Signing more leases and lowering vacancy rates in your apartment community largely comes down to visibility. You know that there’s a strong correlation between how much exposure your community receives and how many people express interest in becoming new tenants. But while correlations can indicate a cause and effect relationship, apartment marketing strategies that are solely based in correlation tend to leave a lot up to interpretation.
Fortunately, today’s advertising technology allows us to place all of our apartment marketing ideas under a microscope, helping us to understand how ads perform in ways that simply aren’t possible with bus stop billboards or convenience store brochures. By embracing this technology, we’re able to glean insights into user behavior that aid us in producing better advertisements that convert more leads at higher ROIs. So rather than taking the same approach to multifamily marketing that people have been using for decades, why not try one of the following five marketing ideas that you can actually track?
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is an online marketing technique that drives visitors to your website via popular search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Creating a search engine optimized website largely comes down to two factors, one of which is technical and the other of which is creative. To ensure that your website is optimized on the technical side, it should load quickly, feature a mobile-friendly design that transcends different devices, and make good use of certain markup and coding elements, among many other factors. To ensure that your website is optimized on the creative side, it should host content that is informative, easy to navigate, and relevant – this, again, among many other factors.
How Can We Track SEO?
Tracking the performance of your website’s SEO is quite simple. In fact, all you really need to do is conduct daily searches for the keywords that you’re trying to rank for, and record the differences in rankings over time. Of course, this manual approach is extremely tedious and time consuming, and there are many ways to automate the process. The Respage Dashboard, for example, provides real time updates of where your community’s website ranks in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), allowing you to quickly discover how your SEO efforts have affected your website’s rankings over time.
Why Is Rank Important?
Monitoring your website’s position in the SERPs may not seem like a big deal. After all, how does knowing that you hold the #3 position for the keyword “Apartments in Philadelphia” help you sign more leases? Well, the fact of the matter is that there is a tremendous correlation between a website’s SERP position and the amount of traffic that it receives.
According to a recent study from Advanced Web Ranking that looked at nearly one million keywords, approximately 75 percent of all search users click on first page listings. Even more astonishingly, roughly 55 percent will click on the top three listings, with 30, 15, and 10 percent clicking on the first, second, and third positions, respectively.
It’s not like the Advanced Web Ranking’s study is a fluke, either. Countless other studies have turned up similar results. The bottom line is that securing a top position in the SERPs for a relevant keyword is a surefire way to drive more traffic to your apartment community’s website.
Apartment PPC Ads
PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click, an advertising model in which advertisers pay for ad clicks, rather than ad placement. You’ve most likely seen PPC Ads at the very top of the SERPs, under the “Sponsored” area, where they receive quite a lot of attention. PPC Ads also appear in a separate column to the right of the organic, or natural, SERP listings for many search queries.
How Do PPC Ads Work?
Like all apartment marketing strategies, the end game of PPC is to score the highest ROI for your communities’ advertising efforts. And to score the highest ROI, you need your PPC ads to drive qualified leads to your website for the lowest possible cost. In PPC campaigns, the cost for each click/lead is determined by an automated bidding system, where advertisers set the maximum price they’re willing to pay for each bid and only have to outbid the competition in order to place an ad.
This automated bidding technology allows you to never pay more than you have to for a lead. In fact, more often than not, the price that you pay is less than your maximum bid. And you never pay more than you want to spend.
Can You Track PPC Ad Performance?
Measuring the effectiveness of PPC ads leaves nothing up to the imagination. Every impression, every click, and every bid price is meticulously tracked, allowing you to see what works and what doesn’t work. You can investigate these interaction details via the platform through which you run your PPC campaigns, a popular one being Google AdWords.
While anyone can set up an account on a platform like Google AdWords, it’s important to note that you can burn through an entire month’s budget in no time if you don’t know what you’re doing. So if you aren’t certified in AdWords, have never read up on AdWords documentation, or simply don’t have the time to monitor all of yours ads, it’s best to seek out managed PPC services to save you the headaches of wasted ad spend.
What Benefits Do PPC Ads Have Over SEO?
Like SEO, PPC aims to drive traffic to your apartment community’s website via search engines. The primary difference between the two different apartment marketing strategies is cost, as clicks on PPC ads cost money and clicks on optimized ads do not. Which begs the question: Why spend money on PPC when you could simply drive traffic through SEO?
The answer to this question really boils down to time constraints. Boosting your website’s SERP position through SEO can take several months, whereas PPC ads allow you to place your website at the top of the SERPs overnight. Ultimately, PPC ads are your best option if you have units that you need to rent out immediately. This doesn’t mean that you should run PPC campaigns on a need-be basis. But that’s a topic for another article.
Apartment Remarketing Ads
Remarketing ads target users who have visited your website in the past. These ads are most commonly seen in an image-based display form on third-party websites that use the Google Display Network. Image-based ads are not the only form of remarketing ads, however, as these ads can also be seen is list form in Google Search, as well as on Youtube videos and mobile games.
How Do Remarketing Ads Work?
Whenever a user visits a website that’s running a remarketing campaign, that website will embed a snippet of code in the user’s web browser that tracks the user’s activity across the Internet. Depending on the set up of the remarketing campaign, that user will then see ads for the website as he or she visits other websites. How frequently the ads display, and the specific ads that are displayed, comes down to how you set up your remarketing campaign. Similar to PPC, there’s also an automated bidding system involved in determining which ads appear.
Are Remarketing Ads Better Than PPC Ads?
To call remarketing ads better than PPC ads is a bit extreme, as more often than not the two work together to send you qualified leads. However, because the people who see remarketing ads have already visited your website, it’s reasonable to assume that they’re further down the sales funnel than most of the people who click on PPC ads after an initial search. You wouldn’t click on an ad for an apartment website if you had already been to that website and decided that the community wasn’t right for you.
Multifamily Facebook Marketing
There are two different forms of Facebook ads. The first form is extremely similar to the remarketing ads we described above, as it basically displays customized ads to people who have previously visited your site. The second form is different, in that it allows you to advertise your apartment community to an entirely new audience through demographic targeting.
How Does Facebook Demographic Targeting Work?
Facebook demographic targeting allows you to advertise to your core audience. You can choose to display ads based on location, age, gender, interests, and countless other factors. For example, if your apartment community is primarily used for off-campus housing near a certain university, you could choose to only display ads to students who currently attend that university.
Tracking Apartment Marketing Strategies With Google Analytics
The four apartment marketing strategies identified above all provide great ways to drive traffic to your website. But with Google Analytics, you can actually determine if the people who arrive at your site from these sources are qualified leads.
Tracking the Source of Your Website Traffic
After you’ve successfully installed Google Anayltics on your website, you can begin running diagnostics to evaluate user behavior on the site. Referral data, which helps you to determine your best lead generators, allows you to see precisely where all of your traffic comes from, whether it be through search engines, remarketing ads, or social media sites. You can also break down referral data into smaller details to see how much of your social referral traffic comes from Facebook, or how much of your search engine referral traffic comes from organically placed listings.
Conversion and Goal Tracking
Although it’s nice knowing where your traffic comes from, it’s even better knowing how much of that traffic converts into leads. While Google Analytics provides you with a ton of ways to create conversion goals, apartment marketers typically establish goals focused on certain website events. You could, for example, create goals that notify you whenever a user fills out a contact form, or whenever a user clicks on a phone number in order to call your leasing office. There are also ways to track the entire path that specific user took before completing the goal.
Improving Your Marketing Efficiency and Achieving Your Goals
Although all of the marketing techniques identified above can be used separately, taking a well-rounded approach to online marketing will likely provide the best results. The smartest multifamily marketing strategies utilize all of these techniques by gaining exposure via SEO and PPC during the prospective renter’s discovery phase, re-engaging with the prospect via Remarketing Ads and Facebook Ads during his or her consideration phase, and ensuring a conversion by creating a quality site experience via Google Analytics during the prospect’s decision phase.
By taking advantage of all five of these tools and methods, you’re on your way to creating a marketing campaign for you community that’s results-driven and successful.