The ‘Best (blank)’ search dominates.
While keywords will always be a factor, adapting to the new face of Search has really taken our strategy to a new level. Search is now intelligent. 2017 search trends are showing that consumers are not only searching keywords, but they are being more descriptive with their search phrasing. For example, mobile searches for “the best (blank)” have grown more than 80 percent in the past two years. At LMC, we are focusing on relevant phrasing with our keywords in both our website content and paid advertising to ensure we are serving answers to questions our consumers are seeking.
In ‘new’ markets, CPCs increase and CTRs decrease.
Our goal is to spend the same or less. Closing out 2017, we were seeing several markets saturated with new apartment homes and other management companies that drastically increased their digital advertising spend in pay-per-click. This usually causes a ripple effect where cost per clicks (CPCs) increase and click-through rates (CTRs) decrease. However, we have discovered that when we overspend in a market, our campaign’s performance suffers. So, in 2018, LMC will be focusing on strategic ways to run our campaigns. Finding an agency that is willing to be transparent and engaged with our campaigns has helped exponentially. We are tailoring the campaigns to run during peak hours of apartment-related searches, focusing on geo-targeted areas and dynamic content. Several of these factors vary market to market. However, by looking at this structure, we can capitalize on spend and exposure to ensure we are spending wisely and serving ads in quality searches.
Facebook is our No. 3 source of traffic.
Our social media strategy hasn’t changed much. LMC has a strategic ad campaign on Facebook and Instagram for all our communities. We still use these channels for rich local posts, and to feature LMC’s unique sense of community. The engagement is up on our social channels, but 2017 was the year of Instagram. We dabbled with Snapchat filters and Snapchat posts, but didn’t see traction to roll out a portfolio-wide campaign. We have several communities that have a large student demographic where we use Snapchat filters for community events. That said, Facebook is our No. 3 source of traffic to our community websites.
Growth in voice and video searches.
We recently rolled out chatbots on all our websites and I am excited to see our prospects engage with this new feature. As for voice search, this is something that we began working on in 2017. Voice-activated searches have grown more than 130 percent in the past year. Search has become intelligent with Google’s rollout of Featured Snippets, Knowledge Cards and Amp. LMC is really focusing on our website designs and structured data to ensure that we stay ahead of this fast-moving trend. Google is estimating that by 2020, 50 percent of searches will come from voice and images (it’s currently 20 percent). We use several tools that help us see which search terms and phrases are trending and which websites Google has chosen for the Featured Snippet, allowing us to adjust our strategy to ensure we gain the greatest exposure.
Tell us about your 360-tour Beta program.
LMC was chosen to run a select Beta program with Matterport and Google Maps where we can upload our 360 tours directly into our communities’ listings. We are excited to be a part of this program, and to help Google create an even more engaging experience for our prospective residents.
Read the full Innovation: Digital Offerings Becoming Force in Apartment Marketing article or other digging deeper stories: Keywords Not Ruling the Day & Facebook Marketplace is Intriguing.