You’ve heard it many times before because it’s true — your website is your biggest asset. Prospects start their next apartment search online and your website will most likely be the first impression they have of your community. When it comes to apartment marketing, your website can be your own marketer. Here are 3 ideas to make your apartment website stand out from the crowd:
- Create a Blog
- Video Series
- Neighborhood/City Guide
Did you know businesses that have a blog see 67% more leads monthly than businesses that don’t? It’s true. Not only do they see more leads, but they also 55% more visitors than businesses without a blog.
Apartment blogs are great for other multifamily professionals as this is where people in this industry go for the newest trends, tips on how to increase their lead conversion numbers, and stay up to date on the newest technology. They’re also great for prospects and residents. It builds trust and makes your apartment seem like a reputable and credible source.
You can even ask residents to submit blog posts about what they think about their unit, a day in the life in your community, or anything that is relevant to apartment content. Testimonials are great, but a few blog posts written by residents are more authentic and will be a more candid conversation.
You can create videos all about apartment decorating, moving tips, daily life in the community, reviewing local businesses, and more. These videos don’t need to have a lot of production. A steady hand on the camera with good lighting is really all you need.
Apartment videos are popular on YouTube. Having your apartment in that category will boost your online reputation and make you stand out to prospects. These videos are more authentic and relatable than just a regular old pre-recorded tour of an empty or staged unit. You can do a video on small space decorating ideas or best ways to arrange your furniture for the best flow, etc.
Apartment marketing includes marketing the neighborhood/city your apartment is located in too. Make your website the hub of information for what is happening in the local community. List the businesses nearby and include a map that shows your property and the businesses around. This will help boost your website in local online searches and improve your SEO rankings as well.
This can even be incorporated into blog pieces that are neighborhood specific that are found on this page. If there’s a local festival that happens once a year, write up a blog post about what it’s like to attend and be sure to include pictures. If your property is close to a lot of nightlife, write up a piece on the best bars near you.
There’s a lot of creativity in how you can do the marketing for apartment communities. Rethinking the content on your website is a good place to start.
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Remember when prospects could only choose to do an in-person tour or look at gallery photos of a staged unit? The multifamily industry has evolved so much since then. From online applications to interactive floor plans, pre-recorded video tours to live video tours, the way prospects are shopping for their next home has also changed.
In-person activities with people outside of your circle are still not a viable option for 2021. A lot of prospects still want to see the unit in-person before deciding whether or not they are going to make the financial and emotional commitment to make your property home.
The idea of self-guided tours before last year spooked a lot of people. There are security concerns as well as the anxiety of not knowing what is going on and how to answer questions in real time during the tour.
Jamin Harkness, EVP at The Management Group (TMG), ran into this problem like many other multifamily professionals. Harkness has kept all his employees in remote work since March 2020 with only one or two people at most in the office for package handling. He didn’t want to risk the health of his employees and prospects with in-person tours but had to find a way to make self-guided tours work.
Not having a member of the leasing team during the tour can be stressful in terms of making sure the unit is not being vandalized in any way. Harkness recommended setting up a Ring camera so the onsite team can watch the prospects during the tour. He also had his team put up a visible sign letting prospects know that they are on camera and putting them in places where they can see.
The camera allows them to see what is going on and in case there is a security issue they can be more prepared to handle it.
Home Sweet Home
At TMG properties, Harkness came up with a unique way to make self-guided tours stand out to prospects by offering snacks. In the staged units where self-guided tours take place, he had the onsite teams stock up the fridge with cold drinks and the pantry with small bags of chips and other non-perishable snacks.
Using grocery delivery services helped his properties be able to do this while minimizing their exposure to people outside of their circle. There is signage letting prospects know they can open the fridge and grab a drink, have a snack, and relax.
“They go sit on my couch and have Cheetos and a Coke and they’re like ‘wow, I can see myself living here.’ It’s just like a scripted interaction I’ve always wanted,” Harkness explains. These prospects enjoyed being able to actually see what it would be like to sit down in this unit and eat. It made it easier for them to imagine living in this space and signing a lease.
Self-guided tours are a great way to make your property stand out to prospects and make it easier for them to see their life there. When in-person tours can come back, Harkness is still going to keep self-guided tours as an option because they’ve seen for themselves how successful it is with getting that lease signed.
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3 min read
It has been a year for everyone, including the multifamily industry. Properties and management companies had to shift in how they operate and communicate in order to meet health guidelines and ensure that they are working towards getting leases signed.
Jamin Harkness, EVP at The Management Group (TMG), sat down with our EVP of Marketing, Muhammad Yasin, to look back at 2020 and discuss how to keep moving forward. From diversity and company culture, updated pet and mental health policies, to resident retention, Jamin has a lot of insight on how to help multifamily companies and teams evolve with the times.
Self-Guided Tours Reimagined
Prospects typically want to see the floorplan in person before making a decision. Not everyone is comfortable with an in-person tour still, but a self-guided tour is a great compromise. Jamin has redefined what a self-guided tour can be.
By installing a Ring camera and stocking up the fridge of staged units with snacks, the onsite teams at TMG properties can keep an eye on what prospects are doing inside the unit and offer a more immersive experience.
Jamin explains, “they grab Cheetos and a Coke, take a seat on the couch, and really see themselves living there.” While staging a unit helps prospects picture in their head what it would be like to live in the unit, by offering snacks and the leisure to relax in the unit, Jamin has created an experience that is more impactful to the prospect.
Company Culture and CRM
Jamin and TMG came into this year knowing that diversity and equity within their company is an initiative that needs life past 2020. From shutting down the company early last February to allow everyone the time and space to learn about diverse topics and coming back to discuss them in a more casual setting as a team, these initiatives are great for creating a company culture where everyone feels heard and included. He also began sending employees fun company shirts, branded items, and other fun inexpensive fun gifts every month.
When it comes to the technical aspect, Jamin notes that working from home has really improved performance from the onsite teams. While they only have one, at most two, people in the office for package handling, Jamin expects to always have at least one person working from home when the world opens up again.
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“There’s less distractions and they can focus on the CRM,” he says. Jamin also started implementing multiple weekly meetings to get everyone from onsite teams to board members on the same page and to communicate openly and clearly. Along with work from home, Jamin highlighted many times how important maintenance has been during all of this. While there are more work orders because more people are at home, they are spending more time on preventative work as well to help keep their property up to date and working efficiently.
On top of maintenance work everyday, he makes sure they are provided with and are using personal protective equipment (PPE) and given a monthly bonus to show how much these workers are appreciated and valued by the properties.
Throughout the chat, Jamin provided many resources —from daily logs related to COVID symptoms to internal communication on health guidelines similar to OSHA except for multifamily companies. You can find all the resources that were shared below along with similar articles.
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One of the best things to come out of 2020 was having multiple tour scheduling options. From self-guided to virtual to pre-recorded videos, the ways prospects could tour a unit adapted to a less physical and socially distanced world.
With all of these options, in-person tours still rank as the most popular tour option according to PERQ data. How do we go back to in-person tours in a way that is healthy for both prospects and the leasing team? We’ve got 3 tips to help your leasing team meet prospects expectations with health guidelines and quality of the tour.
Know the Guidelines
It is so important to know what your state’s health guidelines are. While they typically aren’t more than 2 people who show up to tour an apartment, there are states that are hit much harder than others when it comes to COVID cases.
Be sure to stand the recommended 6 feet apart from prospects as they walk around the unit. For a smaller unit where this might not be possible, consider leaving the door open during the tour and standing near it.
Masks and Sanitizer
Requiring prospects to wear a mask during the entire time they are at your property and on the tour is a highly effective way of keeping the leasing agent and the prospects safe. Offer hand sanitizer to them when they first show up and offer it again when they leave.
Some prospects might forget to bring their masks with them. Having some disposable masks on hand to give them is a great way to show how your property is taking safety seriously and allows the prospect to still go on the tour and not have to reschedule.
Clean Common Surfaces
After each tour, be sure to clean the surfaces that prospects touched. Most common surfaces are door handles, cabinet knobs and pulls, and appliances. This seems like it can be a lot of extra work but it keeps the touring unit clean and reduces the chances of spread.
This will make it much safer on days where there are a lot of tours stacked up. Give yourself 10 – 15 minutes between tours to disinfect these common surfaces to ensure that everyone is safe. We have a whole list of resources for multifamily communities centered on COVID-19. You can check them out here.
We have access to more data than ever before. An online prospect can have over 15 different touch points or data associated with their time on your website. On Season 2 of The Bridge podcast, hosts Andy Medley and Muhammad Yasin chatted with Desiree White and Colin Cloud from NE Property Management about how they have been enabling their own onsite teams to help convert online prospects into a signed lease.
The “3 P’s” that NE Property Management looks at when they see incoming online traffic but aren’t closing the deal are:
They look to see if the pricing is too high or too low, if the product they are selling is desirable to prospects and if there are any upgrades that need to be made or small cosmetic changes to their own site.
They also look at the people on the on site team. Desiree finds that listening to phone calls has been helpful as a training tool and even offers to join in on calls for support. The initial conversation is the hardest and the most important.
Conversation and Data
Looking at the incoming traffic on your website as a metric is a way that Desiree and Colin can measure if their marketing efforts are working and if so which ones specifically. This is where they both suggest having Google Analytics and training onsite teams in analyzing their ads and data to ensure that their marketing is doing its job.
Your onsite team has access to the personalized date coming from the incoming traffic on your webiste. The first conversation can’t be following the same script that telemarketers and cold callers use, it has to and can be more personalized. Using the data that your website has collected on the prospect, onsite teams can and should be having more personalized conversations with prospects.
Desiree explains, “you don’t need to act like you’re selling it to them, you’re helping them with this journey.” Lead with the details that the data gives you like the number of pets they have, the floorplans they were looking at, etc. A more personalized experience will make the prospect feel like you want to find them a new home.
Instagram is a powerful tool. We talk a lot about what’s in your tech stack and what tools can help you run your property more efficiently. But what tools can help you build your brand? When we think of Instagram, some of us might just think it’s a photo sharing app while others see it as a great tool to use for marketing and branding.
A lot of realtors use Instagram to promote themselves, the houses on the market, and the neighborhood in which they sell in. When you look at a lot of multifamily properties’ Instagram, it tends to be a little boring and not very interactive. Instagram is a visual platform which means your content needs to be visually appealing but also means it’s an easy way for multifamily properties to create and evolve their brand. Social media marketing for apartment complexes need to be consistent and engaging.
Keep a consistent posting schedule. Millennials and Gen Z renters have grown up using this platform and when they see a page that only has a handful of posts and hasn’t been updated in months, it’s a huge turn off. Posting once a week, whether it’s through the stories feature or as an actual post, will build up your feed and show your brand identity.
The aesthetic of your website is an easy place to start when thinking of what you want your multifamily property’s brand to look like. Keeping similar visual styles and color themes will make your property look more put together.
There are endless ideas of what kind of social media marketing content you can create for apartment complexes that are intriguing and interactive. We know of some already for resident retention such as posting a pet of the month or photos from a resident event. You can also post videos of interactive floorplans or tours of staged units.
Your content can also be centered around your property’s onsite team. You can do a story or a reel of what a typical day in the life of someone in the leasing office is like. You can post a behind the scenes of the onsite team putting together an event or putting up decorations for a holiday.
A third area your content can touch on is the neighborhood. This is one area that most multifamily properties’ instagrams lack. Highlight local business and post about events happening in the community.
Instagram is a great platform and a tool that you need to consider as a part of your tech stack. Keeping an updated page with interesting and relevant content will make you stand out amongst other properties in your area and is also a great way for out of state prospects to get a feel of your property and the surrounding community.