June 17, 2022 |
Updated June 17, 2022
Know your audience to properly market apartment homes.
Not long ago, if an apartment leasing team wanted to find prospective residents, it would simply list the property in the local newspaper and wait for prospects to call for a tour—or literally come knocking at the door. Since today’s prospects leverage the power of technology and social media, leasing-up a property ahead of the competition requires property managers and owners to keep pace with the newest marketing tools and strategies.
1. Robust Data Warehousing
Compiling relevant information on prospective renters is an indispensable step in leasing-up a property. But gathering as much data as possible is less important than intelligently accessing that data and putting it to work.
Leasing teams that want to make smarter lead generation decisions should create their own in-house data warehouse with the help of intuitive data visualization software. Teams can use the software to quickly build consistent, actionable custom reports that help to engage prospects, as well as drive higher retention and rent collection rates.
There are several business intelligence tools on the market that a leasing team can use to get the most out of their data. Whether using custom-built or off-the-shelf business intelligence tools, it’s important to make data accessible, understandable and relevant to everyone on the leasing team. Most platforms can generate custom reports for each employee, which can be especially useful for those with less tech know-how. These can be tailored to pull in geographic and demographic data points. They can also auto-generate on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Real estate companies with additional in-house services such as maintenance, data warehousing and visualization tools can also streamline operational efficiencies or assist property management teams with resident engagement.
2. Focused Online Advertising
There’s no more expedient way to reach prospects than with online advertising. This proved especially true during the pandemic. During 2020 and 2021, all digital (non-internet listing service [ILS]) ads that Pangea Properties purchased brought in roughly one-quarter of the company’s leads—but resulted in nearly half of all leases.
When properly deployed, paid social media campaigns can be particularly effective. They key social media platforms that apartment marketing teams should prioritize are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Using the funnel approach, marketing teams can modify their strategy and retarget prospects to engage and convert them into renters. At the top and middle of the funnel, ads should be optimized for link clicks and engagement. Tools such as Google Analytics or Facebook Business Manager can help track user activity. At the bottom of the funnel, ads are much more direct, providing users a click-to-call conduit so that they can fill out a lead generation form or speak with someone on the leasing team.
The Meta Pixel (formerly known as Facebook Pixel) is a bit of code that leasing teams can install on their website or property landing page to track visitor activity. This particular tool is helpful with retargeting prospects, bringing them down the funnel. This strategy also allows teams to track general visitor engagement so that sites can be better optimized to generate leads. These types of first-party data collection and retargeting are especially important to prepare for the so-called “death of third-party cookies” that will prevent marketers to track prospects passively across the internet.
3. Smarter SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is almost as old as the internet itself, and virtually every website in the world is jockeying to be at the top of specific search engine results. And yet, many apartment marketing professionals, especially on the owner-operator side, still aren’t making the most of it. The best part of SEO is that it’s free. All it takes is the time to understand Google’s practices and improve sites accordingly.
Using Google’s Keyword Planner, marketing teams can enter search terms that prospects are likely to use when looking for an apartment and receive suggested keywords. This tool displays the frequency and competitiveness for particular keywords, allowing the marketing team to drive up organic traffic by selecting keywords that are low in competition but high in search volume.
“Location, location, location” is a real estate mantra for a reason, because where an apartment is located is the strongest determiner of how interested a prospect will be in a particular property. For this reason, try to select keywords and keyword phrases that include a city, neighborhood or zip code.
However, burying a few keywords on the back end of a website isn’t enough. Google highly prioritizes dynamic and engaging websites. This is why many leasing teams now include blogs on their sites.
Regularly posting on a blog signals to web crawlers the site has fresh content, triggering additional visits from search engine spiders and increasing the site’s authority. In addition to overall search engine ranking, blogs are a great way to engage with residents and prospects, improving both retention and new leases.
4. Third-Party Partnerships
Cross-sector partnerships are a great way for marketing teams to reach prospects that might not otherwise enter their sphere of influence. Some properties will promote a particular rental insurance firm or moving company to their residents on the understanding that those organizations will in turn promote that property on their site or newsletter.
There are myriad ways to creatively set up these partnerships, and they can be tailored to prospects’ needs. For example, Pangea acquires and renovates distressed assets in underserved neighborhoods, providing workforce housing for residents who frequently have less-than-perfect credit—or no credit. This prompted Pangea to form a partnership with a credit reporting agency with a program that allows prospects to build their credit rather than make a housing decision based on lack of credit.
Through the program, residents’ credit reports will display the 25 most recent months of rental payment history information, which allows residents to establish, build and improve credit over time with on-time monthly payments.
Marketing an apartment building has grown more complex than in prior years and is now as much science as it is art. For leasing teams to be successful in a competitive landscape, they need to make use of the technology tools available to them.
Arun Das serves as Head of Marketing and Technology and Megan Davidson serves as Marketing Associate at Pangea Properties.