In 2005, at Google, we acquired an analytics company called Urchin. Urchin, now Google Analytics, was integrated into Google Adwords and was meant to allow advertisers to track conversions across all online sources. There were and are some challenges however with the accuracy of some of the reports. Here are a few examples:
- Users clear their cookies and can’t be tracked
- Ad filtering programs can block the script
- Script could slow down site causing a higher user abandonment rate
All of these issues could lead to inaccurate reports where the marketer thinks one source or various keywords are performing poorly. Tracking conversion is an essential part of any marketing program within any industry. However, making marketing decisions based on bad data could hurt marketing performance.
Specifically in the apartment industry, leases, many times are attributed to the wrong source. At a recent NMHC event, the panel warned:
that properly sourcing leads is a big problem in the industry. One analysis showed that 70% of leases were attributed to the wrong source.
As the apartment industry becomes more sophisticated on what leads are converting into leases by using third party lead-to-lease services, I am seeing many of the same data tracking errors that I saw at Google. Recently, we compared internal lead data to multiple client lease data and found a 10-12X discrepancy in what leads actually turned into leases and what their third-party data was telling them.
Here are a few apartment marketing tracking challenges I see:
- Dead tracking numbers
- Surprisingly, sometimes marketers forget to change out tracking numbers and potential residents go to a dead number
- Improper parsing of email data
- In some cases, parsing of name, email, phone-number may not be parsed accurately from the third-party
- Manual over-ride of source data
- Psychologically, we tend to favor sources that make us look better. One REIT shared with us that walk-ins and “Internet Other” dropped 50% when they started to track via a call center.
- Revenue Attribution
- Who should receive the lease attribution? The first source, middle source, last source, or all sources?
- The Network Effect
- More and more leads are coming from the long-tail of sites. “Internet Other” option is becoming a larger portion of lease sources.
- The Human Element
- Lack of accurate lead collection data at the community level may lead to larger discrepancies.
- Different phone and or email addresses presented when signing the lease
- Many potential residents search while at work. Did their work email and phone show in the lead reports but their home information show in the guest card / lease software?
As an industry, we are getting closer to accurately quantifying apartment advertising spend but we are a long way to perfection. Would love feedback, thoughts, suggestions on how we as an industry could improve the accuracy of this data.