How Post-COVID-19 Behavior Will Impact Property Digital Media

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. 

For example:

  • 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. 

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Using Real-Time Marketing to Fill Your Apartment Complex

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.

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Your Property Branding Is All Wrong

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.

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Investing in Your Resident Retention Efforts To Reduce Turnover

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!

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What’s the Difference Between Co-Living and Co-Housing?

Two up-and-coming buzzwords in the worlds of residential real estate and property development marketing, co-living and co-housing draw upon the best of historical traditions and new trends to create shared living environments and communal spaces.

There is certainly nothing new about shared living spaces. Offering co-living home options in major cities that span the United States, the residential property firm Common points out the fact that people have chosen to live in shared spaces since before the dawn of recorded history. From the hunter-gatherers of the Stone Age through the public homes of the Middle Ages to the boarding houses of the Industrial Revolution and the World War II era, shared living has been a prominent part of the human experience.

While there is certainly nothing new about shared living, it has recently emerged anew as a highly popular concept among millennials and other people who are looking for something different in the residential property sector, both urban and rural.

What is co-living?

The shared living organization Open Door has locations in both Portland, Oregon and the San Francisco Bay Area of California. It offers a definition of co-living that is both nuanced and succinct. In its attempt to clear up any confusion, Open Door calls co-living “a modern form of housing where residents share living space and a set of interests, values, and/or intentions.”

In short, co-living gathers individuals and/or families in residential environments that offer private sleeping quarters but shared bathrooms, kitchens, living rooms, and other common areas.  

As previously mentioned, co-living is particularly popular with millennials who have come to age in an era of social networking and the sharing economy. Many young adults view co-living as the natural progression of these ideas and appreciate its emphasis on values such as openness and collaboration.

It is important to note that modern co-living environments differ from the “hippy” communes of the 1960s, which tended to be activist-oriented and isolationist in nature. The co-living of today stresses the value of interconnectedness within the community and without.

What is co-housing?

The California co-living housing development Kindred Life resorts to Wikipedia to draw a clear distinction between co-living and co-housing. While both promote communal residential life, co-housing allows for substantially more privacy, keeping certain, more personal spaces (such as kitchens and bathrooms) separate. In addition to sharing significant indoor living spaces, co-housing places a strong focus on integrating shared features such as specialized work spaces, gymnasiums/health clubs, and game areas.

Co-housing, as we know it, first came to the United States in the late 1960s from Denmark. It generally tends to exist in suburban or rural settings rather than urban centers. The prototypical co-housing setup consists of a cluster of small private homes that share one or more common buildings. These common buildings often consist of common recreational areas, guest rooms, dining rooms, and/or kitchens. In many co-living situations, the community is planned and managed by its residents and governed by consensus-based decision-making.

To learn more

Despite its inherent value and growing appeal, shared living remains a decidedly niche market. If your residential property company is interested in pursuing this trendy new living style, you absolutely must have a clear and forward-looking plan to promote and market it. For more information about co-housing and co-living marketing, contact a knowledgeable Bigeye representative today.

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Using Look-Alike Modeling for Multifamily Marketing Outreach

A proven technique for expanding audience for multifamily property developers, look-alike modeling should be a key component of any advertising campaign.

Look-alike modeling defined

Look-alike modeling certainly isn’t a new technique on the modern marketing landscape, but far too many multifamily developers and apartment complex owners fail to grasp just how valuable it can be when it comes to broadening their marketing audience base and spurring overall renter conversions.

Briefly defined, look-alike modeling regards your current consumer base as a “seed audience” that can be used to cultivate a far larger audience base while mainlining highly relevant and precise target marketing practices. In other words, a skilled marketing professional will begin to create a look-alike model by analyzing your existing target audience and identifying individual consumers of exceptionally high value. The specific characteristics and behaviors of these consumers can then be used as a template in efforts to reach out to similar individuals that lie beyond the limited purview of your existing marketing efforts.

The prevalence and effectiveness of look-alike modeling

As reported in the leading sales and marketing medial outlet Business 2 Community, a 2014 study by eXelate determined that a 73 percent of American advertising agencies and 64 percent of advertisers regularly employ look-alike modeling to “enhance their targeting marketing focus.” Furthermore, among the advertising agencies that actively engage in the technique, roughly half say that it improved the overall performance of their marketing campaigns by 100 to 200 percent.

Although no other qualified marketing industry resource has released a comprehensive survey of look-alike modeling since this most recent eXelate report, it is safe to assume that the practice has only expanded and become more effective thanks to the continuing evolution of marketing standards and improvements in digital technology.

The complex nature of the look-alike modeling process

As we have previously discussed, the look-alike modeling process begins when a qualified professional isolates the most valuable members of an existing marketing audience and analyzes their defining attributes. This requires a great deal of expertise because, among other potential problems, marketers who focus on the wrong consumer attributes are bound to skew final look-alike modeling results and set the process off in a decidedly less fruitful direction.

GlobalWide Media Analytics Manager Zackary Cantor offered a perfect example of this issue in a recent article for the leading global performance marketing publication PerformanceIN. Detailing look-alike modeling work that he undertook for an apartment rental site that sought to boost overall numbers of online rental applications, he demonstrated the need to value certain consumer attributes far more than others.

While many look-alike modeling processes simply look for overlaps in general characteristics and behaviors among different consumer profiles, Cantor quickly realized that this particular model had to pay closer attention to profile attributes for home ownership. Even prospective new audience members who share many attributes in common with the ideal target consumer were “very unlikely” to submit a rental application if they showed a propensity toward home ownership.

Look-alike modeling guidelines

The intricate nature of look-alike modeling makes it truly effective only in the hands of highly experienced of digital marketing professionals. But how can you tell if your multifamily developer marketing agency has what it takes to produce the look-alike modeling results that you seek? Here are just a couple of guidelines for securing the very best look-alike modeling services available:

  • Pay close attention to any negative predictors – A strong propensity toward home ownership is only one of may potential negative predictors that can easily trump a whole host of commonalities between the most valuable members of your existing marketing audience and the expanded audience base that you want. It is absolute vital to place all data in proper context when determining consumer similarities and differences in order to identify strong negative predicators and give them the appropriate weight in your final look-alike model.
  • Insist on full look-alike model transparency – We have already examined the ways in which the underlying elements of a less than optimal look-alike modeling framework can lead to less than desirable results. If your marketing agency can’t give you a basic understanding of the predictive modeling method that they are employing on your behalf, you may want to look elsewhere for your look-alike modeling needs.

How Bigeye can help

If you’re looking for a multifamily developer marketing agency with extensive expertise in look-alike modeling and other techniques that can expand your potential customer base and drive prospective renters to your door, contact a skilled and knowledgeable Bigeye representative today.

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