Personalized Marketing Strategies for Multifamily Housing - How to Be Smart, Not Sneaky

When it comes to digital marketing strategies, the Internet can be an extremely fickle place. Compared to even a few years ago, users have come to expect digital marketers to leverage their individual data and cater it towards customized content and product offerings, also known as personalized marketing.  

Yet, many users report feeling “creeped out” by this 21st century strategy of marketing. In fact, one Harvard Business Review study found that “private information [used by digital marketers] makes consumers feel as if someone is talking about them behind their back.”

But despite users’ claims that personalized content is creepy, Internet denizens also rely upon it for meaningful interactions and efficient task management while browsing. This year, Adobe found that 42 percent of participants actually get annoyed when their chosen brands do not personalize online experiences, and according to one Epsilon study, a whopping 80 percent of consumers are more likely to do business with a given company if a personalized experience is involved.

However, there is a fine line between what is deemed acceptable and what crosses into uncomfortable territory. While marketers are still learning how to definitively distinguish between the two, another Harvard Business Review study reveals that users deem demographic information fair game, while more intimate details regarding religion, politics, and lifestyle preferences are considered creepy. But even still, 40 percent of brands surveyed by InMoment admit to regularly employing digital marketing strategies that their customer base finds off-putting, largely due to marketing tactics that seem innovative but, instead, rub customers the wrong way when put into practice.

With all this being said, for many businesses, there still seems to be a disconnect between a brands’ personalization strategies and consumer preferences. The multifamily industry must take strides to reconcile this disconnect in order to take advantage of the many revenue-generating opportunities associated with smart digital marketing. By employing effective yet conscious personalization techniques, your property can convert leads to leases by being smart, not sneaky, when it comes to interacting with potential residents.

Marketing in the Era of Deep Personalization

Targeted marketing is nothing new, but what has changed over the years is the depth of consumer information available to personalize marketing campaigns and strategies. For years, marketers relied upon intel received using generic parameters – name, location, birthday, and the like. Today’s personalization is a byproduct of something beyond simple data inquiry; instead, it is deeply technical, analyzing one’s digital footprint to estimate behavior patterns. Marketers now use machine learning to analyze customer behavior and then make educated guesses as to what the most effective step would be in order to capture leads, drive sales, and more.

The streaming service Spotify, for example, implements its uber-successful “Discover Weekly” playlist for users based on activity that tracks the user’s listening activity. Based on this behavior, an algorithm creates a unique “taste profile” for every listener, and then decides which songs fit the profile but have not yet been encountered by the listener, then those songs are added to the Discover Weekly playlist, which is always a nice surprise for anyone’s Monday morning commute.

More local businesses are in on the game as well and often turn to analytics-based marketing software like HubSpot to help track leads and monitor activity. Even at the smaller level, marketers have begun to use tracking software to monitor email opens, then use the data gathered to determine which leads are interested (opening emails) and which are disinterested (ignoring contact attempts). From there, marketers can further develop incentives for disinterested leads to begin opening emails or can decide to halt marketing efforts altogether. With the power of data driving these decisions, marketers are free to play with outreach possibilities, tweaking their approach as they move forward.  

Since it is no secret that modern, mobile consumers crave instantaneous solutions, digital marketers use micro-moments to their advantage when it comes to accessing a prospect’s particular need. Think of it this way: smart phones have become so prevalent in our daily lives that we don’t even think twice when it comes to whipping them out of our back pocket for quick Google search. Digital marketers, on the other hand, are well-aware of the contemporary consumers need for “instant gratification” in this way; therefore, deep personalization allows marketers to forge more sustainable relationships with their customers, allowing them to anticipate a prospect’s actions before they even materialize by simply having access to consumer information.

As you can see from the examples above, deep personalization methods allow property managers to learn relevant information needed to most effectively capture leads. Then, they can find ways to appeal to the foundational needs and lifestyle preferences of those exact renters.  The marketing method of deep personalization has now eclipsed shallow data and usage of the former will quickly establish more progressive brands from those simply pasting prospect names into an email before calling it a day.

However, with deep personalization also comes the increased likelihood that your marketing team will accidentally venture into “creepy” territory. So, you’ll want to take extra precaution not to disturb potential residents with too-intimate intel, and the best way to do so is to keep these suggestions in mind while formulating your brand-new strategy.

Smart Ways to Personalize Your Property’s Marketing Efforts

Now, with your marketing goals in mind, let’s discuss ways that multifamily properties can utilize personalized marketing to establish brand prominence, develop client loyalty, and secure leases. Here’s how to distinguish your property online without sacrificing vital personalization tactics.

Be transparent in your personalization efforts.

Yes, there’s a reason why this point comes before all others. The single most effective way to use personalization to your advantage is to first be transparent about your intentions. It’s important to understand that today’s consumer is aware of technology’s omnipresence and, odds are, have been burned by botched personalization efforts before. So, you’ll want to ensure that your property remains frank in its approach with potential residents.

One way to accomplish this is by implementing a pop-up that explains your data collection policies. You may also want to reveal to the potential resident that by providing your management team with personal details, they will be able to receive information better tailored to their rental preferences.

Build personas for potential residents and develop techniques that appeal to them.

While data gathering, you’ll likely notice similarities between leads such as demographic, interests, or communication preferences. Harness that intel to create unique personas for each identifiable cluster. While it may seem counterintuitive to group consumers into categories (isn’t this supposed to be about personalization?), doing so helps marketing teams create relevant messages that land at opportune times and promote your community in its best light.  By being able to draw connections between leads, your team can strategize ways to speak to them directly, understand their pain points, and determine what will most effectively drive the leasing process forward.

When building personas, you will likely want to consider the following:

What’s important to them, and what’s driving the rental decision?

What do they need to know to embrace the rental decision?

Who do they turn to for advice or information?

What’s the value they visualize once they make a rental decision?

You will want to involve your entire team with this process, conducting interviews and furthering research into these personas in order to get on the right track. Remember, transparency is key, so as long as you remain open to your target audience members, you should receive an open response in return.

Recommend units, amenities, or services that potential residents may have forgotten or overlooked the first time.  

Sure, it can be frustrating when a user schedules a tour, but then never actually makes it to the property, or when someone requests more information only to ignore contact attempts. While a defeated marketing manager may take this as a sign to move on from a lead, a marketer with an eye for personalization will turn the perceived loss into a win.

Known as re-targeting, this practice involves using web ads or direct-to-consumer emails to gently remind the lead about your offerings and encourage them to take action this time. In the multifamily industry, this could involve a series of Facebook ads that publicize the exact unit your lead viewed with a CTA to book a tour with your property. It could also recommend a sister property to your user if you have no vacancies, but you’d still like to capitalize on the lead.

Remind users of apartment homes, amenities, or sign-up offers that weren’t available at the time but are now.

Imagine that you’ve been online shopping for a pair of shoes only to find that the shoe is sold out in your size. About a week goes by before you receive a personalized email letting you know that your size is back in stock. Almost immediately, you purchase the shoe.

This is an example of personalization at its best. In fact, one of the most effective personalization tactics entails reminding potential leads about current and relevant information in hopes that it will translate into further action.

In the multifamily context, this could entail upselling a more deluxe unit if the originally selected rental is now occupied. Or, if your property’s sprawling pool was under construction at the time of the lead’s initial contact, you could send an email to let them know that it’s back open and now boasts a sun shelf or additional fountain. Your leads will probably appreciate the update, and it will likely remind them about an aspect of your property they initially found favorable but have since forgotten about.

Mindfully connect with residents, keeping in mind important dates and communication preferences.

Don’t you hate it when someone with whom you regularly interact calls you in the middle of the workday, instead of emailing? Or a brand from which you’ve purchased half your wardrobe forgets – yet again – to email your promised birthday reward? Consumers feel immensely valued when companies remain up-to-date on their lives and its schedules. And luckily, remaining knowledgeable offers a relatively simple way to nail personalization without much effort from your end.

One way to forge an impression with residents is to remember dates important to them. This could include not only birthdays, but also move-in days, lease renewal days, and other important milestones of living in your community. Another way to appear hyper focused on the customer is to adhere to communication preferences when contacting him or her. Avoiding times when the resident is at work and remembering to send a text message instead of calling are two examples of communication preferences that aren’t hard to stick with yet make your property management team appear thoughtful in its approach.

Don’t forget to continually test your efforts, separating what works from what doesn’t and the interested from the disinterested.

Finally, before you begin your personalization journey, let’s not forget about testing. No matter what type of marketing personalization or automation strategy you decide to employ, don’t forget to pay attention to how your client base responds to outreach efforts. You’ll know something is amiss with your marketing strategy if emails are ignored, website visits drop, or tour requests lessen.

A/B testing, which involves running two versions of a campaign to different consumer segments, can provide invaluable information when attempting to organize lead preferences. You may also consider introducing a survey or soliciting feedback from your target audience members in order to acquire consensus of your company’s standing. Consumers are generally willing to provide feedback, and by asking targeted users to share their opinions, you’ll not only promote a sense of transparency, but will also get one step closer to figuring out which personalization techniques will heighten your marketing strategy’s effectiveness.

While personalized marketing is a very nuanced subject, once you begin developing a strategy that works for your property, you will likely wonder how you ever ran successful campaigns without it! By putting the interests of your potential residents first and remaining committed to understanding their needs, you will be able to implement a successful personalization strategy and create a distinctive brand that resonates with residents and converts leads to leases faster than ever.

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