Apartment marketing can be tricky. And complicated.
If you’ve ever searched for “Apartment Marketing”, you’ll know that Google responds with over 70 Million search results.
That’s 70+ Million pages of apartment marketing solutions, services, products, strategies, technologies… you get the idea.
With so many apartment marketing resources pulling you in millions of directions (literally), it can be hard to determine what actually works when it comes to marketing your apartment.
Ultimately, you want to get your apartment community in front of as many qualified renters as possible, right?
Yes, and no.
The Truth About Apartment Marketing
As much as we’d all like to believe that the perfectly placed, perfectly designed banner ad or Google ad copy will convince someone to lease an apartment, it usually takes much more than that.
For one, it can take as many as 3-4 ad impressions before someone decides to click on an ad - but that’s beside the point.
The truth is, nobody is going to rent an apartment from you until you’ve gained their trust. It’s why 78% of renters visit apartment review sites before making a decision.
Instead of thinking about clicks on an ad, put yourself in the renters shoes and consider the ‘Renter Journey’.
The obvious first step for renters is identifying that they need/want to solve a problem; find an apartment to rent.
If you want to be part of that journey, you need to start by making sure they’re aware of who you are (If a tree falls in the woods...). Once you’re on their radar, you want to nurture them and build trust over time while they’re doing their research and learning more about your community. Done properly, you’ll be able to convert those prospects much easier when they’ve made a decision and they’re ready to take action.
So how do you turn complete strangers into trusting renters?
One very underutilized and misunderstood apartment marketing tool is social media.
Done well, you can use social media to increase traffic to your website, lower bounce rates and increase the number of pages someone views each time they visit.
But, just like apartment marketing, getting your social media marketing to the next level can be a challenge.
You’re posting regularly, monitoring your comments and shares, but you’re just not seeing the results you want.
What many apartment marketers don’t recognize is that 55% of people are logging into Facebook to see what their family and friends are up to - not to check out your property.
Social media is rooted in serendipity, not intent, so it’s tough to use the same ‘broadcast’-based approach you would for SEO, paid search ads or even email marketing.
To get you going down the right path, here are 13 advanced apartment marketing tips that will help you attract renters to your website and generate more leads/leases with social media marketing.
Set-up Your Campaigns Properly
Tactics, like what to post or when to post it, are completely dependent on your own personal circumstances.
In other words, you need to know what’s working for your audience.
Until you understand who you’re targeting, and what they’re interested in, it’s impossible to know what you should be posting.
Here’s are a few ways for you to find out.
1. Error-Proof Your Results Tracking
I’m going to ruin the punchline.
The very last tip on this article deals with measuring conversions. It only makes sense then, that we start with setting up conversion tracking properly to make sure by the time we’re finished, there will actually be something to measure!
The entire point of tracking conversions and actions that happen, is to get a better understanding of who your audience is, and the best way to reach them. Results in the form of conversion data, like that from Facebook Insights, can help you get a better understanding of your audience by seeing which posts are working compared with others that are falling flat.
Setting up your own tracking isn’t too bad if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty. There are helpful instructions, and all you’re doing is copying and pasting the information they provide into your sites code. Otherwise, you can also email the information over to someone else who’s a little more tech-savvy to set-up.
If you run into any issues, you can also use the Facebook Chrome Pixel Helper to instantly get feedback on if your tracking scripts are setup properly (or not), and how to fix it.
This handy little tool also goes further, identifying performance issues like if you have duplicate scripts on a single page (which can cause pages to load slower). Seemingly simple problems like this are actually pretty common when you have multiple people working on a single campaign.
So invest in this (free) tool and use it to make your life simple and stress-free.
2. Pre-format Your Content for Max Sharing
You know those times when you go to post a link on a social network, and it automatically pulls in text or images from that page?
That’s the ‘Open Graph’ at work.
So… what’s the big deal?
Properly using the ‘Open Graph’ can result in a 39% increase in click-through rates (CTR) by adding images and other preformatted headlines or descriptions. For example, here Neil Patel shows what two posts look like with, and without, this in place:
This extra little step will make sure that all of the information on your web pages will appear exactly how you want it, pulling everything in automatically so that you don’t have to waste time fumbling with manual uploading of images and text.
That’s important because you might not be the only person sharing a page. When others paste your URL into Facebook, Twitter or any other major social network, the ‘Open Graph’ is going to dictate what does or doesn’t show up properly.
Facebook has taken this a step further, creating an Open Graph Debugger that can help you spot potential problems before they happen, and help alert you to any problems or missing data on a page that might cause issues when you go to post it.
3. Discover What & When to Post
Facebook Insights provides a wealth of information about the types of people currently receiving your updates and posts.
For each network, it’s important to cover the bases and analyze the basic demographic information.
Next, you can dive deeper into engagement and how people are interacting with your content to get a feel for what their behaviors or preferences are.
This type of research doesn’t have to be exhausting or long-winded, but it’s critical that you have some baseline assumptions to go off of when it’s time to create, curate, and promote social content.
While these last few tips have been very Facebook-centric, the underlying principles remain the same across all platforms.
Facebook, being the largest and arguably most sophisticated, simply provides more tools for marketers to leverage their platform.
But the importance of (1) conversion tracking, (2) leveraging Open Graph data, and (3) conducting audience research cannot be overstated - regardless of which platform you spend the bulk of your resources.
The key to social media results is through engagement because that’s what enables your messages to spread far and wide. Here are three tips to increase yours.
4. Three Updates to Increase Engagement
Facebook uses an algorithm called ‘EdgeRank’ to determine which posts will be most successful. The results correlate with a recent Buzzsumo study, which analyzed over a billion posts.
Both sources recommend that if you’re going for ‘engagement’, then Questions, Images and Videos tend to get the most ‘weight’, or preference, over others.
While coupons and other short-term discounting tactics might work well for generating a few interested leads, they’re terrible for engagement. And your reach, or ability to access all of your Facebook fans, is dictated by engagement.
5. Get More Personal
The best way to drive engagement is through posting questions, images, and videos that evoke emotion from your followers (based on what they are, or aren’t interested).
One approach is to think about how your fans self-identify into groups or ‘personas’.
These personas can be like fictional representations of who you’re targeting, complete with names and personality quirks or interests.
That will help you keep the message on point, and avoid creating or publishing updates that don’t resonate with your people.
For example, young professionals won’t respond to a post about local schools.
While families probably aren’t the best target for information about local restaurants, because going out to a nice dinner with three kids who won’t stay sitting or stop talking isn’t a very enjoyable experience.
6. Utilize Contra Competitive Timing
‘Best practices’ are just that - generalized guidelines based on a wide polling. While helpful, they’re not by any means proven for you, so take them with a grain of salt.
Dan Zarella, former ‘social media scientist’ at HubSpot, released findings in his book Hierarchy of Contagiousness that contradicted many so-called ‘best practices’, specifically around the best times to post social content to drive more engagement.
Buzzsumo’s study also went into detail, highlighting the interesting finding that weekend posts scored higher for engagement, while late-night posts mid-week also outperformed those during working hours.
The theory is that by avoiding the competition (when MOST brands are cluttering these time slots), you’re able to cut through the noise and actually reach people.
Again, experiment based on your audience. Young urban professionals would be a great target for late night posts, while families would probably be easier to reach early, early morning when they’re not distracted by kids.
Fill Your Sales Funnel
By now you know your audience, and have a good feel for the type of updates which will drive engagement, which in turn provides better reach. But what’s the best approach for making sure that you have a steady stream of new renters coming in the door? Here are a few tips on using social marketing to fill your funnel.
7. Grab Attention & Awareness
At the very beginning, people aren’t clear on who you are, what you offer, or why they even need it in the first place. So instead of selling, focus on getting their attention and giving yourself the chance to build interest or trust with them.
Here, blog content works extremely well by targeting interesting topics your renters might care about (instead of expanding on the virtues of your company just yet).
Beautiful images and compelling videos are also a perfect fit, focusing the attention on things your prospective renters care deeply about.
Social media is a ‘serendipitous’ medium, so people are there to socialize with friends or kill a few minutes of downtime. Using light, entertaining or informative content can do just enough to capture their attention and give you a few seconds to make a good first impression.
8. Build Interest & Anticipation
Once people have become aware of who you are, and that they might be interested in what you’re doing or saying, they will slowly begin to actively research their options.
Typically that’s an external event, like their lease ending, acting as a catalyst. And if you’ve done the previous step, you’ll at least have a fighting chance of being on their radar.
At the beginning, these people aren’t completely sure what they’re looking for, typically scanning far and wide in general areas. They’re not exactly sure what amenities they’re interested in, but they have a general idea of the larger location through some quick research (also known as the ‘Zero Moment of Truth’).
In the early going, powerful information aggregators like Apartments.com, Apartment Finder, Craigslist and even Yelp become extremely influential. Not only because of the reviews, but also their ‘visibility’ on search engines (typically showing up in the first few slots for a location).
The good news is that social media networks also are ranked highly, giving you a chance to bring someone into a platform that you have more control and influence.
For example, content updates and interactions on your Facebook page can help quickly show off how friendly and engaging your location’s employees are (or aren’t).
Community events can help new potential renters feel comfortable moving to a new city and meeting new people.
9. Develop Desire in Your Property
Prospective renters aren’t serious about visiting a property until they’ve considered their alternatives and zeroed in on a few. Typically that means they already understand your general pricing ranges, floor plans, amenity mix, and of course, location.
Social media can help people at this stage by providing ‘social proof’ or testimonials and examples that validate your claims.
The goal here is to get the person on the other side of the screen to take action. You want them to schedule a property visit, so there’s no better way to build desire than by showing off exactly what makes your property better than everyone else in the area.
Highlighting visual examples are perfect, because they show the difference (as opposed to making general claims that every competitor could make too). The Bowie Residences in Austin does a great job highlighting several key unique features, like their designer finishes:
Their fitness center:
And even pet grooming!
Strategically using some social ads at this step also works well, because you have a pretty good idea of who these people are, and what they’re interested in now.
You can target your own fans or setup custom audiences of people who’ve visited your website in addition.
10. Inspire Readers to Take Action
By this point, the hard work should be complete! The renter has become aware of their need, evaluated their options, roughly knows what they’re looking for, and the timing is ripe for a simple call-to-action.
A no-frills ‘ask’ about this point should do the trick.
Again, Austin’s Bowie does a great job using a recent clip where they were featured on Designing Spaces to do the ‘selling’ for them.
Again, social ads work well here because a simple and direct approach works well. And again, ‘retargeting’ your fans who’ve visited your site (especially certain pages, like the Availability ones) can give you a good sample of people to work with who have interest and desire.
The better the targeting, the less you spend, and the more you make. Simple as that.
Measure, Track, and Optimize Your Efforts
The good thing about digital marketing in general is the wealth of data and information. However that’s also the bad news. With so much stuff to look at and track, where should you focus? Here’s how to use a few key metrics to simplify your life, and glean insights to improve your marketing efforts.
11. How are People Finding You?
‘Acquisition’ refers to (a) how many people are coming in, and (b) where are they coming from.
General impressions and ‘Likes’ are a start. But that also means who’s actually viewing your content.
Facebook Insights summarizes this data in the Page Views tab, where you can get information on Total Views, People Who’ve Viewed, as well as Top Sources.
This should remove some of the guesswork in identifying which campaigns are driving the most social action, and therefore should receive a larger slice of the resources pie.
12. What is Getting People to Engage?
‘Behavior’ focuses on what people are doing, or how they’re engaging.
As we’ve already explored a little bit, ‘engagement’ is important because it’s the metaphorical foundation that enables Interest and Desire to be built on top. Based on how social networks are created, ‘engagement’ is also the key to reaching more people, giving you greater exposure at a fraction of the cost.
So it’s not surprising that Behavior metrics are ‘engagement’ ones, like the ratio of people commenting or interacting with each post compared with the total number of fans.
You can also look at the ratios of engagement by people clicking (in blue) or reacting, commenting and sharing (in pink).
13. Why are People Taking Action?
Last, but absolutely not least, ‘conversions’ are the most important metrics that should drive your decision-making.
Again, Facebook Insights does a nice job locating some of this data in one place under the Actions on Page tab.
It will quickly highlight some of the biggest triggers, like clicks on Directions, Phone Numbers, Website, or other CTA’s. You can also dive deeper to sort by Age and Gender, Country, City or Device.
Access to this information helps you determine which personas in your audience is responding to which types of updates or posts. That means we’ve come full circle, repeating this process of continually updating customer research and assumptions based on what’s working and what’s not.
Social media may not have flashy, direct sales numbers that other channels like SEO or email marketing might boast.
But that’s because it’s not used the same way either, so it’s an unfair comparison to begin with.
Social media marketing tactics have proven to highly influence your sales process. And it presents one of the best opportunities to nurture leads long enough to get them on-site.
As long as you follow these 13 apartment marketing tips, you can rest assured that you’re on the right path.