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Communicating with Prospective Renters in an Email-light World

In the words of one-hit wonder 10cc, “Communication is the problem to the answer.” We’ve gone from dispatching handwritten letters to typing emails; from exchanging text messages to publicly posting tiny, 10-second videos of ourselves wearing digitally affixed dog ears. More ways than ever to communicate and yet getting our message into the right hands for the right response is more difficult than ever.

 

Since our communication channels are in constant evolution, marketers are continually  refocusing efforts on reaching both prospective and existing renters – particularly the younger millennials (the group born between 1977 and 1995) and Generation Z’ers (the group born between 1995 and 2014).  These generations are checking their email--if they even have email--less often, and they find it to be an outdated method of communication. In fact, you probably won’t find Gen Z’ers – the world’s first generation of true digital natives – looking anywhere other than at a smartphone.

 

While millennials have already been yielding significant spending influence within the apartment market, Gen Z’ers are beginning to trickle into the workforce and consumer market. They will be the new renters, and it’s crucial to communicate with them in an authentic, visual and real-time way in order to capture their buying power.

 

ALTERNATIVES TO EMAIL

 

Text messages

These instantaneous private (or even group) messages have become so deeply ingrained within everyday life that in many cases they are replacing phone and face-to-face conversations altogether. Upwards of 15 million texts are sent every minute of every day worldwide, according to recent research compiled by Domo.

 

Social media

Aside from interacting through posts, pictures, videos and private Instant Messenger-esque chat windows, many people are also gathering their news from social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter—a trend that’s gaining popularity with adults across many generations. According to a Pew Research Center report, as of August 2017, two-thirds of adult Americans reported getting some of their news on social media. Not to mention the blur between news, opinion and “fake news” which is even more difficult to distinguish on social media platforms.

 

Photo sharing apps
Younger generations are extremely visually oriented when it comes to communicating. Photo and video sharing apps like Snapchat and Instagram have become very popular and companies are using these platforms to stay relevant with younger consumers. Snapchat allows users to send other users photos and videos featuring various digital alterations – like those dog ears. Instagram lets users post photos and videos to a portfolio grid. The two apps’ story integrations have been raking in upwards of a combined 416 million daily active users, according to a CNBC report.

 

Video chat apps

Facetime and Skype are apps that allow users to video chat with one another. Apps like these are becoming increasingly popular with employers who want to conduct remote job interviews and meetings with outbound employees.

 

TRANSITIONING TO A DIGITALLY FRIENDLY FUTURE

 

Target the phone screen
Mobile generations prefer using phones over computers, and text is typically preferred over email. In fact,  Gen Z’ers have been found to use smartphones 15.4 hours per week on average, which is more than any other type of device. That’s why it’s crucial to gather phone numbers in addition to email addresses from your prospects and residents. However, make sure to acquire the appropriate permissions up front, before you start texting.

 

Run promos on social media

Instead of mass-texting residents about your community promotions and activities, better platforms would be the community’s website and social media accounts. That’s where residents will look for news that pertains to the entire community.

 

Integration of social media with community campaigns can even get an interactive boost. Ask residents for permission to use their social media posts, and encourage them to tag the community in their content and utilize specific hashtags.

 

Allow residents to collaborate with the community

Consider adding a community Snapchat story and geofilter, which will allow residents to upload their experiences and connect them back to your property. This can provide you with valuable feedback as you review the information they are choosing to share and engage with when it comes to your community.

 

Email isn’t completely dead yet, but communication has come a long way since users were checking their Hotmail inbox or waiting for the “ding” and “You’ve got mail.” icon to pop up. There may be a learning curve and some time investment when it comes to navigating these various digital platforms, but they will maximize ROI when it comes to capturing – and keeping – the resident of the near future.

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