How Property Managers Can Create the Ultimate Digital Strategy: Q&A
Considering your digital strategy for your multifamily property and how to maximize its potential isn’t as simple as updating your Facebook page or publishing a new blog. Creating a strategy should be a diligent process that requires you to review your budget, competition and available resources.
With a wide range of web tools and social media avenues, considering how to develop a digital strategy in the multifamily industry doesn’t just require a single-pronged approach. To keep up with peers on the cutting edge of technology, property managers need to consider many factors. To get some deeper insight as to how a property manager can best develop and improve a digital strategy, we spoke with Katrina Greene, the Senior Property Manager of Sheehan Property Management.
KG: First and foremost, I think your digital strategy needs to start by asking “What am I allowed to spend?” Sometimes when working on developing a strategy, we find ourselves bumping into walls and some restrictions.
Your budget is always going to come down to what the ownership group is willing to pay for. Ask questions like, “What am I allowed to spend? What’s a reasonable amount for my budget?”
Once you have those spending guidelines, then you can start deciding how to piecemeal that out in a way that feels like you’re in as many platforms as possible.
In terms of developing a strategy, your goal should be diversifying your web presence and the platforms you’re on. That doesn’t just mean your website or social media pages; third-party listing sites like ForRent.com and Apartments.com come into play as well.
Review what you’ve already done and utilize tools from companies like PERQ to analyze your traffic. You want to make sure each of those platforms is converting at a rate that justifies the cost.
KG: The trifecta would be your website (including any tools related to your website), your property management social media strategy and then ILS (Internet Listing Sites). I sometimes include videos, photoshoots, or any other digital content that you have to pay for as a true marketing cost, which makes it a part of your budget, as well.
In fact, I don’t differentiate much between digital marketing and general marketing. Years ago, you had a print budget and you had a digital budget; those two buckets were where you allocated your spending and dictated how you developed a general marketing strategy. At this point, though, there’s not really any piece of marketing that doesn’t have a digital component.
The digital pieces have consumed your entire marketing budget, and it’s your job to figure out how to spend it in the smartest way possible.
“I would say at least 80% of my marketing budget are digital solutions.”
There are still a few true marketing costs that may not fall in the digital realm; we may have a booth at a local event, for example, so I suppose you do need to set some money aside for occasional, other expenses, but I would say at least 80% of my marketing budget are digital solutions.
In the end, people are going to connect with us online. It’s often the only way, especially with so many people moving to our area from out of state. Our properties that use PERQ to connect with visitors have a really high saturation of people moving from out of state. It’s not like they drove by our property, saw the name and now they’re connecting with us. Our first shot at attracting a visitor is usually an ILS that might then guide them to search us by name and find our website. Once you realize that, the concept of a digital marketing strategy becomes much simpler, as it removes this separation between digital marketing and straight-up marketing.
KG: It’s always smart to look at what your competitors are doing because it helps you reflect on your own site. Objectivity is really important, and comparing your content and approach to your peers helps you ask vital questions. “Their website looks really fresh and new. Why does my site look like the first website that was ever made?” [laughs]
Really, you should be evaluating your digital strategy by asking “Is this the best online portrayal of our people, our product and what we’re actually selling?” You might notice that you have an older-looking website for a very modern property; does your page mirror the experience and product?
Looking at the competition helps to stir those ideas in your mind, but you want to tell YOUR story. Maybe this is because of my experience working for an ILS before, but I already know which components we need.
I’m never going to be the one to say, “I’ll put all my money in social media, and forget about the website.” When it comes to developing the strategy and the budget, I don’t take cues from what the competition is doing.
KG: I think it’s automatically assuming that there’s a one-size-fits-all solution for each part of your strategy. When we construct a new site, it doesn’t behoove us to simply move forward with the same package that we did the last time.
One thing I love about PERQ is the ability to analyze your digital resources and find out what’s working best for you. When you own that information, you realize that you can get different results by making even slight changes in your approach.
Maybe you pop more money into social for one property because you believe that your demographic in that area is going to be more active on social and will appreciate that influence. Or, maybe you’re appealing to a demographic in the suburbs, where you’ve found that people are more likely to find you through an ILS or Google search.
It’s all about using whatever analytics are available to you, tweaking things to see how it changes, and not being afraid to experiment to make the most out of your multifamily budget. That’s really my biggest advice: No fear.