How Your Community Can Shift Gears and Create a Seamless Digital Journey for Renters
The renter’s journey is constantly transforming, and over the past five years, we’ve seen it digitize itself more than ever before. This has been especially true during the coronavirus pandemic, which experts believe will continue to impact our lives significantly, even after a vaccine is introduced onto the market. As we continue to piece together our “new normal,” we can expect brand-new protocols to reshape the way we do just about everything online, from working and shopping to securing a rental home.
Though we may have little control over the length of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important that multifamily housing professionals understand the role that technology plays in overcoming these new challenges and look for ways to incorporate these tech-based solutions into our current processes. After all, these tools will shape our business outlook for years – if not, decades – to come.
No matter how non-linear the renter’s journey might be, appealing to prospective residents in hopes of signing a lease will always be a mainstay in our industry, pandemic or not. While it can be impossible to predict every scenario leading a prospective renter to your front door, solidifying and digitizing certain crucial steps along your sales pipeline will make it easier to create a personalized renter’s journey.
To get started, check out 4 steps that should be included in any digitized renter’s journey, despite your community’s size, offerings, location, or target audience.
Locating an Apartment Home
Step one of the renter’s journey is the “awareness” phase. To become familiar with your community, consumers must stumble upon your brand somewhere – which, more often than not, will be online. Maximize your chances of success by ensuring that your marketing website is user-friendly and contains pages of relevant, accessible content. Drive traffic to your site through organic search engine optimization (SEO) tactics, such as keyword research, regular blog posts headline and tag implementation. You should also consider staying active on social media channels, posting multiple times a week to your main feed and creating engaging ephemeral content within “Stories” features on certain platforms. It also wouldn’t hurt to invest in a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign on your most followed social media platform or search engine.
Contacting a Leasing Agent
As the prospect moves through the renter’s journey, it is quite common for them to open the lines of communication by calling, messaging, or reaching out to your property via your marketing website or social media channels. Correspond with prospects by using their communication method of choice, and you’ll help move them to the “consideration” phase. You can even use special tools! For example, many of today’s consumers prefer the ease of use and availability of chatbots. Chatbots, the ultimate contactless solution, adequately stand in for customer service and sales agents by providing a type-less experience that generates pre-determined call-to-actions. Chatbots in our industry might contain prompts, like “Find an Apartment” or “Schedule a Tour,” which encourage your prospect to take the next actionable step in your sales pipeline.
Applying for an Apartment
You put your marketing website, social media pages, and business listings in place to attract your lead. Now, your prospect wants to move forward with the next step of the renter’s journey by applying to rent one of your apartments. This “purchase” phase is rather multi-faceted and can certainly make or break your transaction. Luckily enough for leasing agents, there is a substantial number of management software available on the market that can take your brand-new, paperless leasing process from selection to signature. By using these platforms, you will be able to digitize the entire on-boarding process, while eliminating redundant data entry, human error, and time-consuming internal paperwork. Once you vet the applicant, they can digitally sign and finalize documents, using a mouse, stylus, or even their fingertip.
Advocating for Your Community
The final step in the renter’s journey is, perhaps, the most crucial of all: retention and advocacy. Like any other business, multifamily housing offers a product, and it’s important to keep your resident satisfied long after the lease is signed. Continually illustrating the value of your community to your resident through stellar on-site amenities and customer service will help them remain engaged with your community. You’ll also want to remain attune to your resident’s needs, which have shifted to encompass outdoor amenities and spaces, community-wide Wi-Fi, and thorough sanitization and social distancing practices. In short, do everything in your power to help your resident feel safe and secure during and beyond the pandemic, and you’ll have no trouble encouraging them to renew their leases and advocate for your brand in the future.