First published October 10, 2019. Updated in 2022.
Old-school multifamily marketing had a limited number of channels to choose from and most of the options were fairly basic in terms of how they worked. You just hoped that prospective residents became aware of the existence of your apartments without any guarantee that your marketing strategy actually produced legitimate leads for your leasing staff.
As a result, there were many instances where a leasing agent conducted a tour and knew within the first 30 seconds that the prospective resident wasn't interested in those apartments. Or, they simply never showed up for their scheduled tour in general.
Digital marketing changed all of that. Today, you can specifically target those prospects looking for your style of apartments and have greater control over the quality of the leads for your leasing staff to interact with.
In this post, we want to share two simple apartment marketing tips that will help your leasing team spend more time speaking with those highly engaged prospects and less time with people who are never going to sign a lease.
Tip No. 1: Stop Relying On Internet Listing Services For Leads
Prospects who call your leasing office are far more qualified and ready to rent than those who email. Furthermore, those that opt to send an email instead of call usually do so after discovering your apartments on an Internet Listing Service (or ILS).
Why do Internet Listing Services develop more email leads?
When using an ILS, prospects, in general, find it hard to distinguish one community from another in that same geographic area with similar features. To feel confident about selecting one community over the thousands of others also shown on an ILS website, they require a lot more information.
This unsureness is the main reason why most leads from an ILS are from email. Naturally, they're not 100% sure if your community is the best one for them, and they're not ready to take that leap and actually call a leasing agent.
They're most likely simply emailing their way through a list of communities that caught their eye, and yours just happens to be one of the communities they might want to visit.
Over relying on an ILS as one of your top lead sources is essentially the same as buying an ad for the newspaper or placement on a printed city guide (you know, those old-school multifamily marketing tactics). While doing so creates awareness of your community, an ILS doesn't help improve the quality of interactions or engagement your leasing staff has with prospective residents as many are just emailing to get more information instead of calling and scheduling a tour.
In contrast to this, phone leads typically come from your community website.
Why are phone leads better?
People who have looked at your website, and seen photos and videos of your units, amenities, along with other specific information, and then ultimately pick up their phone are your most qualified leads.
Rather than finding your community amongst hundreds of others in an ILS, they sought out your community directly and engaged with your website instead. When there, prospects are better able to build the prerequisite amount of trust needed to confidently take the next steps in their leasing journey. This, ultimately, should be an easier deal for your leasing staff to close.
Bottom line: when it comes to leads,
you should care more about quality than quantity.
You can get a great quantity of leads from an ILS, but typically those leads are not as ready to rent as leads who've visited your community's website and called your leasing office. Plus, ILSs are really expensive—especially if you want to try and stand out on one. You'll essentially be paying a lot of money for it to create a lot of interactions with prospects who will never sign a lease with you.
Tip No. 2: Focus On A Defined Group Of Prospective Residents
No community appeals to every renter in the area. Every property has fixed qualities that make them desirable to some people and undesirable or inaccessible to others.
Rental rates, location, types of properties, pet policies, and more are deal breakers for many prospective renters. And they all play a major role in defining who is more likely to rent from you and who is less likely.
Assuming that your individual community is for everyone is a common mistake many make, and is one of the general shortcomings of traditional apartment marketing tactics.
But now that we're in the era of digital advertising where you're able to have more of a targeted marketing strategy, you should put your focus on a defined group of prospective residents that best fit your community's buyer persona. For this reason, it’s worth taking the time to sit down and understand who those perfect prospects are, and then target your marketing messaging and digital ad campaigns to them.
Our blog post about how to identify your apartment community's buyer persona is the best guide to get started. (NOTE: Please review fair housing laws and have a solid understanding of the legalities before creating any marketing campaigns.)
A targeted apartment marketing strategy looks like this: instead of bidding on the search term “apartments in Lincoln, NE” in Google, which is too broad and will attract a lot of low-quality traffic, bid on more specific keywords like “luxury apartments near downtown Lincoln, NE”. The latter is more targeted (and less expensive to bid for), meaning any click you earn from that digital ad campaign is highly qualified as it's reaching prospective residents looking exactly for a luxury apartment near downtown Lincoln, Nebraska.
Tailoring your marketing towards a defined group of prospective residents is a far more cost-effective tactic that also improves the quality of your leads.
You need to focus on the types of leads your apartment marketing strategy generates.
If most of your leads are coming from an ILS and simply email your leasing office, then most of your leasing staff's time and effort will be spent working with prospective residents who aren't totally sure if your apartments are the best for them.
By moving away from an ILS and utilizing a more targeted approach with digital advertising, you can improve the quality of leads coming to your leasing office.
In other words, targeted apartment marketing helps your bottom line and helps your team because they'll be interacting with more people who are more likely to sign a lease with you.
Given all that, why wouldn’t you focus more on lead quality and worry less about quantity?