Why does online marketing matter?
Marketing allows you to convey who you are and what you can do for your customers. Years ago, a nice office conveyed competence and resources. It could win customers over. But now, the physical office is digital. Your online presence is what wins customers over.
What is Online Presence?
The sum total of everything the customer sees online that is related to your business.
- Your Yelp reviews.
- Your Google 'My Business' reviews.
- Your website.
- Your 'About Us' page.
- Your video testimonials from satisfied customers.
- Your social media accounts.
Your prospective customers analyze all of these factors and then make a judgment about your business. If your customers see a 2.7-star rating on Google, for instance, they will look elsewhere.
How do we improve our online presence?
We need to test marketing ideas and then analyze them.
There are 2 kinds of marketing:
- Direct marketing: Advertisements.
- Brand marketing: Building a community.
Marketer Seth Godin says that you should analyze your direct marketing to ensure a positive return on investment. But you should never track brand marketing. Instead, be consistent and patient.
Direct Marketing Ideas:
- Search engine optimization. In short, when someone searches "apartment complexes in my city" on Google, you want your business to be the first result. There are various tools to help with this.
- Search engine marketing. Google search ads.
- Social media ads. Facebook and YouTube ads are best. They allow you to select by age, income, location, etc. The ads should direct people to whichever platform you have the most "social proof" on. If you have a lot of YouTube subscribers, link to your channel. If you have a nice website, link it.
- Post on the usual sites. Apartments.com, Zillow, etc.
Brand Marketing Ideas:
- Make a modern website. Payments should be done on the website. Communication should be done through email.
- Have virtual apartment tours. Each complex should have at least 1 virtual tour of a unit on your website. The industry standard for virtual tours is Matterport. It uses a camera that takes 360° images and stitches them together. Here is a demo.
- Incentivize positive reviews. Give people a discount on a month of rent if they do a video testimonial or a Google review. (Post the testimonial on your YouTube and website.)
- Make a Facebook group. Make a housing group page for your city. Called, "[Your city] Apartments" or "[Your city] Housing."
- Make a YouTube channel. Young people want video tours. Ideally, have a video of each unit. At a minimum, have a video of one unit per complex.
- Post vlogs (to YouTube) or pictures (to social media) that show nearby nature, restaurants, and other amenities. (Can be done with an iPhone 12 or newer.)
- Word-of-mouth. Word-of-mouth stems from great customer service. When I went to UCSB, many property managers were notorious for having terrible customer service and stealing security deposits. But there was one property manager that rightly returned security despots. This one property manager always had tenants because everyone would recommend them.
Ask customers how they discovered you. Send out an email survey. This allows you to gauge which of the marketing ideas worked. Do more of what works, less of what doesn't.
- Set rent prices below market price. This allows you to get more applicants and have a more thorough screening process. Better tenants are worth a slight decrease in revenue.
- Have all of your in-person walkthroughs scheduled for the same day and time every week. Show an apartment to 6 different people all on Saturday at 5:00 pm, for example. Benefits:
- You only have to do one showing (saves time).
- The prospects can see that there are other people who are interested in the unit (application competition).