Lead Source Attribution Series Part One: Which digital channels are prospects using?

Which digital channels are prospects using?

Lead attribution within the multifamily industry is no longer as simple as asking, “Where did you hear about us?” Studies show that 84% of prospective renters use their smartphone during a search. Moreover, prospective renters are likely visiting multiple sites before making a decision. As a result, lead attribution has become more complicated. It’s essential that communities have a robust digital marketing strategy that incorporates multi-touch lead attribution.

To effectively build attribution, you should start by understanding:

Renters have access to more information than ever before

Gone are the days when apartment seekers relied on print publications that quickly became outdated. Today’s renters now have a wealth of continuously updated information at their fingertips, which has complicated lead attribution.

Before the digital revolution, it was easy to attribute a lead to a single source, in part because renters had fewer options for information. Plus, prospects tended to visit a property or submit a phone lead much earlier in their search process.

However, while the influx of sites and sources may complicate the tracking of inbound leads, this expanded pool of resources also tends to provide higher quality leads overall. Renters who take the time to make informed decisions are more likely to convert.

The steps in a renter’s journey

To fully understand what sources renters reference when making their decisions, let’s take a look at the steps in a typical renter’s journey to find a new home:

  1. When renters start their search for an apartment, they usually begin by using broad search terms centered around their desired neighborhood. Those searches tend to land them on an internet listing service (ILS) that appears at the top of both the paid and organic search results. In fact, 61% of renters said they referenced an ILS daily.
  2. Then, prospects use the ILS to narrow down their options to the communities that fit their specific needs. They are likely seeking information about amenities, pet policy, price range, location, number of bedrooms and availability.
  3. Next, prospects will create a shortlist of preferred communities and then begin to evaluate those properties in more depth. At this stage, they will visit communities’ individual websites and will also read peer reviews and online ratings.
  4. Finally, if they like what they see and are interested in taking a tour, they will submit a lead.

Unfortunately, this means that a renter may attribute the lead to a site used in the last step of their journey. Thus, a community may be tempted to limit its marketing spend to only the sources from that final stage. But adhering to this narrow view will cause you to miss significant opportunities to capture a prospect’s attention in the earlier stages. The fact is that a property needs to find its way to a shortlist early on—before a prospect has moved to more focused research. The sources from all steps in the journey are important.

Broaden your lead attribution model

Because renters tend to reference multiple sources depending on which stage they have reached in their search, it’s important to expand your lead attribution model. With an investment in a mix of lead attribution methods, you can keep track of how you are reaching prospects at each stage of their journey.

In part two of this series, we will look at the flaws in current lead attribution models. In part three, we’ll discuss some of the approaches that can be combined to create a multi-touch attribution model that will allow you to measure your metrics more accurately.

Download our free multifamily marketing e-book for more information on lead source attribution.

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