Beware the Lead Snare!

Snare: verb, To catch or involve by trickery or wile

“Come stay at our beautiful resort for the weekend free of charge! And all you have to do is spend 1 hour with our wonderful resort sales consultants.”

If you’ve ever had the truly mind-numbing experience of a time-share review, you understand the uncomfortable feeling that comes along with it. The feeling you got tricked into a sales pitch and the guilt that comes along with saying no to these folks who are putting you up free for the weekend. Nobody likes feeling trapped.

Well, that’s exactly what lead snares are. Consumers are lulled into what seems like a valuable interaction only to find out that they’ve been duped into becoming a lead for some business. And it’s unfortunately all too common for prospective renters in the Multifamily Industry.

Lead snares come in all sizes and shapes in our Industry. Though some may argue a lead is a lead, that is simply not true. Many prospective renters don’t even know they’ve become a lead, have little knowledge about a particular apartment community, nor any desire to live there because it doesn’t fit their income profile, desired location, or property type. So, becoming one of these leads is not only frustrating to the prospective renter, but to the property spending time on responding to these low-value, uninterested, uninformed renters.

Below are just a few lead snare examples that are most common in Multifamily:

ILS Proliferation Tactics – Some, actually most, Multifamily Internet Listing Sites (ILSs) in an effort to generate more leads for their advertising properties proliferate leads. Meaning they turn one lead into many. One example is when a renter fills out a personal profile or a web form for a specific property and the ILS says, “There are 5 more properties near this area that fit your profile. Would you like to contact them as well?”  Because the ILS makes it so easy to send these additional leads with the click of a button, the prospect will often do this. So that high-value lead that was going to go to one property of interest just became a low-value lead to 5 more properties, none of which the prospective renter likely knows much about.

Lead Generation Bots – As bots increasingly enter the Multifamily space, you can typically drop them into one of two buckets: Lead Gen Bots or Conversational Leasing Bots. What’s the difference?  Lead Gen Bots fall into three categories:

Call Center Bots – These bots are not designed to manage the bulk of renter inquiries within the bot experience, but rather pass the conversation off to a call center employee. This is a terrible user experience that drives a sub 30% CSAT score. Here’s an excellent article explaining why in great detail: link to article.

Social Media Bots – These bots can be deceptive in that a prospect has all their personal information shared with the property simply by clicking on the bot itself. How? If it’s powered on a platform like Facebook for example, Facebook has all your information which is passed along to the property simply by clicking on the bot. The prospect might not be at all interested in the property but will show up in a CRM just the same.

Capture Bots: These bots focus on one thing and one thing alone…get more leads!  That’s why they ask for a prospective renter’s personal information up front such as name, email, phone.  This is a bad user experience as consumers don’t want to provide personal information at the start. They want the information they want first, and then they might be willing to provide their contact information for additional purposes such as an appointment or a brochure.  Data shows that for every piece of contact information asked for upfront, the user defection rate grows from 10% upward to 75% depending on how much info is required.

So what’s a Conversational Leasing Bot? These bots are designed to simply answer questions and provide information up front. No contact info is required to use these bots. Only after a prospective renter wants an action such as an appointment, a brochure emailed to them, etc., does the bot ask for contact information. And if the prospect has a question the bot can’t answer, it’s not hot-transferred to a human which sounds nice, but actually provides a poor overall experience. The information is packaged up and in seconds sent to the property for an asynchronous response.

Survey Widgets – These are buttons and widgets that sit on a property website that ask a series of questions in an effort to get more leads. Some of these Survey Widgets will entice people to use their solution by offering to put the user in a drawing for free rent. This tactic can certainly generate more interaction and inquiries, but not leads. There is very little value in these survey widgets once the math is done. Below is a typical product cycle when implementing these widgets:

Month 1 – Widget launched. Property sees significant uptick in “lead” volume.
Month 2 – Higher volume of “leads” remain, yet appointments and leases have not markedly increased.
Month 3 – Lead volume stays high, however, conversion of leads to appointments and leases dramatically decreased. Property is doing more work responding to leads, but not seeing a corresponding increase.
Month 4 – Did deep dive into data. Discovered many of the “leads” were actually current residents who entered the drawing to win a free month’s rent. Still no increase in overall appointments and leases.
Month 5 – Dropped survey widget from the site. Leads normalized to past volume. Lead to appointment and lead to lease conversion ratios improved. Property spending less time working low-value leads.

Bottom line: Today’s technology and marketing solutions should decrease cost and/or time spent driving and managing renter leads. Anything else is a lead snare sending low-value leads making your people work twice as hard for half the results. Sometimes more isn’t more, so beware the lead snare


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