Listen in on the conversations of today’s multifamily housing industry marketers and you’re bound to be blitzed by buzz words such as “lead generation,” “social engagement,” “mobile marketing,” “website conversion” and “protecting my brand.”
Multifamily housing marketing is at the forefront of the technological revolution happening in the world today because it is relies heavily on all forms of communication—the more people reached the better. Today’s fragmentation and proliferation of communication channels is mind-boggling at times. There is a virtual explosion of options to reach your target audience that allows you to engage socially, generate leads and convert those leads to leases while building your community brand.
So how do we keep pace with this marketing revolution and not fall behind? How do we make sure we are not wasting money on tactics that don’t work? And most importantly, how do we measure the effectiveness of our marketing strategies?
A vital element to answering these questions is the process of tracking marketing sources. Simple tracking efforts are a quick and easy way to continuously gauge marketing effectiveness through snapshot measurements. The encouraging news is that there are a host of unbiased resources available that make this important effort manageable. This includes assigning a unique tracking phone number to all your marketing sources, which allows you to review, without bias, the volume of marketing leads generated by each source. You can also contact a third-party company that will manage this process for you. If you are not quite ready to take on any additional budget dollars for enhanced tracking services, not to worry, as most industry-targeted marketing partners provide a tracking phone number for you at no additional cost. For example, For Rent Media Solutions provisions a tracked line for each of its channels—website, mobile, social and print—that you can measure. Having a unique tracking number for each source and each channel enables you to really dive into marketing results and associate returns quickly and easily.
Additionally, it is important to track the measurement of all Internet leads, including email and online chat. Given the buying habits of today’s renter, electronic leads are highly qualified and have proven to be as viable as a phone leads. Prospects call leasing offices, but they also research and communicate with communities online through laptops, tablets and mobile devices. Your marketing partners should provide you with a monthly list of verified electronic leads along with phone leads upon your request. The information should be provided at no cost, and they should do the tracking work for you.
Many people consider measuring based on a cost-per-lead any to be the least cumbersome method and also the most unbiased. It is highly unlikely that the potential renter is going to accurately site the media source when the onsite leasing agent asks, “How did you hear about us?” If you put a lot of credence into solely tracking this way, you may dramatically cut your marketing potential short. Using a tracking solution to count leads for each of your sources greatly enhances the accuracy of the data you are utilizing in your analysis. While there is quite a bit of wiggle room when it comes to marketing, analyzing the effectiveness of your efforts is not an area to be ignored.
When it comes to this topic, Vikki Sherman, the national director of marketing for Fairfield Residential, says, “With multi-channel media campaigns in place at most Fairfield communities, we analyze the results of marketing efforts with metrics from multiple sources and then layer that with property status during a given period.” She continues, “For instance, if a property is 98 percent leased over an extended period, a majority of their leads probably won’t convert to leases, impacting ROI and the perception of a source’s performance. All sources, including social media, are assigned unique phone numbers and lead emails are funneled through our call center, allowing us to monitor leads by ad source.”
Measuring marketing returns does not have to be complicated, but it does need to be part of your effective marketing strategy for your community.
Tips to Effectively Measure Marketing:
- Determine what your company considers a marketing lead. Many companies have defined a lead to be a unique phone call or email received within a 30-day period. Once you have defined what a lead is at your company, use that definition across all media channels and choose options that allow you to compare apples to apples.
- Assign unique tracking phone numbers to all your media sources, including your property website, so that you can gather unbiased results on a consistent basis.
- Determine your cost-per-lead by using the relationship of the marketing spend to the number of leads generated, and create a company benchmark (cost-per-lead).
- Continuously review your cost-per-lead and make adjustments to your media spend based on seasonality and occupancy goals.
- Measure social media options based on engagement versus leads. Social media-oriented renters often times like to engage in this arena before taking any literal action. This allows them to “test drive” the community anonymously and really empowers their rental decision confidence factor.