How KPIs Spotlight the Bigger Picture for Multifamily Marketers

What apartment marketers can learn by measuring the data holistically and studying performance metrics.

Key performance indicators have long provided multifamily marketing teams with valuable data and reference markers—but not all KPIs are created equal. Inefficient KPI tracking can mean missed marketing opportunities or strategies that are shifted later than they should have been, resulting in unproductive spend. When monitored and managed correctly, marketing strategies can have tremendous value and impact.


If marketing teams don’t get deep enough into metric performance, returns can suffer, but assessing the data isn’t the first step. “Google Analytics has often been the standard tool of measurement, but there is often critically needed information missing,” said Catriona Orosco, Director at REACH by RentCafé Digital Marketing Agency at Yardi.

READ ALSO: Website Strategies for Keeping Renters Engaged

Aside from having a strong grasp of where your KPIs should be, looking at the bigger picture is important to gain perspective. “Factors that make up the complete picture include the market, the environment we’re operating in, the business objectives, operational KPIs and budget,” said RPM Living Chief Marketing Officer Alexis Vance.

The leasing lounge at Vance at Bishop Union. Image courtesy of RPM Living

What to monitor

Some of the most important KPIs for marketing teams are lead-to-tour conversions, lead to lease, website traffic, cost per application and new leads. Website traffic, for example, is a key area to monitor. This determines if shifts need to be made in ad spend, said Orosco.

“If a community is in a good place with their occupancy, then we can decrease spend in some areas based on what sources we know will have the least effect on their traffic count,” added Kristin Weldele Tolliver, vice president of Watermark Residential.

One of the most important metrics to track is lead-to-lease conversion rates. Determining your per-acquisition conversion rates is the starting point, followed by a review of specific types of conversions, such as landing page and mobile and social media traffic conversion ratios. “The bottom of our marketing funnel widened with an increase in the types of conversions—for example, self-guided tours and video,” said Vance.

READ ALSO: Attracting and Converting Potential Renters With Your Website

Segmenting data is the most effective way to distinguish the value of specific sources and their effects on leasing rates. Marketers can learn a lot by measuring the data holistically—calculating spend on leads, percentage of leads being converted to leases and return on ad spend. “When you have visibility into your sources, spend, leads and leases, you can determine if you’re using your budgets effectively and efficiently,” said Orosco.

The pool area at Watermark’s Edge75 includes grills and outdoor seating. Image courtesy of Watermark Residential

Costs vs. benefits

Before implementing a strategy or activating a channel, Watermark Residential’s marketing team does a cost/benefit analysis, said Vice President Kristin Weldele Tolliver. It all boils down to weighing the impact before executing. Impact determines whether a new strategy should be deployed.

What will be the impact of adding 360-degree tours or even a chatbot to your website? Baseline performance provides perspective and helps predict the outcome of a new strategy and the potential for traffic growth. Analyzing engagement metrics and understanding occupancy gives marketers the insights they need to decide whether to add more information to a property website.

“If a community is in a good place with their occupancy, then we can decrease spend in some areas based on what sources we know will have the least effect on their traffic count,” added Weldele Tolliver, whose team reviews a community’s budget before activating a new marketing channel. “We decide as a team if it is an immediate need, and if so, roll it out while planning to save in other areas.”

While it’s important to check metric performance regularly, some channels can be monitored less frequently. Direct-ad campaigns, mobile traffic, occupancy and landing page conversion rates need to be checked weekly. Data such as return on ad spend, present and historical occupancy trends and lead-to-lease ratios is tracked on a monthly and quarterly basis. The goal is to accurately attribute leads to your marketing sources, said Orosco.

A low conversion rate can indicate different things. Even when certain metrics are underperforming, they may just need to be readjusted rather than immediately pulled. Some shifts can be made right away for fast impact, while other adjustments need to be implemented over a period. The key is recognizing when to watch and wait for more data and when to make immediate changes to improve performance. Testing and measuring performance in different ways will yield the most accurate data, along with investing in tools that provide insights into how your marketing efforts are working.

Amid the pandemic, marketers were forced to adjust their strategies to keep prospects engaged. Watermark’s marketing team quickly mobilized and began recording virtual tours of vacant units and community amenities, according to Weldele Tolliver. The company shifted to a video-focused mindset and segmented the data even further at their communities. “We decided that any type of tour—whether virtual, self-guided or in-person—would be marked in our system as a tour. This (helped us) monitor the number of tours, separate from leads.”

RPM Living addressed the new climate by turning to channels focused on real-time engagement. “The pandemic has prompted much-needed industry innovation and adoption of new resources,” said Vance.

Read the December 2021 issue of MHN.

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