By: Josh Grillo
Sharpening the sword! How do you know you are doing a good job marketing your apartment community? This book was a great overview of what is and isn’t effective and how to correct the methods that aren’t serving you well. So many tips and nuggets that I took away from this.
See my summary below for a check up reviewing your currency apartment marketing efforts.
Chapter 1: What is your marketing strategy?
1.Who is your ideal resident?
The best way to identify your target market is by looking at the current residents you already have. Can you group them into certain personas?
See how many other groups or avatars you can create based on your research. It’s best to stick with your top two or three groups that represent the largest number of residents for marketing purposes.
2.What makes your community different from those offered by your competitors?
There will always be someone cheaper.
3.What marketing/advertising should you be using to deliver your message?
4.What type of marketing budget should you set up?
5.What goals do you want to hit?
Aiming for and maintaining 96% occupancy is a great goal. Getting your cost per lead and lease down is another good one.
6.What collateral do you have?
Reviewing your community photos, ask yourself the following:
- Do I have enough good quality shots?
- Do I have several photos of the main selling features of our community (Example: Fitness Center, Resort Style Pool, Modern Kitchens)
- Are inside apartment shots staged?
- Do outside shots highlight the best areas of the community?
- Do I show local neighborhood shots?
If you have a photographer coming out, here is a quick checklist for photo prep:
- Community Manager Alerted
- List of areas to shoot
- Community outside areas swept and cleaned
- Staged apartment with raked rug
- Good lighting conditions
- Pool area concrete hosed for wet, glossy look
7.How will you track what is and isn’t working?
Implement lead tracking where you can put a dynamic call tracking number and unique email on every advertising source.
Chapter 2: How to Generate Quality Leads
A community website is the best source for high-quality leads that turn into leases.
If you had to choose only one thing, start with your community website.
Key #1 – You need to manage it.
Key #2 – Fifteen Second Pop-up
Key #3 – Target Your Message
For example, if someone is on your Plans page, you could have your Live Chat operator ask, “Are you interested in a one, two, or three bedroom today?”
In slower months, like late fall and winter, up the budget to $500 – $600 a month to give you more traffic. Then, slowly take it back down to $100 – $200 in good months, like spring, summer, and early fall.
Geo-Targeting campaign in Adwords: Imagine drawing a one-mile radius around your community and targeting all those people who are online with your ads.
Ads designed to pring prospects back to you again.
Create a “Welcome Back” page on your community website for when a prospective resident clicks on your remarketing ad.
Google My Business
Set us your business on Google. Phone number, hours, directions, etc.
Incredibly important for local SEO.
You can create an automated follow-up sequence (series of emails) for prospects that includes special offers, discounts, and multiple calls to actions to entice the prospective resident to get back in touch with you.
Internet Listing Services (ILS)
ILS is basically an online directory that features apartments. The best examples are apartments.com and apartmentguide.com
If an existing resident is recommending their apartment community to a friend, chances are the person is already sold on your community.
Chapter 3: How To Close More Leases
There are three things holding you back from closing more leases:
3.Your community tour
Prospective Resident Touring Your Community:
Ask the hard question:
On a scale of 1 to 10, how serious are you in choosing our community?
Wait for their answer…then follow-up with:
What would make it a 10?
The prospective resident will more than likely reveal what it may take to get the lease done.
Chapter 4: How To Improve Resident Experience
Resident Touch Plan
- Housewarming gift
- After the first month, a move-in survey
- Rewards program
- Birthday cards
- Handwritten thank you note from Manager halfway through the lease
- Survey resident 3 months before the lease is up for renewal
- Lease renewal pizza party to discuss renewal in person
Chapter 5: Tip For Getting A New Website
Before you embark on getting a new website, you need to be thinking about how it will integrate with the property management software and third party services you’re using.
- Service requests
- Online rent payments
- Online leasing
Questions before investing in a new website:
- #1 What’s your process for delivering a new website
- #2 What’s the price?
- #3 What’s unique about your websites?
- #4 Who is responsible for providing community photos?
- #5 Are your websites responsive?
- #6 Are your websites SEO friendly and what does that include?
- #7 Who is responsible for maintaining the website? Can I update it myself?
- #8 Do you offer a resident portal?
- #9 Who is hosting my website and what about backups?
- #10 What type of tracking and analytics do you offer?
Improving the look and response on new and existing community websites:
- #1 Showcase your reviews.
- #2 Include Google Earth for showing distance.
- #3 Go big on your Pay Rent button.
- #4 Add a lifestyle video.
- #5 Use video backgrounds.
- #6 Increase the cool factor with weather widgets, surf reports, etc.
- #7 Add a Special Offer opt-in form.
- #8 Add live chat.
- #9 Increase your phone number size.
- #10 Use “you” more than “we”.
- #11 Use short sentences.
- #12 Break up your text.
- #13 Ask for the lead.
- #14 Cross-promote other properties.
- #15 Photo the heck out of it.
- #16 Make over your rates and floor plans page.
- #17 Create a Content Model.
- #18 Get creative with your fonts.
Your website should be your number one source of leads, your communication hub, and the center for all your marketing.
Chapter 6: How To Get Traffic To Your Website
4 Types of Traffic to be Aware of:
- Direct Traffic: when someone types your website address directly into their browser.
- Paid Traffic: when someone arrives at your website via a paid advertisement.
- Organic Traffic: when someone arrives at your website by using a search engine like Google.
- Referral Traffic: when someone arrives at your website by clicking on a direct link from another website.
- Print Advertising
- Google Adwords (Pay Per Click)
- Social Media
- Drive by
- Internet Listing Services
- Email Marketing
- Search Engines
- Content Marketing
If you have an average time on site about 2 minutes, a bounce rate below 50%, and a page load time of less than 5 seconds, you are doing pretty well!
Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, and H1 Tags:
Most overlooked items on a community website.
Any time you do a Google search you see the Title Tag first (which is underlined) followed by the website link underneath, followed by a description (Meta Description) of the website.
Example One: (Bad)
Estancia Apartments (Title Tag)
Estancia apartments, scottsdale az, Homes, apartments, apartments for rent, community management company. (Meta Description)
Example Two: (Better)
Apartments Scottsdale | Estancia Luxury Apartments in Scottsdale, AZ (Title Tag)
Move into a better life at Estancia Apartments in Scottsdale AZ. Stress free living is waiting for you. Pet friendly community. Click for more info. (Meta Description)
H1 tags are the main headlines on each page of your website.
Just having the keyword in your headline and having it set as an H1 tag will help rank your website better.
Using Backlinks to Get Traffic:
A backlink is a direct incoming link to your website from another site that has what is called an anchor text or keyword attached to it. This boosts your search rankings.
Google Analytics and Traffic Analysis:
- Users: How many people are visiting your website>
- Page Views: What’s the average number of pages people are viewing?
- Average Session Duration: What’s the average amount of time visitors are spending on the website?
- Bounce Rate: Are visitors leaving after landing on your home page or are they digging deeper into the website? Simply put, you want a bounce rate under 50%.
- Mobile: How many visits do you have from mobile devices and how long are they staying on the site?
- Acquisition/Overview: What are the top 5 traffic sources sending people to your website?
- Keywords: What are the top 10 keywords people are searching on a search engine that put them on your website?
Chapter 7: How To Manage Your Reputation
I have found the most common complaints on apartment rating sites are issues that really boil down to a resident’s expectations.
Some key topics that need to be discussed during the lease signing (help set resident expectations):
- How your after-hours emergency maintenance reporting system works.
- How you will communicate with a resident in case of a building-wide (or unit-specific) emergency.
- How and where to submit maintenance requests and what kind of response to expect (phone call, maintenance man just shows up, etc.)
- How to submit a 30 day notice when they are ready to move out and what kind of confirmation they can expect in order to be certain their notice was processed.
It is crucial they understand how your move-out process works, when they can expect their refund, and what types of things they can expect to be charged for.
Create your own apartment reviews website page:
#1 Create a Review Page on your community website.
#2 Make sure the On-Page SEO of this page is properly done. That means using your keyword such as, “Estancia Apartments Resident Reviews” in the title tag, meta description, H1 tag, RL, and text of the page.
#3 Create 3 to 5 fun signs about your community. Basically, positive statements like:
- I love living at (Your Community)
- Happy Resident
- The Leasing Staff is Awesome
- Pet Friendly
- Walking Distance to (Area)
- I Love The (Community Name) Staff
#4 Ask residents to hold the sign and snap a photo of them.
#5 Upload the photo to your review page.
#6 Rinse and repeat the process.
If I had to pick one strategy for apartment marketing, what would it be?
Assuming you have a good converting community website, I would use Google Adwords to drive traffic to your website. With Adwords, you can target people searching on Google for an apartment and you can remarket to them if they’ve gone to your website and left. You can also implement Geo-Targeting around your community for driving very cheap traffic. With Adwords, you control the budget and all traffic goes to your website.
Review the community website for each of our properties up against this list!