Multifamily Marketing Ideas For Struggling Apartment Communities

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"I don't want to open that email."

It's painful when your apartment communities struggle, and you know it.

You don't need to open the automated report in your inbox that's going to remind you, again, that you have way too many available units, your marketing sources aren't coming through with leads, and you're offering way too much in below-market rents and concessions to improve occupancy.

We want to help get you back to the point where you're no longer afraid to open that email with an automated report about your apartment community's performance—in fact, you'll look forward to seeing it.

You Need A New Mindset For Your Multifamily Marketing Plan 

If that's where you are now, trying to keep your head above water helping a struggling multifamily portfolio regain its success, the good news is that there are solutions that can begin to set things in order.

And  "begin to set things in order" is the key to all this; Struggling apartment communities don't turn around overnight. If your communities are in really bad shape, you must transform your thinking and see any move going forward—regardless of time commitment or even costs—as necessary. That is the first step right there, simply saying, 'What we've been doing isn't working, and we need to be willing to make changes so that it's easier to drive leads and leases and improve occupancy.' 

You may need to address many other things to improve performance and occupancy, like rent pricing, the appearance of your properties, maintenance, and more. But let's focus specifically on what you can do within your marketing strategy to improve your portfolio's current woes.

Start here with our definitive resource: The Complete Multifamily Marketing Plan. It offers a great framework to follow as you work toward improving your community's strategy.

Some methods can immediately enhance leasing, but others will take time. As such, we'll help you improve performance with three apartment marketing objectives—one you can start right now, another medium-term, and one longer-term play.

We want to help get you back to the point where you're no longer afraid to open that email with an automated report about your apartment community's performance—in fact, you'll look forward to seeing it.

Marketing Objectives For Struggling Apartments

1) Short-term: Implement apartment marketing channels that afford you the most control possible.

The first thing you should do when you're struggling to maintain occupancy is to focus on your traffic generation strategy.

It would be best to have marketing channels that afford you the most control possible to garner immediate results. And those marketing channels should take little time to implement but can be turned off and on like a switch.

The three quick-fix, easy-to-implement marketing channels we're talking about here include the following:

  • Google Ads
  • Google Business Profile
  • Meta (Facebook, Instagram) Ads

Google Ads

Google Ads is the most powerful and visible lead-generating platform for marketing the apartments in your portfolio. They create prominence for each community, specifically their websites, on a widely used search engine that prospective residents are readily familiar with. Put another way, people interested in your apartments expect it to be easy to find them on Google. Simply implementing ads for your apartments in search results can immediately increase traffic generation.

And here's the best part about Google Ads for multifamily marketing: advertising on keywords directly related to one of your community's names is inexpensive and drives more clicks to its website. We call these "defensive" ads

But you can also slightly expand your ad spending budget to target keywords in Google relevant to prospective residents looking for apartments like yours. For example, wouldn't it be awesome if one of your apartment communities was featured at the top of the search results page with an ad for prospects who searched "pet-friendly apartments in (your location)?". The impact on that community's popularity and traffic would be instantaneous. You could do this for every property in your portfolio in Google Ads to improve your current occupancy.

Beyond the search pages, you can also utilize Google Ads to display photo and video advertisements for your apartments on YouTube and across millions of web pages.

Now, you need a thoughtful strategy as you start implementing Google Ads across multiple communities. Even though your apartments desperately need more website traffic and public attention, each community is only a good fit for a small set of prospective residents. You'll misuse resources if you don't first target their ideal customers. Start with these two resources beforehand so that your ad campaigns get immediate results:

The last bit of advice regarding Google Ads is that you don't have to be obligated to dump all of your marketing budgets on them immediately. Like every one of the quick fixes we're discussing here, you have total control over spending and are free to turn campaigns on or off whenever you desire. You can gain quantifiable success while also controlling costs.

Google Business Profile

Owning a Google Business Profile is an essential tool for multifamily marketing. It's like Google's version of the 'Yellow Pages,' featuring your apartments to searchers looking for them directly on Google or navigationally in Google Maps. Prospective residents utilize those pages often during their apartment search, especially if they're trying to contact your leasing office directly. 

Below is an example of the search engine results page (SERP) after someone searches for a specific apartment community in a particular location. 

The image above illustrates that a Google Business Profile, with vital, accurate information such as your website link, media, address, and phone number, will immediately become your apartments' most visible and productive marketing channels. In a recent study of 70,000 leases, our clients' Google Business Profiles were a source of 26.75% of leases!

If you already have Google Business Profiles for your apartments, that's a great start, but you must ensure they're updated and accurate. Then, add more photos of your communities to create more appeal.

If you don’t have Google Business Profiles set up, you're missing out on a marketing source that prospective residents naturally seek, thus losing out on many leads and authority of your apartments. Turn things around by adding a Google Business Profile for your apartments. 

Meta (Facebook, Instagram) Ads

In addition to Google Ads, struggling apartment communities can get a needed boost of traffic and visibility with Meta Ads on Facebook and Instagram. You set your audiences and ad budgets and can make informed adjustments using real-time performance data. 

To meet FHA compliance, you must be careful with establishing audiences. However, you could utilize geo-targeting campaigns to get ads in front of apartment shoppers near each of your communities' locations or use those social media platforms to re-target individuals who previously visited one of your communities' websites.

Like Google, Meta's advertising platform is controllable and efficient. Ads in both platforms, alongside a Google Business Profile listing, get more qualified traffic immediately. 

So, your short-term marketing objectives are to set up, turn on, and manage those channels. And while you may spend more than usual (at least initially) by adding more channels to your communities' marketing strategies, that investment will have long-term benefits. If you utilize digital advertising and Google Business Profiles effectively (even if that means partnering with a vendor to assist you), over time, you'll have a condensed apartment marketing strategy that consistently generates great leads to maintain occupancies portfolio-wide. 

2) Medium-Term: Prioritize your apartment's website so that it's your best source of lease generation.

After improving your apartment communities' online visibility and traffic generation, the next objective is to prioritize their websites. The websites should be your apartments' top source of lease generation.

It's essential to think about these issues. After all, traffic alone doesn't help you as a business because traffic doesn't pay the bills. Simply increasing your traffic to communities in your portfolio will only guarantee better results if you also are converting that traffic into leads and, ultimately, into leases. 

Many multifamily marketers utilize specific websites for each of their communities, while others use a corporate website to highlight all of their communities. To convert more leads to residents, it would be best that each of your communities has its own website. 

Not sure if community websites are right for your portfolio type? Here is a guide to help you make the right decision

If you decide to get community sites up and running, start with these 6 essentials for effective apartment websites. Use those as a reference point as you research potential vendors to help you overhaul your community websites.

Now if you have community websites, but occupancy is struggling, these three things are likely true:

  • Your websites need more visitors. (Thankfully, we're improving that by adding quick-fix marketing sources in step 1.)
  • Your websites need to be updated to ensure that they feature helpful and engaging content.
  • Your websites need to generate more leads.

Let's start with what 'not to do' if your websites are out-of-date or underperforming. Don't just look for someone who will rebrand what you already have and make your community websites modern and beautiful. Yes, appearance does matter, but if you assume that boutique-style websites are the only thing you need to improve your struggling portfolio, think again.

Renting is a life-changing, financially-impactful decision that your websites must respect. So simply making it prettier shouldn't be your objective; improve your website so it makes prospective residents feel confident about selecting your apartments as the place they want to live. That is the objective here.

How do you reinvigorate your websites so they're the lease generators your communities desperately need? Focus on their layout, media content, and conversion points.

Apartment Website Layout

A significant differentiator some apartment websites need to improve is organizing their layout to feature specific pages for each floorplan. Instead, the standard apartment website has just one floorplans page.

Floorplan-specific pages are better because they're more considerate of prospective residents and their needs. Everyone wanting to rent an apartment knows how many bedrooms and bathrooms they'll need before they begin their search. They want to see from your websites that you have the right floorplan to match those predetermined needs and, more importantly, want to know if it's available and affordable.

They also have other meaningful needs beyond just bedroom or bathroom counts, and a floorplan-specific page allows you to answer prospective residents' needs. You can feature photos and videos of a unit in that particular floorplan (more on that next), specific information regarding amenities and other relevant details, as well as up-to-date rents and availability, giving prospects the most comprehensive expectation of what their living experience would entail. 

Now that's something your websites can achieve that would separate your apartments from competitors and help you as you pursue improving your occupancy outlook.

Media Content On Your Apartment Website

Alongside lacking specific pages, another shortcoming of many apartment websites is confusing, incomplete media content. It usually occurs two ways: one, the website features a random assortment of images of the clubhouse, amenities, and units on a generic 'photo gallery' page, and, two, the floorplan media is not organized in a way that distinguishes one floorplan from another.

So it's not just about adding pages dedicated to each floorplan on your websites—it's also about emphasizing floorplan-specific media content. You want to make it as easy as possible for prospects to get an accurate depiction of what your apartments offer, specifically what the inside of a unit in their desired floorplan looks like.

By utilizing floorplan-specific video tours and photo galleries, you're making your websites more engaging than your competitors' websites and turning them into a 24/7 leasing machine where prospects don't need to drive to your property to comfortably decide to rent. 

You're breaking down the barriers that are currently causing your occupancy crisis.

The Conversion Points On Your Apartment Website

Let's reevaluate and consider the typical prospective resident's journey. They decide they need to rent an apartment. They search Google for an apartment that fits their needs in their desired location. If an apartment in your portfolio fits those needs, you'll have Google Ads and Google Business Profile to make that community stand out and prompt clicks to its website.

Once on the website, they discover, through a floorplan-specific page and media content, that your apartment community matches what they're looking for, has an available unit to coincide with their move-in timeline, and is within their monthly budget.

Now the next—and final—hurdle they must cross is to convert to a lead. And by strategically providing numerous options to call, email, schedule a meeting, or complete a lease application—a.k.a conversion points—the website will prompt more of those highly qualified prospects to cross the goal line and become residents.

And, here's the last thought regarding prospective residents' journeys: your marketing plan does much of the work for you when it puts your apartments in front of your target audience, and your engaging, floorplan-specific website moves those individuals from just becoming aware of your community to signing their lease. 

If you have this lead-to-lease generating engine running in the background all the time, your portfolio will sustain occupancy rather than find itself in a position where desperate measures must be taken to get out of a vacancy crisis.

One more note: A layout dedicated to floorplan-specific pages, media content, and conversion points can and will instantly help resolve occupancy woes. But there are other elements of great apartment websites that matter, too, such as user experience. Those features help, but you must also ensure that your community websites look great on mobile devices, load fast, and are accessible to all users.

3) Long-term: Develop an online experience that gives prospective residents a favorable impression of your apartments.

As you work to turn around your portfolio's fortunes by implementing quick-fix, traffic-generating marketing channels and enhancing your community websites to engage prospects who convert, two things will occur:

  1. Your apartment communities will gain online credibility.
  2. And therefore, more renters will trust your apartment communities as the right option.

It's interesting how this process works; simply reinvigorating your overall marketing strategy to show that your communities exist as an option for prospective residents, and providing a portfolio-wide online presentation that makes it easy for them to imagine living in your apartments, dramatically changes performance. You leave an impression that says, "Yeah, this apartment community knows what it's doing."

Now that's a level of legitimacy that gives your apartment communities a competitive advantage for gaining the attention and trust of prospective residents!

Conclusion: The Effort's Worth The Reward

Sometimes it may feel hopeless when you are responsible for apartment communities with poor occupancy numbers and sagging revenue. 

Those automated report emails reminding you of those facts sometimes make it feel even worse.

But, of course, there is an alternative to that: You don't have to feel that way at work. You can turn around your portfolio's situation with a revamped marketing strategy—right now and long term. 

It will take a mindset shift and perhaps more financial investment to your apartment's marketing strategy, but think of it this way: If being the person responsible for poorly performing properties is rough, then being the person who helped turn those properties around brings a remarkable level of respect from your peers and confidence in yourself. 

While doing everything we've discussed above for your portfolio's marketing strategy is a lot of work… 

The reward is worth it.

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