Apartment Marketing - Blog posts tagged in Apartment Marketing
I just got married a few weeks ago! And with all the positive changes and excitement comes… moving. Although I’m not moving into an apartment, I have spent a good deal of time on Craigslist the past few months as my fiancé and I have talked about our budget and priorities when it comes to renting a home.
It has been interesting and valuable to be reminded of the prospect experience first hand. Instead of being on Craigslist with my “work” hat on, I was scanning the site with a “renter” hat on.
What really stood out to me was how many of the apartment community ads started to blur together. Many of them use the same types of what I call “power words” to describe what they offer and at a certain point, the phrases seem to feel empty and vague.
On a property website, where you are not competing for visual attention with another community at the exact same moment, phrases like “come relax here” or “the lifestyle you’ve been looking for” can have more power behind them. This is because generally, they are immediately accompanied by photos and other text that support the claim.
But on Craigslist, it is crucial that you use a variety of headlines for different ads and be sure to include some that are VERY specific. For example:
Upstairs, Corner 2BR w/ Large Windows & Pool Views – New Dishwasher – Laundry on Site.
In addition to the title, it’s important the the information...
Do you text your prospects or residents? Do they text you? Should you let them?
You might already be researching those questions, which means you’re paying attention. With the move toward mobile everything, there are multiple ways to use text to your team members’ and community’s advantage. (FYI, Nielsen notes that of the 94% of people with mobile phones in the U.S., about 86% text with them. Frankly, I’m surprised it’s not higher. Even people with *gasp* flip phones send text messages!)
But first, you need a plan.
Write Down the Point of It AllWhat are your business goals (what do you want your team to accomplish by texting in 2014)? Perhaps you want to increase resident satisfaction with an amazingly convenient customer service experience. Maybe you want to help your team get more done in less time, like following up faster. With this in mind, you can start looking into the types of texting services out there.
Think Beyond Marketing. Think Convenience. Don’t assume that the only way to text your prospects and residents is through automated marketing messages. For example, after ordering contact lenses from 1-800-Contacts, I text a picture of my prescription for faster turnaround. Within a few minutes, their staff texts back to confirm if they will be shipping today or tomorrow. It’s amazing how friendly little conveniences like that can stick with a customer.
If you take a more personal, one-to-one texting approach, here’s what you could do:
Respond when prospects’ interest is highest - Say a...
You know your community needs an online presence to help increase leads and occupancy. Even back in 2010, the Internet was twice as popular as any other method of searching for an apartment. But unless online marketing is your specialty, figuring out what you really need to do can be overwhelming. Ryan Lucia, our director of sales, boiled it down into three basic building blocks:
1. Build a Smart WebsiteThis one’s pretty obvious. Your prospects are online, so provide a site that shows them your community’s offerings in a smartly designed way. After all, you have to look good online to be taken seriously—did you know that 94% of people cite design as a reason they don’t trust certain sites? And this applies to both desktop and mobile sites. If you don’t have a responsively designed website, you at least need a mobile version of it because 89% of consumers use a search engine on their mobile device.
2. Attract VisitorsOnce you’ve built that awesome website, don’t just trust in “build it and they will come.” You need to give your prospects a little help in finding you first! Consider investing in online and mobile advertising, including listing your properties on search sites like ApartmentFinder.com, Apartments.com, etc. And since many use search engines as their go-to research, look into SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) strategies. Probably the most important step you can take to optimize your site for higher ranking in search results is to focus your...
Believe it or not, a lot of the marketing happening within the multifamily industry isn’t completely connected with what’s happening in the leasing office. “We are in an industry where customers self-identify as prospects and spend a considerable amount of time finding us through search,” explains D2 Demand Solutions president Donald Davidoff. “The flipside is that those prospects are coming to us at a point where they know as much or more about our product and our competitor’s product—including pricing and reviews—as we do,”
As a result, the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) concept popularized by Google and trending across the multifamily marketing landscape is having a much more indelible impact, Davidoff says. ZMOT holds that consumer purchasing patterns and use of technology has empowered a new era of online leasing, targeted marketing and demand creation, and the ability to begin creating brand ambassadors at first (or zero) point of contact.
According to data from a multifamily ZMOT survey conducted this fall, only 64% of apartment searchers claimed to have used an online search engine to find their apartment, while 84% indicated they primarily sought out the opinions, advice, and recommendations from friends and family. The survey, which included 288 renter responses from 124 cities in 25 states, also found a strong connection between so-called “web appeal” and community curb appeal among the top five ZMOT influencers cited by respondents:
62% of prospects use their mobile phone during an onsite visit to compare apartments and prices elsewhere.
64% of apartment searchers...
There are very few, if any, better marketing pitches than those that come from the customers themselves, or at least include actual customers. For example, Audi can put out images of its cars all it wants, but there’s a very good chance that a friend’s picture of themselves posing in front of their new Audi will make a much bigger impact.
Now that we’ve established that, let’s pause on the marketing side for just one moment and turn to customer service. It is often said that the decision to renew a lease isn’t made at the end of the lease, but rather at the beginning. Those first few days and weeks are critical in making your residents feel like they made a great decision in renting at your apartment community, and ultimately impact their later decision to renew.
There is a great opportunity for these two concepts to collide in a spectacularly wonderful way. Here’s the idea:
When you have a new lease, rather than simply giving them the keys and letting them walk out the door, instead walk with them to the new apartment so you can be with them during this critical time. With all the make-ready checklists out there, the apartment should be looking impeccable, but just in case, you are on hand for a quick walk-through with the resident for any immediate needs. So this part is all about the customer service. But then try this: Ask them if they would be willing to do a before...
As we approach the final weeks of 2013, I am very excited to announce that we have officially implemented our Online Reputation Management (ORM) program — which includes setting up Manager Center on ApartmentRatings.com. I look at this program launch as the next logical step in "embracing the conversation," and as with our social assets, our on-site teams are responsible for crafting responses to any comments that are posted online, with our corporate team stepping in to help when needed. We have used this strategy across all 50+ of our community Facebook pages, and it's worked incredibly well for us.
Though review sites have been dubbed the Wild West of the digital world, we encourage our teams to simply think "offline" when responding online: in other words, think about what you'd say in an offline conversation, and then apply that to the online space. The below is taken verbatim from our ORM guidelines, and is at the core of our social/ORM philosophy:
Address each issue individually, and respond in a courteous, authentic, and professional way.
There's nothing fancy about that statement, but since tone can be tough to distinguish online, we have found that employing the "KISS" approach often works best: be professional, be authentic, and be helpful, and you've effectively addressed 99% of the negative comments that are posted online.
If you're trying to decide whether or not to take the plunge into managing your online reviews, I'd encourage you to mull something over: if people are talking about your...
Pinterest has just added the ability to create a map pin board, showing both your pins and a map at the same time. If you haven’t used Pinterest for your property or company yet, now may be the time.
To give you a feel for how a map pin board looks, check out this pin board map for the Top 100 Hotels in the World:
Here are some options for using the map-style pin board for your properties:
Mapping Your Portfolio. This may be a region-specific pin board, or even showing beyond that, and gives you the opportunity to showcase your communities in a visually vibrant way.
Mapping Your Surrounding Community. This is a fantastic way to showcase local hotspots, whether they are museums, restaurants, stores, or other interesting locations surrounding a given apartment community. Even better, this could be tied in with a community-specific blog that showcases these types of locations, boosting your other online efforts at the same time.
The Risky Option – The Competitor Map. At first blush, most people would not be interested in creating a pin board with their competitors, but it’s actually a compelling option. Although you are sharing information about competitors, it also gives you control over how everything is portrayed. For example, let’s say that you have one gorgeous competitor that just sprang up. Well, this gives you an opportunity to include all our competitors but that one. It also allows you to show yours as the top property ahead of all others. ...
Instagram, the remarkable app for sharing photos and video with clever and creative filters, just turned 3 years old. One surprising fact is that even though Instagram has built up a user base of more than 150 million people who have shared more than 16 billion photos(!), it has yet to make a single dime. All that is about to change as Instragram begins allow ads in photostreams before the end of the year. To compete with Twitter’s Vine, Instagram has also introduced the capability to record very short videos no more than 15 seconds long. The length and size of these videos makes them ideal for sharing. Here is a brief introduction to who is on Instagram now and how professionals in multi-family can take advantage of this valuable tool to generate new revenue.
Instagram is ideal for marketing apartment complexes for a number of reasons. It can deliver stunning photos of properties to a targeted segment with searchable keywords that capture their attention. According to the Pew Research Center, Instagram is popular with young urban professional women, age 18-29, and draws a significant base of African American and Latinos. Those characteristics matches extremely well with the demographics of renters as identified by the National Multi Housing Council (NMHC). The NMHC reported that 57% of renters are under 30. In major urban centers in the US, apartments make up between 30 to 50% of the housing market. Single females are the most common household type for renters, representing 28% of renters of apartments...
That which isn't measured isn't managed.
Such is the case with Craigslist ads. Craigslist's recent decision to disallow html means that many of your posting tool's tracking capabilities won't work, so you're left to do it yourself. That's not a bad thing. Manual audits ensure that posts are done, and done properly.
Here's how it's done:
From the Craigslist city page, type the property name and search 'All Housing.' If your posts don't include your property name, search for the phone number in the ad.
Can you find the ads? Are your properties posting frequently enough? Are they posting correctly? That means completing all fields, including the correct location; appropriate photos; full, map-ready address, etc. For more tips on posting, review our previous posts here and here.
Keep your Craigslist posts consistent — they're good for 1-2 leases per month when done right. But the only way to be sure is to audit manually, of course. It's boring, but like many of the basics, it works....
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) regulations can make texting with customers pretty spooky for any business. But that doesn’t mean it’s something you should avoid...not if it’s done in a TCPA-compliant way. With 97% of SMS text messages opened and read within 3 minutes (vs. 22% of emails), it’s a communication your community should embrace. Just do so carefully, ensuring you're in compliance even with the most recent regulations:
Include the ability to immediately opt out of messages. (Effective Jan. 14, 2013)
Get unambiguous written consent—even from people you have established business relationships with—before sending telemarketing calls or text messages via automatic telephone dialing systems. (Effective Oct. 16, 2013)
Do You Market or Simply Communicate?The TCPA is aimed at restricting telemarketers, but in the broadest sense, almost any business-to-consumer texts could fall under these regulations.* I don’t know about you, but I like to err on the side of caution! There are a number of resources to help you learn what (if any) changes you need to make, and consider talking with an attorney to make sure your specific needs are addressed no matter what kind of texting your community does:
SMS ShortCode programs - Used to send mass marketing messages (like specials or coupons) to a long list of numbers, these text programs are the most heavily regulated. They can be effective when used correctly, but hit pause until checking with your vendor and attorney for any additional steps you need to take.
One-to-one texting between property management personnel...