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How Student Housing Can Prepare for Ever More Mobile Generations

How Student Housing Can Prepare for Ever More Mobile Generations
The multifamily industry—and student housing in particular—has keyed in on the needs, wants and expectations of the millennial crowd. You know the importance of mobile as it relates to your offerings, residents and prospects. Mobile convenience, on-demand services, free Wi-Fi, high-speed Internet, the list goes on. Just remember: Those aren’t millennial-only expectations! Let’s look at student housing as an example. Yes, millennials are still in college, especially as grad students. But even more important in the coming years is Generation Z, the oldest of which are headed to college RIGHT NOW. Parents, guardians and other family members also have expectations that property managers need to listen to and manage. These people may be in different “demographic” generations, but they are all increasingly mobile-focused.  In other words, you need to ensure that whoever interacts with your student housing community has the most seamless, convenient experience. A responsive website is obvious, but think about what happens next. If students or parents want to ask questions, for example, do they still have to call or email? Or do you offer the instant gratification of chat, text and video?  Mobile-friendly messaging options aren’t for everyone, but not offering them could soon be a big disadvantage. Take a look at how you could appeal to and engage students and their family members (of any age) via text and chat. Parents & Guardians: Engaging in New Ways  The parents of today’s college students are most likely part of the Baby Boomer or Generation X groups. Regardless of actual age, mos......
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The Consumer Diet: Why Digital Messaging Is the "Healthy" Option

The Consumer Diet: Why Digital Messaging Is the "Healthy" Option
In a perfect world, I could pop a pill and instantly have six-pack abs and a 32 waist. You also wouldn’t need to market to prospects or communicate with residents because people would lease on the spot and then never have questions! Yeah right. Back in the real world, you know that communications with current and prospective residents can take up a majority of your day. Business pros call it the “primary workday distraction” (phone calls and unscheduled meetings are the worst culprits). Yet over half of respondents to the 2013 “Preferences of Today’s Renters” study indicated that the properties they visited could do a better job of contacting them in a timely manner, and that’s not even counting residents. So what can you do? You look for solutions to ease the stress without losing the personal touch. You look for ways to increase productivity without losing results (like building a good relationship). I liken it to going on a diet—a consumer communication diet.  Changing for Better Engagement  Just as you have to eat correctly and exercise often to get healthy, you need to engage prospects and residents when, where and how they prefer for the best customer experience. In fact, consumers Demand Immediate Engagement Today. That’s the “diet” they want. That’s what we, as businesses, have to follow to get the results we want.  I’m not talking about doing away with email and phone calls. I’m talking about adding healthier, smarter communications like digital messaging. With messaging, you can offer one-to-one interactions tha......
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How to Capitalize on Multifamily's "Mobile Moments"

How to Capitalize on Multifamily's "Mobile Moments"
The defining moment for your community isn’t a lease or renewal. It’s all the little moments that lead up to those leases and renewals. I’m talking about the mobile moments. Micro-moments, as Google calls them. The times when we need to solve problems or complete tasks...and turn first to our smartphones. Make a difference during these moments, and you can win big: 90% of smartphone users have used their phone to work on long-term goals. Like finding a new place to call home. 69% say the quality, timing or relevance of a company’s message changed how they viewed that brand. (In other words, help them in their moments of need, and you can win favor.) 93% of those who research on mobile devices do go on to purchase.  And you know it’s big when advertising jumps in: The New York Times now sells moment-based ads timed and customized to the seven moments in a day they’ve identified as most important to their readers. So What Mobile Moments Matter to You? What Can You Do? If you understand renters’ mobile moments, you can insert your community right where and when decisions are made and preferences are shaped.  One of the first steps Google suggests is identifying the moments you “want to win or can’t afford to lose.” Based on their examples, here are a few multifamily moments you might want to help prospects or residents through (and how digital messaging could play a role): Need-to-move moments - Whether moving for a new job, school, marriage or......
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How Important Is Your Community's Mobile Website?

How Important Is Your Community's Mobile Website?
It’s so important that without a mobile-friendly site, your Google search rankings could take a hit. Oh, and if you don’t have a mobile site, be ready to watch about 30 - 40% of your traffic go to a competitor who does. In fact, more than half of the traffic to Zillow’s and Trulia’s networks come from mobile devices! So what makes a mobile site “friendly”? Responsive design - Offer a seamless, custom experience that adapts to the device the consumer is using. The key is to make it easy for them to get the information they want and take the next step (like contacting you)...and having to “pinch and zoom” or fill out lots of forms won’t cut it. Google found that 61% of users who didn’t find what they were looking for right away on a mobile site quickly moved on to another site. Click-to-call options - One smart way to make the next step easier to take is adding a click-to-call button on your search results and mobile site. Google says 70% of mobile searchers have used the option. (You can make phone numbers “clickable” on your mobile site by adding code like "[a href="tel:+18005559999"] Call us 1-800-555-9999 [/a]". Just make sure to use angled brackets in place of the brackets I used here.) Tap-to-text buttons - This text contact option may be even more convenient for some prospects (even current residents) who can’t talk at the moment...or don’t want to. Admit it, calling a business is rarely high on your list of favori......
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Phones Aren’t For Calls Anymore

Phones Aren’t For Calls Anymore

Yesterday, I found an intriguing article on Twitter: “Top ten uses for a mobile phone? Calls come SIXTH!” (This isn’t really news to me being that I specialize in text-based communication.) Here’s how that study broke down mobile phone usage...and I bet it’s pretty darn accurate for all of us:

 

  1. Sending text messages

  2. Reading text messages

  3. Reading emails

  4. Surfing the Internet

  5. Setting an alarm

  6. Making calls

  7. Sending emails

  8. Checking the time

  9. Using the calculator

  10. Checking Facebook

I love watching the evolution of technology. Remember the “beeper”? It was one-way communication from a phone to a pager device you could fit into your pocket. Then someone had the great idea to combine the pager with the phone. Now it’s evolved again with the ability to do even more in one device...with texting being the most common use.

 

It’s also interesting that people read emails, but don’t really respond to them from their device (at least not as often). After all, most emails require long-winded responses, and you don’t want to come off as rude if you send a simple “yes” from your phone on the go.

 

What does all this mean for you?

 

If you aren’t evolving like the mobile phone, you are falling behind. People want to communicate with you via text. Businesses, including property management companies, need to respond to that desire. So make sure text is in your plans for 2015.

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Text vs. Chat: A Digital Conversation Breakdown

Text vs. Chat: A Digital Conversation Breakdown
You know that most of the apartment hunt happens online in one form or another: desktop or mobile/local searches, ILS browsing, online reviews/ratings, etc. So how are you engaging prospects (and residents!) in those digital areas? Beyond click-to-call and email options, many businesses use chat to provide real-time help to website visitors in a more convenient, on-screen way. Texting is also hitting the business scene in different ways (check out my previous post). Both chat and text can improve consumers’ digital experiences by avoiding hold times or email delays. But how do they differ? Which is right for your community’s needs? Well, it depends. The Skinny on Website Chat Chat is a two-way conversation between a shopper on a website and a business or answering service (speaking on the company’s behalf). One reason you often see chat on a retailer’s site is because it can help e-commerce shoppers convert better. Quick history lesson: Studies found that  many people who put products in their shopping carts never actually checked out. When live chat was added to these sites, cart-to-checkout conversions exploded. Why? People had questions. Questions breed doubt, which can offroad sales of almost any level. With chat, shoppers can easily ask questions and get answers in real time, which made them feel more comfortable about purchasing. Property chat can give apartment hunters the same sort of “comfort” and subconsciously build trust, important when people are seeking a new place to live. Keep in mind: Chat conversations typically last 1 - 8 minutes. ......
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Become an Expert at Texting As a Business

Become an Expert at Texting As a Business
I’m willing to bet that we all know what texting is. (If not, just ask a ten-year-old.) But what about the business applications of texting? That’s a bit more complex. Here’s a breakdown to help you understand how texting—both short code and long code—can be used in your professional life. Short Code Texting Officially called “Common Short Codes,” these are the 5- or 6-digit numbers that enable a business to send mass or group text messages to consumers who opt in. Such texts are regulated by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and monitored by the Common Short Code Administration (CSCA) and Neustar, but there are lots of best practices and guidelines on using them the right way, thanks to the Mobile Marketing Association and CTIA. (I’m not going to jump too deep into the TCPA regulations because you can check that out here.) Common business uses of short code are: Mass Marketing - I’ve seen a few successful campaigns using this, but 9 times out of 10 it’s a fail, especially in this industry. It’s often a problem with the opt-in process and actually getting permission to text people in a mass marketing approach. Sure, they may opt in to get mobile coupons from their favorite clothing retailers, but using this approach for apartments, cars, houses and other big-ticket items just isn’t as effective. Current Customer Promotions - If, however, you are promoting something to current customers (or residents), you may have more success: “Pool Party: Sat 10am. Who’s in?” My local smoothie place does ......
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Texting: Everybody’s Doing It.

Texting: Everybody’s Doing It.
Text messaging has revolutionized the way that consumers are communicating and connecting not only with each other, but with brands as well. According to Frost & Sullivan, text message open rates have reached 98%, which means you can’t afford to not utilize this medium for communication. If your community is currently utilizing a text messaging platform, highlighted below are some “out of the box” ideas to apply texting to your current marketing initiatives. And if your community isn’t, perhaps these additional resident engagement ideas will help to highlight the additional benefits of two-way communication with your residents in the way they prefer.   Resident Engagement: Newsletter sign-ups. If your community sends out a newsletter, utilizing a texting platform allows users to text in to sign up or opt-in. This approach is also great because traditional print pieces, such as flyers, can be used to promote subscription, making it easier for people to sign up from their phones right there on the spot. Request work orders. Allow residents to request work orders via text instead of calling them in or stopping by the office. Calling in a work order can be more time consuming than it needs to be, especially if the office is busy. Having the ability to shoot a quick text to the community with a request would be convenient for both parties. The property receives the feedback through email, making it simple to catalogue and respond to. Coupon distribution/specials. Create membership levels within your community where people get specials or announcements via text. C......
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Breathe. Stretch. Namaste. How to Start a Yoga Club in Your Community.

Breathe. Stretch. Namaste. How to Start a Yoga Club in Your Community.
Now that spring has sprung, it's time to gear up your apartment community activities for residents looking for more opportunities to maintain a healthy lifestyle and get active! One idea to bring your community together and promote a healthy lifestyle is to start a yoga club. Yoga is a popular practice for overall health and relaxation in which the focus is breath control, meditation and posture. There are many benefits to yoga, one being that anyone can do it, regardless of their age, gender or physical limitations. Yoga has both physical and mental benefits as well, such as increased strength, balance, flexibility, concentration and focus, all helping your sleep better at night and have more energy during the day. Offering these benefits to renters through a Yoga club is a great way to promote a healthy lifestyle and increase resident engagement and ultimately resident retention. Check out the steps below to see how you can kick start a yoga club in your community today! Evaluate and collaborate. Gauge resident interest by distributing a survey or adding the question into your everyday conversations with residents. If their interest is piqued, collaborate with them to determine ideal meeting times and frequency. Find a yoga instructor. Reach out to local yoga studios to find a qualified instructor who would be willing to teach at your location. One of the perks to working locally is that you may be able to negotiate discounts for resident memberships in exchange for driving new business through the studio's doors. Add......
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4 Ways to Encourage Online Prospects to Take the Next Step

4 Ways to Encourage Online Prospects to Take the Next Step
Often, the first interaction we have with an online prospect is responding to their question. We need them to contact us. So encourage that connection by making it easy. The easier you make it to connect, the more will interact. And the more prospects you can help online, the more you could convert! Here’s the challenge: We’re in a “multi-screen world,” according to Google. Mobile is taking over, and now over half of consumers use multiple devices to accomplish a task (like searching for an apartment). That’s behind the growth of businesses using responsive design to create adaptable sites easy to navigate on smartphone, tablet and computer. But how will prospects actually contact you across all those devices?  Here are four tips to help you keep it simple...no matter how prospects access your website: #1 - Test Your Current Contact Methods See just how easy it is for someone to contact you from your site. Pull up your community’s website on a computer, then on a mobile device. Where can you ask a question? How can you learn more? How quickly do you get responses? And are those communication methods easy to find (and use!), no matter the size/shape of the screen? (After all, 61% are likely to leave quickly if your site isn’t optimized for mobile.) #2 - Give Prospects What They Want Remove one connection barrier simply by providing multiple choices: Text, chat, phone, email, etc. If people see their preferred communication, they’re more likely to reach out if they have a que......
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