“90% trust peers on social networks (even strangers); only 15–18% trust brands.”

Danny Brown

Award-Winning Marketer

Overview: Resident referrals are an important traffic and leasing source for any multi-family community. An apartment recommendation from a friend, peer or acquaintance will increase your property’s visibility, community reputation and ultimately traffic. Referral campaigns can be quarterly, seasonal or annual depending on your community-type (i.e. student housing with a back to school campaign or a luxury community with quarterly campaigns).

As marketers, our goal is to create community ambassadors that will continually share our property with their friends through digital efforts, including online reviews, social media posts and social media story boards as well as through physical efforts, including community event invitations.

Strategy: In order to encourage all residents to share about your community, a successful referral campaign should have 2 elements:

1. “Early Bird” Incentive to Share – Provide a limited amount of rewards for the first 5-10 people to share about your referral campaign. These limited-availability rewards may be a branded coffee mug, tote bag or $5 Starbucks/Amazon Card.

  • The goal is to provide a catalyst to encourage people to quickly email, tweet or post about your property to their friends for fear of missing out on the “early bird incentive.” Encourage your residents to take pictures of your amenities along with a hashtag and to mention their name when they tour.
    • Pro Tip: Yardi’s Rent Café offers a campaign feature that easily allows residents to share referral campaigns via email or Facebook and allows marketers to track the residents that share a referral. There is even a “fulfill” feature to check off the residents that have received the early bird incentive.

2. Cash Referral Reward – Offer a dollar amount for a successful new resident referral (paid 5-30 days after move-in). This may be $200-1,000 cash referral award (i.e. gift card or rent credit) depending on your community. Rewards should be uncapped and possibly tiered to create more incentives to share.

Next Steps: Once a few referral campaigns have been promoted, your leasing team will be able to identify the key residents that had successful referrals. Generally, over 60-70% of referrals will come from a handful of residents. It’s important for your community to thank these residents (i.e. handwritten thank you card with branded property items or small treat basket) and take the next step of turning these residents into official community influencers or brand ambassadors.


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