as an email drip sequence. This sequence can be customized and adjusted to best serve your customer.
Overall, our goal with automated email messaging is to add touch points and further persuade your prospects. Research shows that most customers require seven to eight different touch points before they are willing to rent from you. Most leasing consultants, however, stop at about the third piece of follow up.
It’s important to note, multifamily email marketing is not meant to take the place of the personal relationships your leasing team is building with these individuals. It’s instead aimed to give your leasing team a head start on nurturing and persuading the customer. We can start to tell our property’s story and highlight the factors we know are important during the decision-making process.
Target warm leads with your advertising dollars.
Now you have your pop-up on your website, so you’re getting prospects into your marketing funnel sooner in the process. You’re also running automated email messages to increase touch points with your customer. Another thing you can do is reallocate some of your multifamily budget toward retargeting ads and remarketing efforts – if you aren’t doing so already.
If you’re aligning your marketing efforts with the behaviors apartment shoppers exhibit and collecting their email earlier in their search, you can adjust your online advertising strategy to target those warm leads. Retargeting ad campaigns can be run through Google Ads or the Facebook Audience Network. Streamline the process further by including a small, unnoticeable piece of code on your website, also known as a pixel. Learn more about Facebook’s pixel here.
At this point, these prospects are warming up to your property and are super close to converting. Why not give them a little nudge?
Improve your property’s online image and reputation, without draining your multifamily budget.
The last point we have to cover involves conducting a branded search. Once prospects are through the initial ‘Look’ phase of their apartment search, and you’ve generated the awareness needed to become an option, they’ll recognize (and search) for your property by name. We refer to this as a branded search, and it’s primarily conducted when prospects are researching and learning more about your property.
When you conduct a branded search for your property, one of the first things you’ll see is your property’s ratings and reviews. That’s certainly intentional – Google knows ratings and reviews are critical in a prospect’s decision-making process. If those reviews aren’t great, the prospect is going to be less likely to move down the funnel and transact with your property.
Another aspect of a branded search to note is the emphasis on photos and videos. Even before stepping foot into their future apartment, prospects want to open the door to their future living experience — online.
Keep in mind, neither of these opportunities – improving ratings and reviews, or obtaining photos and videos – need to take a hit on your multifamily budget. Encourage your onsite team to ask for positive reviews after they administer exceptional service. If you don’t have the budget to hire a professional, today your phone’s video and photo quality are just as good as most professional equipment.
Tune into more episodes of “Flip Your Budget”
Thank you so much for joining us for this segment of our “Flip Your Budget” mini-series, which is aimed to help you survive and thrive during multifamily budget season. You can use the following links to access the first two episodes:
Don’t leave without your pop-up!
Click below to receive your complimentary Lease Magnet, an offer exclusive to “Flip Your Budget” viewers, for the rest of 2018. This smart pop-up can be designed to share a customized message, as well as match the branding of your property’s website.