With over 50% of resident prospects beginning their apartment search online (up from 38% 3 years ago), the multifamily industry is as beholden to the Internet as any business. How has it changed evaluating and operating properties?

Some notable effects are:
1) An apartment complex without an effective Internet marketing plan can quickly struggle for occupancy.
2) Depending on the newspaper for advertising can be counter productive.
3) The reputation of an apartment complex can be spread around the Internet quickly to a very large audience making customer service and property condition even more important than in the past.
4) And while the high visibility location will always have the advantage, a very convenient location with less visibility can benefit disproportionately.

What should your effective Internet marketing plan include? A few items are: 1) a great website, 2) robust use of Internet Listing Services (ILS), and 3) effective and consistent use of Internet posting services (Craigslist or Hotpads are examples).

A great website is not what you would expect.

A strong website can be created inexpensively using an existing service like WordPress, Weebly or Typepad. I recommend the blog items on the chance that you have a motivated property manager that desires more interaction with her tenants. Also, the standard blog sites offer templates that make great apartment property websites.

Next, website information is the key. Unlike most products renting apartments is more of an educational process. Your objective is to answer their questions about features, amenities, and property facts first. Next and possibly equally important the website should provide detail about the neighborhood, shopping, entertainment, schools (demographics, test scores, etc.), government facilities, directions, employment, etc. These items all play a role in generating visits, calls, and finally leases.

ILS provide valuable exposure with some advantages and disadvantages. First, the major companies in this market spend substantial cash ensuring they appear well for pay per click results. Because of this, one can be certain the ILS appears in front of the customers you are interested in. Unfortunately, the ILS doesn’t present every apartment complex every time. Because of this, you will only appear some of the time and always in a list with other competitors. Nevertheless, the ILS are a major source of applicants.

Craigslist is the most pervasive of the posting sites. However, there are a large number and you should seek to take advantage of them all. When using these services, the ads need to be professional and detailed including a subset of the information from the property website. At a minimum, the ad should describe the units, amenities, provide directions, and have clear areas to respond or apply for an apartment.

What else can a property pursue? Pay per click, organic search, and social network marketing area a few.

Pay per click is beyond most properties, but for the portfolio owner this can be a valuable way to gain more resident prospects. Essentially, you subscribe to Google and select key words and budget to pay for interested searchers in your market. As simple as this sounds, this requires professional support because of the risks involved. First, the wrong key words without an appropriate budget can produce a huge bill with Google and no results. Second, the right key words prevent attracting prospects that don’t fit your property. For example, if you were to choose “Miami Apartments” without further descriptors you will attract prospects from one of several cities in the U.S. Additionally, if you are a Miami, Florida apartment owner, you will still attract many more prospects than you intended. You will want to narrow prospects by neighborhood and other factors to save cost and time.

Organic search is even more difficult. Apartment communities are local in nature. Organic search is global. Because of this, organic search is difficult for most properties. However, the well structured website, consistent presence and a strategy that adds fresh information incrementally can lead to results. This is especially true if over time you can partner with local businesses to list their sites on yours and for them to do the same to you.

Social networking is a possibility also, but at this point the path is less clear. The only clear point in this area, is that apartment communities should subscribe and have a page on each social network (especially Facebook).

In addition to exposure through the aforementioned items, a critical component to the strategy is the ability to convert to visit reservation, an application for lease, or even a lease. Finally, processes should exist to ensure that the reservation or applicant receives a quick response to their inquiry, application, or lease.

In 2006, Blake acquired two apartment complexes in the southeast and began refining a service and sales approach that is unique in the industry. This technique is a managed Internet marketing, sales, operations, and intensive customer service approach-an approach bound to the Internet that is no more expensive than traditional approaches. Using and expanding this methodology, Blake’s properties quickly drove sharply higher revenues, enjoyed steadily increasing calls, visits, and complete leases. Several properties have been moved from non-performing (less than 45% occupied) to 90% occupied in a relatively brief span of time (some in as little 6 months).

Os Estados Unidos estão próximos de acabarem com o fim da Neutralidade de sua internet. Seria o Brasil o próximo? Entenda!
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