Enter your email address for weekly access to top multifamily blogs!

Build Your Online Presence

Tips and thoughts to help you build your company's presence online, through a more productive website, email, search engine optimization and social media.

Google for Multifamily

The rumblings are getting louder that big tech is looking for ways to get deeper into multifamily housing. Google, Facebook, and Amazon are all exploring different ways to establish a larger presence in the industry. At this point, it’s not a matter of if, but when and how big.  Like any other new vendor entering the industry, I hope they listen and learn first, before just jumping in with a misguided approach that doesn’t meet the needs of renters or operators. For fun, let’s start with Google. What new could Google bring to our industry? Here are three things I’d love to see from whatever becomes Google for Multifamily: Real-Time Pricing and Amenities in Google My Business I’d love to see direct pricing/availability feed integration into Google My Business (GMB) listings. Google has previously tested something similar with VaultWare (now MRI MarketConnect), so it will be interesting to see if they pursue a direct feed integration to display pricing and availability, along with tour scheduling and industry CRM integrations.  Beyond pricing, it would make sense for Google My Business to highlight specific amenities and key features that they know renters want to see throughout their search. This isn't really new; Google could easily follow much of the same path they took with hotels here. A lot of what Google offers now related to hotel marketing and sales stems from their acquisition of ITA Software back in 2010 ... so look for a major acquisition or data partnership (likely a major ILS or proper......
Continue reading
2860 Hits
1 Comment

How Much Should I Spend on Google Ads? Determining Your PPC Budget

“How much should I spend on PPC?” It’s a question we hear a lot, especially when we’re welcoming a new multifamily client who is just testing the waters of paid search campaigns for the first time. Here’s the great news: It’s not that hard to get to a solid answer – one based on your real needs, not just a number pulled out of thin air. I sat down with Aric Billings, a Senior Digital Marketing Specialist at 30 Lines, to go through our approach for helping you hit your leasing goals with the most efficient ad budget possible. You know the numbers you have to hit. You should always start there, then work backward to determine your spend. This is true whether you’re handling online ads in-house or working with a PPC vendor. And it’s a more straightforward formula to master than you might think.  You’ll need the following data before you start: •Your leasing box score •Whatever report shows you where your leads are coming from (all lead types: email, phone calls, chat, etc.) •Your Google Analytics reports •The traffic/budget estimating and planning tools in your Google Ads account Now that you have that insight, it’s time for some marketing math. I promise you don’t have to be a mathematician to back into these numbers.  Please note: This example is for a typical stabilized property. We have some different techniques for new lease-ups and student properties.  Steps to Determine Your Ad Spend This may seem oversimplified at first, but it’s a good exercise to prevent......
Continue reading
1469 Hits
0 Comments

33 Ways to Generate More Property Income Beyond Fees

33 Ways to Generate More Property Income Beyond Fees
Last month, Multifamily Insiders published the latest edition of their study on the most common Ancillary Income types for apartment communities. (You can read the full report here.) I'll give you the top five types: Application Fees Late Fee Pet Rent Early Termination Month to Month Fee And here are a few more personal favorites: Lapse in Renters Insurance Fee Redecoration Fees Resident Discount Program (This seems counter-intuitive unless we're at CostCo.) Marketing Coordination Fee (to pay for social media at the property) Eviction Holdoff Fee (You can't pay, so we're going to charge you not to kick you out.) "We also have community gardens which we charge for" Does anyone else feel nickel and dimed? (There's a reason cable companies and airlines are among the most despised industries.) Please don't misunderstand this as a lack of empathy for the property owner and manager. I have zero issue with value-add services or fees that cover legitimate business expenses. There's a hard cost to process applications and run background and criminal checks. It makes total sense to apply a penalty to encourage on-time payments. Pets cause damage. But we want to charge customers more because we run an Instagram account? Or for the opportunity to plant a garden? I can't imagine too many customers feeling great about giving up their hard-earned dollars for fees like this. What's better than fees? Value worth paying for. It's not like we have to give everything away for free. There are better ways to generate ancillary......
Continue reading
8240 Hits
1 Comment

How Do You Know Your Google Ads Are Working?

Over in the forums, Beth asked a great question about her Google Ads: How do you know what you're spending on Google Adwords is working? I've been asked by our owners to create a report that justifies our spending towards Google Adwords and not sure if there is a direct way to verify traffic or lease to Google Adwords. This might be a question for the marketing team, but just curious how your company verifies the cost of Google Adwords and its value is validated. This is such a great question. (Thanks, Beth!) I'm resharing the full answer that I originally posted here. The short answer is this: You want to tie your ad results as precisely as you can to real business results. And those results should come relatively quickly – a smart, targeted campaign should almost immediately produce an increase in phone calls, email leads, and tours. Focus primarily on those lead generation metrics, but also understand that those numbers alone won’t tell the full story of how Google Ads might be contributing to your leasing success. To provide a better answer to the question (backed up by data), you’ll want to have access to the followIng: Your Google Ads account [ads.google.com] The Google Analytics account for your website [analytics.google.com] Your Google My Business account [google.com/business] Your call tracking reports Your lead management/CRM reports Here are some specific things you can measure to show the effectiveness of your Google Ads (ordered in the typical order they occur along the cu......
Continue reading
1837 Hits
0 Comments

Portfolio Leasing: 11 Ways to Create Prospect-Centric Apartment Marketing

Portfolio Leasing: 11 Ways to Create Prospect-Centric Apartment Marketing

Are you a Starbucks fan? Do you make frequent Target runs? Do you have other favorite local or national brands you regularly seek out? I’m guessing the answer is yes.

Now, imagine that every Starbucks and Target location had a different name on the door.

Instead of Starbucks, what if your neighborhood location was named Buckhead Java Reserve or Espresso House at The Woodlands, both with tiny “Proudly managed by Starbucks Coffee” decals on the front door?

Instead of Target, what if your local store was called Shoppers Pointe of Arlington, with “A unique shopping experience by Target Brands, Inc.” at the bottom of their emails and weekly circulars?

Do you think you’d trust these brands as much as you trust Starbucks or Target now? If you went to a different location on the other side of town or in a new city, do you think you’d have the same brand association (whatever association that may be)?

My guess is probably not.

You trust these brands because, regardless of where you are, you pretty much already know what kind of experience to expect before you even walk in the door. Sure, you might prefer the local coffeehouse, but you have a go-to Starbucks order in mind if you’re running errands across town or running through an airport.

That consistency in experience helps to build trust. Trust builds confidence. Confidence increases the likelihood that you’ll come back and become a repeat customer.

Yet when we look at how apartment communities are marketed, we often see the exact opposite approach.

Every community is marketed with its own unique name, vibe, and character. Each property gets its own logo, brand identity, and story. There’s often little or no connection to the property owner or management company and the other local apartment buildings/communities that those companies offer.

This serves to make a highly fragmented market only that much more so. It makes shopping for an apartment a painfully difficult experience for the customer, and it increases apartment marketers’ reliance on third-party marketplaces (Craigslist and ILS sites like Apartments.com and Zillow), aggregators, and locators to get in front of new renter prospects.

Let's Market The Way Customers Shop

In short, the way we market apartments often directly opposes how customers are used to shopping. This simultaneously reduces the reach of each apartment community’s “brand value” and increases the amount each community needs to spend on advertising to stand out in the marketplace.

Rather than (or maybe in addition to) trying to build a unique brand for each asset, it’s time that apartment marketers invest in their brands beyond the individual properties. Think about how you can be recognized at the neighborhood or regional level, and look at ways to reach more people well before they ever fully understand which properties are yours.

We call this approach Portfolio Leasing. It's not at all a new idea. But with the digital tools you have available to you today, there are whole new ways to put the customer first in your marketing. Here's why we think it's a perfect fit for multifamily.

Continue reading
4142 Hits
1 Comment

Apartment SEO Basics: Choosing Keywords for Single Property Websites

Apartment SEO Basics: Choosing Keywords for Single Property Websites
Depending on who you ask, somewhere between 80 and 95% of all renters will go online to research potential options over the course of their search. And when you talk to those renters, many of them start their search with a search — usually on Google. (Most U.S. properties we work with today receive about 65-90% of their search traffic from Google, with the rest coming from Bing, Yahoo, and smaller search engines like DuckDuckGo.) The search engine is the modern day Yellow Pages. It’s where people go to look for … pretty much everything. So if you want to be considered as an option for those renters who are in shopping mode, you first need to be as visible as possible where they’re looking. This is why you’re should be considering or already doing some kind of search engine optimization (SEO) on your website. SEO is all about positively impacting how Google sees you site, so you’ll rank higher in the results, and presumably this will lead to more website traffic and more customers. The best way to be discovered in search is to deliver the best, most relevant answer to the question the prospect is typing (or saying) into Google. At this point, let’s pause and take a huge step back. The most important part of any marketing strategy is understanding the customer, and being able to deliver what they want when they need it. Now apply that to your search strategy: The best way to be discovered in search is to ......
Continue reading
3106 Hits
0 Comments

"I need a 1-Bedroom near downtown." The Missed Opportunity in Your Marketing Strategy

"I need a 1-Bedroom near downtown." The Missed Opportunity in Your Marketing Strategy
“Hi, I’m looking for a one-bedroom, maybe a studio, near downtown. It looks like you have a few properties with nice options. Who would I call to set something up to see your apartments? Thanks, Kate” This is a real message received through a client's Facebook page. We see messages like this a lot, coming through a social media channel or the client's website. There's a good chance you've seen messages like this, too. It’s great news. "A lead! She wants a studio. We need to rent some studios!" Except there’s a problem. Our organizations aren’t built to serve Kate's question very well. Our marketing strategies don’t address what she needs at this point in her search. The way we manage leads doesn’t enable our leasing teams to give Kate what she wants. And it’s holding us back from providing a better leasing experience for our prospects. I know what you’re thinking. “Business is good. We have more leads than we know what to do with. We need to focus on getting our leasing team to answer the phone more and respond to online leads.” All true. But the more you can do to move "up the funnel,” the sooner you can qualify the prospect, identify your best prospects and ultimately help them find their perfect place. Let me show you what I mean. If you break down how people shop for apartments, we see that very few know the property they want by name when they start their search (top of the funnel). A few ......
Continue reading
5193 Hits
8 Comments

It's More Than Content: Seven Things Your Property Website Needs Now

It's More Than Content: Seven Things Your Property Website Needs Now
If you attended the Multifamily Social Media Summit last week (or followed along online), you probably saw a recurring theme: Having the right content strategy for your website is key to your online success. You may have even seen a chart circulating that outlines the features prospects are looking for on your site. Take a look: Do you have these features on your community website? @judybellack #multifamilysms2014 #nmhc #multifamily pic.twitter.com/lpFcNEnRl2 — On-Site.com (@OnSitedotcom) January 30, 2014 I'll say it right now ... this isn't a "nice to have" list. Almost every one of these are "must have" items for your website. Here's the full list: Floor plans with prices Availability of floor plans Interior photos Ratings and reviews Common area photos Neighborhood map Interior video Pet policies Common area videos Info about the property's "green" features Beyond the Basics: Add These to Your Property Website This is a good starting point, but honestly, these are things prospects expect to find when they get to your site. So while we're at it, here are a few more things you should add to that "must have" list: Contact Info with Office Hours When someone hits your website from a mobile device, they're likely ready to make a buying decision -- they probably want to visit your property to see the place. So it stands to reason that your website displays your address, phone number and office hours. Prominently. Don't make it hard for prospects to find you. Landing Pages If you're running ads o......
Continue reading
2676 Hits
0 Comments

10 Places to Invest Your Digital Marketing Dollars in 2014

10 Places to Invest Your Digital Marketing Dollars in 2014
It's that time of year again. Yes, football is back! (And now it's on your phone.) And so is budget season. When it comes to budgeting for your marketing spend, digital likely makes up a big part of your playbook. A vast majority of shoppers are starting their searches online, often checking 10 or more different sources before choosing to do business with you. So you better have a strong presence there, and it better be the kind of message you want your potential customers to see. With digital, it can be tough to know whether this year's tools and trends will still be hot -- and worth your investment -- next year. Do you need a mobile app? Is Facebook on its way out? Hasn't email been pronounced dead each of the past 14 years? What can we do to get more out of our website? Of course, I can't make any promises about what the future holds, but here are some of the places our team is looking at as the most important areas to focus on in the year ahead: 1. Mobile How would you feel if 30% or more of your customers received a poor customer experience the moment they walked through your door? Not good, right? Well, if your website isn't mobile-friendly, that's exactly what you're doing to your online customers. (Google prefers websites that implement responsive design, so I'd recommend starting there.) What about that mobile app? If you can find a way to deliver......
Continue reading
6154 Hits
1 Comment

Lead Attribution: “Property Website” Isn’t Enough


Lead Sources - Conversion Goals in Google AnalyticsWhen you're collecting information from a new prospect, do you ask how they heard about you? Does your contact form have one of those drop-downs with a bunch of pre-populated options? If you're like a lot of companies, you probably get a lot of people who tell you that they found you through your property website. As a marketer, you might be thinking, "Our website is outperforming all of our other online marketing." Yep, heard that one before. Great news, right? Maybe. Many of the prospects contacting you through your website probably didn't go directly to the site by typing your URL into the address bar. (In Google Analytics, these are "Direct" visits to your site.) Instead, it's more likely that the person clicked through to your site from somewhere else first -- maybe from a search engine, a Craigslist ad or a social network, or a blog post about your company's awesome new product. It's great to see those leads coming through your website. But it's also important to know how the best visitors are finding your site. Did they click on an ad? Did they find you through organic search? Did they read something about you through your recent PR efforts? The marketers we work with all agree that being able to effective attribute leads to their sources is a huge help; it enables them to better allocate their budget to the marketing channels that perform the best and deliver better returns. The great news is that, with a......
Continue reading
4432 Hits
1 Comment