Car dealerships no longer rely on full-page newspaper ads. Department stores are using snail-mail campaigns less and less. Name the industry, and odds are that the way they attract customers has significantly changed in the digital age.
The apartment industry is certainly no different, as renter preferences seem to evolve on a monthly basis. That puts the onus on marketing teams to continue to refine approaches to attract and remain relevant to prospective renters.
“Everything is about online presence,” said Jeff Headrick, chief financial officer of Advanced Management Group. “The ads and flyers at the grocery store, we don’t even do those anymore. All of the renters coming in have looked at the community website and already have an expectation of what’s there, so we have to be able to top that when they come in.”
Part of that online presence, Headrick notes, is having a tool for instant communication. Prospects want to acquire as much information as possible prior to visiting the site. In the era of real-time information, they will often move along if they don’t get an answer quickly.
This is not to imply that drive-by traffic and old-school advertising methods have zero presence in attracting residents. Some still find their next apartment home that way. But the digital presence is responsible for reaching the vast majority of today’s prospects and is what truly moves the needle.
Naturally, simply reaching the prospect is only part of the battle. Keeping them engaged and interested in your community is what ultimately determines whether they’ll make their next home there. Tech tools can assist in this process, as software has been created to keep users on your site longer, increase overall traffic and, subsequently, increase conversions.
When navigating a large number of leads onsite, manual processes often come up short. It’s difficult to discern which prospects require follow-ups and to properly initiate the timing of each. Automated processes can reduce several headaches for leasing teams, as tech tools can provide better lead organization by consolidating leads into a central dashboard and by grouping leads into specific stages. This allows onsite teams to have a better idea of when to follow up, and they can do so in automated fashion, if desired.
The one constant is that customer acquisition continues to change. For apartment professionals, that means adapting to the rapidly evolving technologies and renter preferences. Those that do so successfully will remain a step ahead of their competitors.