If your communities aren’t seeing leads converting into leases within a 30-day turnaround this spring it doesn’t mean that COVID-19 has taken hold and ruined your chances of signing leases. It’s not uncommon for the apartment seekers beginning their search in March to lease later on. Here’s what we know about the typical leasing journey in spring and how your communities can improve their chances of signing leases this season.
The Typical Spring Lease Journey
Spring is a popular time for apartment seekers to start their search journey. In the past couple of years, our own search research across hundreds of clients indicates that most organic apartment searches take place in May and both organic and paid search traffic starts to ramp up after the winter months.
Organic Google search sessions on apartment sites are only down 4% this March from March of last year indicating that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, online demand for apartments is still strong.
Even in a typical leasing environment, the apartment search process can take months for a majority of apartment seekers. This is even more true for those who start their search from late winter to early Spring.
Apartment seekers that start their search online during this time are the least likely to move in within a 30-day time period and are the most likely to wait over 90 days before making a move. Typical purchase behavior for spring apartment shoppers indicates that prospects who find you online today won’t be ready to move for at least two months. During the typical March, 68% of apartment seekers take 60 or more days to move in after making their initial search.
The spring we are living through now will undoubtedly be different than the typical seasonal trend but it is likely that the number of people who would usually wait 60+ days to make a move will increase this year with many people postponing making major purchase decisions during the current health crisis. These are our recommendations for apartment communities looking to keep prospects interested during a longer leasing journey.
When apartment seekers start their search in the spring they are likely to visit many apartment websites during their search journey. If you want to make sure prospects who come across your website at the start of their search process don’t forget about you a month later, you can run retargeting campaigns to nurture these prospects into converting into a lead or signing a lease.
Retargeting campaigns track the prospects who visit your website and present them with ads across the web or inside a social networking site. Communities can run these campaigns on many platforms including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Display networks.
During the last two weeks of the COVID pandemic, we’ve seen a positive change in Display Retargeting, Facebook, and Instagram ad impressions as more people are spending time on devices visiting websites and social platforms while at home.
Engaging Website Tools
During the apartment search process, you want to move passive apartment seekers to the engagement stage. One way communities are keeping apartment seekers engaged on their websites during the recent health crisis is to add online scheduling tools, live chat services, and promotions to their websites. We’ve seen communities utilize these tools to capture leads and give virtual tours as in-person community visits decline.
Email is a great follow up strategy for communities looking to re-engage the leads and tours that come through their website. Communities can use email campaigns to promote offers, link to a virtual tour scheduling tool, or highlight available floor plans.
As the COVID pandemic progresses, interested leads may be unsure of how to take the next steps to learn more about and lease with your community. Communities can use email to communicate with interested prospects and make sure they know how and when to reach out to your leasing team.
You may even want to send out an email to prospects letting them know your community is still letting people lease and move in during this time.
In the next couple of weeks, you may see a greater drop off in foot traffic to your communities. That doesn’t mean it’s time to panic. Most apartment seekers start their search for apartments online in spring and lease in the summer. It’s not uncommon for the apartment seekers starting their search in March to lease 60-90 days from now.
Communities who want to fill vacancies by summer should consider utilizing the marketing tools outlined in this article to keep prospects interested in your community when they are ready to lease.