We were working with an apartment community a few years ago that was facing a serious vacancy issue. How quickly the crisis unfolded was actually quite stunning.
At the beginning of August 2018, this community had just six vacant, unrented units. With 201 total units, that put its occupancy at 97%. But the future outlook for the apartment community painted a very bleak picture—eight units were scheduled for move-outs in the first week of that month, five additional units were set to vacate the following week, and another four units the week after that.
In only three weeks, that community could possibly have gone from just six vacant, unrented units to 23, and a less-than-stellar occupancy rate of 88%. Just like that.
Thankfully, things never spiraled to that level. Because the community had adopted a dynamic apartment marketing system, they were able to make proactive changes to their digital advertising budget weeks in advance of those move-outs to drive more qualified traffic to their website. The community withstood that aggressive amount of turnover and kept its occupancy above 94%—with positive momentum heading into the month of September.
This serves as a reminder of the constantly changing state of your apartment community's occupancy. If it's changing all of the time, so should your marketing plan…just as it did for that particular community.
Yet there are many apartment marketers who still rely on a static marketing system that, faced with those same circumstances, may not have fared so well.
Here is how to tell if your apartment marketing plan is static, too.
1. You have a fixed marketing budget.
If you spend the same amount each month on your website, ads, and other marketing sources—that is a telltale symptom of static apartment marketing.
Remember, the community mentioned above avoided a vacancy crisis because it was able to change their marketing spend at a moment's notice. Operating with a fixed marketing budget simply doesn't allow you to make a similarly proactive adjustment and earn more qualified leads when vacancies mount.
Part of the problem could be the pressure placed on you from management to stay within budget, which compels you to simply do your best with what you're allocated. But that leaves you fearing vacancy because you have no ability to utilize your marketing to control it.
Regrettably, you're left hoping that the same amount of leads you're paying for each month will be enough to help your apartment community avoid a vacancy crisis.
2. You're afraid to stop using an Internet Listing Service.
The next telltale symptom of static apartment marketing is an overreliance on Internet Listing Services, or ILS.
Using an ILS like Apartments.com or Zillow is the equivalent of turning your furnace on in the winter and then keeping it on year-round. That's because they require apartment marketers to sign a contract that locks them into paying monthly premiums, so even when your occupancy is strong, you're still paying for leads.
That's just one of the significant issues with using an ILS.
Another is that you're choosing to feature your apartments in direct competition with hundreds of similar communities in your area, and the only way to 'stand out' is to upgrade your listing and pay a higher monthly premium. If you're stuck with a fixed marketing budget, you really don't have any wiggle room to increase your monthly premium when vacancies arise.
And while an ILS does generate a lot of leads—which is likely the reason why you're too afraid to drop it—those leads ultimately end up being really expensive and unqualified. Just take a look at your lead-to-lease conversion rates with your ILS, and you will see that most leads from it just emailed your leasing office and never initiated the journey towards signing a lease.
Relying on an ILS clearly puts you in a disadvantageous position when dealing with vacancy. You're stuck with what you pay for.
3. Your community websites and photos are outdated (and it shows).
Static apartment marketing isn't just apparent in your budgeting—its symptoms can be visible in your community websites and photos, too.
It doesn't matter where you're getting most of your leads from, or how much you're paying for those leads, if your apartment's online presence looks like it hasn't been cared for, or changed, in a long time.
If you're always worried about that next series of move-outs coming down the pike, you need more than a dynamic marketing budget—you need a website that can account for changes in your occupancy, too.
Are you able to rearrange your floorplans on your website so that the one facing the most vacancy is featured first? Is pricing and availability updated in real-time? Can you highlight a rent special? If you've answered no to any of these questions, your apartment marketing is static.
Prospective residents are savvy and can tell when an apartment community hasn't prioritized their online presence. They'll continue their search until they find another apartment community that offers an updated—and more appealing—website, and sign a lease there instead.
Conclusion: You Need A Better Solution
Static apartment marketing is just that…marketing that doesn't adapt to your community’s needs.
We know that being stuck with a fixed marketing budget, relying on an ILS for most of your leads, and having an outdated online presence is painful. RentVision was born out of a property management company that had all of the same symptoms that come with static apartment marketing.
That's why we built a complete, dynamic marketing system that automatically adjusts to the changing needs of apartment communities.
Our system combines:
- Predictive digital advertising, with budgets that change daily based on future occupancy, to deliver the best qualified traffic at the right time.
- Community websites that convert using floorplan-specific pages.
- Compelling visual content, including professional walkthrough video tours.
- Real-time analytics that verify our system’s success with handling changes for your community.
- Plus, you'll be equipped with a dedicated marketing advisor always there to help you take control of vacancy.
If you're ready to get out of the static marketing trap, schedule a demo today.