by Kathy Neumann
The apartment search process has morphed drastically, even over the last few years. It’s not enough to smile when a prospect walks through the door. Communities need to appeal to potential renters long before the tour takes place, and they need to embrace and strategically leverage a mix of digital platforms to reach their audience.
Internet listing services (ILS) are still the primary tool for prospective renters to search for their next apartment, but numerous other factors will ultimately decide whether they want to live somewhere — and all before they even set foot on a property. The digital environment has opened the door to a greater accumulation of information for prospects. It’s essential for owner/operators and communities to have every touchpoint functioning at the highest level, particularly with the competition for renters intensifying.
Integrated Marketing — Never put all your marketing eggs in one digital basket. You should have consistency across the various channels you use, but you should also explore multiple avenues for maximum market impact. It’s critical to take a big-picture approach to marketing because not everything can be measured equally. There’s also no way to know when a channel that appears to produce lower results will catch fire and drive more leads. Your marketing team should show no fear when it comes to trying new tactics. Finding the right mix and the best balance takes time, and utilizing a diversified approach reduces your risk and allows for more flexible creativity.
All of your properties are not going to appeal to all prospects, and the same goes for your digital marketing efforts. This requires marketing teams to customize campaigns so they best attract the target audience.
Internet Listing Services — Even with Google, property websites and social media, ILSs remain the dominant choice for apartment searches. Nearly 90% of all prospective residents still use at least one ILS and a majority choose to search on three or more, according to data collected by Rent. Beyond providing a comprehensive overview of your homes and amenities, your listing description should be something that connects with prospects and encourages them to schedule a tour. Take advantage of all the extras that an ILS can offer. Street views, aerial views, Walk Scores, Transit Scores, the surrounding neighborhood — anything that might be a factor. Modern renters are sponges that soak up all the information they can about a potential home. Give that to them.
Being at the top of the list is vital to getting that lease signed. A simple description will fill the space, but telling searchers why they should choose your community is more likely to appeal. This should also be consistent with the branding and messaging across all your digital platforms.
Property Websites — This is another area that prospects may frequent, either on their own or as a follow-up to the ILS listing. This is why it’s important to have consistency across your platforms. Your website should engage visitors and give them a picture of what life will be like in your community. About one-third of visitors prefer a virtual tour of their desired home, as well as the amenities and exterior of the community. These tours should be as immersive as much as they are informative. Ensure your site has everything needed to get someone in the door — chatbots to answer basic questions or connect to the leasing team, an easy way to schedule a tour, floor plans, photos and more.
Social Media — Your social platforms are an opportunity to be creative in new ways and connect with your potential residents on their level. TikTok currently rules the social landscape, so utilizing the platform with marketing that will appeal to your residents should be at the top of your list for this area. An added benefit is you can leverage this short-from content across multiple platforms and still cater to your target audience. Understand the demographics of each social media platform to customize your marketing in a way to reach as many apartment hunters as you can.
Reviews — In order to entice prospects to schedule a tour, a community has to maintain its online presence. About 95% of prospects are going to read reviews about a property and it will factor into their decision. You hope that they’ll focus on the good reviews, but that doesn’t mean you should fret about the negative reviews. This is an opportunity to show that your leasing team is listening to residents, empathizing with them and addressing issues as best as possible. You shouldn’t leave any reviews unanswered, but this is particularly true for negative ones. Ignoring them gives the impression that you simply don’t care.
The People Factor — When approaching any marketing efforts or campaign, always remember that this is about connecting the people looking for apartments with the people who are leasing them. Multifamily is an extraordinarily people-centric industry and it’s important for success. Let that personal connection shine in your marketing efforts. This will build trust, a critical component of attracting new residents and retention efforts in the future.
By prioritizing personal connections and consistently delivering high-quality touchpoints across various digital platforms, multifamily marketers can navigate the evolving landscape and attract high-quality leads.