The Digital Marketing Strategies People are Using This Year
By Les Shaver
Three-quarters of the way through 2019, apartment companies continue to look for high-tech ways to reach prospects. But for some firms, old-fashioned grassroots marketing remains effective.
Marketing an apartment community has always been more art than science. But many industry executives are working to take the guesswork out of reaching consumers.
“We are ensuring that we have the best advertising and marketing sources in play that are generating returns,” says Tina West, CPM, Chief Operating Officer, Capstone Real Estate Services. “How do we know that? We are seeking to implement lead tracking on as many of our assets as possible. From there, we learn what is working and where we may need to adjust. We review our advertising and leasing stats regularly for any adjustments we need to make.”
That concept—relying on data, testing and then adjusting according to what the data says—is something other apartment operators are using as they seek the reach prospects in the most-cost effective manner possible. They’re combining these disciplines with technologies that help target prospects through how they search and where they are.
Search Engine Targeting
West says her team reviews its search-engine optimization (SEO) campaigns regularly and makes changes based on what key words are popular. It’s using a similar process with social media, specifically Facebook.
“Social media campaigns are also very much a part of our regime,” West says. “We are setting up Facebook ads, pushing data several times a day and seeking resident engagement within our communities.”
As social media grows, so does mobile. Ashley Yax, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Village Green, says that 74 percent of the company’s website inquiries were through a mobile device. Because of that, the company spends a lot of time educating its clients and team members about the mobile side of the business.
“I’m making sure all of our websites are extremely mobile-friendly because we’re seeing a higher capture rate there than we ever have before and I would suggest it’s obviously going to continue,” Yax says. “I think [the number of people using] desktop will get smaller and smaller and smaller.”
As users move toward phones, marketers are finding ways to target them at their exact location. “We are utilizing geofencing as a result of understanding of where our customers are coming from or where we want to generate traffic from,” West says.
While these campaigns provide precise targeting, Yax urges caution. “For about the last year we've been participating in geofencing campaigns,” she says. “We have seen some success, but it depends on the demographic of the building or where the vacancy is. I think there’s still a generation or group of people who feel that when an ad pops up on their phone, it’s creepy.”
Bringing the prospect to the community website is only half the battle. Many companies, including Fogelman Properties, are spending time and money evaluating what potential renters do when they arrive.
“We have a handful of communities running aggressive SEM [search-engine marketing] campaigns and wanted to ensure that the websites we were driving traffic to truly guided prospects through their leasing journey,” says Tammy Yeargan, Director of Marketing, Fogelman Properties.
Fogelman developed a series of questions for prospects focused not only on their specific unit needs but the lifestyle they desired. The company asked about what activities prospects enjoy, what places they want nearby, what size spaces they’re looking for and their move-in timeframe.
“The transparency of the data we have collected from these visitors has enabled us to tailor our marketing strategies for both prospects and current residents,” Yeargan says. “Based on the success of our two pilots, we plan to continue testing this technology on additional sites throughout the year.”
So far, the results of the testing, which went live in October 2018, have been good. “Over the first seven months we have seen a 78 percent lift in leads and are averaging 217 unique leads per month,” Yeargan says. “We have seen a 7.35-percent lead conversion on the visitors who have come in through PERQ.”
With that sort of success, Fogelman will continue testing the platform as it works to take the guesswork out of how its prospects interact with its site.