Stop Improving Your Website. Start Improving Your Traffic.

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One of the many differences between print-based marketing and online-based marketing is the level of control you have over distribution. In print-based marketing, you essentially outsource your marketing to the owner of the print media you are advertising in. The trouble with this approach is that it gives you virtually zero control over your marketing reach, which is marketing jargon for "how many people see your marketing material." That figure will be based entirely on how many people that print media source is able to reach.

In this world, if you wanted to reach a new group or audience, basically all you could do is add more listing services to your budget. If you want more people to see your listing, you need to pay more money.

That way was kinda awful, wasn't it? You had no control over your marketing, third-party companies ran everything, and all you could do is give them your money.

Good news: Now you can control your marketing reach.

Online marketing is a totally different story, thankfully. Most digital marketing technologies are going to afford you a far greater degree of control over both who sees your marketing content and how many people see it.

With this new capability, you can do a number of things that will improve your overall marketing strategy.

  • The first is you can improve your audience. Most of the time when we talk about "improving marketing" we mean "improving our marketing materials," which means taking better photos, writing better copy, and so on. But with online marketing tools, you have greater control over what sort of person sees your marketing content. With organic search, you can say "we want to show up on these keywords," and then work toward that goal. With paid search, you can say "we want to buy advertisements that show up on these keywords," and work toward that goal. The source of your marketing problems may not be how many people you are reaching, but who you are reaching. With online marketing, you can fix that problem.
  • The second thing you can do, of course, is you really can expand your reach. If you want more people to find you, you can do that too. A good organic search strategy should grow the number of free visitors to your site gradually. A good paid search strategy, meanwhile, will help provide immediate traffic whenever you need it. 

Let's break down each of these points a little bit more.

First, let's talk about what finding the right audience means. Before we can talk about how to reach the right audience, we need to figure out who that audience is. Asking these sorts of diagnostic questions can help with that point.

  • Who is even able to lease an apartment from us right now? (This will eliminate anyone who owns their home or is locked into a long-term lease.)
  • What makes our community unique? (This helps to identify the primary selling point for your community, whether it is price, amenities, location, or something else.)
  • Who is looking for that unique selling point? (This helps you identify a target audience. If you are a luxury downtown property, you should be thinking of a different sort of person than you would if you were a B-class property in the suburbs.)
  • What kind of search terms do these people use on Google? (The answer to this sets the agenda for your AdWords and SEO strategies. The bad news here is that these search terms are searched so infrequently that it's hard to do much keyword research on them. The good news is you can probably figure a lot of this out with some common sense. Go after "luxury apartments in downtown st louis" or "pet-friendly apartments in bloomington, mn" and so on.)

When you identify who your target audience is and how they are searching, you're golden.

Second, let's talk about how you increase your audience over time. The main way apartment communities can do this is with a good organic search strategy. Here we have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that SEO work takes time to pay off, so if you need tons of traffic right now, you probably need to invest in paid search. The good news is that SEO work does pay off over time.

The key is that you're doing the right things, even when your website is new and you don't have much traffic. One of the main factors driving search performance is how users interact with your site. If you have a good site and users are engaging with it on a deep level, Google takes notice and your site starts to rise up in the search rankings.

So you need to build a really strong website, fill it with helpful, relevant content for your prospective residents (floorplan-specific video tours, floorplan-specific photos, accurate, engaging marketing copy, and so on), and give the site time to slowly build some momentum and start to bring in more visitors. Again, this will take some time. But long-term we do see a lot of communities start to get more and more organic search traffic because they are doing the right things and if you do the right things for a long time, it pays off.

You can supplement these strategies with other marketing tools as well.

There are still some mass-messaging options out there that give you less control, like Craigslist. But Craigslist is free so there's no harm in advertising there, even if you don't have as much control over who you reach. If it's free, well... why not? The risk of marketing on Craigslist is pretty minimal.

So when you think about your marketing strategy, you don't want to just think about your website. You want to think about who you are reaching. Because with online marketing you can control both.


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RentVision enables you to generate more qualified traffic when you have a sudden increase in vacancy, and saves you marketing dollars when it’s under control.

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