The Bar Has Been Raised for Online Apartment Shopping

Consumers who use sites such as Amazon, Grubhub, expect their experience to be that good everywhere else.

for rent on laptop Apartment communities’ social media channels should not be littered with attempted humorous memes. That might seem to follow sound marketing advice, but you’d be surprised.

Apartment marketers discussed adherence to responsible branding and why consistent, accurate digital information posted through an omni-channel approach is critical during a session called “Embracing High-Intent Prospects Throughout the Renter’s Path” held at the Apartment Innovation and Marketing Conference in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Google’s Dave Hoffman spoke of his company’s emphasis on “multi-moment marketing,” defined as when companies are able to “employ dynamic execution that is clearly optimized to individual customer outcomes across all channels.”

Marketers cannot allow company rogue employees to manage marketing channels on a whim. “If it doesn’t fit your brand, don’t post it,” Hoffman said. “This is not a comedy club. Consumers will see this and look elsewhere.”

“You’ve got to clean it up,” Boland said. “You might not think it, but people are searching for you everywhere; even on Bing. All your information on Google My Business needs to be accurate.”

Said panelist David Bell, RentPath, “You can’t try to guess where renter prospects are going to find you.”

The Bar is Raised for Online Experiences

Property management companies struggle to build a platform that posts consistently accurate information with 80 percent showing inadequate cross-functional coordination, and nearly 70 percent had to rely on manual processes, according to an industry report.

Companies such as Amazon and Grubhub have raised the bar for consumers when it comes to their online experience, including when searching for an apartment, particularly since the pandemic.

“Consumers expect their last experience shopping online to be their next experience,” Hoffman said. “So, if your prospects just shopped on Amazon, and now they are looking at your apartment site, they expect the same smooth experience. You’ve got to get it right. If your community’s information is on all of your channels, is all of the information the same?”

CRM Platforms, Bots Emerge as a Solution

Technology is helping to ensure this. Apartment companies are using advanced customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, which have been gaining favor in property management over the past 18 months.

This kind of first-party data is essential, said panelist Sarah Gencarella, Director of Marketing, Olympus Property. “CRMs will track your listings for you,” she said. “You can customize your tracking for each community.”  

Said Hoffman, “Apartment companies really need to lean into this as a best practice; these [CRM] tools are so powerful.”

Bots are also useful when serving information to interested prospects. After all, Gen Z and even younger Millennials do not want to make a phone call, and often don’t have time to communicate through text.

Huffman said consumers are too busy to communicate with another person because they are “too busy” and their time is “too valuable” so they want to handle as many of the steps in the process that they can without having to deal with anyone else.

Bots and other online technology are able to facilitate this, so much so that Gencarella said 53 percent of the apartment tours at her communities are self-scheduled.

Furthermore, an industry survey showed that since 2020:

30% of renter leads include a request to tour the property virtually;

40% of lead submitters request an online application;

50% of renters engage with SMS follow-up after a lead submission; and 

60% of chatbot sessions result in a tour appointment.

Source: GlobeSt.