Finding the Right Digital Marketing Partner: Lessons Learned.

If you work at a typical multifamily organization, your marketing team is probably not big enough to handle robust digital lead generation strategies or data analysis efforts.<--more--> If they’re lucky, marketing teams might have one data junkie and a couple of people in charge of buying ads. This leaves a lot of multifamily marketers partnering with digital marketing agencies to help pick-up the slack with lead generation and data analysis.

While I work for a public relations agency now, I still consider myself a marketer at heart. I’ll never forget the time spent on internal marketing teams at Archstone, Laramar Group and UDR. I held numerous conversations with marketing partners such as ILSs, agencies specializing in retargeting, PPC and SEO contractors and even Craigslist posting template creators. I have held marketing trainings for on-site teams, presented performance data to operators and made strategy and budget recommendations for major markets around the United States.

Through this experience, I learned that finding the right online marketing partner is really similar to online dating. There are a few dealbreakers to keep in mind when having an initial conversation:

Move at the same speed

A good marketing partner will stop to explain the way their technology works, how success metrics are defined and why we should measure their particular form of lead generation this way. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Think of this as an opportunity to learn something new. Each partner has a particularly unique way of explaining things, even if the technologies seem similar. I find that this level of nuance helped me build a good foundation and understanding of the platforms available to build highly targeted lead generation strategies. If a supplier partner isn’t teaching you about their platform, swipe right. (Or is it left? Tinder came out after I met my husband, so I’m fuzzy on the specifics here…)

Make sure you speak the same language

Like any first date, you should make sure you click. Similarly, a good lead generation partner should integrate with your property management system or CRM. Have you ever shown up to a first date only to find out you speak a different language? Yeah, me neither. But just saying, it would be almost impossible to date, and a lead generation platform that doesn’t integrate with your PMS is basically same-same. Additionally, a good marketing partner will walk you through the integrations. Whether it’s as simple as a tag to embed on the back end of your website or more complex, such as mapping sources in your PMS, a good provider will play the long game and lay the groundwork for a long and happy relationship.

Ask around

You should feel empowered enough to ask for references from a potential partner. A reputable agency will have case studies already available with data-driven results to share. They don’t have case studies to share? Ask to speak with some of their current clients. Ask industry colleagues what they know about this potential partner as well. Stalk their LinkedIn and Facebook pages – even their online reviews. There is no shame in your game if you want to find out what other multifamily marketing teams have experienced with the same supplier partner. A hint: the experience should be positive, with lots of data to prove their marketing dollars are driving touchpoints. A good reference will speak to how responsive their rep is, how much they have learned since working with them and how the marketing partner is making their lives easier.

Honestly, it’s the worst when you sign a contract and find out that the partner isn’t the right fit, you aren’t seeing data supported touchpoints for your money or you find the partnership is actually adding work to your plate. It’s just not worth it. Being mindful of these things during your initial conversations will help your teams avoid mismatches and awkward encounters in the long run.

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