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Demystifying Machine Learning and AI in Multifamily Marketing Analytics

Demystifying Machine Learning and AI in Multifamily Marketing Analytics
Overview Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are oft-cited buzzwords in our contemporary conversations about property operations and analytics -- but what are their meanings and, more importantly, how can their application benefit multifamily business operations?  If you are encountering these concepts in internal meetings, vendor presentations, and sessions at conferences -- but wish to take a deeper dive, you've come to the right place.  This article aims to demystify the concepts of Machine Learning and discuss their role in the broader context of Marketing Analytics.  So, first, the terminology..... What is Machine Learning?  How is it different from Artificial Intelligence?  Machine learning is a method of data analysis used in computer software to identify patterns in data and make recommendations for optimization based on those patterns.  Artificial Intelligence is a broader discipline, that includes Machine Learning -- but also represents a higher level of cognition. An example of Artificial Intelligence technology would be in certain types of robotics, where a more human-like sense of reasoning would be applied -- such as with self driving cars -- whereas Machine Learning is more focused on analysis and logic.  In this article, we will focus on Machine Learning, as a fundamental concept for building Marketing Analytics systems.  How does Machine Learning work?  The basic principle of Machine Learning is that it takes a set of assigned data; finds patterns within that data; builds a model around those patterns; then tests and refines that model to make recommendations based on the patterns in that data.  What are......
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A DIGITAL MARKETING RESOURCES CHECKLIST

A DIGITAL MARKETING RESOURCES CHECKLIST
You may feel like it’s time to throw out your 2020 marketing plan now that the COVID-19 pandemic has hit. However, this is the time to really lean into the digital strategies in your plan and seek out new tools to maximize your digital marketing. These steps will help you survive the COVID-19 pandemic.    When selecting tools to boost your multifamily brand, utilizing a checklist may ease your fears and help you decide which digital resources will best support your ambitions. Understanding your company’s challenges, current resources, and determining what success will look like is a great place to start.    Turn your property websites into an online leasing consultant with a technology solution to help facilitate a prospect’s research while gathering and monitoring high-quality lead information from each customer.    Not sure what resource to choose? Here’s a handy checklist to help your property management company succeed in these difficult times.    1. Does the software attract and acquire leads?  Key features to watch for:    Website interface: Software that identifies each consumer who visits and engages on your website, then tracks that user across multiple digital platforms for multitouch attribution. Facilitates a prospect’s research while capturing high-quality lead information on each prospect.   Measures channel performance: Helps you evaluate the efficiency of each effort, including social media and digital ads, to deliver real-time results while helping you to adjust digital advertising campaign spends based on performance.   Prioritizes leads: Collects detailed and robust lead information during customer interactions and prioritizes leads to make the follow-up process more efficient and effective.    2.......
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Property Management Technology Trends for 2020

Property management technology trends are rapidly changing and 2020 promises to be full of new strategies to capture the attention of savvy renters.    More than 80 percent of prospects start their apartment search online and then spend up to three months narrowing down the list to a few properties they will visit in person before signing a lease. You want your property to stand out from the competition and nurture those leads throughout their entire online journey.    Technology can be a big-ticket item, so it pays to be sure you are investing in products that will boost business enough to pay for themselves and increase leases.     Here are some top considerations:    Does the technology attract and acquire quality leads on your website? Do the products utilize artificial intelligence (AI) to learn and adapt? Is the technology product analyzing data and adjusting? Is it converting online visitors to tours, and ultimately leases? Does the vendor partner with your multifamily team?    Attracts and Acquires Leads   You want to look for a website interface or software that identifies each consumer who visits and engages on your website, then tracks that user across multiple digital platforms. The interface should help facilitate a prospect’s research while capturing high-quality lead information on what they are looking for in an apartment. It should also prioritize leads who are ready to rent now or soon to make follow-up easier and more effective.    The software should also measure channel performance: how well your social media a......
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Multifamily Properties Face Challenges as Technology Transforms Industry

Technology is developed to improve our lives or businesses, make tasks quicker and more efficient, facilitate better communication or solve a problem. Ironically, implementing new technology solutions often introduces other challenges or exposes existing issues with a business process.   Property management companies can collect more online data than ever before from prospects researching apartments, but is your CRM system set up to log and organize complex data beyond basic contact information? If your properties offer renters the option to receive text messages or schedule a tour online, do leasing specialists get notified immediately so they can facilitate the on-demand response consumers now expect?   Providing advertising and marketing services to property management companies for over 25 years, Bob Romine says he’s witnessed massive changes in both the marketing and multifamily industries, from how people communicate to how businesses utilize online data. As founder of R.C. Romine & Associates in Geneva, Illinois, Romine works predominantly with property management clients to ensure they’re addressing those business problems and consistently improving their digital marketing results.   He describes the two most common pitfalls companies encounter when trying out a new technology: 1) they don’t put into place the right business processes and supporting technology to handle a new way of doing things, or 2) they hold onto their established attitudes about digital marketing and fail to see the benefits of adapting to technological innovation.   “There are a lot of clients who are not set up for it, who aren’t really quite ready for a cha......
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How Property Developers Can Harness the Power of Data

How Property Developers Can Harness the Power of Data
Big data has become ubiquitous, and it's informing decisions across almost every industry. That doesn't mean using it is easier. In commercial property development, like many other spheres, business leaders are coming to the same realization: Collecting big data is far easier than analyzing and using it to fuel progress.   Developers are right to aggressively pursue the insights offered by big data. They can identify and capitalize on trends or leave money on the table. However, the competitive nature of commercial development would suggest against the latter. The good news is that advancements in technology make analyzing big data easier than ever before.   Demystifying Big Data   Artificial intelligence, in particular, is helping developers analyze millions of data points that inform how well a location will do over time. With sophisticated software weighing risks and calculating potential returns, developers can spot investment opportunities with a higher degree of accuracy than ever before.   By relying on relatively affordable software instead of expensive third-party data analysts, developers can bring formerly outsourced roles in-house. With this change, leaders gain additional control over the data analysis process while saving large amounts of capital for reinvestment.   One of our clients recently approached SharePoint with a similar set of goals in mind. It was looking to increase employee productivity, secure and organize decades' worth of on-premise data, and improve collaboration with clients. By incorporating smart data management tactics with intranet sites, we were able to help the client keep valuable data in one......
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Futurecasting: How Advanced Technologies Will Impact Apartment Operations

"The robots are coming!" For years, this line, or some variation of it, has been a quick and easy joke about how – one day far in the future – technology may take over our lives and throw many of us out of work. But the age of automated technologies and artificial intelligence truly appears to be at hand – and that's making many people nervous, including onsite associates in the apartment industry. However, their worries are unfounded, as there are ample reasons to be optimistic about the impact of AI and automation in multifamily.  In fact, according to an Anyone Home study of more than 70,000 leases that were signed over the past 12 months, 52 percent of prospects used a phone call to initially reach out to a community, indicating that human interaction still matters. Furthermore, a World Economic Forum study in 2018 found that the growth of AI could create 58 million net new jobs by 2022. The report doesn't shy away from acknowledging the challenges posed by the rise of technology and machines in the workplace but it also notes "these transformations, if managed wisely, could lead to a new age of good work, good jobs and improved quality of life for all." In the apartment industry, the implementation of automation and artificial intelligence will enhance the work of leasing agents by freeing them from mundane responsibilities and giving them the bandwidth to concentrate on tasks that drive the financial performance of a community. But the benefits......
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Automation is the Key to Improving Employee Efficiency and Increasing Visits and Leases

If you’re a midsized property manager or apartment owner, you probably employ between 50 and 100 leasing agents. Combined, they probably communicate with more than a thousand prospects a day.     According to our internal data, 42 percent of those communications are about scheduling tours or rescheduling tours. While it may seem that this metric confirms that leasing agents are properly asking for tours, it also confirms that leasing agents are spending entirely too much time doing what most industries have already automated.   What if you could reduce the time your agents have to spend to scheduling tours? What if your leasing agents had that time back to sign leases and contact new leads? Maybe, just maybe you’d close even more leases and delight residents enough for them to renew their leases in greater numbers no matter the rent increase.   Yet, many owner/operators are hesitant to adopt automation tools like self-scheduling and self-guided tours based on three main misconceptions.   Misconception #1: Prospects want more human interaction, not less It seems logical. You’ve spent a lot of time, money and effort hiring good people with customer service skills. You know from being in business for decades that relationships garner sales. You personally like to interact with people when making large transactions.   But you’re not the customer. Today’s prospective renters, mostly millennials and members of Generation Z, generally want less human interaction. The more they can do on an app on their smartphone, the better. Of course, those prospects......
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Apartment Chatbots: AI-Assisted Human Interaction vs. Human-Assisted AI

  There’s no denying that artificial intelligence is changing the way apartment communities interact with prospective renters.   But while AI-powered apartment chatbots are capable of performing tasks such as answering questions about amenities and floor plans, making apartment tour appointments, and sending rental applications, we don’t yet have the technology to remove humans from the equation if a question is posed that the bot can’t answer. There are two primary ways that leasing staff and chatbots can work together to give potential renters the kind of smooth and helpful interactions they expect: AI-assisted human interaction and human-assisted AI interaction. What sets these two approaches apart are how the messages are received and how the messages are responded to. 1. AI-Assisted Human Interaction This service is primarily operated by property managers, leasing agents, or other staff, who are supported by AI. Here’s one way this could work: A chatbot is the first point of contact. It uses AI to look for keywords to figure out what the prospective renter is asking. For example, the question, “Are dogs allowed?” might trigger keyword “dogs,” which falls under the bots understanding of the pet category. It walks the prospect through a set of pet category questions: “Are you asking if we allow dogs or cats?” The answers and the bot’s replies are received by human customer service agents. The bot suggests answers that the agent may use: “Cats are allowed” or “Dogs are not permitted.” The agent can approve the bot’s responses, or the agent can take over if the a......
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Artificial intelligence and multifamily . . . are we in?

Artificial intelligence and multifamily . . . are we in?
It’s no secret that the multifamily space has been slow to adopt new technology. We were among the last to adopt revenue management software, for example, or to recognize the charging freight train of reputation management and social media. We resisted. We felt the pain. We finally embraced. We reaped the benefits. The good news? As the industry has become both more competitive and an increasingly attractive investment, we are also seeing less resistance to change than we’ve seen in years. As a result, the technology options are overwhelming for operators – requiring more focus and assets devoted to the business of culling through what to deploy. And now, technology utilizing artificial intelligence is knocking on our doors. Will we continue to wait, or will we take advantage? The National Apartment Association recently published an article on the subject in UNITS magazine, which you can read here. The general perspective of the article is that real estate is an industry that can benefit from AI, but these technologies are still early and multifamily isn’t behind the curve. Hurrah! So, what is AI? In one of its simplest forms, think Alexa from Amazon. She can answer your questions, search for you and even order your favorite products. Alexa is constantly adding skills and “learning” your preferences. She’s certainly not aspiring to be “human,” as some AI platforms are, but she’s a pretty good speech bot and very easy to use. If you don’t use Alexa and are curious, here’s a complete list of all the commands to ......
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