The Biggest, Most Rotten Lie in Apartment Marketing
“We’ll drive more traffic to your website,” they said.
“You’ll sign more leases,” they said.
…By now, you’ve heard that pitch one hundred times from one hundred vendors. Heck, you probably even heard it from us. (Sorry.)
And even though this pitch is true at a basic level, it conveniently fails to mention several things can stop an initial website visit from becoming a pen to paper lease signing:
- Your site visitor has unrealistic expectations of your community, based on an error – or lazy/misleading work – from the initial traffic source (ILS, PPC ad, Social, etc.)
- Your site visitor can’t find what he/she is looking for on your community website, and leaves the site because he/she can’t access information in a timely manner
- Your site visitor actually comes to your physical property, but is unimpressed with the walkthrough, or possibly the leasing staff
Here’s a brief outline on how to solve the problems in each of these hidden steps.
Solving for Hidden Step 1: Your Prospect Had Unrealistic Expectations
Rejection hurts, we know. But as our mothers used to tell us back in middle school, “Sometimes a person just isn’t right for you.” Thanks, ma!
In all seriousness, no matter how beautiful and luxurious your community may be, it’s not going to meet the expectations of everyone. That’s why it’s critical you’re honest about what your community offers right off the bat.
In other words, be transparent!
The best inbound apartment marketing campaigns don’t just drive traffic. They drive quality traffic. And they do that by qualifying leads before they become website visitors.
By being completely transparent in initial ads!
Whether you’re driving website traffic through an ILS, a PPC ad, or a social media campaign, your copy and images need to provide as much information about your community as possible.
For example, a generic PPC ad that reads “Luxury Apartments in Philadelphia – Call Now!” will drive a ton of traffic. A PPC ad that reads “Luxury Apartments in Philadelphia – Hardwood Floors, Balconies, Granite Countertops – $1195 One Bedroom” will drive less traffic. However, the traffic from the second ad will be of a higher quality because the copy sets expectations right from the get go.
Designing ads this way not only pre-qualifies your site visitors, it also saves you money because you don’t have to pay for worthless clicks!
Keep in mind this isn’t a foolproof strategy.
Even with pre-qualifying ad copy, a majority of your traffic won’t convert. Many of your visitors are simply shopping around, weighing their options. That’s just the nature of the game.
Still, following this strategy will increase your conversion rate. Guaranteed. That is, as long as you also account for another common problem…
Solving for Hidden Step 2: Your Site Visitor Can’t Navigate Your Site to Find Information
Sure, you might know where to find one bedroom floorplans on your website. But you’re on there everyday! For first-timers, things aren’t so simple.
And that’s a problem.
Because the Internet is an impatient, fickle, highly-demanding place.
If you can’t give a site visitor the information they need immediately, you’re begging to be abandoned. And you can’t convert visitors if they’re constantly leaving your site!
So what can you do to make it easy for everyone to find the information they need? How do you accommodate thousands of individuals with thousands of different research styles?
The answer can be found in personalizing interactions through conversations.
Personalized interactions come in three forms:
- Phone conversations – Where a website visitor clicks on a phone number and speaks to a leasing agent or community representative
- Live chat conversations – Where a website visitor opens a chat box and messages a community representative or a third party live chat representative
- Chatbot-powered conversations – Where a website visitor opens a chat box and messages an A.I. program that knows everything about the community
The first option – phone conversations – is fairly obvious and extremely simple. A visitor calls the community, speaks directly with someone who can answer their questions, and hopefully schedules a tour. And there you have it; visitor becomes lead.
Unfortunately, there’s one major flaw: Leasing agents and other reps aren’t always available to take these calls. In fact, a majority of apartment searches occur late at night and early in the morning, when leasing offices are closed.
Need proof? Check out the peak search times for “apartments for rent” according to Google Trends data.
As you can see, people tend to search for apartments before 9AM. Add the fact property managers and leasing agents aren’t behind their desks most of their working hours anyway, and it’s easy to understand why phone calls aren’t the best way to convert website visitors. (And we’re not even going to get into the whole thing about millennials hating phone calls.)
The second option – live chat conversations – seems like a solution to the problems inherent in phone conversations. A visitor lands on your website, can’t find what he/she is looking for, and types a message in a chat bubble which links him/her to a live representative.
Unfortunately, this method is also flawed.
Because live chat representatives are notoriously slow to respond. In fact, we found that it often takes these live representatives more than three minutes to answer the very first question they’re asked.
And if you remember what we said earlier about the Internet being an impatient, fickle, highly-demanding place, you can see why that’s awful for converting visitors.
The third option – apartment chatbot conversations – is somewhat new. But don’t let that fool you. Out of all the ways to give your website visitors personalized interactions, apartment chatbots win hands down.
The reasons why are fairly straightforward.
Apartment chatbots come pre-programmed and know everything there is to know about their respective communities. There’s not a single relevant question prospects can field to a chatbot that it won’t be able to answer.
Second, apartment chatbots don’t need to eat or sleep, so they’re available 24/7. The late night apartment search phenomenon is not an issue.
Third, apartment chatbots respond to inquiries immediately. They have no down time. They’re a perfect fit for an on-demand NOW! NOW! NOW! World.
Finally, chatbots can possibly even help you solve the last hidden step…
Solving for Hidden Step 3: Your Prospect is Unimpressed with a Walkthrough or Your Leasing Staff
Out of all the problems we identified today, this one stings the most.
Unfortunately, it’s also the one that’s hardest to solve.
If a prospect liked your community on (digital) paper, but didn’t like it when physically on the grounds, there’s not much you can do.
But if that prospect was turned off for other reasons – a leasing agent distracted by a string of phone calls, for example – one could suggest chatbots provide a solution.
We know that sounds like a real stretch.
And yeah, maybe we’re giving a little too much credit to a program’s problem solving abilities.
Still, few multifamily professionals would argue the fact that leasing staff have a lot on their plates. And when people have much to do and little time to do it, they’re prone to making mistakes.
So does it not stand to reason that chatbots – which are essentially virtual assistants that handle the more mundane aspects of leasing – could help leasing staff do a better job? Does it not make sense that a less distracted leasing agent is a warmer, friendlier, more convincing leasing agent?
We’ll let you decide…
Bringing it All Back
It’s obvious in 2017 that more website traffic does not necessarily translate to more lease signings. But by recognizing the pitfalls identified above, and taking measures to avoid them, you can improve your overall traffic-to-lease ratio. And that’s a great thing for your time and your budget.