February 14, 2022

How to enhance online brand awareness

Marketing your coliving brand is not just a top-of-the-funnel process; with the wide array and accessibility of high quality digital marketing solutions, your efforts can become interwoven from the start of the customer journey to even beyond its end point.

Marketing your coliving brand is not just a top-of-the-funnel process; with the wide array and accessibility of high quality digital marketing solutions, your efforts can become interwoven from the start of the customer journey to even beyond its end point. By applying proper marketing techniques in combination with the right tools, you can engage your prospective (and current) residents at every touchpoint. In this piece, our partners at Digital Estate take you through every step of that journey and provide a glimpse into the wide range of solutions, procedures and benefits that digital marketing can offer to help you build a high-growth shared living brand.

The role of marketing in building up a successful coliving brand and attracting the members of a new to be formed community is crucial. Through marketing strategies and tools we are capable of converting, engaging and retaining coliving residents. More than ever, and in context of the challenges that the pandemic has brought upon us, we have learned the relevance of building a strong online brand presence. This type of media is currently taking a new dimension as the majority of opportunities to reach the customer are moving online.

In the perspective of changing realities – the re-evaluation of individual priorities, the increasing number of employees choosing to work remotely and the transfer of interactions to the virtual world – digital channels are gradually becoming the most powerful ones that serve as a bridge between the coliving operator and the resident (both future and existing). Thus, in order not to lose the connection with your audience, digital marketing serves as a strong way to seamlessly reach out and stay in touch with this audience.


DIGITAL MARKETING CHALLENGES THAT COLIVING OPERATORS FACE

We have seen many companies struggle to adopt the right marketing technologies in real estate. The main causes tend to be lack of technical knowledge, not having access to the right resources, fear of wasting time with time-consuming processes as well as fear of adopting new technologies (we are creatures of habits and adjusting to new interfaces is understandably challenging). 

Moreover, marketing teams are very often bound to strict objectives and KPIs set by company stakeholders and/or investors, which oftentimes are challenged by the context of reality. These marketing teams – who are typically quite small – struggle to allocate their resources in a way that satisfies business needs while creating meaningful connections with residents. Tight budgets limit the creativity and enthusiasm of marketing executives to come up with innovative solutions, such as VR tours, pop-up stands and disruptive ideas for marketing campaigns. As a result, they spend time, energy and money on blindly hitting the targets instead of ensuring that they provide added value to the coliving communities. 

But what if there was a way to let technology help those teams? By embracing digital transformation, marketing teams can spend more time on properly setting winning strategies and letting innovation and creativity shine throughout their work. In this article we are exploring ways to solve the challenge with the help of already available digital tools.


DIGITAL TOUCHPOINTS

Before deep-diving into tools for effective marketing, it is important to understand and analyse the journey that the coliver goes through before, during and after staying at a specific coliving place. Based on that, it is possible to identify the most important touchpoints that will be critical in driving certain behaviours in the user, such as: choosing one coliving space over  another, recommending it to a friend, writing a positive review, etc. However, in order to achieve the best results, you must remember that what counts is the global image built from a sum of all interactions and experiences a user has at different touchpoints. This means that the better the overall experience, the better the image your brand has and the better business results.

The role of technology is also crucial in this process, as it serves as a motor for more effective and faster outcomes. It also connects different touchpoints and keeps all the channels in sync, helping better understand the end customers and data bound to them.

So what is a typical journey of a coliver? And how does it translate to a marketing funnel? Below we outlined the steps in the pre-decision (pre-booking) phase leading to the acquisition of a resident and post-decision (post-booking) phase aiming to convert the past resident into a brand ambassador.

  1. Awareness: It all starts with a brand

The objective of this stage is for potential customers to be conscious of the brand's existence, that they are able to easily find it and have a positive interaction with it. The scope is broad – reach as many quality leads as possible (potential colivers who are looking to join a coliving community). At this stage, the strategy is to attract, educate and engage the potential customer (resident). The examples of channels to reach the target audience are search engines (Google, blogs), ads (online ads, social media ads), friends and family (word of mouth).


  1. Consideration: Presenting the competitive advantage

Now that the potential customer is already aware that the solution to her/his problem exists and has come to the realisation that one of the solutions could be joining your coliving community thanks to the knowledge about your brand, it is time to connect with her/him on a deeper level. The best strategy to evoke desire toward your brand is to focus on the specific pain points, challenges and opportunities through targeted marketing (e.g. email, website, social media, reviews, etc.), while continuously educating about the brand’s added value in comparison to other existing solutions (e.g. providing dedicated help or brochures with clear benefits of joining a specific coliving community). 

While educating and emotionally connecting with your leads, it is time to enter a next stage in the consideration phase: nudging the customer towards making a decision. Activities to facilitate a positive outcome range from providing information to help the potential customer imagine their possible future coliving experience, to utilising virtual tours and onsite visits, site tours or personal tours, which are important touchpoints providing the opportunity to build trust and delight the potential resident. The ultimate goal is to guide the potential customer to conversion. 


  1. Booking: Getting over the hump

The booking stage is the most important moment of truth at the pre-decision stage. Here the journey can go sideways as many doubts, fears and concerns show up just prior to conversion into a resident. To clear these up and make sure that the experience towards booking is smooth and successful, constant communication needs to be maintained. Tools that support conversion include direct emailing, chatbots on your website, efficient booking engines, phone calls or pre-arrival apps with a booking engine integration, among others. The aim here is to get the potential coliver on board by suggesting him or her to take action. If the action (booking) does not happen, the strategy should be shifted towards nurturing the potential customer with necessary information, additional incentives, added value features (e.g. articles, reviews, special offers, etc.) to boost the confidence in the decision step. 


  1. Moving in: The importance of planning & onboarding

The first impression undeniably makes a lasting impact. The planning and onboarding are hence the crucial stages in making sure that the resident does not second guess his/her decision. All the activities before arrival such as personalised emails with steps to prepare before moving in, an onboarding guide and on-site experience after arrival are crucial touchpoints that must deliver on the brand promise. The authentic orientation support (e.g. interior and exterior signage, welcome package, mobile app, info desk, brochures, among others) should also support the success of smooth moving-in and assimilation within a new community.


  1. Living: It is all about the experience

It could seem that the job of a marketer is marked as accomplished at this point. Nothing is more misleading. The entire stay at the coliving place consists of a wide range of opportunities to make the coliving brand stay on top of the resident’s mind. In light of the blending of two worlds, digital and real, the virtual world opens the door to creating multidimensional, lasting experiences. Although the absolute fact remains that the living stage must be focussed on the on-site experience (both individual and shared), it could be enhanced with the latest digital tools to make the entire journey seamless and memorable. 

Those tools, such as community apps or resident portals, can not only help residents in administrative tasks (e.g. paying rent, reporting issues, etc.) but also get to know the community better. We explored the topic of ‘How to use technology to foster communities and facilitate connection to the neighbourhood’ in our article for the previous edition of Coliving Insights. In general, marketing activities at this stage should focus on facilitating community experience and empowering residents through excellent communication. Channels such as websites, social media platforms, newsletters and mobile apps can serve as great places to reach residents, invite them to events and provide support whenever needed.


  1. Moving out: Making the memory last

The first impression is important but the last impression stays forever. Do not underestimate the final stage of the resident journey – it is as important as any other touchpoint. At this stage, the focus should be placed on informative communication with a tone of voice filled with appreciation and warmth. Sending a message explaining how to check out, a thank-you email (or even a small perk) are examples of best practices to finish as strong as you started. This stage is also a perfect opportunity to provide additional value to your residents through up-selling or cross-selling. For instance, if you have various locations, you can offer a subscription or a discount for the next stay in another location – an excellent option for digital nomads. This way, you build loyalty and positive sentiment towards your brand amongst residents during their stay and beyond.


  1. Post-stay: Turning residents into brand ambassadors

Successful brands are characterised by consistency. To turn residents into brand ambassadors, make sure that you remember them and keep the communication flowing. For example, you can encourage them to write a review, tag your brand on their social media, write a blog post about the experience from their stay or simply reward them for promoting your brand by word-of-mouth marketing. Never underestimate brand ambassadors – they are the best advocates of your brand as well as product and have a significant impact on your reputation. 

While designing your marketing funnel and customer journey, remember that:

  • Potential residents can start their journey at any pre-booking stage;
  • They often do not flow through these stages in a linear process or any exact order; 
  • Residents do not necessarily go through every stage; 
  • Every journey is unique and can differ from resident to resident as well as specific demographics. 

CONNECTING TOUCHPOINTS THROUGH AUTOMATION AND NO-CODE

The above-mentioned seven stages are only an overview of the most important touchpoints. However, for some nascent coliving operators, they might already seem overwhelming. With small marketing teams and limited resources, the success lies in the strategic approach to designing a marketing funnel for your brand and making the best use of available tools that help in automating repetitive tasks. Utilising digital marketing automation for this purpose is already the norm. Digital marketing automation is a process of utilising technology to streamline marketing efforts and make them more effective. It has multiple benefits such as:

  • Streamlines processes and workflows;
  • Centralises all the activities, which increases efficiency and information flows;
  • Various sources of data, quickly processed and analysed thanks to automation, contribute to more valuable insights and help in making smarter decisions;
  • Reduces costs by eliminating repetitive tasks;
  • Enables marketing teams to focus on creative and strategic tasks;
  • Personalises customer journeys;
  • Aligns marketing and sales goals and activities;
  • Provides recommendations and improvements thanks to machine learning and AI.


Even small coliving operators can start automating their marketing activities through the customer journey thanks to no-code solutions. Over the last few years, the number of commonly available no-code tools has been rapidly increasing, making no-code another trend in tech. No-code allows anyone with minimal technical skills or knowledge to code or program a digital product, such as a website, platform, app, etc. by using templates and functions such as drag-and-drop and logical sequences. Some popular examples of platforms using no-code are Webflow (for creating websites), Adalo (for building apps), Canva (for designing visuals) or Zapier (for connecting web/no-code apps).

How do you apply no-code to connect customer journey stages in the digital marketing funnel? Let’s  assume that you have ideated and designed each stage of the ideal customer journey in detail. Then, you defined the necessary tools that could support you in the deployment of each stage. However, for instance, you struggle with utilising the existing newsletter database to turn them into residents without sending each and every person an email manually. To solve this challenge, you could use Zapier to connect the subscribe/submission box on Webflow with Mailchimp and create an automated campaign. 

Another example of using no-code in smoothing out the customer journey is automating all the steps in the pre-decision stages. Let’s consider this situation: you have organised an open online event, to which participants had to register via an Eventbrite link embedded in your website, and now you would like to use that data to nurture the leads with valuable content and navigate them to booking decisions. You could use Zapier to connect Eventbrite with Salesforce, Hubspot or Mailchimp. By adding new leads from Eventbrite registrations directly into Mailchimp emailing lists and/or to a CRM system (such as Salesforce), you achieve segmentation of leads, save time, limit human error and can still connect with other digital solutions instead of being bound to just one. It may be said that the no-code movement brought technology to people and democratised the access to complex tools making them simple. 

At Digital Estate, we have solved several challenges of our clients and continue to save time, money and frustrations, leaving their marketing teams with the fun part – attracting and servicing their residents with a human-centric approach.


BOTTOM LINE

The world is constantly changing, and so is the reality that we live in. To stay ahead of those changes, coliving operators, big and small, must scan, scope and adapt necessary tools that will help them be more effective, operationally efficient and stand out in the sea of emerging and rising coliving products. Designing a digital marketing funnel crafted to match the customer journey in your coliving place using no-code solutions will certainly increase the chances of attracting more residents, ensuring that they receive an amazing experience during their stay and that they turn into brand ambassadors. Remember to measure what you treasure – utilise all the data to evaluate, analyse and improve experiences at every touchpoint.


What’s next?

You might wonder how you could start using this model. First, draft the current resident journey for your coliving product. Define the touchpoints, bottlenecks and neuralgic points that you struggle with. The journey is more realistic and insightful if you do this exercise with the entire team. Next, define how the ideal journey would look like and compare those two. See what is missing and how you could iterate. 

Next, it is time for digital marketing alignment. Mobilise your marketing team to use no-code solutions to automate the processes and streamline the journey to deliver a better experience. Saving time on repetitive tasks will also reduce costs and free up marketing teams to work on strategic activities. At Digital Estate we help coliving operators, among others, in digital transformation – from analysing the current situation to providing solutions and implementing processes and products. We believe that digital transformation is for everyone.


Digital Estate

Digital Estate can help you find or design and build the digital solution that is most appropriate for your needs, elevating the experience of multiple real estate stakeholders from building companies, to investors, to operators, to community managers until the end customers (the residents). Through providing easy-to-apply solutions, we are looking into the democratisation of the technological revolution in real estate. Digital transformation does not have to be complex – let us help you. To start your journey with Digital Estate, reach out to our team here, or get in touch with our Business Development & Growth colleague, Karolina Sawicka, for partnership opportunities or other enquiries.

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