This guest article was written by Aaron Ramos, Director of Content at Knock.
Generating revenue in multifamily property management comes down to how well you can execute at three distinct phases in the sales cycle: Attract, Convert, and Retain. In this blog, we will discuss how to execute in the Attract phase and keeping your pipeline full of qualified leads ready to sign that lease.
Attract: How to Get on Prospective Tenants’ Radar
When property managers know which units will be available, it is critical to immediately start building a pipeline of qualified leads to limit vacancy loss. But in today’s media landscape there are a virtually endless number of options for marketing a community. The following will outline three core lead generation channels that no property manager can afford to skip.
Search Engines and the Power of Google
If you’ve been a multifamily property manager for more than 10 minutes, then you know how important the web is to attracting new renters. Chances are, you know Google factors into that equation, and you’ve read a blog or two about SEO. Let’s start there.
SEO is what website owners do to increase their sites’ performance and ranking in search engines like Google — organically. It draws together elements of web development, content creation, and relationship-building to help sites succeed. The whole thing can seem overwhelming, but here are some basics to get started:
Identify Your Keywords — In SEO, there’s nothing more foundational than careful keyword research. Using a tool like Google’s Keyword Planner or Ahrefs’ Keyword Planner, you can search for keywords that are low on competition, high on volume, and relevant to your target. Don’t limit yourself to the obvious stuff like ‘St. Louis apartment complex.’ Think like your prospective tenants, anticipate their needs, and design your content to match.
Develop Stellar Content — Write rich, in-depth content that addresses your search terms from multiple angles. This will provide more opportunities for Google’s web crawlers to pick up content and rank you for ancillary search terms. Your high-value content will be much more likely to get shared and linked—all that adds up to higher search rankings and more traffic.
Update Social and Review Sites — Google has indicated that reviews impact SEO, especially when properties make a point to provide responses. Building a strong SEO strategy involves updating and maintaining your property’s presence on Facebook, Google My Business and other leading review platforms.
Start Building Links — If no one links to your site, Google will think your content isn’t worth displaying. If your site doesn’t link to itself, Google won’t know how to crawl it. Building links to individual communities can be difficult. That’s why it’s important to establish a central site for your multifamily property management company and then link out to community sites.
Any way you look at it, SEO is about marketing equity and takes time and effort — but once your local presence is established, you will have first dibs on the hot leads in your area.
As we saw above, SEO brings together elements of web development, content creation, and relationship-building to organically help sites succeed with popular search engines like Google. SEM, on the other hand, is the practice of using paid ads to make your website appear on search engine results pages (SERPs). While SEO and SEM go hand-in-hand, they’re each their own animal.
SEO is a staple of online marketing, but its time horizon is mostly long-term. SEM, on the other hand, aims for quick results. If you crank up the volume (i.e., the budget) on your well-designed SEM campaign, you should see a spike in unique traffic. And, according to Google, 89% of those new visitors would not have found the site otherwise.
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Why Bother with SEM?
There are three reasons to execute a multifamily SEM campaign:
- Targeting – Paid ads allow you to target specific audiences with tailored messages, allowing you to increase your community’s exposure to ideal renters.
- Competition – If you can’t outrank your competition organically, then you can pay to leapfrog them on results pages.
- Conversion – Paid ads offer a great way to identify and target renters in the late stages of their hunt for a new place to live — allowing you to close leases fast.
Effective ad placement and versatile copy is only one half of conversion equation — where leads are directed to next makes all the difference. Ideally, each ad group you create should point to its own dedicated landing page. This allows you to speak to your target market as clearly and directly as possible.
Not only is this good marketing, but it’s crucial for placement as well. All the technological wizardry behind Google is meant to ensure that Ads and search results satisfy search intent. If they don’t, the Ad’s Quality Score suffers, and the site’s search ranking plummets. In sum, if there’s a disconnect between your ad and your landing page (usually due to bad writing), Google will know, and they’ll peg you for it.
According to Google, These are the Four Qualities of a Good Landing Page:
- Relevance, Usefulness, and Originality — Users who click through your ad should find exactly what they’re looking for. Negative example: a user clicks an ad for ‘premium Chicago apartment’ and finds an economy unit 2 hours away.
- Transparency and Trustworthiness — Include your basic geographical data, contact information and provide clear information.
- Ease-of-use — Design your page with mobile and desktop users in mind. Poor design translates to a lower quality score and disadvantageous ad positioning.
- Speed — Like everyone else, Google hates slow-loading websites. You can learn more about AMP best practices and guidelines here.
Display Ads: Your Digital Bus Bench
Display ads are commonly called banner ads, but they can appear in a variety of shapes and sizes. These ads are more about grabbing attention than they are about satisfying search intent. They don’t assume that their viewer is looking for an apartment to rent in the same way a search ad would. Instead, they “piggyback” off of other activity.
Even the most visually appealing ad in the world will fall flat if it doesn’t serve a specific purpose within a well-conceived strategic plan.
- Defined Objectives – As with any marketing intervention, you need to go in with a clear idea of what you’re trying to accomplish and what success looks like.
- Simple Messaging – If you try to say everything that can be said, you’ll end up saying nothing at all as users scroll on by your ad.
- Strategic Targeting & Retargeting – Try to talk to everybody, and you’ll end up talking to nobody.
- Intentional Landing – Ensure that your landing page cashes the check written by your display ad.
- Merciful Simplicity – Follow Google’s advice and keep your display ad compelling, concise, and clear.
- Intentional Structure – The four most important elements of your display ad are logo, value proposition, imagery, and call-to-action.
- Targeted Color Palette – The colors you choose should reflect your aesthetic and the psychological preferences of the demographic you’d like to reach.
- Brand-Conscious Typography – Fonts are as important as color in communicating your community’s particular aesthetic.
- Meaningful Imagery – Choose photos that highlight your community’s unique character and resonates with viewers.
Pro Tip: You don’t have to break the bank with professional creative. You can find great freelance designers or take the traditional route and partner with a media and marketing agency to develop high-quality visual assets.
A social media presence plays a critical role in creating a sense of competence, trust, and cementing a strong brand image in the minds of your prospects. Additionally, ads like Facebook’s Lead Ad allows you to fast track prospects directly to a tour by booking straight from the platform. And we would be remiss if we didn’t highlight insights from the social media experts themselves. Our friends at SOCi have a great piece “Facebook Ads for Every Step of the Sales Funnel” that covers when and what paid social strategy to deploy. Here are a few reasons why we think social media ads are vital to attracting high-quality leads:
- Instant Results — Social media ads drive traffic from day one.
- Easier to Tune — Platforms like Facebook and Twitter offer a more straightforward engagement with ad targeting and optimization.
- Precise Targeting — Facebook, especially, offers a remarkable number of options to use in targeting your exact audience.
- Quicker Testing/Analytics — Because SMA happens in real-time, you don’t have to wait long to see whether your optimization is making an impact.
Putting it All Together
Between Search, Display, and Social Media advertising, marketers have a comprehensive set of channels to ensure they can build the pipeline of leads necessary to meet occupancy goals. However, attracting prospective renters is only the first step in the multifamily revenue cycle. Investing in a modern CRM will allow property managers to effectively manage the full lifecycle of a renter from attract, to convert, and retain – while providing the insights to make smarter decisions at every step.