Work the List: Deploying an Effective Waitlist Strategy
“We’re almost fully occupied. Should we adjust our marketing strategy?”
This question typically comes up after our multifamily customers experience several months of successful leasing.
At first, you may be hesitant to shift away from the tactics that led to high occupancy and stability. But with a community full of tenants, it’s a great time to think ahead and prepare for future vacancies.
Part of that preparation should include adjusting your marketing strategy to focus on holding an interested prospect’s attention until you have apartments available.
We recommend encouraging interested apartment shoppers to join a waitlist. Then, we suggest shifting marketing initiatives to “work the list.”
Working the list means taking an active approach to promoting and managing your waitlist. We don’t want you to ignore your waitlist until notices come in from current residents.
So, how do we apply this approach while also aiming to reduce our marketing spend? In this post, we’re not only going to address this question but also share how we arrived at our solution.
How do you hold an interested prospect’s attention until you have apartments available?
We started working with The RED Apartments in Cincinnati, Ohio to build a property website when the community was completing initial construction. The success of their lease-up marketing efforts resulted in a challenge we embrace here at 30 Lines: the community was almost fully occupied.
In being nearly occupied, the RED’s team was looking for ways to adjust their marketing strategy and ultimately reduce their marketing spend.
With the community no longer accepting applications, we knew we wanted to send interested prospects to a waitlist. That made our first order of business to adjust the primary call to action (CTA) across the site to display “Join Our Waitlist.”
However, we also needed to consider what’s expected once apartment shoppers elect to join that waitlist.
As an apartment shopper, I want to:
- Know what my future home will look like
- Know what the overall living experience will be like
- Know if I can afford rent at this community
- Know if the community offers similar options to the one I’m interested in (per my move-in date)
- Know when the apartment home I’m interested in is available
As a leasing agent, I want to:
- Share more insight into my apartment community
- Meet the needs of interested prospects (number of bedrooms, pricing, and timing)
- Have a bank of interested prospects to call as soon as apartments are available
This makes it clear, we not only want to promote and display the waitlist but also ensure waitlist members stay informed during the waiting period.
That brings up the opportunity to add waitlist shoppers to an automated email drip campaign. An email drip campaign consists of a series of emails that are automatically sent to a targeted audience after they take a specific action.
These emails can address the expectations apartment shoppers have when they join the list.
If you’re already running targeted email messages to prospects, this will take on a similar approach. But now that shoppers are segmenting themselves, we open up new opportunities. We can now run campaigns for waitlisted shoppers with different cadence and messaging: less focused on sales and specials, and emphasizing the character and uniqueness of the property and location.
The key is to maintain the prospect’s interest, without increasing marketing costs or adding more work to your leasing team.
Waitlisted shoppers have already taken action and shown interest in your community. Running email drip campaigns helps us keep their attention until apartments are available. And because it’s automated, it runs in the background and doesn’t take time away from your team.
Enabling “Waitlist Mode” with RentPress
To apply this strategy for The RED Apartments, we took a deeper dive into the first step of adjusting the primary CTA across the site. We wanted this message to display “Join Our Waitlist” and then segment the audience for ongoing lead nurturing campaigns (such as the series of automated emails).
It was particularly crucial for this CTA to be displayed on the floor plans page – where apartment shoppers are focusing on details about their future home, including availability.
The RED Apartments website deploys RentPress to display up-to-date pricing and availability directly from their property management software.
RentPress was developed by 30 Lines to turn beautiful apartment websites into connected marketing systems. It offers one-step integration with popular property management software and can display the most accurate pricing and availability for one property or your entire portfolio.
With no apartments available, RentPress dutifully reported “0 Available” for most floor plans for The RED Apartments. So, a CTA of “Apply Now” wasn’t displayed. Shoppers who were interested in learning more were presented with the option to “Schedule a Tour.”
The 30 Lines development team recognized this was an opportunity to roll out a new feature and add a “Waitlist Mode” setting.
Here’s how the feature works:
When an apartment is available at The RED Apartments, an apartment shopper sees the following:
The floor plans catalog page indicates the property has “1 Available” right now. When selected, the floor plan product page shares details about the property (price, square footage, date available) and a list of relevant CTAs: “Schedule a Tour,” “Request More Info,” and “Apply Now.”
With “Waitlist Mode” enabled, an apartment shopper sees the following when no apartments are available:
Now, the floor plan product page indicates the property has no apartments available. All the detailed information remains the same. However, the CTAs have changed. Shoppers now see the option to “Join Our Waitlist,” “Schedule a Tour,” or return to the floor plans catalog page to see what’s currently available.
By offering these CTAs, we give shoppers two paths forward:
- Join the Waitlist and be notified when apartments are available
- Schedule a Tour to gather additional insight
Plus, an escape route:
- Return to the Floor Plans catalog to see what other floor plan options are available now
The fun part, of course, is the new primary CTA: “Join Our Waitlist.” Now, you can either send shoppers to a standard /contact/ page to fill out a guest card, or send shoppers interested in joining a waitlist to a specific form (by default, /waitlist/ but this is customizable).
Once interested prospects of The RED Apartments fill out the waitlist form on the /waitlist/ page, they’re automatically passed into a segmented list for targeted follow up. Now, we can maintain their interest and capitalize on that interest at the right time.
Make the Apartment Shopping Experience Easier
At its core, the update we applied to RentPress introduced new labels on buttons. But when you’re focused on tailoring the digital experience to the apartment shopper, sometimes that’s all it takes.
For The RED Apartments, we’ve noticed about half as many people fill out the “Join Our Waitlist” form as opposed to the regular “Contact Us” form. But that’s okay.
Without the option to join a waitlist or see future availability, shoppers would fill out the “Contact Us” form only to be later informed no apartments were available. It also required the leasing team to spend more time filtering, sorting, and notifying those prospects individually.
Our goal is to make the apartment shopping experience easier.
“Waitlist Mode” is available now as an update to the free RentPress plugin. Check out our available support documentation for insight into the set-up process.
You can enhance your RentPress experience with our paid subscription service. With a paid subscription, you can display the most accurate pricing and availability on your multifamily website. RentPress offers easy, one-step integration with RentCafe, Entrata, MRI, Resman, and RealPage (coming soon!).
How are you working your waitlist? We want to know more! We’re always available to brainstorm new ideas or share more insight into the strategies illustrated above.
Is your apartment website your most impactful marketing tool?
RentPress was developed by 30 Lines to turn beautiful apartment websites into connected marketing systems.
And every day, our team is working to make RentPress better for you and your customers.
We have a waitlist often and found a few takeaways from this article. Thanks for posting.