March was National Optimism month and the multi-family industry had a lot to be happy about. The assurance continues on with trending market headlines, all-time low vacancy rates and busy season nearly upon us. With so many favorable inferences, there are pressures to lease apartments quickly this season.
Although renting is at its peak, Marketing departments receive less than 2% of the budget to promote communities according to the National Apartment Association. How will properties differentiate themselves. The multi-family industry could learn from CPG companies who’ve displayed the value and effectiveness of an unlikely marketing channel- consumer ratings and reviews. For example, Samsung employed an Ask & Answer section on product pages encouraging consumer conversations. Products with consumer driven content saw a 22% increase in sales according to Bazaarvoice. In addition to influencing the purchase psyche, ratings and reviews are drivers of SEO. Ratings and reviews feed Google with dynamic targeted keywords, intrinsically driving shoppers to property pages. Unlike some social media channels it is undisputable ratings and reviews drive sales and affect the bottom- line.
Forrester research suggests 69% of customers use online reviews but only 25% of sites include the preferred feature. With shoppers exploiting online resources and the growing role of ‘social commerce’, why is there a disconnect? Fear of bad reviews is the answer. Bad reviews are assumed to be the silent killer of closing a lease. But rarely exposed facts indicate otherwise. If bad reviews are managed properly they benefit communities. A study by RightNow found that consumers who received a response after posting a negative review did the following:
An idea first brought forward from the Better Business Bureau in 1916 may revolutionize renting. In the spirit of March’s optimism trend, let’s learn from other industries and become early adopters- learning to ebb and flow with consumer driven content. Adaptability to reviews will affordably set properties apart, gain market insight on what residents’ value and allow the engaged communities to fulfill the demand.