Marketing Data 101: 3 steps to ensure better business decisions

Close up Businessman hand holding pen and pointing at financial paperwork with financial network diagram.

Marketing data. Everyone knows it’s important. And every marketer makes decisions based on their own internal data. The problem is that unless you have an internal system that combines lead and lease information from your property management system, with the cost information from your ILS reports and also layers in Google Analytics and Adword performance metrics, the data we use isn’t comprehensive enough to make a truly informed decision about marketing performance.

And frankly, making vital performance decisions without the right data in place can have a huge negative impact on operational goals. Holistic marketing data provides much-needed insights into the effectiveness of all of your marketing channels. Imagine if you cut a source and your leads tank at a community which now means you are missing occupancy and pricing goals. Without the right performance data, you never would have known that the source you just cut was, in fact, a secret driver of leads or lead conversions, but wasn’t accurately attributed.

I had the honor of being part of multiple marketing teams within multifamily. Two of which had extensive resources. We had an in-house analyst and dedicated teams for digital marketing, SEO, social media, creative and more. I was also part of building an in-house marketing analytics system that combined lead information, pricing information and top of the funnel performance metrics into one enormous spreadsheet. We knew that data would either be our point of success or failure. Fortunately, the success of our team was transformed by this marketing tool.

But what can you do if you don’t have these types of resources? Not all marketing teams have the manpower to build a system like this. And not all operators have marketing budgets for aggressive advertising campaigns, advanced tracking tools and innovative technologies. Some of our portfolios rely on Craigslist and the banner on the side of the building (I’ve worked on those marketing teams too). While the challenge may be greater, it doesn’t mean those teams shouldn’t leverage data to make their marketing decisions.

Here are three easy ways to preserve the integrity of your marketing data and empower your marketing teams to make sound data-driven decisions:

Partner with Training
Knowing my teams had limited bandwidth for lead management, I found the best success by partnering with my training teams to make sure leasing associates were comfortable with all lead management best practices. I worked to teach my team members the importance of searching for an existing guest card before creating a duplicate. We also implemented lead management technologies that made responding to leads and keeping track of conversations relatively quick and painless.

Google Analytics
If you don’t have analytics installed on your website, I highly recommend installing it to all of your pages. Analytics allows us to see who is visiting our websites, what actions they are taking on our websites and where this web traffic is coming from. You can take this tracking one step further by using a UTM code. This is a piece of code that you can attach to a URL that helps you track a source, medium and campaign name. You can read more about UTM strategies in this article. We know that most prospects visit multiple websites and may click on various ads before leasing. The UTM code allows us to track their journey from point A to B.

Keep a ‘test and measure’ mentality
We talk about multitouch attribution ad nauseam and I know the technology is close to solving for this issue in our industry. But until we have it in hand, we have to operate with the understanding that we don’t see every step along the renter journey come through in our property management systems. Adding and cutting sources should be done with a mindset of learning and measuring. We might find that a source we thought we could live without was really the missing piece in our lead conversion journey. By tracking the performance of each source and each decision we make, we can make informed marketing decisions for our communities.

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