PHOENIX—Alexis Krisay is a partner and the vice president of marketing for Phoenix-based Serendipit Consulting, a public relations, marketing, branding and event-planning firm with a specialization in the student housing market. GlobeSt.com recently caught up with Krisay to find out how digital analytics functions in the world of student housing.  

GlobeSt.com: How has digital marketing changed in the student housing market in the past ten years?

Krisay: When I first started in student housing, 10-plus years ago, I had to be a master sales person. In person tours were pretty much the only way to seal the deal. It was so exciting. I remember walking into the fitness center and opening the secret door to the tanning room and hearing “Are you for real?” Students’ eyes would light up. I would then proceed to show them the pool with the beach style entry and the lease was pretty much signed. The surprise factor of being able to see and touch what was going to be their new home was priceless. Today, it is completely different. With the advancements of websites, video, Facetime tours and social media the surprise factor during the in person tour just isn’t what it used to be. Today, students have seen every amenity the property offers, done a virtual walk-through of their apartment and they are pretty much sold. In fact, most of them don’t even tour, they sign their lease online and show up on move-in.

GlobeSt.com: What are some of the keys for meeting the marketing ROI goals of your clients?

Krisay: The key to meeting ROI goals is metrics. There is no guessing anymore. With the advancement of digital analytics, marketing professionals today can spend their dollars much smarter. We are constantly evaluating our data. Everything is tracked in Google analytics with custom reports. We use UTM codes to track every online campaign, every click and we monitor the results. How many leases is each outlet securing? If the outlet isn’t generating results we make a change. There is no more signing year-long contracts, creating 12 month set-in-stone marketing plans. Marketing is now fluid. We can make changes instantaneously to our campaigns. We are all about testing multiple campaigns, multiple outlets to see which one drives the most leases. There is no more guessing, every behavior online is measured.

GlobeSt.com: How has digital marketing affected operations?

Krisay: Digital marketing has changed the entire leasing process. As I said, students are sold online, through social media and via email. Onsite teams have to know and understand how to sell in a whole new capacity. Websites have to be simple, visual and straight to the point. Pictures and videos take the prospect 60% of the way. The other 40% is done either through social media, email communication, text or the traditional phone or in-person tour. How does this affect operations? The biggest area that is affected is training. We need to train our teams to communicate and sell the right way on all of these outlets. We have changed our entire training curriculum and constantly are updating it to include the latest app or social outlet, such as Snapchat.

GlobeSt.com: What is your Digital branding strategy/approach for clients?

Krisay: Everything is branded. We are brand OCD at Serendipit. We make sure everything that is posted online either includes our logo or is linked back to our branded content. We use branded graphics on all social outlets, we tag our brand in all engagement posts and we use branded hashtags like crazy.