It's vital that every apartment marketer can accurately assess the performance of their marketing strategy. This whitepaper goes over 23 marketing metrics that give truth to whether or not your websites, digital advertisements, and other marketing sources are working to generate qualified leads and, more importantly, leases for your apartment communities. By learning about and using these metrics daily, you can diagnose issues, make confident adjustments, and avoid overpaying for marketing sources that don't generate leases.
This resource is for:
- Executive and Marketing Directors looking to improve marketing performance across their entire multifamily portfolio.
Read this if you're interested in:
- Improving your marketing performance across an entire portfolio.
- Creating cost efficiencies in your marketing budget by evaluating and cutting underperforming sources.
- Accurately assessing the performance of your entire portfolio's marketing strategy.
- Earning more qualified leads for your communities.
- Feeling confident about your community's marketing performance.
- Learning more about how marketing data impact your apartment's revenue and occupancy.
How Do You Know If Your Apartment Marketing Plan Is Working? You Need Metrics That Tell The Truth.
Eliza was confident the morning of her review.
Each of the 10 apartment communities she managed the marketing for experienced a banner year for occupancy, which, she believed, was a result of her strategy.
Eliza anticipated that this would be the day she'd finally hear, "We're promoting you to marketing director for the company."
The last things she expected to hear from her boss were that her marketing budget was too expensive and that some on-site teams didn't trust her plan.
Eliza made the apparent assumption many apartment marketers make when determining the success of their strategy: If occupancy is strong, then my marketing plan is working as it should be.
But measuring success isn't always so obvious.
Eliza thought that if she could get as many people to see her apartment communities online as possible, it would be easy to occupy units.
But this approach cost the company thousands of dollars to fund all of her marketing sources each month, which caught the eyes of the executive team because those expenses had hindered overall monthly rent revenue.
Meanwhile, the leasing agents at each community were starting to grumble to their property managers about wasting their time on too many bad leads. For every person who came in ready to rent and sign a lease, three others never arrived at their scheduled showings.
The reality check for Eliza was that she needed to learn the true performance of her marketing strategy. She should have utilized the various marketing metrics available to her. With them, it would've become evident to her that she was overspending on underperforming marketing sources and that the leads coming in from each source needed to be more qualified.
In this resource, we will go over 23 different apartment marketing metrics that you should use to measure the performance of your strategy.
By mastering and applying these metrics to your daily workflow, you'll have a marketing plan that generates leases and saves money—and you'll be able to prove it, too.
Apartment Website Metrics
A website is an apartment community's most important marketing tool because it directly impacts leasing. That's why apartment marketers must know how to measure the performance of their website using these metrics:
- Organic Traffic
- Direct Traffic
- Paid Traffic
- Page Views
- Video Views
- Page Load Time
- Bounce Rate
- Time On Site
Each of these metrics gives you valuable insights such as the types of visitors coming to your apartment's website, how those visitors found you, the actions they took while on your website, and their overall experience there—all of which explain if your website is the lease-generating machine you need it to be, or just a roadblock pushing your hard-earned leads away.
You can find these metrics in Google Analytics, the ideal reporting tool for measuring website performance. It's 100% free, and you can use this tutorial to make a Google Analytics account for your website if you still need to. (Disclaimer: some of these metrics may not share the same name as they're labeled in Google Analytics 4, but the data they report is similar.) If a third party manages your website, your provider should have already set up an account and given you access. If you need access, ask for admission to get this valuable reporting.
Organic traffic is the best traffic because it's both free and highly qualified! It consists of users who came to your website from a search engine without clicking on an ad, which is an ideal scenario. They likely searched for your apartments by name and quickly found you on the search engine results page. Organic traffic is a tell-tale indicator of your busy and slow leasing seasons. Periods of high traffic usually align with the times of the year when you see the most significant amount of leasing activity, while lower traffic means you see less demand.
Direct traffic refers to users who open their internet browser and type the URL to your website. Most of this traffic needs to be more qualified because it includes current tenants paying rent online, your employees, etc. (You can filter out known IP addresses of employees and others so that their site visits aren't counted). However, some direct traffic can be good because it could include prospective residents who remember your apartments and are coming back to your website to initiate the leasing process.
These users visited your website via a paid marketing source, like a digital advertisement. Earning paid traffic is beneficial when you need to increase demand to occupy more units, but paying for increased traffic always—even when your occupancy is stable—is expensive. Typically, after your initial launch, you should not have more paid traffic coming to your website than organic traffic, but thankfully you can control the amount that comes in by adjusting your ad budget. Also, remember that not all paid traffic is great, especially if your paid marketing sources aren't targeted toward renters interested in your apartments.
Referrals include all traffic that comes to your website from another website. They could come from various sources, such as social media posts on Facebook, a link featured in a digital city guide, your company’s corporate website, or an Internet Listing Service.
Page views count the number of times someone visited a page (or specific URL) on your website, and the data can reveal many things. You can see how many visitors viewed a page dedicated to one of your floorplans to know which ones are popular and which aren't. Or you can see how many times people viewed an application page. These numbers tell how visitors engage with your website and their steps before becoming a lead.
If you have online video tours on your apartment website (and you should), you can see how often visitors hit the 'play' button with the video views metric. (Pro tip: In Google Analytics 4, the metric counts as a custom 'event' occurring anytime someone clicks the play button on a video posted to your website.) Like page views, you can use this data in several ways to understand visitors' journeys on your website and how attractive and engaging your videos are.
Page Load Time
Page load time tracks how long users wait for your website to load on their devices. Speedy load times have become increasingly more critical as of late because search engines like Google now measure user experience when ranking the quality of websites. If you have large photos or videos that bring down page load time on your apartment website, it gets marked for poor user experience, and you'll get less visibility in search engine results pages. Slower load speed also impacts website conversion rates: each additional second of load time drops the chances of someone converting to a lead on your website by an average of 4.42%.
Bounce rate tracks the number of times someone visits a page on your website and leaves without taking action. A bounce is calculated to equal 0 seconds on site, so having a high bounce rate can also affect other metrics. A high bounce rate indicates two things: you’re getting unqualified traffic, or the website traffic is qualified, but the user experience is terrible. Websites with higher bounce rates may also have long load times, broken pages, or other issues.
Time On Site
The Time On Site metric shows how long a user spends on your website. Though this is true for most industries, typically, the longer someone spends on an apartment website, the more likely they will eventually sign a lease. Knowing this, you should ensure your website features helpful, relevant information and media that engage with visitors and keeps them on your site longer because that can help it become the lease-generator you need it to be. Meanwhile, a poor Time On Site is akin to a poor bounce rate in that it indicates your website needs to be more helpful and usable and compels no one to take action while on it.
A conversion occurs anytime someone completes an action on your website that is important to the success of your apartment community. The prototypical conversion is a prospective resident applying for a lease directly on your website. But other conversion events, including someone scheduling an in-person showing or calling your leasing office from a click-to-call button, are also significant. That's why you need to count how often these 'wins' occur because not getting enough conversions clearly indicates a problem with your website.
Digital Advertising Metrics For Apartments
Thoroughly evaluating your digital advertising campaigns is essential as their performance directly correlates to your apartment's website's success or lack thereof. You need to verify if your ads generate qualified traffic so that your website can be your best lead generator.
These are the six marketing metrics that best reveal the performance of your apartment's digital ads:
- Cost Per Thousand Impressions
- Bounce Rate
- Cost Per Lead
- Cost Per Lease
Whether you use Google or Facebook for digital ads, each offers reporting tools with these metrics available for you to use.
Cost-Per-Click is the average price you pay every time someone clicks on one of your digital advertisements. If you paid $1,000 for a specific ad campaign that's clicked on 200 times, then the cost-per-click is $5.00. It's easy to understand that the lower your cost-per-click, the better that specific ad campaign is.
Cost Per Thousand Impressions
This metric calculates how much it costs you to earn 1,000 impressions. An impression is counted anytime your apartments' ads are shown on an internet user's screen ($1,200/1,000=$1.20). Like cost-per-click, a lower cost per thousand impressions indicates your ads are gaining a lot of visibility at an affordable price.
There is no difference between a digital ad or website analytics with a bounce rate. (The same goes for conversions.) But bounce rate is an important indicator when measuring digital ad performance. Spending a lot of money on ad campaigns that push people to your apartment's website, only for those visitors to leave immediately, is costly and ineffective.
A conversion, in this instance, is counted when a user clicks on one of your digital advertisements and then completes an action on your website that is beneficial to your apartment community. It's the ideal outcome of any of your digital ad campaigns, and any ad campaigns that achieve a high number of conversions should take precedence over other less-effective campaigns.
Cost Per Lead
The calculation for measuring the Cost Per Lead is simple, but it can reveal a lot about the performance of your digital advertising campaigns. If you divide the total cost of your ad campaigns by the number of leads generated, you'll see how much each lead costs you. While everyone knows that a lower Cost Per Lead is excellent, apartment marketers may want to weigh this metric differently, as simply gaining a lot of affordable leads for your leasing staff only sometimes equals success.
Cost Per Lease
Cost Per Lease is a slightly better metric than Cost Per Lead for apartment marketers looking to get a holistic measurement of their digital ad performance. It's possible to have a low Cost Per Lead while simultaneously having a high Cost Per Lease. The ideal goal is that the overall cost of your digital ads divided by the number of leases generated is low and well within your marketing budget.
Metrics For Measuring Apartment Marketing Strategy At Scale
None of the metrics available for apartment marketers may be more impactful than Cost Per Minute and Lead-to-Lease Conversions.
Mastering and applying both will instantly improve your overall marketing strategy because they focus on the thing that matters most: generating leases.
Cost Per Minute
For your apartment marketing strategy to deliver more leases, these two things should occur frequently:
- Prospective residents must easily discover your apartment's website online.
- Your website must feature engaging content that keeps prospective residents' attention and helps them build trust in your apartments.
Knowing this, you need to be able to quantify that your digital advertising campaigns deliver qualified website traffic and that those visitors stay on your website longer, as both factors significantly increase the likelihood of more leads converting to leases.
Cost Per Minute is a metric just for apartment marketers to evaluate the effectiveness of their digital ad campaigns. You can calculate Cost Per Minute by dividing the average cost-per-click by the average time on site of an ad campaign.
Cost-Per-Click / Time On Site = Cost Per Minute
For example, if every click from one of your ad campaigns costs $1.00 and those visitors spend an average of two minutes and 30 seconds on your website, then the Cost Per Minute is approximately $0.40.
Suppose your ads can achieve a lower Cost Per Minute. That indicates that your ad campaigns generate great leads for the lowest possible price. Perhaps more importantly, those visitors are spending more time on your website and increasing their interest in your apartments.
Meanwhile, a higher Cost Per Minute signals your ad campaigns aren't targeting the right audience because the traffic they generate isn’t staying on your website very long. This, of course, is also indicative of an unengaging and uninformative website, regardless of the traffic quality.
These are just some of the benefits of using the Cost Per Minute metric:
- It corroborates other traditional metrics. If your cost-per-click is low, your Cost Per Minute will also be low. If your bounce rate on your website is high, it would likely be reflected in a higher Cost Per Minute, too.
- It's easy to decipher. By providing one unobjectionable number, you can quickly pinpoint which of your digital ad campaigns are performing as you need them and which aren't. It also shortens the time it takes to comb through all of the other marketing metrics you'd typically use in Google Ads (or Facebook).
- Using Cost Per Minute can help you save money. If an ad campaign achieves a lower Cost Per Minute, you can allocate more of your marketing budget to it and ultimately save money because you're earning qualified leads (and potentially more lease conversions) at lower prices.
You cannot generate leases without getting highly qualified traffic to and staying on your website longer than the typical visitor. Cost Per Minute tracks that both things occur and that your apartment's marketing strategy is geared towards earning leases.
While Cost Per Minute is most effective for evaluating your digital advertising campaigns, the Lead-To-Lease Conversions metric can track the performance of other marketing sources.
Apartment marketers need a method of tracing every single lead that comes to the leasing office back to its original marketing source, or else anything they do within their overall strategy is merely guessing. If you're not tracking lead-to-lease conversions, you may not be reaching your apartment's target audience. Or, like our friend Eliza from the introduction, you may also end up overpaying on marketing sources because that's the only action that results in earning more leases.
To begin tracking lead-to-lease conversions, take these three steps:
1. Implement call and email tracking software.
Call tracking software assigns unique phone numbers you've purchased to each of your preferred marketing sources and redirects them to your leasing office's line. Whenever a prospective resident calls, the tracking software records the marketing source by matching it with the assigned unique number. (Email tracking software uses a similar workflow.) This allows you to count how many phone or email leads each source generates.
2. Do the math.
After you've collected a lead count for a certain period of time, you next need to trace every lease earned within that same timeframe back to its marketing source. And this is where the math begins.
Here's an example to explain how to calculate each source's lead-to-lease conversion rate using phone call tracking software:
An apartment community purchased unique tracking numbers for its website, Google Business Profile, and an Internet Listing Service. It counted every phone call for 30 days.
|Marketing Source||Phone Call Leads In 30 Days|
|Google Business Profile||56|
|Internet Listing Service||47|
Next, it evaluated all leases signed in that same 30-day period and traced each back to the original marketing source using the phone tracking software.
|Marketing Source||Phone Call Leads In 30 Days||Leases Signed In 30 Days|
|Google Business Profile||56||1|
Internet Listing Service
It then applied the following equation to get the lead-to-lease conversion rate for each source: the number of leases signed divided by the number of leads it generated.
Leases Signed / Leads Generated = Lead-to-Lease Conversion Rate (%)
|Marketing Source||Phone Call Leads In 30 Days||Leases Signed In 30 Days||Lead-To-Lease Conversion Rate|
|Google Business Profile||56||1||1.7%|
|Internet Listing Service||87||3||3.4%|
You can use the same methodology with email tracking software.
|Marketing Source||Email Leads In 30 Days||Leases Signed In 30 Days||Lead-To-Lease Conversion Rate|
|Google Business Profile||4||0||0.0%|
|Internet Listing Service||103||2||1.9%|
You can use the same methodology with email tracking software.
3. Reprioritize sources that produce more phone calls than emails.
If you track lead-to-lease conversions over an extended period, it will quickly become evident that phone call leads are more qualified and convert to leases at a better rate than email leads.
Anyone who calls your leasing office directly should be your highest qualified lead because they want to schedule a tour or begin the application process. Meanwhile, leads who typically email you still need to be qualified because they're generally just trying to seek more information about your community.
As such, you should prioritize sources that produce more phone calls than emails because you can often count on those sources to be your top lease generators. And that information is critical as you build or adjust your apartment's marketing strategy.
Tracking lead-to-lease conversions benefits apartment marketers because they can condense their budget to only fund sources that generate leases while cutting the sources that don't.
Other Valuable Metrics That Apartment Marketers Need To Track
Though the following metrics focus more on your apartment's revenue and leasing, they impact the performance of your marketing plan.
The application timing metric counts the number of vacant days between when a unit is made ready and a rental application is received for it. Your marketing strategy's ability to gain highly qualified leads significantly influences the speed at which applications come in. But maintenance turnaround time and leasing agent performance also impact application timing. It helps your whole team when you know if your marketing strategy is working and identify management issues to correct to reduce overall vacancy duration.
Future Occupancy is a revolutionary and increasingly popular marketing metric that gives multifamily operators a forecast of their communities' occupancy in the next couple of weeks.
RentVision has spent years perfecting our Future Occupancy metric. We've designed an algorithm that counts both upcoming move-ins and move-outs—including the exact timing of those move-outs—to give an accurate and actionable prediction of what a community's occupancy will be in the following weeks.
Our calculation is unique because we count vacant, leased units as occupied, and occupied units that will be vacant soon as vacant. The latter is determined directly from your leasing data and the average days between when an application is received for a unit and when someone moves in.
For example, if that average timeframe is 21 days, then our Future Occupancy algorithm would label any occupied, on notice unit scheduled to move out within the next three weeks as vacant. Any occupied, on notice unit scheduled to move out after the 21-day time frame would still count as occupied.
Meanwhile, any vacant, leased unit counts as occupied in our Future Occupancy metric—regardless of when the move-in is scheduled. That's because once it's leased, nothing can be done from a marketing or pricing perspective, and it wouldn't make sense to label it as anything other than occupied.
But any unit scheduled to move out within those 21 days requires your attention. With the Future Occupancy metric, you gain that valuable advanced time to make any marketing or pricing adjustments necessary to earn a lease and minimize vacancy before it occurs.
Read our blog post to learn about Future Occupancy—a game-changing marketing metric for the multifamily industry.
Future Occupancy Target
Future Occupancy Target is a metric we developed alongside Future Occupancy to help our clients better determine if they will have a vacancy problem coming in the next couple of weeks.
Essentially, if Future Occupancy is at or above Future Occupancy Target, a community's outlook is strong. However, if Future Occupancy is going to be below Future Occupancy Target, that community needs help.
The algorithm we developed to determine Future Occupancy Target uses your community's organic web traffic data to read your seasonality and project demand over the next few weeks. We use web traffic specifically as it accurately measures your busy and slow leasing seasons.
Read our blog post for a more thorough explanation of how Future Occupancy Target works.
Though you'd have to do the math yourself to determine your lead-to-showing conversion rate, doing so can provide good insight into the quality of leads your marketing plan generates.
Count the total number of scheduled showings and divide that by the number of leads earned within a certain period.
You can improve your lead-to-showing conversion rate with a more targeted marketing strategy that generates better-qualified leads.
The same approach for determining your lead-to-showing conversions can also be applied here.
Your showing-to-lease conversion rate, though, is more impacted by leasing agent performance than your marketing strategy. However, apartment marketers should track this metric if they also feature website video tours.
One way to do this is to count leases earned and divide that by the amount of video tours watched within that same period. That can help you demonstrate the effectiveness of utilizing video tours in your marketing strategy (which, coincidentally, boosts your leasing agent's showing-to-lease conversion rate, too.)
These truth-revealing marketing metrics will help verify if your strategy works best for your apartments. Without knowing the truth behind your plan's performance, you may end up like Eliza from our introduction story— assuming your marketing plan is working great simply because your communities are doing great, too.
Apartment marketers who rely on these metrics are better suited to develop a strategy that earns leases and:
- Ensures their community websites are easily discoverable and engaging and provide the quality content prospective residents need to convert.
- Targets prospective residents interested in their apartments instead of a massive audience.
- Spends your marketing dollars efficiently.
- Reduces your communities' overall vacancy duration.
- Optimizes portfolio revenue.
These objectives should motivate every apartment marketer to apply and master the metrics in this whitepaper when assessing the performance of their strategy.