How to Maximize Apartment Marketing Reach

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In 1991, the Boston Globe, one of the leading newspapers in the United States and a much renowned publication in media circles, sold to the New York Times Media Group for $1.1b. (That's $1.9b adjusted for inflation.)

In 2013, it sold for $75m. (Note the "m" there.") To put it another way, in 22 years one of the nation's leading newspapers lost 96% of its value.

What happened? The internet happened. Specifically, Craigslist and Google happened.

The Death of Newspapers 

Historically, newspapers had something of a monopoly on the distribution of information to large groups of people. They had to compete with TV and radio, sure, but newspaper ads are accessible anytime and are easier to reference than TV or radio ads, so for certain types of advertisements (like apartment ads) newspapers were really the only game in town. This led to two things that were hugely beneficial to newspapers:

  • They brought in sizable subscription revenue because anyone who wanted to be informed about local happenings needed a newspaper.
  • They could charge enough advertising rates because advertisers needed the newspaper to reach their audience.

With Google, it became easier to access local information and to do it for free.

With Craigslist, it became easier to advertise local goods and services to a large audience and to do it for free.

Those two lines basically contain a complete obituary for the daily newspaper in America. The internet made advertising cheaper, easier, and, remarkably, more expansive. You could reach far more people with the internet without sacrificing ad quality or spending extra money.

RIP newspapers.

Newspapers and Apartment Marketing

The decline of newspaper advertising shouldn't surprise anyone involved in apartment marketing. Historically, the apartment industry has invested heavily in newspaper advertising, but, like many other industries, apartment advertising spends have moved steadily away from print advertising (newspapers and print rental guides) and increasingly toward internet-based marketing sources.

Now that people search for everything on the internet, newspaper advertising simply doesn't produce results any more.

However, just because newspapers are no longer the correct solution, it doesn't mean that apartment marketing no longer needs to attempt to solve the problem that newspapers have always sought to address.

When newspapers were effective as a marketing source, their effectiveness arose from their unsurpassed reach. Simply put, newspapers were the media source that reached the most people with the most frequency.

Increasing Marketing Reach in an Internet World

Replicating and exceeding that reach on the internet is possible, but it does require a coherent strategy. In order to build up your marketing reach in an internet-based world, you need to advertise in the places that people are searching for apartments. Although there are many opportunities to market your properties over the internet, your primary concerns for achieving maximum reach fall into two places we mentioned above:

  1. Google: Not only does Google handle 3.5 billion searces every day, they also produces a very high rate of conversions.
  2. Craigslist: As an online classified ad service, Craigslist is the most analogous to the actual advertising function of the newspaper. Craigslist has 60 million monthly users in the USA alone.

More and more, when renters go to the internet to search for an apartment, they either go to Google or to Craigslist.

How to Improve Your Apartment Marketing Reach

So, if newspapers and print resources simply don't reach your prospective renter, what can you do to improve your marketing reach? Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does your community have a website to give you a face on the internet?
  2. Is your community's website mobile-friendly for the growing segment of mobile devices varying screen sizes) used for internet browsing, shopping, and research?
  3. How well does your community's website rank on Google when someone searches for your community by name?
  4. How well does your community's website rank for other relevant keyword phrases on Google? (In other words, how well is your website optimized for search engines?)
  5. Do you effectively use Google AdWords not only to drive qualified apartment leads to your website, but also for defensive apartment marketing purposes?
  6. Do you utilize Craigslist well, with powerful calls to action, high quality photos, and a strategy to get renters off of Craigslist and onto your own website?

Of course, maximizing your reach on the internet is a lot of work. But if you have a coherent strategy for how to do that using the things we describe above, then you can reach a massive audience for a fraction of what you used to spend on newspaper advertising.


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