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Apartment Marketers to Increase Digital Spending in 2018

Digital Marketing Spending in 2018

Industry looks to social, SEO, 3-D technology, virtual and augmented reality and creating personal experiences in 2018.

At the end of 2017, Wood Partners took a deeper look at its marketing position and decided to make significant adjustments to where it spends its dollars.

“We are a merchant builder, so we are in full lease-up mode at all times, which requires laser-focused marketing,” says Steve F. Hallsey, Director of Operations at Wood. “We recognized last year that we are attracting more and more Millennials into our high-end properties and they are making their decisions on experiences and not by using the traditional marketing sources.”

During its past 10 lease-ups, Hallsey has seen Wood’s leases come from three major buckets: 50 percent came via the Internet (pay-per-click, ILS’s, property website, Facebook and Instagram); 30 percent came via organic marketing (property location, signage and lives-works in the area); and 20 percent via “experiences” (sense of community, onsite concerts, outreach and resident referrals).

That data helped Wood adjust for 2018.

“We have shifted more of our marketing dollars toward building experiences through spending more money in the third bucket [which we find makes or breaks leasing velocity],” Hallsey says.

Wood is not alone. Regardless of the avenue, companies plan to spend more money on digital advertising in 2018.

Kettler plans to increase spending social media advertising and AdWords, an online advertising service developed by Google, where advertisers pay to display brief advertising copy, product listings, and video content within the search engine's ad network to web users. For Fogelman Management Group, search-engine marketing (SEM) campaigns; social ads through Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram; and Matteport, defined as a 3-D tour put together with traditional photography and video, hold great promise.

Fogelman’s Chief Administrative Officer Melissa Smith says the company also has its eyes on market conditions. If the market becomes more competitive, the company will be ready.

“We are looking potentially at promotional items for aggressive outreach and resident retention as the markets tighten, without having to give concessions,” she says.

AMLI Residential, too, is exploring 3-D imagery for its apartments, along with virtual reality and augmented reality.

“We are focusing on ways of engaging differently with our residents through things such as text, chat, video and voice,” Amanda Johnson, AMLI’s Vice President of Marketing says.

As apartment marketers look to spend on digital strategies in 2018, traditional avenues could continue to lose traction.

“We are probably going to lower our spending in traditional sources, such as the Internet, and spend in only a few sources,” Hallsey says.

Smith says that Fogelman plans to invest less on both traditional collateral and ILSs and their upgrade packages. Kettler also plans to pull back on some ILS spending.

Johnson is not pinpointing any category that AMLI plans to decrease spending in the year ahead.

“We have shaved expenses in other buckets to make our marketing efforts most relevant to our prospects,” she says.