Digital dust is a term that has been around for some time, but recently it has been revived with a new meaning. The term now ties itself to what is known as the Internet of Behaviors, being human behavior from interacting with connected devices, such as Alexa, smartwatches, and mobile devices – all which have a common thread of knowing our location and the tracks we leave on the Internet, from social media post, reviews, and online buying habits – the list runs deep. Even our cars now have digital voice assistances and what is known as telematics, which can monitor driving behaviors.
In short, digital dust is the evidence that is left behind from all our internet related usage, and companies are getting smarter about collecting it, as it provides the intel to better understand their end-users. This information allows companies the ability to anticipate what customers will want in the future.
If we look at online data usage in terms of what is called exabytes, the numbers clearly show the surge in our usage. For reference - one exabyte is equal to 1 billion gigabytes. In 2019, monthly data traffic in the United States reached 42 million exabytes. But in March 2020 alone, we had a 34-percent increase in data usage on smartphones, and 18-percent on in-home internet usage.
That massive jump of in-home data use in 2020 is certainly driven by so many companies converting to remote work. But a lot of it is coming from the fact that the typical household now has eleven Internet-connected devices – which is leaving a ton of digital dust behind.
So what is being done with all the digital dust we generate? Demographic data mining, your contact information, and location data are the most popular. These data packets are being bundled and sold to different businesses looking to target people of a certain demographic and location.
The multifamily housing industry can only get smarter from using certain data sets, but that data needs to be aggregated for it to become truly actionable, as we create a mountain of data points from every user. For the record - actionable data is information that gives you enough insight into the trends that the actions you should take becomes very clear.
If you break down what would be actionable in our industry, you need to look at it in two defined segments, external and internal data. External data are actions from open usage, such as what link did a user click, a good example of external data is web traffic. Internal data is gathered from internal usage, such as when somebody paid their rent. Let’s look at what we should be able to grab pretty easy – mobile vs desktop users – this will allow us to know what devices our prospective residents are using the most and give us insights on where to market and optimize our search presence. If the bulk of our audience is mobile, we need to market on mobile driven platforms, such as Instagram and TikTok.
If we dive deeper, we can see where our leads are coming from, Facebook, Google, or even an ILS. I am not talking about prospects selecting their source in a dropdown on a lead form, that is not accurate enough – this is through mining data the moment they arrive on our website. The list goes on as to what data we can gather and aggregate, such as what floor plans are being viewed most, or how many clicks are you getting from social media on your latest blog post.
We can then grab some internal data, such as general inquiries versus tour request versus applications, and then we can run some of our external data against it, such as how much web traffic we need to generate these actions, what floor plan type is getting the most tours or applications - versus which ones are not. We are now arming ourselves with actionable data to make decisions – and optimize the performance of our community.
Data has become a highly valuable asset, and over the last few years, data volumes have grown massively. Businesses that leveraged data to better understand their customers and improve their decision-making are the ones that are outperforming everyone else.
Want to learn how to leverage data to track today’s mobile renter? Download our latest whitepaper.
Kerry W. Kirby is a global entrepreneur, technology innovator, philanthropist, and the founder of 365 Connect, an award-winning technology firm within the multifamily housing industry. Over the course of his career, Kerry has been the recipient of an array of highly acclaimed awards, including the esteemed Louisiana Governor's Technology Award. He has been named to the Silicon Bayou 100 List of most influential entrepreneurs for nine consecutive years and has received a prestigious Titan Entrepreneur Award for his technological achievements. An acclaimed speaker, author, and award-winning podcaster, Kerry has appeared on the BBC Digital Planet program, NPR News, and various media platforms and outlets. Kerry has contributed to an array of articles and studies on the convergence of technology in the rental housing industry.
Kerry serves on the Board of Advisors of Rainbow, a national nonprofit organization that provides service-enriched housing programs for affordable housing communities across the country. He also serves on the Board of Advisors of the Multifamily Women’s Summit, an event that allows women to strengthen their expertise, influence, and professional network in the multifamily housing industry, and is Chair of Technology Initiative for the Multifamily Innovation Advisory Council, a private, members only group focused on assisting owners and operators of multifamily communities by reducing risks associated with vetting new technologies and implementations.
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