How apartment marketers can prep for new competition

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In 2023 there is a strong chance that a new apartment community will open in your local marketplace. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, this results from the completion of many apartment projects that initially began during the record-breaking pandemic construction boom.

New communities opening nearby may seem threatening, but that makes your duties relatively clear, too. 

Let's discuss how you can maintain your community's success amongst increasing local competition.

Identify and focus on your apartment's target audience.

It's easy to see new competition and shift your focus on how its presence may affect your community. The best piece of advice when new communities open near yours is to maintain your focus on your community. Why?

  • Your community's supply and demand are unique.
  • Your amenities, floorplan layouts, and features deserve an excellent marketing presence.
  • Your apartments are only ideal for a select group of potential residents.

The last point, in particular, might be beneficial when you're worried about how a new community can impact your community's ability to stand out and maintain a share of the local market.

Think of it this way. Say your community is in a large metro area with a market share of 10,000 prospective renters. Just because a new community is opening doesn’t mean it will instantly take most of that market share.

Considering that most new apartment projects coming online soon are of the luxury class, only a tiny minority of prospective residents can afford or want to live in a community with that lifestyle. So while a new property nearby may create a lot of local buzz with its modern amenities and appearance, you must remember that each prospective resident will still have their own needs when looking for a future apartment.

You have a specific audience for your apartments and are responsible for identifying, targeting, and serving those individuals with a helpful search and leasing experience through your marketing efforts.

So take the time to determine your apartment's buyer personas. That will provide clear direction on how best to position your apartments to those prospective residents in your local marketplace who are most likely to rent from a community like yours. Key questions you need to answer include:

  1. What is your community's value proposition?
  2. Who is renting from you now?
  3. What is this person's daily routine?
  4. What problems does your community solve?
  5. What does this person want their apartment experience to be?
  6. What are this person's turn-offs?
  7. Where are potential residents shopping for your apartments?

When your marketing plan targets the right prospective residents and aims to give them the best search and leasing experience, there's no need to worry about how a new community entering the local scene changes that. 

Trying to capture the market share of prospective residents away from a luxury community with all of the latest and greatest bells and whistles is ultimately doing a disservice to your target audience unless your community has similar offerings and renter personas. And, consequently, you'll waste too much money trying to attract renters who would never rent from your community.

Develop a digital presence that meets the demand of prospective renters and builds a positive reputation for your community.

Again, your target audience deserves to easily access all the vital information they need to confidently rent an apartment in your community. You can best achieve this by providing a stellar online experience that meets the demands of today's apartment searchers.

  • You need a PPC ads strategy that ensures your target renters (a.k.a. ones searching directly for you by name or a community like yours) can easily find your apartment community's website in a Google search.
  • You must maintain a strong local search presence with an up-to-date and accurate Google Business Profile listing. A Google Business Profile creates the required authority for your apartments' identity and location in Google. It's also a popular feature for renters to quickly access your website URL, phone number, and address.
  • Websites that convert today's apartment searchers feature visual content like photo galleries and video tours, up-to-date rent prices and availability, and online rental applications. For you, it is a worthy marketing investment to ensure you have a comparable apartment website enabling conversions.

But those things are just the start. 

To rise above the competition, you also need a positive digital presence built with intelligent differentiators only some apartment communities can claim. Some ideas to keep in mind are:

  • Adding floorplan-specific pages to your website. Many apartment websites have a generic floorplans page that lists the various options available, with overhead 3D photos of the layouts and some unique information for each. They may also have a single photo gallery page or video available. The problem with this cookie-cutter approach to apartment websites is two-fold: One, it's confusing to prospective residents to know what they're looking at when visual content is indefinable by floorplan. Two, every prospective resident knows how many bedrooms and bathrooms they need before beginning their apartment search. So when they come to your website, they already have a specific floorplan in mind. Consequently, providing separate floorplan-specific pages, with visual content, pricing, availability, and other relevant information, give prospects the most straightforward depiction of what their life would be like living at your apartments. 
  • Prioritizing the mobile responsiveness and layout of your website. 91% of prospective residents use mobile devices during their apartment search. It is a significant source of traffic! Knowing this is the case, it's surprising how many apartment marketers unintentionally neglect their community websites' mobile appearance and performance. It would be wise to ensure your website is responsive and effective on every device, as that will be a noticeable differentiator that prospects respect. Our free SiteScore tool can check your mobile website's performance.
  • Enhancing the accessibility of your website. Every prospect, regardless of ability, should be able to engage with your apartment community's website. Website accessibility needs to be top of mind, not just as a means to avoid any potential litigation by someone unable to use your website, but more so because it's a considerable action that shows you care for prospective residents and their process of choosing an apartment.
  • Running remarketing and specific keyword campaigns in your PPC ads strategy. Most potential residents will not convert to a lead (or lease) with only one visit to your community's website. By adding remarketing campaigns to your digital ads strategy, you're helping keep your apartments top of mind to individuals who have already expressed interest in you by visiting your website. Exposing them to display ads during a very competitive period in their short apartment search is an excellent method for keeping your apartments in a leading and trustworthy position. You could also add campaigns around more targeted, specific keywords like 'apartments in northeast Houston or 'pet-friendly apartments near the University of Houston.' If a new property opens and directly competes with yours (same class, location, amenities, rents), you may even consider running targeted keyword campaigns so your apartments appear in Google search results for that other property. Establishing search engine visibility in more specific instances like these can help your apartments capture more of the market share of prospective residents.

Another thing to remember regarding your apartment's online presence: more and more prospective residents are choosing a self-guided leasing experience. Some are even forgoing in-person tours or will only take a tour of one community. They often see interacting with someone in your community as a formality or the last step to complete their lease signing.

Suppose your online marketing set-up enables more prospective residents to start and complete their leasing journey individually. In that case, you are creating value in your apartments that will always make them competitive in any market landscape, regardless of nearby properties.

Run a local branding campaign.

It always helps to hone in on your community's location in your marketing efforts. And one way you can do that is to run a local branding campaign.

Your expectations for this campaign should be something other than generating leads, leases, and increasing occupancy. Instead, your goal should be to frame your community in a positive and authoritative light locally.

How can you do this?

  • Deploying traditional marketing techniques, like billboards or bus signage, may be beneficial when more competing properties enter your local landscape.
  • Sponsoring local events, sports teams, or charities.
  • Hosting an event, like a networking meeting.
  • Creating booklets to give to local businesses so they can share those with their employees.

While a campaign like this may only work for some apartment communities, it's always a good thing to try and create a favorable reputation for your apartments to potential renters, especially those who may be within your specific geographic location or are planning to move there.

Conclusion

As more apartment communities open in all markets across the United States, now is a great time to ensure your apartments have a marketing presence that helps them remain competitive.

Your goal should be to give your ideal target personas a marketing experience that meets their expectations, from how they can find and access your community website to the content available. 

Apartment communities with an online marketing presence that achieve this will gain a positive differentiator that prospective residents favor and respect.

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