Not Sure How To Use Your Apartment's Marketing Data? Start With This.

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Originally published in 2019. Updated in 2022.

You're probably swimming in data if you are an apartment marketer.

You likely get monthly reports from various vendors, have tracking phone numbers on your different marketing sources, provide guest cards to new prospects, review information on website visits, time on site, and so much more.

So, how do you move from “having lots of data” to “optimizing your performance from this data”?

Suppose you’re generating many leads, but your leasing performance is terrible. What’s going on? How can you tell? How do you use your data in particular situations to understand what is happening and make corrections?

In this post, we talk about how to make sense of your data and make intelligent decisions about adjusting your marketing based on changes in your community.

Some of what we'll discuss is available in the RentVision Platform—which is made available only to our partners and houses all their vital marketing, leasing, and revenue data in one place. 

If you are not a RentVision client, you can still generate reports in tools like Google Analytics or your property management software to get similar data sets that provide crucial insights into performance.

Which data points should I focus on the most?

To begin, identify the top-level metrics that drive revenue for your community, which are any metrics directly related to a prospective resident's leasing activity. Signed leases, after all, are the primary revenue generator for your community.

Suppose you imagine your marketing process as a funnel. In that case, prospective residents enter the funnel by taking some action to identify themselves as being interested in your apartments. Typically, that will occur when they call or email your on-site team to ask about a unit they’re interested in and schedule a tour. Two metrics we'd recommend focusing on are phone leads and email leads.

The amount of email or phone leads a marketing source generates is an effective measure of its general performance, so hone in on those two numbers when sorting through your data.

What kinds of leads are better: email or phone?

The answer to this question is vital in shaping your apartment's marketing strategy in foundational ways. If email and phone leads are equivalent, you probably don’t need to factor in the type of lead your various marketing channels generate. On the other hand, if phone leads are better than email leads, you might favor a source that produces a smaller number of phone leads over a source with a large number of email leads.

At RentVision, we are big believers in phone leads. Why? There are several reasons:

  • If you have a lead on the phone with a leasing agent, the leasing agent can build a rapport with that individual and frame the interaction to make a lease more likely. 
  • The phone conversation is a human point of contact with your property. That interaction will linger more in a prospect's mind than a quick email that person shot off and forgot about within five minutes.
  • Emails can be forgotten or lost. Inboxes fill up, which can cause leads to fall between the cracks. Phone calls are direct and urgent—someone on the other end of the line is ready to take some action in the leasing process. Whenever the phone rings, someone in your office should answer it.

What these various points draw together is one big idea: Phone leads are preferable to email leads because they invite a higher level of commitment, are more personal, and offer more ways to move the leasing process forward. 

It is not unusual for us to see communities favor traditional apartment marketing sources, like Internet Listing Services, and generate an impressive number of email leads but very few leases. Email leads are less qualified than phone leads, which explains those results.

Instead, we believe your marketing strategy should focus on generating phone leads over email leads. Then you can use your marketing data to hone in on lead types to understand marketing performance better.

My lead numbers are OK, but we’re still having vacancy issues. Can marketing data help me figure out the problem?

Maybe you’ve started reviewing your data, and your lead numbers look fine, but you still have problems with vacancies.

Now what?

You need to pull back and take a more comprehensive look at your marketing and leasing data as a whole to understand better why you're not earning enough leases.

Data tells a story.

To understand the process, you might consider your marketing data as different characters, settings, and plot points in a story. By themselves, these things don’t tell you a lot. But if you have the expertise, you can put those things together into a coherent story.

At first, you will have an enormous amount of data. But as you work with it, you’ll start to make connections between data points, and you’ll begin to be able to tell a story with your data.

For example, if you are generating leads and the leasing staff is converting them at a decent rate, but you are still dealing with a high number of vacancies, that would suggest you are not generating enough leads.

From there, you’ll want to start looking at various data points—sessions on your website, page views on floorplan and contact pages, Google and Facebook ad impressions, ILS impressions, and more. Each of these metrics gives you an idea of the visibility and traffic your various marketing channels bring to your apartment's website.

Ideally, you'd have tracking phone numbers for each source, so you will know which sources result in the most phone calls. You should prioritize marketing sources with the most phone leads over all others as you seek to grow your total lead count.

Impressions on an ILS aren’t necessarily relevant. The same goes for website visits or impressions on Google Ads. You can have awe-inspiring numbers on all of those metrics and still have very little happening in terms of leasing. So don’t focus too much on those numbers—you need to get more specific and purchase-focused. The lead (and lease) count is a better quantifier of marketing channel performance.

In another situation, you may see substantial web traffic and good lead numbers, but your lead-to-lease conversion rate is terrible. (You can determine this by taking “leads in a time period” / “signed leases during the same time.”) In that case, you can likely conclude that you have a leasing staff problem. That could mean several things:

  • Your leasing team is having difficulty talking to leads on the phone and is losing people when they call in.
  • Your leasing team needs more training on how to give showings properly.
  • Your community isn't ready for showings.

These are the most common problems, but sometimes it is even something as simple as “the leasing team isn’t answering the phone.”

The scenario above is an excellent example of how reading your marketing data well can help diagnose a problem.

We built RentVision's monthly report to help you better read and diagnose issues from your marketing, leasing, and revenue data.

Screenshot of RentVision Monthly Report for apartment marketing

RentVision's monthly report shows you how your apartment community's performance compares to your peers by applying letter grades to your most critical marketing, leasing, and revenue data points. The added letter grades help you contextualize the data so that it's much more informative.

Rather than displaying numbers with no context, the RentVision monthly report helps you easily read your data and the story it portrays. We've broken up the various sections and their cards to align the typical leasing journey of a prospective resident, so you can follow your marketing funnel to see where there are potential issues that impact leasing and revenue success along the journey.

Conclusion

There’s an awkward tension in apartment marketing today. On the one hand, large amounts of data can equip us to do our jobs better than ever. On the other, sifting through that data and using it to reach reliable, accurate conclusions is incredibly challenging and time-consuming. RentVision has tools that make this process easy for everyone on your team. Click here to Schedule A Demo.

For more help reading marketing data, complete the form below to download our free whitepaper, Earn More Leases And Save Money Using These 23 Apartment Marketing Metrics.

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