‘On the Ground’ with Eric Brown: More Web Traffic May Not Yield More Rentals

As we gain more clients, in many instances we are seeing significant increases in web traffic but poor conversions from web traffic to actual rentals. There might be a reason for this.

We hold true to our long-standing position that increased website traffic has a direct correlation to increased physical traffic, as measured by guest cards. However, as we gain more clients, in many instances we are seeing significant increases in web traffic but poor conversions from web traffic to actual rentals. There are clearly a few steps between web traffic and a lease, which is where things seem to break down.

As more and more apartment marketers dive deeper into Internet marketing and understand the significance of increased website traffic, conversions and the like, another problem surfaces: the disparity between web traffic to guest card conversions, web traffic to tour conversions, and web traffic to rental conversions. In some instances the inconsistency is significant.

This is another issue similar to getting the phone answered effectively and consistently, which has been an ongoing problem in our industry for ages. The first line of aim always seems to be at the leasing staff, but at what point are we as apartment marketers going to wake to the fact that there may be something a little deeper as to why the site staff doesn’t answer the phone as much as we all think they should? Whole business platforms have emerged to track and measure just how poorly the lowly site staff is at this simple, basic task. We think more training and more rules will surely solve the problem, but it doesn’t. And now, with the introduction of social media marketing, there are more layers of stuff for the leasing group to do, including increasing website traffic. Perhaps they just can’t do one more thing without purging many of the old and dated things they are already doing. What have you had your staff stop doing lately?

Although I did not attend the recent AIM conference, many of my peers and clients have commented on how much they enjoyed the “Back to Basics” presentation. That in of itself seems paradoxical–back to basics at a tech conference–but speaks volumes as to what may be required. We have been conducting a series of experiments and testing on a couple of our clients’ portfolios to test this idea that maybe our leasing staff has lost their way. Not that they don’t know what do to, just that they have so many things to do that the real handful of things that must be done falls aside to the barrage of never-ending to-do lists and required corporate jabber.

So what are your thoughts here? Are we off base, or might there be something to this?

Eric Brown’s background is rooted in the rental and real estate industries. He founded metro Detroit’s Urbane Apartments in 2003, after serving as senior vice president for Village Green Companies, a Midwest apartment developer. He also established The Urbane Way, a social media marketing and PR laboratory, where innovative marketing ideas are tested.