How to Strategically Target Students for Your Apartment Community

Students have long been a key driver in the rental real estate sector, but how do you reach out to this crucial consumer demographic through an effective marketing campaign?

Why should you target students?

The very thought of renting to college students strikes fear in the hearts of some apartment community owners. The international real estate firm Joe Fairless acknowledges that student-focused rental properties “may end up with messes, parties, and careless behavior,” but this detracts little from the awesome power of the student demographic in the apartment complex sector.

Because students are often far from home while attending college, they must find temporary housing either on campus or off. And as the price tag on dorm living continues to rise, more and more students are turning to off-campus apartments. 

Other benefits of specifically targeting college student renters include predictable periods of annual tenant changeover and frequent upfront rental payments from parents/guarantors. 

Tips for reaching out to college students

Here are just a few things to keep in mind when targeting college student populations with your apartment community marketing campaign.

1. Consider Price and Value First and Foremost
 
On the subject of cost, Multifamily Executive Magazine quotes Campus Advantage COO Scott Duckett, who points to the fact that many students grew up during the Great Recession. “That turned them into more cost-conscious consumers,” he says. Whatever the reason, today’s college students are more price-conscious than ever before. However, apartment marketers would be wise to keep class differences firmly in mind as well. In short, different students will have different lifestyle expectations, but they will all want to get the most apartment value for their buck.
 
2. Remember the Importance of Location
 
Is your apartment community close to campus? Is it close to public transportation or trendy shops, bars, or entertainment options? Students often get around on foot, so be sure to highlight location in your marketing materials.
 
3. Mitigate the Risk of Property Damage

Because student renters are typically less fussy than other consumer demographics, they may be perfectly satiated with older appliances and more basic decor. This can significantly reduce your overhead costs. To help protect your property, be sure to collect a reasonable deposit and clearly explain your deposit policy to every tenant. 
 
4. Offer Key Amenities

Basic and practical amenities such as fast Internet and dedicated parking spaces may be deal-makers for some students. Other perks that commonly attract students range from on-site fitness centers to secure bicycle storage.
 
5. Take Advantage of On-Campus Advertising

Depending on the specific policies of the colleges/universities near your property, you may be able to advertise on-campus and/or on official college/university websites. This is a great way to specifically target your consumer base and save big on your overall marketing costs.

6. Focus on Social Media
 
Multifamily Executive Magazine echoes countless researchers in declaring social media the absolute best place to reach the modern-day student. Not only do students use social media heavily, but they tend to respond positively to social media marketing.

For more information

If you want to learn more about the value of college student renters and how best to target them in the consumer marketplace, contact a skilled and knowledgeable apartment marketing and property development marketing professional at Bigeye today. A foreword-thinking agency with an eye on the future, Bigeye has a proven ability to connect with students of all ages. 

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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 College Renters Really Want from Apartment Communities

Often in need of relatively short-term housing while completing their studies, college renters have long been key drivers of the apartment rental market. But what, exactly, are they looking for in an apartment?

From short-term tenet agreements to increased risk of property damage, renting to college students has its obvious pitfalls. However, college towns remain one of the best markets in the United States to own rental property.

This is particularly true of states, like Indiana, in which people generally own homes rather than rent. Forbes Magazine points to Indiana as a prime example of this fact. Although the percentage of renters in most Indiana counties is less than 25 percent, in Monroe County (home to Indiana University at Bloomington) that rate rockets to approximately doubles to 48 percent.

So what can you do to capitalize on the key college student rental sector? Here’s a brief look at what college renters really want from their apartment communities.

Cost, location, and overall value

As the cost of a college education continues to skyrocket, students are generally wise beyond their years when it comes to choosing rental apartments that are reasonably priced

Surveys of students and recent graduates have increasingly shown that on-campus dorm living has become incredibly expensive. In light of this fact, more and more students are turning to off-campus apartments as a way to stick to their budgets.

In addition to overall apartment cost, college students list location as one of their top concerns, indicating that they may be willing to pay a bit more for a place that is close to campus.

Security, home technology and access to public transportation

After coast and location, renters are highly concerned with security and convenience, ranking gated access high on their list of must-haves. They also value high-tech security measures such as app-controlled door locks. Other home technology devices and infrastructure that renters list as important include built-in USB charging outlets, smart digital thermostats, and Amazon lockers.

Among renters who must live a considerable distance from campus, the convenience of nearby public transportation is also a top concern.  According to Apartment Guide, 31 percent of renters are seeking properties with shuttle service to public transportation.

Specific amenities

Reaching out to a consumer base that tends to value practical concerns, apartment communities can forget about frivolous incentives. Apartment Guide points out that lease-signing gifts such as free iPads or gift cards may have effectively filled vacancies in the past, but today’s students are looking for something far more substantial.

However, there are many apartment amenities that might be potential deal-breakers regardless of their inessential nature. With 92 percent of renters listing it as a priority, air conditioning is an amenity that many renters simply won’t live without. Other top amenities, such as automatic dishwashers (86 percent) and in-unit washer/dryer combos (77 percent) are equally practical in nature. When it comes to less practical amenities, renters particularly value outdoor spaces such as patios, balconies, and rooftop terraces.

In addition to these key on-site features, apartment complexes can benefit from close proximity to a variety of off-site amenities. For example, 32 percent of renters want to be close to a café or coffee shop while 24 percent of renters want a library nearby.

For more information

If you want to learn more about the top concerns of renters in the college environment, you should talk to an agency with specific expertise in the fields of apartment marketing and resident advertising. A highly innovative and forward thinking marketing firm, Bigeye has countless ideas when it comes to reaching college students in the residential housing marketplace.

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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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Can You Benefit from Rebrand Apartment Marketing?

How can you tell when your existing apartment brand is no longer working, and if you should pursue rebrand apartment marketing? These tips can help you decide.

The importance of a strong apartment brand

Every good apartment marketer is well aware of the value attached to touting the key features and amenities of their units and complexes. Establishing a key fundamental apartment brand, however, may be even more important.

In short, a brand that is both psychologically/emotionally compelling and relevant to the rental properties under your purview can do wonders when it comes to driving traffic online and leading customers to your door. The Independent business news resource Small Biz Genius reinforces this fact by citing studies from multiple research authorities.

Circle Research, for example, has shown that 24 percent of business-to-business marketers regard branding as crucial for growth. Furthermore, Fundra has determined that 56 percent of consumers remain loyal to brands that “get them,” and 89 percent of customers remain loyal to brands that “share their values.”

Knowing when rebrand apartment marketing becomes beneficial

Regardless of how much care you initially put into your apartment brand, if you have had that brand for any significant period of time, you have certainly built up a good amount of brand equity. Even if your brand is struggling to connect positively with a large audience, it has value, both online (in terms of domain authority with search engines such as Google) and in the hearts and minds of at least certain segments of the general public.

By launching a completed rebrand, you must unfortunately forfeit all of the brand equity that you have previously accrued. In other words, you have to be ready to start entirely from scratch when it comes to building consumer name recognition and brand loyalty. So ultimately choosing to pursue rebrand your apartment complex is certainly nothing to be taken lightly.

So how can you tell when your apartment complex needs to cut its losses and start over with a whole new image? Industry experts have identified the four following circumstances as key progenitors of an valuable and/or essential apartment marketing rebrand:

  • Property Under New Ownership – If you’re a multi-property owner who has recently acquired a new property, you will want to conduct a thorough professional assessment of its existing brand to ensure that it is effectively connecting with your key demographic and/or the general public at large. Even if the existing brand of your new apartment complex happens to past muster, you will still want to consider an apartment marketing rebrand in order to bring that complex’s branding more in line with that of your other complexes.
  • New Capital Improvements – As we have previously discussed, your brand should reflect the unique value that your apartment complex provides and presents. For this reason, planned complex remodeling and other new capital improvements offer an excellent opportunity for a beneficial apartment marketing rebrand. Just make sure that your property upgrades are thoroughly reflected in your new overall brand image.
  • Overcoming a Poor Reputation – If you are forced to rebrand due to bad online reviews or a foundering reputation in the public sphere, you must ensure that your new brand makes a clear and distinct break from your old brand. This type of rebrand will be particularly tricky to plan and execute because you must concurrently build a new brand while “doing damage control” and dealing with fallout from your previous brand.
  • Expanding Your Audience Base – A desire or need to grow or shift your current target demographic may coincide with one or more of the situations outlined above. No matter what factors happen to precipitate your audience expansion plans, comprehensive demographic research and analysis must be undertaken to identify the specific characteristics and desires of your new target demographic.

For more information

If you’re unsure if an apartment rebrand is right for you or are ready to take the first step toward a new and better brand for your complex, contact a specialized rebrand apartment marketing agency today. The professionals at Bigeye have the tools and experience that you need to get a fresh start in a highly competitive industry.

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