Originally posted Aug. 1, 2019. Updated for 2020.
Most multifamily industry professionals agree that apartment marketing should be dynamic rather than static.
Although we can agree on the effectiveness of a dynamic strategy, it can be daunting to implement for multiple reasons. You may be worried about straying away from the ‘norm’, wasting unnecessary marketing dollars, or failing in front of your boss.
In this blog, we will explain how you can move from thinking a dynamic strategy is a good idea to actually adopting such a strategy in your community.
What kind of property do you have?
Different communities have different supply and demand, budgets, and renters. For many C-class properties, you don’t need an astronomical advertising budget to hit your desired amount of leads. We have seen communities of this type hit their goals spending as little as $50/month on Google Ads.
In other cases—particularly with luxury lease-ups—you must spend much more than $50/month. We advise our clients who are marketing for luxury lease-ups to spend between $2,500–$5,000/month on Google Ads.
Why the disparity? C-class properties often have longer resident durations because people appreciate the lower price point, resulting in lower vacancy and need. We’ve also seen these types of properties work with local organizations to help people find housing. This helps promote brand awareness while simultaneously filling vacant units.
Luxury properties, in contrast, are highly competitive because many new developments are luxury properties. This results in higher competition within the digital advertising space and drives the cost of Google and Facebook ads up. However, we see an incredible ROI when it comes to Google ads, making the investment well worth it.
Setting an appropriate budget for your property type is the first step in adopting a dynamic apartment marketing strategy.
What is your minimum and maximum ad budget?
You can define what you want to spend during slow months and what you want to spend during busy months ahead of time, which will save you time and keep you from feeling pressure down the road.
Identifying the best minimum and maximum ad budgets requires both research and thought. A practice we recommend is reviewing the last 12-month period of traffic to your community's website in Google Analytics, so you can see an illustration of your seasonality. You'll be able to easily differentiate your busy and slow seasons based on months when demand is high vs. months when it isn't. With this data, you can be prepared to make smart adjustments to your marketing budget throughout the year.
Though every community is different, in many cases we recommend a minimum spend of around $300–$500/month. This will give you enough money to defend your community’s name on Google with a small amount left over for more broad campaigns that target keywords such as your competitors’ names or ‘apartments in (city, state)’.
During busier leasing months or times when your lead needs are greater, we often see communities settle in at a maximum budget of around $1,000–$1,500/month. This allows you to defend your brand successfully, but also gives you enough left over to hit some of the more general search terms for your area, and perhaps, even branch out into Facebook, remarketing, or multiple competitor targeting campaigns.
Understanding your community's seasonality will help you both develop and implement your minimum and maximum budgets.
Where are you spending your money currently?
One of the most common objections we hear to this idea is that communities can’t simply discover hundreds or thousands of extra marketing dollars in their budget. That isn't what we're proposing.
We know you've got a competitive market, tight ad budget, and that it's hard to stop doing what you've been doing for years. But dynamic apartment marketers know that a smarter approach is to stop paying for sources that don't work.
In order to do this, you need to know where your money is going and whether or not you're getting your desired ROI. The RentVision Platform is a solution we offer where you can assess the performance of each of your marketing channels and make adjustments accordingly—all in one hub.
You're far better off spending $2,000/month just on Google Ads rather than allocating that amount towards multiple marketing sources, such as Internet Listing Services. Google gives you the power to track metrics such as number of phone calls generated by your ads, time spent on site, average cost-per-lead, etc. Plus, you can also manipulate your campaigns to achieve a lower cost-per-click.
Meanwhile, spending money on ads in a marketing channel such as an ILS may place your community prominently on a website, but you're also willfully letting potential residents compare your listing with all of your competitors.
If you're weary about outright cutting a marketing source, you can give yourself time to acclimate as you adjust your ad spend. For example, begin by taking $500 from that ILS and put it towards Google. Then be sure to track the ROI for a couple of months to see how each source is performing. If Google is bringing in more leads, you should feel the freedom to eliminate the other source.
We challenge you to begin honing in on only the sources that work because that is how you become dynamic rather than static with your marketing.
What if you didn't have to do the thinking?
We know you don’t want to be determining ad budgets while simultaneously dealing with the stresses of peak leasing season. Wouldn't it be easier to simply remove the day-to-day guesswork and instead let your digital ads do the work themselves?
With RentVision's predictive marketing solutions, that's possible.
RentVision Occupancy (RVO) forecasts your future supply and demand, while Target RentVision Occupancy (Target RVO) identifies your future demand. We use your RVO and Target RVO metrics to automatically make adjustments to your ad spend each day. Like all of your sources, you can review how your ads performed each day within our RentVision Platform.
The power of this predictive advertising solution is that you're constantly in control of your community's occupancy and maximizing whatever amount of money you decide to budget for your digital ads.
A dynamic apartment marketing strategy is going to position you to navigate your community's unique seasonality far more effectively than previous methods. Being adaptive in your marketing eliminates panicky fire drills when vacancy spikes and no one knows what to do. When you're able to identify your community type, set a maximum budget for your busy months and minimum budget for your slower months, and then measure the performance of your sources, you're in good shape.
If you're interested in learning more about our predictive marketing solutions, fill out the form below to schedule time for a free consultation with a RentVision strategic advisor.