Being a landlord isn’t what it used to be. Not only has the online world drastically changed, providing people with quicker access to the products and services they want, but so have the needs of customers.
Whether it’s procuring small, daily necessities or buying a big ticket item, today’s web-savvy millennials are working longer hours and using the internet to speed up the purchasing process. It’s no surprise renters would rather see the exact details and layout of a property remotely before scheduling an appointment and taking the time to view it in person.
With technology advancements making online experiences safer and better, many forward-thinking landlords and property management firms have already transitioned into the digital space, directing more dollars toward sophisticated websites that are responsive and mobile-friendly, offering 3-D floor plan layouts, videos and other great marketing tools—all of which result in units renting faster.
Statistics show that 91 per cent of apartment searches today begin online. Landlords and property managers who are ahead-of-the-curve are benefitting from an earlier investment in their web and digital marketing strategies.
Building a successful digital strategy
Almost all landlords today know that they need to advertise their real estate online, but many are confused about how to maximize their strategies and budgets. While there is no universal answer for every landlord or company, there are certain variables that can impact overall strategies. Those variables include:
- Size of the company
- Amount of properties requiring advertising
- Having defined goals and objectives – which can range from generating traffic, converting website visits to leads, and / or reputation management, to name just a few.
It’s always good to start with an outline of your company’s marketing requirements (or “must-haves”) before adding complementary components to that list. This will help keep everything in perspective, and give the ability to move forward with a clear objective in mind.
Web marketing “must-haves”
1. A user- and mobile-friendly website with search functionality
Having a responsive, user-friendly website is the most important tool every landlord and company should have. Almost all research and searching is done on the web today and companies that don’t have an up-to-date website are losing thousands of potential customers every day.
For landlords and property management companies with multiple properties, having an intuitive and search-friendly website is the only way to go, as it allows users to search for a property by location, price, and bedroom type and contact owners instantly.
Also, when developing a website, be certain the web-developer is knowledgeable in best SEO practice ensuring content is optimized for search engines using keywords associated with your company.
Depending on your marketing budget and the amount of properties you need to drive traffic to, having a PPC (pay-per-click) strategy can be another great way to help drive more traffic (i.e. customers) to your website. And, the great thing about PPC campaigns is that you choose the keywords and you only pay when a customer clicks on your “AD” (link).
Setting up a PPC campaign is relatively simple and you should only pay the search engine you are advertising on (i.e. Google or Bing). Many companies offer to manage PPC campaigns but charge hefty “management fees” for overseeing this effort. Be wary of these companies, and do your research. In some cases, paying a management fee is necessary since it does take time to set-up and manage a well structured campaign. However, these fees should be clear (and understood) prior to signing any contracts. A good general rule of thumb is to either work out a flat monthly fee for the management or a percentage of the campaign spend (i.e. 10%).
2. Social media marketing
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Linkedin… By now we all know that social media is a critical component of any successful digital strategy. FORBES recently compiled the following Top Ten list identifying the key benefits for businesses:
- Increased Brand Recognition
- Improved Brand Loyalty
- More Opportunities to Convert
- Higher Conversion Rates
- Higher Brand Authority
- Increased Inbound Traffic
- Decreased Marketing Costs
- Better Search Engine Rankings
- Richer Customer Experiences
- Improved Customer Insights
If your company is not on social media, quite simply it should be. Not only does social media offer all the benefits listed above, but almost all social media channels today have built-in advertising tools allowing companies to advertise and promote posts to targeted audiences—which is a great way to reach out to potential customers.
3. Video marketing
By 2017, video will account for 69 per cent of all consumer internet traffic, according to Cisco. Take YouTube for instance, which receives more than one billion unique visitors every month. Here are some more amazing video stats provided by YouTube:
- Every day, hundreds of millions of hours are watched on YouTube generating billions of views.
- The number of hours people spend watching YouTube each month is up 50 per cent year over year.
- 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
- 60 per cent of a creator’s views come from outside their home country.
- YouTube is localised in 75 countries and available in 61 languages.
- Half of YouTube views are on mobile devices.
Videos are naturally engaging, and in an age of information overload, it’s vital for businesses to offer content that is easy to digest. If not, consumers will simply move on. Video marketing does this very well. Put another way, if a picture paints 1,000 words then one minute of video is worth 1.8 million, or so say Forrester’s researchers.
By incorporating property videos onto your website and within your advertising on ILSs and social media, this will not only increase traffic to your website and lead conversions, but also provide higher qualified leads and customers.
4. 3-D floor plans
Offering floor plans has many advantages. Most importantly, they provide prospective renters with superior visualization of the unit allowing them to imagine their furniture and make measurements in advance. 3-D floor plans also exhibit great pictorial illustrations that help generate leads and interest.
What’s more, floor plans can be used in a variety of ways for advertising. They can be included on websites and shared on social media; they can be used in print advertisements or even printed-out and given as hand-outs when a prospective renter (customer) visits the property. Quite simply, they are an integral part of any good marketing strategy.
4. Third party advertising
While all the components listed above are “must-haves” for setting up your digital marketing strategy, there is another equally important component ,which provides extreme value: advertising on other relevant websites. A few reasons why this is important to your overall web marketing strategy, include:
- Most customers will find your property using some sort of search and in most cases, while doing this they will come across popular apartment finder websites, like rentseeker.ca and Kijiji. If you’re not advertising on those platforms, you’ll be missing thousands of potential customers daily.
- An important factor for organic rankings on search engines (*not paid ADs or PPC) are inbound links, which provide search engines (i.e. Google and Bing) with signals that show that your website is relevant, informational, and important. Most apartment finders and classifieds will provide links back to your website, which will in-turn help your own website’s rankings in search engines.
- Another way to increase your own website’s authority and organic rankings is to reach out to local places, for example colleges or universities. Ask them to link to your website to help students searching for rental housing – this will in turn provide you referral traffic from their students as well as increase your website’s authority and in-turn your website’s rankings on search engines.
RentSeeker.ca is Canada’s Leading Apartment Finder and Real Estate Marketing Company currently servicing over 100+ of Canada’s Largest Landlords and Property Management Firms. Contact us today for a free consultation.