Good property management marketing can bring ideal tenants to your properties easily and effectively. Instead of competing on price or square footage, a well placed ad from a media buying agency or curated social media posts can bring your community, neighborhood, and units to life. Help prospective tenants discover and choose your property with three of the best kept secrets every multi-family marketing and property management firm needs to start using today.
1. Invest in a responsive, mobile-friendly site
According to GogoDigital, 98% of renters use mobile devices on a weekly basis to power their apartment search. Of them, nearly half said they would opt out of a property or unit if the site didn’t work effectively on their cell phone or tablet. Work with a digital marketing agency like BIGEYE to ensure your website works across devices and creates a seamless experience between all your channels such as social media, advertising, and email.
This simple update lets prospective renters know you operate a trustworthy, modern business. This is especially important as more and more renters expect to conduct the leasing process online using virtual signing tools to execute their leases and 360 digital tours to screen properties and make their final decisions.
2. Content is king and search engine optimization is queen
The best property management marketing site in the world needs to be search-friendly in order for your business to thrive. Prospective residents often start their apartment hunt on search engines, either to discover and explore properties, or to find companies that can assist with the leasing process.
Understanding what your specific goals are (think: promoting your property managed community versus offering a white-glove realtor service) will help you create engaging content that catches prospective residents’ attention and boosts your ranking in Google and other search engines.
3. Demonstrate your authenticity through social media and community engagement
Put words into action by reinforcing the values your property management marketing efforts are promoting by creating an authentic social media presence and participating in community events that are aligned to your ideal residents’ needs.
As an example, if your brand focuses on LEED certification and eco-conscious buildings, you may want to co-sponsor a beach clean up near your property to demonstrate your commitment and make like-minded individuals aware of your units. If you aren’t sure where to start, a local, top Florida advertising agency can point you in the right direction to build partnerships and activate events via social media.
Learn more about how our team at BIGEYE has helped single- and multi-family marketing managers like you succeed in today’s digital landscape by contacting us today.
Live chat can improve multifamily marketing conversions by offering prospects speed, convenience, and a more comfortable way to communicate.
Marketing for property developers has evolved considerably in the past few years. In particular, one innovation holds immense promise to improve digital conversions. According to Neil Patel’s research, just including live chat on a multifamily marketing agency website can improve conversion rates by as much as 45 percent. Beyond improved digital conversions, live chat also enhances the customer experience and saves time.
Look into the reasons why property development marketing plans should include live chat to connect with renters.
Why a multifamily family marketing agency should use live chat
Conversion Logix offers live chat technology solutions. According to them, the best live chat solutions for apartment marketing mix technology with people on the other end of the chat line. They backed up the effectiveness of their solution with performance data from their own marketing for property developers:
Five-year average response speed: Their solution employs live agents. Over five years, they maintained an average response time of only five seconds.
Query-to-lead conversion rates: About 75 percent of potential renters submitted contact information.
Scheduled-tour conversion rates: One in three people who engaged in live chat scheduled an apartment tour.
Why does live chat perform better than other marketing channels?
While apartment marketers have employed live chat for years, today’s era of social distancing makes it particularly attractive. When combined with virtual tours, it provides a way to introduce renters to both a property and people without having to first schedule in-person visits.
Zendesk found that customers really do appreciate live chat sessions too. Their benchmark studies found that 92 percent of customers felt satisfied with live chat. They compared that with 88 percent who felt satisfied with a phone call, 85 percent with an email, and about 85 percent with Facebook or Twitter messages.
Some particular advantages of live chat include:
Speed: It sometimes takes hours or even days to get responses through email or social media channels. Automated phone systems generally require users to dial through lots of annoying options. Compare that with the average response time of five seconds for live chat. This also helps establish the community as one that’s responsive to its renters.
Convenience: In general, both agents and prospects can conduct a live chat session while they’re also doing something else. Since most people tend to message apartments during the day, they can chat while they’re working, supervising children, or browsing the internet.
Comfort: Since people can chat from anywhere they have a device, they can make themselves comfortable. They can also begin the conversation fairly anonymously, so prospects tend to feel more comfortable asking questions than they do on the phone or in person.
Using live chat most effectively for apartment marketing
Just about everybody, including staff and consumers, already have experience using some sort of messaging software. That means incorporating live chat into property development marketing should not require a long learning curve. At the same time, staff should have some training to use the system and of course, to represent their apartments well.
Typically, chat sessions should begin with a professional and formal tone. As the conversation continues, the agent can use more casual and friendly language. For instance, most people don’t use complete sentences when they compose text messages, and it’s fine to adopt the style of the prospect.
Just as with any marketing, leasing agents should have a marketing goal in mind. For instance, they may hope to prompt people to complete a lead form, click through to a virtual tour, or schedule a visit. Along with these goals, it’s important to keep track of results to help measure performance and tune messaging.
Benefits of live chat for the leasing office
Not only does live chat offer speed and convenience to customers, it also saves representatives time. For example, today’s systems may include templates that the agents can use to greet customers or answer common questions. Prospects can use live chat while they’re attending to other tasks, and in general, so can apartment representatives.
Besides just using live chat for leasing, many apartment communities also employ it to provide customer service for current tenants. It’s a great way for renters to ask questions about service requests, events, or lease renewal specials. As live chat has evolved into consumer’s preferred method of communication, it’s also great for the leasing team.
Learn everything you wanted to know about what makes Austin, Texas weird from the people that call it home.Download our Austin, TX research report to review all of the details.
The capital city of Texas, Austin is the 11th-most populous city in the United States and the seat of Travis County. Located nearly in the center of the state, Austin is about three hours south of Dallas; three hours west of Houston; and about 90 minutes north of San Antonio.
Experiencing a population growth of 34.1% between 2007 and 2017, the Austin region is one of the fastest-growing in the country Austin has been the fastest-growing major metro in the country for nine straight years, from 2010 to 2019. The metro population jumped to an estimated 2.2 million people as of July 1, 2019, according to the United States Census Bureau. That is an increase of 2.8% from the prior year, bigger than any other metro with at least 1 million residents. That’s 169 people added every day, on average.
With a vibrant, well-educated, and youthful population of 2.2 million in the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), the median age in Austin is 34.7 years. Of Austin’s population aged over 25, 44.8% have a Bachelor’s Degree. Leading the US in tech salary growth, it’s the number four city tech workers would consider moving to.
Austin’s laid-back, take-it-or-leave-it kind of attitude matches well with its fun and “weird” culture, celebrated on bumper stickers and T-shirts with the slogan, “Keep Austin Weird.”
“Everyone is welcome and has a place somewhere here. And it just makes it such a unique place because you just never know who you’re gonna meet or what experience you’re going to have just ‘cause there’s so many different things.”
Jamie E, 38
Downtown Austin is popular with younger residents with middle to upper household incomes. These Austinites love the convenience of being just blocks from shopping on Congress Avenue, live music venues on 6th Street, and even some great parks, hiking, and biking along the Colorado River.
Across the Colorado River from Downtown Austin sits South Austin, where young, artsy types congregate. Barton Heights offers great family areas, while Travis Heights and Bouldin Creek attract mainly hip, liberal Austinites.
North and Northwest Austin include Round Rock, Cedar Park, and Leander, which attract a lot of families. The Leander is an award-winning school district, and Apple and Dell have large operations in the area. North Austin also has some great luxury apartments. These fast-growing Austin neighborhoods are popular with families.
West Austin has some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city, such as Westlake Hills and Steiner Ranch. The commute into town is a bit longer than in other areas of Austin, but residents are closer to Lake Travis and the great outdoors. Neighborhoods Oak Hill and Circle C Ranch are further south.
Although East Austin used to be considered the poorest part of the city, the area is now mostly a hipster neighborhood with many sleek, modern developments.
Southeast Austin is home to a lot of University of Texas students, likely because of the large numbers of apartments and other rental properties in the area.
“I am in a tiny house in East Austin. With three dogs – I have two Huskies and a mix. You’d be surprised the people who to live in the tiny houses where I’m at.”
Shelly S, 42
Doing Business in Austin
The Austin region offers businesses deep talent, education, quality healthcare, telecommunications, and a modern, international airport. The major employers include: Amazon, AMD, Apple, Charles Schwab, Dell, General Motors, IBM, Intel, National Instruments, Samsung, Tesla, VISA, and Whole Foods.
Key Industries include:
Creative & Digital Media Technology
Financial Services and Insurance
The growth isn’t slowing down any time soon. The new Tesla Gigafactory, set to be located in eastern Travis County, will be one of the world’s largest and most advanced automotive plants and will bring an estimated $1 billion in capital investment to the region.
In addition to being home to tech giants, Austin has a thriving startup scene. Austin area startups attracted $2.2 billion across 263 venture deals in 2019. Startups account for a larger share of businesses in Austin than in nearly all major US metros and Austin ranks 6th for new businesses per 1,000 population.
“A couple of my friends work at Google and Facebook and they’re always saying so many people are moving in. I would say those apartment complexes are definitely to cater to people like that. Cause it’s like the new hub.”
Madison P, 28
The Cost of Living in Austin
Texas consistently ranks as one of the nation’s most favorable business climates based on its low tax burden and competitive regulatory environment. Texas features no personal or corporate income tax, and overall the state has one of the lowest state and local tax burdens in the US.
According to Austin’s Chamber of Commerce, the cost of living is 2% lower than the national average.
Austin Apartment Costs
Renters will generally find more expensive prices in Austin than most similar cities. The median two-bedroom rent of $1,450 is above the national average of $1,193. The city’s median one-bedroom rent is $1,175. While rents in Austin fell moderately over the past year (-0.6%), many cities nationwide saw slight increases (+0.2%).
According to RENTCafé, these 5 Austin neighborhoods offer a good selection of rental apartments, unique dining, shopping, atmosphere, walkability, and a sense of community:
Downtown Austin (average rent $2,200/mo)
Central Austin ($2,100/mo)
Clarksville, between downtown and the MoPac Expressway ($2,100/mo)
Zilker, South Austin ($1,400/mo)
Travis Heights, South Austin ($1,400/mo)
What Austin Renters Want
No two renters are the same but many Austin renters are consistently seeking features and amenities. Here are the top things tenants report looking for in a property:
Convenient Location – People want to live, work, and play in a geographically convenient circle. If your multifamily property is located near the University of Texas, show how it’s a convenient walk to campus to appeal to professors, graduate students, and staff. Similarly, if you have property near the new Apple campus, play up this proximity and go after Apple employees.
Pet-Friendly – The American Veterinary Association estimates that 50 percent of renters have pets and that 3 out of 10 renters without pets would have pets if their landlords allowed it. Allowing pets in your multifamily property opens up your prospective pool of renters and provides you with a competitive edge.
Key Appliances – Renters are on the lookout for properties that have garbage disposals, washers and dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, and microwaves. In higher-end rentals targeted at tech industry workers, potential residents may expect smart thermostats and TVs.
Connectivity – Wireless connectivity is extremely important to renters. Ninety-one percent of renters say reliable cell reception is important, and 44 percent say they won’t rent without reliable cell service.
Outdoor Living – One of the bigger benefits of living in Austin is the ability to enjoy warm water all year round. Tenants respond positively to multifamily properties that offer outdoor living space such as balconies, patios, or decks.
Arts, Recreation, and Entertainment
The city’s official slogan promotes Austin as “The Live Music Capital of the World”, a reference to the city’s many musicians and live music venues. It’s also home to events like Austin City Limits and SXSW Music, Film, and Interactive.
Instead of the flat terrain common to most of the state, visitors are greeted with stunning vistas, rolling hills, and wildflowers. Austin’s natural setting, in one of America’s most unique landscapes, offers plenty of opportunities to get outdoors for fitness, recreation, and relaxation.
Austin has a reputation as one of the nation’s fittest cities, since there’s plenty to do outside to stay fit and enjoy an active lifestyle in the area’s mostly temperate climate.
Ask any Austinite about their favorite sport and you’ll hear about everything from football to roller derby to cycling to kayaking. Austin is also home to many sports teams including:
Austin Spurs: NBA D-League Basketball Team
Round Rock Express: AAA Baseball Team
Texas Stars: AHL Ice Hockey Team
Texas Longhorns: Big 12 Conference College Sports
Austin FC (2021): Major League Soccer
Austin Bold: United Soccer League
Circuit of the Americas: Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, INDYCAR Challenge, MotoGP
Austin Herd: Major League Rugby
“The music scene is one of the things that was appealing to my husband and me when we moved here. Austin is the live music capital of the world. Every single weekend there is live music from local folks and from up and coming artists from around the country. And it is every type of genre that you can think of – from rap to alternative to bluegrass country. It is really culturally diverse.”
Theresa M, 39
Read the full research report: Austin, TX research. We interviewed Austin, Texas residents to find out why they live there what makes their city special. Stay tuned for more city research.
Property development marketing with social media can help keep current residents engaged as well as bring in new ones. Learn how with our 10 tips.
Property development marketing should do more than attract new renters; it should also retain loyalty from current tenants. After all, it’s almost universally true that retaining customers costs less than bringing in new ones. Besides, at least some satisfied residents will probably help spread news about the property to their own connections. Social media can provide the perfect platform to keep residents updated and engaged in their property.
Ten multifamily marketing agency tips to use social media to retain residents
People tend to check their social media daily, and even more, they spend quite a bit of time doing it. As an example, average users spend about 40 minutes a day on Facebook, according to Marketing Land. They visit social sites to check up on friends and family, research businesses, and even get their news.
That’s why apartment marketing should include some of these social media retention ideas in their tool kits.
1. Respond to resident messages
Today’s social media users often feel more inclined to message via social media than to pick up a phone and call. Encourage contact via messaging on social pages. In turn, ensure somebody monitors these pages and can provide timely responses.
2. Publicize community events
Community events provide a great way for residents to connect with each other and their property management. Even if the property doesn’t hold its own events, it’s still a good idea to promote events in and around the surrounding community. If the property intends to get a booth at a local festival, for instance, make sure to invite residents to stop by for a free keychain or bottle of water.
3. Hold contests on social media
Contests can generate a lot of excitement and, of course, attract more followers to a property page. Prizes could include local business gift cards. In fact, some local stores and restaurants might even donate gift cards to help promote their own business, and that can reduce the costs of running the contest considerably.
4. Share apartment notices and updates
If the pool’s closed for maintenance or landscaping needs to take care of a fallen tree, share this kind of news on social sites. Since renters may spend more time on social sites than they do looking at their email inbox, this can provide a great way to make sure people know abut it.
5. Provide a community guide
Besides promoting local festivals or other events, keep people engaged by sharing interesting things around the surrounding area. Some topics could include top seafood restaurants or nearby parks and day trips. Even though these kinds of posts won’t directly promote the property, they will help promote the community and help keep residents interested in the property’s content.
6. Share news about residents and staff members
With permission, some residents and onsite staff members might want to share news about having a baby, getting married, winning an award, or even involvement in worthy causes. This will help staff and residents get to know each other, and some people might appreciate the help spreading good news.
7. Share vacancies
Even though this campaign might mostly focus on retention, it can also help generate some word-of-mouth marketing. Some residents may have friends who need an apartment or even want to upgrade to a larger unit. Marketing for property developers can incorporate both acquisition and retention in a very synergistic way.
8. Gather information
Instead of only sending surveys by email, consider using social media to run quick polls get get quick answers. Residents will appreciate having their opinions count, and these polls can provide a simple way to learn which areas need improvement and which upgrades to prioritize.
9. Promote social media pages
Help the property discover the social media pages by mentioning it on new resident materials, the website, and on email communication. Include a quick message to let people know that they can benefit by getting prompt updates about the property, a chance to enter contests, and so on.
10. Post consistently
Countless studies have demonstrated that businesses can keep social site users engaged by posting regularly. Even the algorithms of social sites may tend to favor pages with regular posts and engagement. To make social media an effective part of property development marketing, post at least two or three times a week.
Start by defining goals and making a plan
Any effective multifamily marketing agency will begin by figuring out measurable goals for their social media campaign. An obvious example might include retention rates, overall satisfaction, or word-of-mouth referrals . Then create a plan to develop social posts that help support this goal and ensure somebody will monitor the page for messages. This plan might start with a content calendar, but it needs to have enough built-in flexibility to include urgent updates.
Property development marketing should begin with branding that provides a roadmap for decision making and a consistent branding message for renters.
When many property managers think about branding, an image of a logo generally pops into their heads. Branding includes logos and other graphics; however, that picture should mainly serve as a reminder of all of the other things that the brand message communicates. Ideally, property development marketing should create a logo that represents a brand — and not do it the other way around.
What does a multifamily marketing agency mean by branding?
To precisely define what marketers mean by a brand, it’s often helpful to contrast it with the definition of a logo:
Logo: A logo refers to a visual image that represents a company. Some of the most recognizable logos in the US include Apple’s apple, McDonald’s yellow arches, and Twitter’s little bird. Without any other information, most people couldn’t guess what those logos represent, but they make sense in context. For instance, Apple’s apple may signify simplicity, and McDonald’s may promote their “golden” arches to symbolize quality. Obviously, Twitter’s little bird represents a “tweet.”
Brand: In contrast to a logo, a brand includes everything people think about a company. They may remember the logo, but for a strong brand, consumers also may think about what the company offers and how they feel about their values, service, and quality. If Apple intends to promise simplicity, then the design of their devices needs to back that up.
Ideally, multifamily complexes or even portfolios of properties should develop a brand before they create a visual representation. Obviously, existing properties may already have an established logo. In this case, the multifamily marketing agency will need to decide if they should redesign their logo or simply work to get people to see it differently within the context of their newly defined brand identity.
Establishing a brand identity for apartment marketing
Shared values: Out of all consumers, about two-thirds say that they would prefer to patronize businesses with shared values.
Growth: About three out of four of all marketers believe businesses need strong brands to grow.
Identity: About three-fourths of Millennials say they would abandon a brand if it failed to fit with their own identity.
Today’s apartment marketing tends to try to differentiate properties by promoting amenities, location, or in some cases, rent prices. Such positive features as a great location, pet-friendly policies, and high-tech security can factor into brand development. At the same time, features still don’t always add up to the way renters react to a solid brand.
For one thing, property development marketing may need to create a brand for multiple locations or at least, think that’s a possibility in the future. Every property might not have exactly the same locations or even amenities. Also, some properties could focus on different amenities because their target market in some areas may care about some things more than others.
Listing amenities and features can help with the logical decision-making process; however, the brand helps create an emotional relationship that can help differentiate the housing complex from others in the area.
Research Values and Behavior
No apartment marketer should ever assume they know exactly what potential or current renters want. Multifamily Executive said that researching the market frequently gets overlooked by apartment marketers. They suggest having a professional research firm conduct surveys and focus groups to ensure reliable information.
As an example, LMC chooses to brand each property individually, instead of trying to develop one brand identity for every complex. Before they even engage in property development, they hire research firms to make certain they understand renters in the community. In turn, they can use this information for marketing and to help develop their brand message.
Existing properties can take advantage of even more useful research. Instead of only surveying the general community, marketers can learn a lot from the on-site team. Employees work in the complex and probably live nearby. They can also ask for opinions from current residents to find out what they like or would prefer to change about the complex.
Develop a Brand Messaging Strategy
After figuring out the most important things that would draw a prospective renter and retain a current one, it’s important to craft a messaging strategy to communicate it. Most important, this message needs to differentiate the property from other choices in the community.
For some examples:
Student housing marketing may focus on the benefits that student housing has over typical housing in the same area. Perhaps student apartments offer flexible leases, appropriate furnishings, study areas, and even an opportunity to socialize with other students. A multifamily brand for students may want to emphasize these features.
A high-end apartment might want to focus upon the superior services that can help busy professionals save time over living in an average apartment or even owning a home. For doctors, lawyers, accountants, and other professionals, saving time may be more important than saving a few dollars on rent by moving down the street.
Create a Brand Identity to Reflect the Brand Message
At this point, multifamily marketers may want to develop logos or consider adjusting old ones. With apartments, it’s important to ensure that the graphics look as good and distinctive on business cards and brochures as they appear on large street signs. Naturally, the graphics, colors, and other elements used on logos and signs matter.
Still, apartment complexes also need to ensure that everything they do reflects their brand image. As a simple example, student housing will probably do fine with a relaxed dress code, so that kind of housing might let employees wear jeans and sporty T-shirts. On the other hand, a luxury apartment building might want to require at least business casual clothes for office staff and provide uniforms for maintenance workers.
Promote the Apartment Marketing Brand Strategy
Again, business cards, signs, and other vehicles to display the logo will provide part of the marketing. Beyond that, marketers should look into social media, paid ads, and even press releases to let people know why they’re different and of course, better than the competition. Promotions should still mention amenities and features, but they should incorporate those into their overall brand message.
Why focus upon multifamily branding
Mostly, defining a brand helps businesses ensure that customers have the intended reaction to all touchpoints. These encounters with the brand could range from street signs and paid ads to an online bill-paying system or prompt maintenance calls. The brand doesn’t just evoke a reaction from future or current renters but also provides a roadmap that multifamily property managers can base decisions upon.
Multifamily marketing should understand both market and marketing distribution to solve renter pain points and attract qualified renters.
In marketing, a pain point refers to a problem that businesses can provide a solution for. A multifamily marketing agency can benefit by understanding their potential customers very well. They can learn about the issues that might motivate people to move from their current housing or choose one apartment community over another one. By communicating solutions to these pain points, apartment marketing can make sure that people find their message and pay attention to it.
What pain points can a multifamily marketing agency address?
For established complexes or property development marketing, consider these common renter pain points:
Apartment marketers can scratch off a lot of a modern renter’s boxes with the right tech. For instance:
According to the Rental Housing Journal, younger adults look for such features as smart thermostats and security systems that can help them manage electric bills and protect their home. Renters want to save money and feel safe.
While new developments probably already have a design that includes good mobile and Wi-Fi reception, some older buildings may have dead zones. These days, everybody expects to have good mobile and Wi-Fi.
Technical solutions can also make it easy and convenient for renters to pay bills, manage serve request online, and even sign their leases. Some of these products allow renters to login and handle their business 24/7 and even send out automated email or text alerts alerts. They can also interface with accounting and rental management systems to ease the property manager’s workload.
Renters will want to know more about the location of any apartment community they’re considering. For instance, commuters may desire easy access to public transportation and freeways. Parents will want to know how close they are to neighborhood schools. In some cases, a location near shopping, restaurants, and entertainment may help attract people. Either way, it’s a good idea to highlight any positive aspects of the complex’s location on the apartment’s website, blog, and social media.
Today’s renters will generally expect certain amenities, so it’s a good idea to use these as a selling point. The Rental Housing Journal mentioned that many Millennials have gotten married and started to have children, so they might prefer such family-friendly features as a playground, pool, sidewalks, pet-friendly policy, dog park, and bike stand. Renters without children may enjoy some of these amenities as well.
In particular, younger adults tend to prefer patronizing eco-friendly businesses, and landlords should emphasize features like smart thermostats, low-flow faucets, and any other environmentally friendly amenities. Very often, these eco-friendly features can also help save money, which helps address another potential pain point.
Timing property development marketing
For projects in development or undergoing remodeling, pre-development marketing can provide investors with great returns. Not only can they potentially run specials to lease units before they’re even completed, they can use the opportunity to gain valuable information about potential tenants.
As an example, one marketing style may not appeal to every kind of tenant or even every community. By starting early, it’s possible to ensure that social posts, websites, and other marketing materials are prompting the right kind of prospects to schedule visits and complete application forms. Learning to target the best prospects can help improve marketing returns and save property managers a lot of time.
Also, it’s important to time messages well. If a qualified prospect didn’t end up leasing, consider sending an automated message in about 11 months, shortly before their current lease gets ready to expire. It’s possible that the apartment they rented did not satisfy their expectations or doesn’t meet current needs. At least, they’re already familiar with the property, so they’re more like warm prospects than cold ones.
Creative problem-solving for apartment marketing
Moving’s always a hassle, so some apartments offer some creative specials to make the move as convenient and attractive as possible. Some fairly inexpensive examples could include free truck rental, move-in boxes, and of course, pizza. Partner with moving companies, daycare, storage companies, and maid services to offer discounts on moving, childcare during the move, storage, and getting their old place cleaned up. Some of these other companies may work out a deal to share promotions, which can help expand the audience for both the apartment and the service.
Distributing marketing for property developers
Of course, no amount of reducing pain points will help if potential renters don’t see it. It’s a good idea to keep up an active social presence on local groups. Tailor website pages and blog pages to address various needs that renters might look for and make sure to optimize them to get found by search engines. If a prospect searches for easy ways to move to your locality, make sure they can find the complex’s specials for free or discounted moving trucks. In that way, apartment marketing can let renters know that the complex can offer a better experience than they may have even expected.
Marketing apartment complexes using digital media will be very important for property managers to reach future tenants searching for rentals after COVID-19.
One thing’s for sure. During the coronavirus crisis, property managers cannot enjoy business as usual. Even in early April, online searches for apartments and rental rates have dropped significantly. Still, the crisis has impacted some sectors of the real estate market more than others, and industry experts expect a strong upswing once the worst has passed. After all, people still need places to stay and live. Find out how to use digital media after COVID-19 to effectively market your properties during and after the coronavirus crisis.
Apartment marketing after the coronavirus
To develop digital marketing plans, consider the state of the rental property market, how property managers should respond to consumer behavior during and after the pandemic, and finally, some reliable property management digital marketing strategies to consider.
Coronavirus declines in property rentals
Housing Wire saw a decline from 10 to 35 percent for online apartment searches during the first part of April. Short-term rentals suffered the most, as people have drastically reduced travel. In response, many short-term property owners have begun offering longer terms to make up for the drastic declines in business or vacation trips. Still, the report ended upon the optimistic note that property managers did not see declines like some other industries, including hospitality or travel. They also expected rental properties to enjoy a strong upswing once the worst of the crisis had passed and people began to resume their normal lives.
Property management’s response to COVID-19
Besides analyzing the current rental market, it’s also important to consider current coronavirus best practices for apartment managers.
The National Multifamily Housing Council, or NMHC, has published guidelines that cover everything from proper disinfection techniques to package handling. They based these suggestions on CDC recommendations, and it’s great to not only follow appropriate tips but to communicate your actions to your current renters, prospects, and other stakeholders.
Most progressive property management companies have moved a lot of their business online anyway. It saves time and money and best of all, typical renters prefer these convenient options. If you haven’t made much progress, it’s a good time to consider online contracts and payments and even virtual tours. If you need to show empty apartments, keep hand sanitizer by the door and follow a screening process before scheduling the appointment.
Property management digital marketing strategies for after the coronavirus crisis
Laurence Yun serves as the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. While he spoke more about the home sales than the rental market, his marketing advice for after coronavirus applies just as well to the rental market. He said that a couple of the biggest consumer behavior changes would stem from timidity about meeting strangers in person and economic uncertainty.
Digital Apartment Marketing After Coronavirus
To alleviate the first concern, David Kong, a NYC Keller WIlliams partner, said he has already ordered online 3D walkthroughs for apartments. Prospective renters can view these from any computer or mobile phone. You can still schedule appointments with your property managers, but instead of conducting initial visits in person, you can offer online walkthroughs. Of course, you can even advertise self-guided virtual visits that people can take 24-7.
Redfin, an online broker, boasted that it was ahead of the game because it already prepared virtual home tours and plans digital marketing campaigns for each listing. They believed they had a unique selling tactic because they felt their online media mix optimization could close deals just as well as brokers who focused on offline meetings and showings. It’s only reasonable to expect that other real estate businesses will benefit by following this lead.
Search and Social Marketing After COVID-19
Besides marketing specific rental units, you can use your social platforms and ads to demonstrate how well your company has responded to the crisis by following best practices from the CDC and the NMHC. Let prospective renters know that you care about the health of your tenants and your employees and exactly how you demonstrate that care.
Also, if you see specific demand changes, you might consider responding to these with changes in your own rental policies. For instance, if you offered short-term leases geared to AirBnb-type clients in the past, you might consider extending leases for individuals and families who need a place to shelter for several months or even longer. Even if you need to lower your monthly rental rates somewhat, you can always benefit from the economy of not having to replace tenants as often.
Your local market research may find a ready audience with displaced travellers, college students, or medical workers. When you come up with a local demand and some appropriate deals, be certain your target those people for your digital ads on search and social platforms.
Bouncing back during and after the COVID-19 crisis
Again, industry experts expect rental properties to bounce back fairly quickly. While the market may change, your flexible approach to this disruption can give you an edge. Follow safety guidelines, provide prospective renters the online tools they prefer, and of course, use your marketing to let your audience know what a good job you’re doing.
By adroitly executing a real-time marketing strategy, property managers can decrease vacancies without breaking the marketing budget.
The velocity of online communication has never been more accelerated. Today’s hilarious memes or social trends typically curdle into irrelevance or irritation within a few days. Today’s breaking news comes faster than ever — and is forgotten about almost as quickly.
This is a significant challenge for marketers, who must do their best to stay fresh, relevant and vital. Real time marketing helps solve this problem by using breaking news — and emerging online trends and conversations — as a springboard for targeted and timely marketing campaigns.
Let’s take a closer look at how real-time marketing can be deployed in property management, and how marketing analytics can help determine the best way to implement such a strategy.
Real time marketing and your apartment complex: a hypothetical case study
Let’s assume you’re the manager of a 1,000 unit multi-family property. Your tenancy rate is hovering around 85% and has been bouncing between 80% and 90% for the last two years. You’re seeking a new way to push it closer to 100%, and you believe a change in marketing strategy is the best way to achieve this.
Years ago, you considered incorporating real-time elements into your marketing strategy. Yet you decided against it, as the challenges seemed to outweigh the benefits. Tracking news developments and identifying the ones likeliest to resonate was a laborious job. The need to act quickly on breaking news created high levels of reputational risk, as brands raced to get marketing content out with limited context about the news they were leveraging. Additionally, you have limited tools for gauging the impact of your efforts. It seemed much simpler to pursue a conventional approach.
Today, however, you discover that the real time marketing landscape has shifted considerably. Social media, social listening tools, real time analytics and the use of a digital marketing dashboard made the process of monitoring and measuring media and marketing campaigns vastly easier. New marketing tools made it simple to build data-informed buyer personas and to connect these profiles with targeted, real time messages. These tools also allow you to closely track conversations and engagement on social media, giving you unprecedented insight into how conversations ebb and flow in real time.
Armed with these tools, you devise a real time strategy built around four elements:
The initiating event. What development is the impetus for real time marketing? This could be breaking news, a popular meme or pre-planned triggers such as holidays. In the case of an apartment complex, you’re looking for any event that can be related in some way to property leasing. It might be a news story that talks about the rising cost of interest rates, or a lack of affordable housing in the area.
The real time target. This helps you define who you’re trying to reach with this real time marketing message. Customers who fit certain demographics? Customers in specific locations? Customers with a search history that aligns with your property or the real time development you’re tracking?
The plan of attack. How are you going to send your message in real time? Social media? Text? Email etc.?
Objectives and measurements. What’s your ultimate goal? More sales? Higher brand awareness? In this case, you’re trying to increase tenancy rates. By defining objectives and tracking apartment marketing campaigns with real time analytics, you can determine how effective and engaging your messages are — a leading indicator for how much or little you’ll ultimately increase your tenancy rate.
The end result? You run the campaign, supported by social marketing tools and analytics. By following the four point plan, you generate much greater traction among your targeted audience by serving them timely and relevant messages that benefit from increased visibility thanks to their real time hook. Within three months, the tenancy rate has broken through to 95%.
Adding real time marketing to your property marketing mix
Property rental is big business — generating roughly $4.5 trillion over the last decade. The business, however, is likely to grow more competitive. Tenancy rates have been propped up by a lack of new inventory coming online in recent years, as builders have not kept pace with population growth. That’s expected to change, however: The National Association of Home Builders projects multi-family construction growth to rise 4% in 2021, after a decade of remaining stuck at around 1%. Why? Because as more millennials and Gen Z renters and buyers enter the market, inventory will need to grow significantly. This means property managers will need tools such as real time marketing to keep tenancy rates at the desired level.
Sometimes working with a third-party agency with expertise in real time marketing is the best way to approach this.
Working with a real time marketing expert
At Bigeye, we help property developers and manager create the kind of real time campaigns that engage audiences and fill buildings. If you need help crafting your next marketing campaign, don’t wait to contact us.
If your property branding isn’t expressing the identity of your multifamily development, you’re not communicating your value to new or existing residents.
Why bother with branding?
Executive Magazine contributor Samantha Chalmers realizes that residential real estate managers may view branding as less important than optimizing operational efficiency and offering attractive amenity packages. “But make no mistake,” she warns, “one of the most crucial elements of your portfolio is your brand.”
Ask yourself how your apartment complex or multifamily development differs from other residential properties within a radius of five to ten miles. Then set yourself apart from the competition by launching a branding campaign that capitalizes on your specific strengths and driving values.
Do you own or manage a LEED-certified green community? Ms. Chalmers stresses the importance of engaging in comprehensive and highly strategic multifamily marketing to establish a brand name that is consistent with energy consciousness and environmental sustainability. In other words, when promoting “composting stations and community gardens,” property managers would be unwise to “place a print ad in a Range Rover catalog” or “serve coffee or water in Styrofoam cups in the leasing office.”
Use what makes your residential complex unique to tell a compelling brand story with a memorable organizational identity. The challenge is to make your brand come alive in the hearts and minds of your target audience. With a solid property development marketing strategy, you can develop a meaningful and evocative brand that consumers can see, feel, hear, taste, and even smell!
What follows are just a few key tips to help you make the most of your branding efforts and tell a cohesive story across all elements of your marketing plan.
Lead with your logo and put your best foot forward
Although small in size and scope, the logo may be the most important component of your branding efforts. After all, if your multifamily property development were a person, your logo would serve as its public face. This critical representation of your marketing identity should communicate the values that your complex holds as well as the benefits that your complex offers.
Jessica Ervin, professional digital designer and contributor to the leading Internet marketing blog The Next Scoop, presents the Apple logo as an ideal embodiment of this principle. “The apple bite is a perfect example of brand storytelling,” she writes. “Apple defined their core values of user-friendliness, good-looking designs, and simplicity through their simple logo design, product design, packaging, UX and UI.”
Craft your messaging with your narrative in mind
With your brand firmly united under an appropriate and captivating logo, you can begin crafting on-brand messages across all facets of media marketing and customer interaction. In her Executive Magazine article, Samantha Chalmers identifies differentiation as the most critical aspect of your messaging strategy. In other words, you must communicate a company narrative that is unlike those of your closest competitors.
Your company messaging embodies everything from the promotions that you present to the advertisements that you place to the face-to-face interactions that you have with your residents.
Although it is great to set yourself apart with your unique qualities, Ms. Chalmers warns against relying on cheap gimmicks to brand your residential complex. She quotes LMC West Region Marketing Director Kristen Mete Kingi, who says “I think there are circumstances where you can become too ‘theme-y’ with a building or brand, and that can turn people off.”
Design your website as the hub and heart of your brand
“Owned media” is a buzzword in the worlds of marketing and public relations for a very good reason. Encompassing all online media channels that a company maintains directly and controls entirely, owned media includes your official website as well as all of your social medial pages and blogs. Among its other benefits, owned media gives businesses the distinct advantage of carefully crafting and strategically curating all content and messaging. This makes it the best place to spell out the narrative of your brand.
Although your digital outreach should have multiple arms, consider establishing links to drive all traffic to your website. By making your website the hub of your online marketing efforts, you can also make it the heart of your brand. Using finely honed text as well as collaborative graphics, pictures, and videos, you have the power to tell your brand story on your website with absolute freedom and precision.
Consider environmental branding and signage with care
Just like your logo, the promotional and identifying signage that you display on-site goes a long way toward defining your residential property development in the hearts and minds of your consumer base. But signs and banners are just one component of the larger marketing category of environmental branding. Briefly defined, “environmental branding “ refers to all efforts to represent brand values and communicate brand narratives on company grounds and within the brick-and-mortar environment.
In the multifamily residential housing sector, environmental branding is a key driver of both resident loyalty and on-site sales conversions. Use your property grounds as an opportunity to tell the story of your brand, whatever it happens to be. From the color of your interior walls to the types of refreshments in your sales office lobby, everything you do and say on-site reflects upon the power and quality of your brand.
Secure quality professional marketing assistance
If you want to learn more about the benefits of real estate branding that tells a compelling story, contact a representative of Bigeye today. This innovative marketing agency has the knowledge and skill to develop a brand narrative for your multifamily property development that captures its unique spirit and remains consistent across all marketing channels.
While the majority of apartment complex owners understand the importance of reaching out to a targeted consumer demographic in order to fill vacancies, far fewer place enough emphasis on avoiding vacancies by effectively marketing to existing residents.
Financial and business experts agree that keeping current tenants in place is one of the best ways for apartment complex owners to build long-term value and boost overall ROI. Citing market information from Forbes Magazine, the National Apartment Association discusses many reasons that this holds true.
For example, attracting new residents often requires the delivery of contract signing bonuses, initial rent discounts, and other marketing tactics that can significantly damage your bottom line. By retaining your existing tenants, you can not only avoid these profit-destroying offers, but also eliminate costly vacancies and foster a climate of ongoing community satisfaction and togetherness.
Key tips to keep residents engaged and avoid costly turnovers
So what measures can you take to increase tenant retention? Here are just a few key marketing tips.
1. Show Sincere Appreciation with a Gift
The value of saying “thank you” far exceeds the monetary price of a small seasonal gift or renewal bonus. Consider showing your appreciation for loyal residents with a gift card for a local shop, restaurant, or coffee shop. This can go an incredibly long way when it comes to fostering a positive community environment, increasing overall tenant satisfaction, and reducing your turnover rates.
Although more costly than a gift card, apartment upgrades, such as a new carpet or a fresh coat of paint, will also increase your overall property value, making them gifts that truly keep giving. The property video tour app Real NYC suggests thinking outside of the box with gift ideas like making a donation to a worthy charity in a resident’s name. Just be sure that you are tailoring your gifts to meet the specific wants, needs, and values of your customer base.
2. Keep Residents Informed
From distributing regular newsletters to sending text messages, there are countless ways to reach out to your tenant community with pertinent information. Discover your residents’ preferred channels of communication and keep them informed of matters of importance that relate to the property and its surrounding areas.
Residents who feel that they are kept “in the loop” by a fully transparent real estate company are generally far more comfortable in their living environments. You can further the retention marketing potential of your resident communiqués by ensuring that your messaging remains consistent with the defining values of your organization and brand.
3. Build a Sense of Community
In the words of the property management software company AppFolio, “a true sense of community can really keep residents around.” Help your tenants feel as though they belong in your apartment complex by hosting appropriate resident activities and/or appreciation events.
Holiday parties, donut breakfasts, and fun “how-to” classes are just a few ideas of on-site gatherings that can generate a true sense of togetherness and mutual appreciation. Consider welcoming new residents with social “meet-and-greets.”
Get professional guidance
For more information about the importance of resident retention and for assistance with resident marketing and resident advertising in general, wise apartment complex owners will secure the services of experts in these fields. An incredibly innovative multifamily marketing agency, Bigeye has the knowledge and skill necessary to keep residents happy and dramatically slash those dreaded turnover rates!