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    Aligning Prospect and Resident Touch Points to Deliver a Superior Living Experience

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    The Extreme Edge of Innovation

    A negative review is not the worst thing that can happen with your brand’s online reputation. “Negative reviews are an open invitation to tell your story,” said Ryan Davis, Vice President of B2B Marketing and Services at RentPath. “Thirty percent of the time when you respond to a negative review, you get a positive post back,” added Davis during an AIM panel moderated by Brock MacLean, Senior Vice President of Consumer Solutions at RealPage.

    In a world of rapid changes and mind-boggling new technologies, it sounds counter-intuitive, but simplicity is the big innovation these days. “We’re getting back to basics,” said Kortney Balas, Vice President of Process and Technology at JVM Realty Corporation. “We spent so many years trying to get renters to ‘speak our speak.’ Apartment home rather than unit. Community rather than complex. But, in order to engage, we have to speak the way they speak in our content. We have to say ‘resort-style pool’ rather than ‘sparkling pool.’ We have to speak straight for this generation of ‘just the facts’ renters.”

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    It’s not merely a gimmick, Balas added. Pay-per-click advertising and search engine marketing rules mean that such seemingly simplistic language are necessary to showing up in search queries.

    “It makes you cringe, but you need to start speaking their language in your content. It’s been a really hard change for those of us who have spent the last 10 or 15 years trying to make a more inviting experience,” Balas said. “We are still trying to make it inviting, but we’re now using words that I wouldn’t have traditionally considered to be inviting.”

    According to Davis, marketers need to rethink modes of communications. Even when renters or prospects initially make contact via phone or email, often they prefer to continue communications by text. That’s good news for marketers, because text message engagement and response beats phone and email every time. “We’ve seen about a 75 percent open rate and replies in under four minutes every time,” he said.


    The panel discussed their individual success rates with email marketing, with old-school methods like flyers and with newer technology like chatbots. The consensus was that nobody knows what will work—and what works for one brand, community or neighborhood may not work well for another.

    “We’re working on understanding behaviors,” Balas explained. “Our biggest pain point is that pendulum swing from manual to electronic workflow. You can’t force your customers to be in your channels.”

    Panelists also shared their experiences with influencer marketing — a relatively expensive and experimental method of brand-building. According to Greystar Regional Director of Marketing Melissa Robbins, Greystar has contracted with Luke Pell, a reality star and country musician who lives at one of their properties in Nashville. He filmed a “shirtless apartment tour” that lifted engagement across social channels for the property. But, was the deal worth it?

    “Don’t go into social influencing lightly,” Robbins warned. “It takes a lot of critical thinking skills and a lot of planning. So think hard about the end result that you want. I heard the figure we paid Luke Pell, but I don’t want to quote it. It’s a lot of money.”