How to Market Apartments During Slow Leasing Seasons

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Though peak leasing season comes in the summer for many multifamily communities, there are exceptions to the rule. If you’re one of those exceptions, you might struggle with knowing how to think about marketing and leasing decisions during the summer months. Perhaps, some of your competitors are increasing their ad spend, pushing rent specials, and generally making an aggressive push toward earning more leases.

Should you spend money on ads and offer rent specials during the summer even if it isn’t peak leasing season?

Generally speaking, the answer is “no.”

Though you may not have high summer vacancy, you likely have an increase in move-outs during a different time of the year. This will be a high-risk time for your community and you will want to reserve resources for that season. So, in your community’s situation, it is probably reasonable to keep ad budgets low and not run as many specials during the summer months.

That being said, we still recommend maintaining a baseline for digital advertising, even during the summer months. Typically, this means maintaining your defensive ad campaigns that protect your community’s name on search engines. We’d recommend at least $100/month allocated toward your defensive campaigns. If you’d like to stay aggressive against your nearby competitors, you could certainly add another $100+/month to target your competitors’ names. The total budget should be determined by your community’s goals and your budget.  

Why should I advertise if it is a slow leasing season?

There are three main benefits to maintaining an ad presence during slower leasing seasons. 

Defensive ads improve the effectiveness of your organic search results and Google My Business listing.

When you have Google Ad campaigns running alongside a strong organic search presence, the two will reinforce each other. One agency found that they could increase overall website clicks tenfold when they ran defensive ad campaigns alongside their SEO campaigns to rank well organically for valuable keywords.

Why does this work?

Well, put yourself in the place of the user. When you run a search for a particular brand and that brand has an ad running as well as the top organic result, plus a Google My Business listing, two things happen that affect your behavior on the search results page.

First, there simply aren’t that many places for you to go besides the business’s website. The ad at the top of the search engine results page, the organic listing, and the Google My Business page send the user to the business’s website. 


So, if the user wants to go somewhere besides the business’s website, they will have to search and decide to find other destinations.

This is a valuable win for your community year-round as you will always need some degree of traffic to your site, and this method makes it highly likely that you will get the traffic you need.

Defensive ads make your community look professional and trustworthy.

There is a second benefit a company gains from utilizing defensive ad campaigns. When a user searches for your business and finds an ad alongside the organic result and a Google My Business listing, trust is increased. Why is that? It tells them that this is a business that is conscientious about its online presence and has taken the time to not only build a website, but also set up online ads while maintaining their Google My Business listing. Given how essential trust is in the renting process, anything you can do to build trust with prospective residents is a win.

Finally, defensive ads will help keep overall advertising costs down when you do need to run more ads.

If a Google Ads account has a history of running ads with high-quality scores, Google has generally in the past seemed to reward them by giving a higher quality score to other campaigns that account also runs. So, if you maintain defensive campaigns with a high quality score, which is relatively easy to do, then when you do want to run more general campaigns, those campaigns should also see a slightly higher than the expected quality score.

Why does this matter? Because maintaining a high quality score keeps your overall ad costs down. This helpful graphic from WordStream explains how that works.

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Ads with a high quality score will both gain higher placement and cost less than ads run with a low quality score.

When you think about it from Google’s perspective, this makes sense. Google wants its advertisers to have a good experience using Google Ads. If they make Google Ads into a straight auction, however, this will not happen. Small businesses will get crowded out by big spenders and have no chance of succeeding on Google Ads. So, Google uses the quality score to evaluate an ad’s quality and relevance. They then give ads deemed to be higher in value to the searcher a higher placement on the page and they charge the advertiser less for the click. This gives both searchers and advertisers a good experience, incentivizing both to use Google Ads again in the future.

By running defensive ad campaigns year-round, you build up a history with Google of running   ads. This will result in higher quality scores for your other ads, whenever you choose to run them and assist in keeping overall advertising costs down.

Managing advertising spend over the course of a year is challenging. It can be hard to know when to spend big and when to keep costs down. This is true for everyone in our industry, but it is particularly true for communities whose peak leasing season happens during a less typical time of year. Hopefully, this blog has helped you think through what your advertising baseline should be throughout the year and why it’s important. By maintaining defensive ads, you can increase web traffic, build trust with users, and keep advertising costs low, even when you adopt a more aggressive advertising strategy during your peak leasing season.

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