Property Management Software like Yardi, RealPage, and Entrata are an essential part of many property managers’ day-to-day operations. For some management teams, they are an indispensable part of customer relationship management, lead flow, digital marketing, and more. With so much functionality centralized on one platform, property management teams may find it tempting to rely solely on their chosen PMS for all their digital marketing needs. But does that mean missing out on your maximum ROI?
Today, we’re covering some of the pros and cons of Property Management SaaS products like Yardi, RealPage, and others in order to assess the gaps in their service offerings. Along the way, we’ll compare the strengths of these SaaS products to the strengths of a relationship-oriented real estate marketing partner offering a People-as-a-Service approach to digital marketing needs. In the end, we’ll recommend a hybrid approach to apartment marketing strategies and explore how PMS and marketing agencies should work together to maximize ROI for the Property Management teams they serve.
Pros and Cons of PMS Websites
Let’s start by reviewing the website offerings of some of the leading PMS. While Property Management Software like Entrata and RentCafe offer streamlined website templates, there are pros and cons to using them. The largest advantage to this strategy is that the website you create integrates with the other products in their suites (including their CRM products) with minimal effort. This helps facilitate lead flow so that your leasing staff can easily follow up on leads and turn them into leases.
However, there are limitations to RentCafe, Entrata, and other PMS’s website templates. For one thing, while these websites tend to focus on lead flow, this doesn’t necessarily translate into exceptional UX. In other words, while it’s easy for leasing staff to act on the leads that come through a PMS website, it’s not necessarily maximizing the number of users who actually convert after arriving to your site. When a user finds their way to your site, their experience there can quickly make or break their likelihood of filling out a contact form, scheduling a tour, or starting an application. They need to be able to get a strong sense of your brand, easily navigate to the information that’s relevant to them, and be guided to the action you want them to take without feeling pressed. A website that puts the User Experience first, rather than lead flow, can generate more leads and conversions. Plus, a savvy web developer can help ensure your website integrates into your PMS suite even if you don’t use a template provided by the PMS itself.
Not only that, but these PMS websites don’t provide easy ways to perform a website refresh as trends change, nor do they facilitate SEO updates to help ensure you’re incorporating the most effective keywords to maximize your qualified traffic. Working with an agency partner on your property website can give you the flexibility to update these elements as needed so you don’t get stuck with an out of date site.
Finally, using a template provided by popular PMS like Entrata and RentCafe means your website ends up looking like many other websites on the market. With limited options to choose from, it can be hard to find a template that reinforces your unique branding and stands out from your competitors. This means your site and your brand can become forgettable and fewer prospects keep you in mind as they move from the awareness phase to the consideration phase of their renter’s journey.
Pros and Cons of PMS Digital Marketing
Major Property Management Software like Yardi and Entrata offer an array of PPC advertising and SEM services, often supported by Google and Facebook Partnerships. While these PMS cover some of the most popular digital real estate marketing strategies like Google Search Ads, Google display ads, Remarketing ads, and Facebook ads, there are certain services they don’t cover. This typically includes emergent strategies like OTT & CTV ads and Addressable Marketing campaigns.
And that’s just in the digital marketing bucket; there are also many traditional marketing tactics that could supplement these digital strategies, which PMS do not assist with. For brochure design, exterior signage, flyers, leasing office design, and more, you’ll get more help from a full-service real estate marketing agency partner.
Additionally, while their CRM platforms make it easier to automate lead nurturing efforts and renewal campaigns over email, they don’t always assist with the creative process of copywriting and designing beautiful emails that earn opens, clicks, and conversions. A real estate marketing agency is typically better equipped provide email marketing options that coordinate with your unique branding and utilize best practices that result in increased brand awareness, loyalty, and conversion actions.
Pros and Cons of PMS Customer Service
Your mileage may vary when it comes to the PMS customer experience. While some PMS platforms assign account managers (sometimes at a premium) and have experts available to work with you to optimize and implement your real estate marketing strategy, there are others that follow the more bare-bones SaaS model that emphasizes the ability to do it yourself. For example, G5 promotes its “Knowledge Base” as a Customer Care strategy, but isn’t focused on providing individualized customer service that is responsive to your input and unique needs. In general, Software as a Service products focus on making it easy for the average user to get what they need without hands-on attention, which is what allows them to cut down costs and serve more clients at once.
The downside of the SaaS model is that the end user has less flexibility and less assistance when they need it. Software aren’t flexible to feedback from a leasing agent and they don’t automatically adjust to changes in your audience or in your marketing goals. While some Property Management Software companies offer calls to review strategy and discuss optimizations with expert consultants, you’ll typically get more communication and hands-on campaign management from a real estate marketing agency where you have a dedicated account manager and regular reporting calls.
The Best Real Estate Marketing Solution
So, taking all these pros and cons into account, should you use a PMS or rely on a real estate marketing agency instead?
Ultimately, the answer is that you don’t necessarily have to choose one or the other. For many, a hybrid approach is the best option. Leading Property Management Software offer excellent CRM, budgeting tools, resident portals, and other solutions. But adding a real estate marketing agency to the mix helps you leverage better website design, more diverse advertising mixes, and more consistent branding while also enjoying the benefits of hands-on customer service, which ultimately enhances results.
For those with the budget to do so, even a modest one, we recommend combining PMS with a marketing agency relationship.