How Are Apartment Companies Managing Leads?
- Nov 17, 2010
Dallas–Panelists at a session titled Lead Management at NMHC’s Apartment Operations and Technology Conference discussed what infrastructure and tools their companies use and the impact of lead management since its inception. Here are the highlights of what Keith Dodds, senior vice president of marketing, AIMCO; Cameron Etezadi, chief information officer, UDR, Inc.; and John Pringle, president, E&S Ring Management Corp. said at the session.
On lead management infrastructure and tools: We have about eight component pieces: content management system, data feed which we use a lot for pricing; text and image content; call tracking—get a nightly FTP feed so we can pull that call information; contact center; click chat; email auto-responder; website and a database of contracts. All of them are tied together. We have too much data through our system and the trick is making it into something important. We find out the cost per everything. Cost per lead is goofy, so we have moved to cost per guest card.
Marketing budget: We think of it as a balance. We have a threshold, which we can’t go over. We have one media buyer who makes the decision, and we don’t worry about property level budgets. We are reasonably happy with our marketing spend, but the next question is where do you spend the next dollar and where do you cut the next dollar. I don’t think too much about cost per lease.
Impact of lead management: There are no more opinions. We deal more with facts now. It’s a simplified process, more quantitative rather than qualitative.
On lead management infrastructure and tools: We try to direct everything through the LevelOne call center and the rest of the ecosystem comprises Google analytics, content management and the website. Data is always a challenge—making sense of what it all means. We distribute data through our operations department and the marketing guy figures out the cost per lease, return on marketing investment (ROMI) and other metrics.
Marketing budget: Since we started this program we have knocked 25 percent off each home on marketing spend and rents, and occupancies are high, too. As more people use mobiles, we can reap the benefits of the cheaper platforms.
Impact of lead management: I would love to build a completely automatic system with little or no human involvement. I would like to see us working more on the model, which I think will lead to better decisions.
On lead management infrastructure and tools: We introduced the lead tracking system four years ago. The software we use has evolved over time, and our report selection is tremendous. Internally, we also track ratios of emails to shows, emails to calls, and whatever else we would like to see. We keep the data transparent for the regional managers to see. We are revenue focused and don’t care about return on investment.
Marketing budget: We changed our marketing spend and reoriented it towards 16 different ILSs. Print has changed for us and is more effective than it was. While the cost per lead has decreased, we are not so focused on cost per lease or lead. I would spend $800 on a $50,000 to 60,000 a year lease, so it really depends on that.
Impact of lead management: Our software is such a critical part of our culture that I can’t imagine not having it. We also use it as an HR tool—for measuring staff performance. We can read every email response and who’s taking the call and how. It is so much more of an interactive process that it has changed the way we operate.