Graphic Source: HubSpot
Marketing to potential renters involves understanding your audience, what they want and what they need, then giving it to them in a format meaningful for them. Marketing to apartment hunters involves more than a listing with your community’s amenities. It’s using the tools of the Internet and social media to convert a prospective tenant into a community member who is excited to talk about their new home.
In the Beginning
As every marketer can tell you, the way to turn a stranger into a tenant and an evangelist for your community is by attracting their attention, giving a call to action, signing the lease and then providing exceptional service throughout their lease term. The chart above shows the actions of an apartment community to attract tenants and the tools used to complete those action-oriented items.
One thing to note is how social media and your Internet presence play a part in every step. From the initial blog and social media posts about your community through the community calendar of events, your web presence or lack of one can make it harder or easier to get that executed lease.
Ask yourself: Am I making it easy for my potential tenants to find me, either through a search engine or my blog? When they make it to my community’s web page, can their questions easily be answered, or do they find outdated information and dead links?
Inbound Marketing: Taking Your Measure
While it is a no-brainer that your community needs a web presence and inbound marketing, it can be hard to calculate the ROI of inbound marketing. In a HubSpot survey, 34% of the respondents admitted they didn’t or couldn’t calculate their ROI. So how can you make measuring your ROI practical and a seamless part of your marketing?
Taking the time to choose what you are going to measure and picking a few key items can help. For example, measuring click-throughs to your web page can be one form of ROI. Another measurement is the number of leads generated by the call to action provided on your web page. Do not overwhelm yourself by measuring all aspects of your marketing plan.
It’s important to remember the days of direct mail and newspaper ads are done. Outbound marketing has become more expensive per lead, costing your community more per tenant. In 2013, HubSpot found that 17% of their respondents placed direct marketing as less important to their overall marketing plan for their companies. Additionally, they found that inbound leads were up to 61% less than an outbound lead.
Marketers are moving away from outbound marketing and moved toward inbound marketing, based in the Internet and social media. The cost savings can be found in the time and effort your leasing agents are expending to create leads that they can convert to tenants. To see the measurable ROI, focus your leasing agents on the areas producing leads for less outlay, providing bang for your buck.
To Blog or Not to Blog
Blogging and creating relevant content has become a way to draw individuals to your site and a vital part of inbound marketing. A blog can provide images, links to other information and even links to your community’s leasing page. According to HubSpot, companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those that don’t.
Your potential tenants would prefer to get to know your community via articles instead of ads. Blogs provide the content allowing you to connect in your potential tenants’ preferred arena. Think of your blog as an in depth extension of your social media campaign. Your campaign flounders without time and effort in the form of regular and meaningful posts or tweets. Your blog also needs time and attention. Find content attractive to your core demographic. Some content appealing to potential renters includes organization, how to decorate on a budget, or local community events. For a smaller community, having your own blog might not be practical. If that is the case for your community, then use a listing service like Rentable, which provides a renter lifestyle blog focused on your potential tenants.
Blogs cost marketers time, not money. Most blogs are relatively easy to produce on a regular schedule and even older blogs can continue to provide meaningful content for your potential tenants. In a survey of marketers, HubSpot found that marketers spend 9% of their time on a blog, but only 7% of the allocated marketing budget. The point is clear, blogs provide an inbound marketing opportunity with a low cost threshold and a positive return in the form of a draw to potential tenants.
“The best blog posts are punchy and concise, focusing on a single idea. Think short paragraphs or bullet points. And don’t bury the important information. Open with a declarative sentence that sets up the key idea. Framing blog posts this way not only respects your reader’s busy schedule, but also helps address the anxiety a lot of us feel about writing. A blog post can also be a graphic, image, video or even an embedded PowerPoint presentation,” said Ann Handley of Entrepreneur.
In order to drive traffic to your blog, so it can drive leads, you need to promote it on your web page and in other marketing efforts. Your blog needs to be an extension of your web page, and the two must be consistent with each other. Offering subscription can help build a readership, but the readership will not materialize without quality content published on a consistent basis. Create a publishing schedule and stick to it.
Paid Ad versus Organic Search
We all know from our own time using search engines that we rarely go to the second page of results. But paying to land at the top of the search heap, be it your blog or your community’s website, may not be the way to go. According to Forrester Research, 54% of adults are more likely to discover a website through an organic search versus a paid ad. How does that translate for you?
Your blog’s unique content is being indexed by the search engines constantly. Those indexes are being used to provide those organic results to your potential tenants. Look at your content and make it relevant and consistent with quality links.
By being consistent between your web page and blog, you assist your placement in organic searches. It’s also important to use keywords within your content that would be logic search terms for your potential tenants. By keeping your links current and using relevant keywords and consistency across your Internet and social media presence, you will make it easier for the search engines to find you and promote you on their organic searches.
Calling All Tenants
Using a blog to drive traffic to your web page and ultimately, your community is definitely the goal of your inbound marketing. However, without a call to action (CTA), even the best content can’t generate leads. According to HubSpot, during a study conducted over 12 months, they found that targeted CTAs were 42% more effective than an untargeted CTA.
When planning your CTA, think about placement on your web page. Would it be better placed closer to the top, or would it be better at the end of your blog? If the CTA is to follow a link to set up an appointment with one of your leasing agents, make sure the link is active. Contact information collected by these CTAs needs to be followed up on quickly, or that CTA generated lead will quickly disappear. Assign a lease agent to check for CTA leads on a daily basis and set a reasonable turn-around time to get back with these potential tenants.
CTA bring leads but a majority of them will never become tenants. Those that will become tenants are going to need nurturing. According to Forrester Research, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost. Sales equal executed leases in your community. Your leasing agents are in the best position to nurture these leads and assist these potential tenants to chose your community as their next home. Be sure that your leasing agents are familiar with the neighborhood and local attractions, in addition to various aspects of your community, such as the location of laundry facilities and the amenities.
Apartment marketing has clearly shifted online. Your potential tenant can now have dozens of options in a matter of seconds. By using your blog and other content opportunities effectively, you can make your community their top choice.