Category: General

Virtual Renting During a Pandemic: The Ultimate Guide

Social distancing is a term that you’ve likely heard a million times by now. This “new normal” has landlords and property managers across the world reconsidering their leasing programs.

At Generation Marketing, we’ve heard from countless multifamily professionals in the past few months to discuss the best virtual options this industry has available.

But never fear, this article will teach you everything you need to know about renting apartments in the current climate.

1) Reduce the information gap

 

Uber came out on top against a heavily entrenched taxi-cab industry because they were able to disrupt business as usual with a simple idea: you shouldn’t have to make a phone call to get a ride – all you should need to do is click a button.

People LOVED this simple, hassle-free approach to ridesharing, and Uber quickly dominated the competition.

Anytime you can reduce the number of steps it takes to do something, you will win. Consider how easy it is to lease one of your apartments, are there any steps that you should eliminate? (For example, when comparing scheduling a virtual FaceTime tour versus adding Matterport tours, the latter has fewer steps.)

One thing that has remained true, pandemic or no pandemic, is that consumer-oriented companies always stay on top. If you can create a killer user experience (i.e., answering as many of your prospect’s questions as possible before they contact you), you will save time and money while also increasing your conversion rate.

2) Address the conversation your prospects are already having

 

Your prospects are already talking about COVID-19. Address the conversation they’re already having and ask yourself, “What are my prospect’s specific concerns? What would they like to hear from me?”

One of the worst things companies can do is ignore the circumstances and move on as if nothing is happening, which can easily come off as insensitive.

If you can become a part of the conversation, you will win with the added bonus that your prospects aren’t perceiving you as insensitive. Dedicate a page on your website to COVID-19 and tell your prospects how you’re changing your operations in response to the virus, or, better yet, gear your specials towards COVID-19 (i.e., “Now offering 1 month free due to COVID-19!”) to show your prospect that you care about how this virus is affecting them.

3)Take advantage of some of our favorite tools

So, what kind of tools can you use to make your virtual renting experience spectacular? Below you’ll find some of our favorite programs and strategies that we like to use at Generation Marketing to create a fully immersive online experience.

 

a) Matterport tours

Matterport tours are one of the absolute BEST ways to engage renters without requiring them to visit in person. One thing many people underestimate about adding Matterport tours is how much time it can save your leasing agents.

Prospects who come in after seeing a virtual Matterport tour are some of the most qualified prospects you can get. They’ve already experienced the apartment from their computer and are only coming in to get a feel for your property and confirm what they saw online.

Matterport tours can be added to most rental websites and your property website, and you can share tour links directly with any prospect. See an example below:

 

b) Tour24Now.com

Self-guided tours
are a great way to save your leasing agents time and give you an edge by not only eliminating the need for leasing agents but allowing you to extend your tour availability. This can give your property a huge advantage, as people will feel much more comfortable touring your property.

The ability to advertise truly “contactless” tours is a big advantage, as yours will be one of the few properties to do so.

 

c) Online application process

 

You might think this practice is already standard, but there are still many properties out there that haven’t made their application process virtual!

Stepping into the twenty-first century will not only support your business during the pandemic, it will continue to serve dividends once things have been restored as your prospects will appreciate that you’re offering the contemporary customer experience they’ve come to expect

 

d) Rhino

Rhino is a licensed insurance agency that gives renters the option to forego their security deposit. They simply pay Rhino a monthly fee and the agency covers the security deposit on their behalf.

It’s no secret that cash can be tight during difficult times; however, pandemic or not, we’ve seen properties dramatically increase their application-resident conversion ratio simply by adding Rhino as an option.  See this infographic from their website explaining the process:

e) Virtual staging

Now is the time for you to expand your digital content and sell the potential of your apartments in as many ways as possible.

If you can offer prospects multiple ways of experiencing your community, you increase the likelihood of them reaching out and moving forward!

f) 3D floor plans

As we’ve said, again and again, digital content has become more important than ever! The more information you can provide, the more time you save your agents and the better experience you provide your prospects.

Adding renderings to your listings will give your prospects a complete idea of the layout they’re applying for. Invest in your content once and improve your conversions across the board!

Succeeding in this era of virtual renting requires that you act quickly, have empathy for your prospects, and become more flexible with company policies.

The quicker you adapt, the greater your edge against your competitors who are slow to keep up with the times (think Netflix vs. Blockbuster).

Good luck and happy leasing!

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What COVID-19 Means for Multifamily: How to Adapt

what coronavirus means for multifamily real estate

Coronavirus. COVID-19. Flattening the curve. Fox News.

By now, you’ve heard it all. Unfortunately, there are thousands of new cases across the country every day, with no sign that the virus is slowing down anytime soon.

Some businesses are being forced to close, some are suffering, and some are even thriving.

So, what does this mean for multifamily?

Before we dive into what you should do, let’s cover what you absolutely should NOT do.

 

Don’t ignore the situation

One of the most important rules in marketing is: take part in the conversation your prospects are ALREADY having.

Currently, your prospects are at home. They’re likely watching the news and worried about the spread of this virus and how it will continue to affect them. Their minds are racing and they’re deeply concerned.

Don’t be thoughtless and carry on as if nothing is happening. This will not be well-received by your residents or prospects.

 

If you don’t change anything on your website or make any mention of how you’re adapting, you destroy your chances of making your prospect feel understood or cared for.

This leads into the next item on our list:

 

Don’t fail to communicate

Your residents are trusting you to keep them safe. This typically means through your security procedures, but in this case, we’re talking about how you’re going to keep your property virus-free and effectively implement social distancing.

Although we’re all getting emails from many companies we could care less about (like that online store you bought a doormat from one time), communication, or even over-communication from the place we live will be well-received. Talk to your property management software rep to see which communication tools you could be using, whether that be text messaging residents, sending out email blasts, or simply adding a new page to your website.

Adapt your business operations and make those changes known. Show your residents you are there for them.

 

Don’t stop leasing 

There is a lot of bad advice circulating right now, and the idea that you should stop leasing is up there. How could you just stop leasing? People still need places to live, and your business still needs to be profitable if possible. Keep pushing through these hard times and explain how you’re changing your leasing process to adapt to the times and you’ll make it through.

 

Finally, here are a few things you SHOULD do:

 

Assign someone on your team to post announcements 

By dedicating someone to relaying information to residents, you’ll be sure no important announcements are missed. Also, make sure you use multiple methods of communication, as sometimes emails get sent to spam or residents mistype their SMS number. Sending your message through multiple channels ensures it will get through.

 

Acknowledge what your prospect is going through 

More importantly, speak in their language. If your prospect would say “All hell’s breaking loose,” don’t be shy to use the same wording. Show them you’re on the same team, that you have empathy for what they’re going through, and that you’re not going to thoughtlessly follow-up with them without acknowledging what’s happening in the world. 

 

Change your follow-up strategy 

Instead of mindlessly following-up with prospects via email, give them some information that you think will help them during this tough time. End your emails with something that shows you care, such as, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to make things easier, given the current climate.” 

 

Understand how impactful your decisions are

Right now, every decision you make has the potential to go viral—for good or bad. Every business is under a microscope, with every move being analyzed and blown up by media outlets eager for fresh news. Thus, the choices you make can either be your best branding opportunity or your worst PR failure yet.

 

Set up virtual tours

Social distancing means no more in-person tours; however, that doesn’t mean you can’t engage prospects, you just need to use different tools. Everyone else is going virtual, so why not apartment hunting? Virtual tours are an excellent way for you to keep prospects in your pipeline. Use them!

 

Conclusion

 

Everyone thought the Great Financial Crisis in 2008 would be the end of the world, yet our economy bounced back even stronger. In these trying times, it’s important to stay level-headed, exercise social-distancing, and adapt to the best of your ability.

Please remember, we will get through this. This is not a time to panic—it’s the time for you to double-down on your marketing and establish with your residents and prospects that you care just as much about their wellbeing as you do about making a profit.

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Geofencing Vs. Geotargeting: What’s the Difference?

Sometimes digital marketing jargon can get confusing: CPC, CPM, SEO, PPC, the list goes on…

Geofencing and geotargeting are some of the most commonly confused terms in digital marketing, so we’re here to set the record straight!

We’ve outlined these terms below to help you understand how they differ and know the pros and cons of using geotargeting vs geofencing.

So, what’s the difference?

Geofencing and Geotargeting may sound like the same thing, but they are used in very different ways.

Geofencing

 
Geofencing refers to creating custom-shaped target zones around a specific location. To understand geofencing vs geotargeting better, let’s use a competitor as an example. If the property down the block from you is a direct competitor, you can create a geofence around their leasing center. Then, when anyone with a mobile device walks into your geofence (in this case, your competitor’s leasing center), they will be added to your marketing list for 30 days. Since you’ve opted to geofence the office of your direct competitor, you know that a high percentage of their prospects are relevant to you as well.

 

To find your competitor’s leasing center, utilize Google Street View. Remember, top platforms such as Simpli.fi will let you hone your accuracy (within feet), so take advantage of those capabilities to keep your geofence as specific as possible. 

Google streetview for geofencing

Bam! You’ve found their front entrance, great work! Now let’s work on creating an accurate geofence so that you can serve ads to these prospects.

create accurate geofences within feet

Creating a custom shape is important, especially in this example. This property is on a main street; if you make the geofence too large, you’ll end up targeting people who are simply walking by your competitor’s leasing center, which will result in many unqualified prospects. You don’t want that.

Now that you’ve created a custom geofence, it’s time to create your ads so that you can reel these prospects in. Your ads will show up on any mobile apps or websites that accept mobile advertising, such as CNN, ESPN, local blogs, etc.

See an example below:

Display Ads

Geotargeting

 

Geotargeting, also referred to as local PPC ads, refers to delivering content/ads to a visitor based on their location. Geotargeting allows you to target visitors through country, region, state, city, zip code, and other criteria. This is most commonly used to target local prospects online with location-appropriate content.

See an example below of how we use geotargeting in our Google Ads to target a specific area:

geotargeting

Once you set this radius, the only people who will see your ad will be in this radius.

 

See an example of an advertisement that uses geotargeting below:

mobile geotargeting ads

Geofencing and geotargeting each have their own unique capabilities.

 

Do you use geofencing or geotargeting in your marketing strategy? We’d love to hear about it!

Have questions on the best way to use geofencing or geotargeting to garner leads? Drop us a comment below and we’ll share our thoughts.

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9 Ways to Increase Your Property’s Occupancy in 2020

1) Customize Promotions and Specials ?


A) Every apartment owner and/or community manager knows that promotions and specials are essential to driving occupancy, but what many fail to realize is that the key to promotions is making sure they have a time limit.

A good example is “$400 off your first months’ rent for December only!”


2) Create Referral Programs ?


A) One of the most actionable things you can do to drive occupancy is create a referral program.

Your residents can be your #1 salespeople!

Simply send an email blast to your tenants offering rent credit for any referrals. (Note: when deciding on a referral credit, take into account that the average cost-per-lease in 2019 is $325-$450).


3) Partner with Local Businesses ?


A) Make sure your proposal is valuable to both parties. If they refer you a tenant, what can you offer them in return?
Possible partnerships include local restaurants, moving companies, etc.

This can be really successful if you encourage a “go local” attitude.


4) Create a Sense of Community ?


A) It’s no secret that the path to steady occupancy lies in resident retention. Create community events which allow your residents to meet and befriend each other.

 

A good community is hard to find, and even harder to leave.

5) Incentivize Facebook Check-Ins ?


A) Although it’s more of a long-term branding strategy, incentivizing your residents to check in on Facebook gives your community added visibility that can significantly raise the profile of your apartment community over time.

 

“Check-ins” are posted for all of your residents’ network to see and help keep you top-of-mind in a very competitive marketplace.

6) Make Sure Your Website Phone Number is Clickable ☎


A) I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone on a property website and the phone number isn’t clickable.
I literally have to copy and paste the number into my dialer.

The modern prospect doesn’t have the time or patience to do that; if you don’t make it easy to contact you, they just won’t.

7) Include CTA’s (calls-to-action) on Your Homepage ?


A) Prospects reach your homepage – now what? Are you telling them to check out the gallery or floorplans?
You need to make the next steps clear if you want prospects to engage with your business.

Having 2 call-to-action buttons below the header on the homepage is ideal.

8) Let Chatbots Do the Talking ?


A) Do you want to increase your conversion rates by 100%? Add a chatbot.

To capture as many leads as possible, you need to give your leads multiple methods of contacting you.

 

9) Recycle Resident Reviews ♻


A) Remember your 3 R’s! Your tenants are your best salespeople, which means making a review page on your website where you feature your rave reviews is in your best interest.

 

This can mean the difference between a prospect reaching out or moving on.

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How to Rent your Apartment on Craigslist

Craigslist is an online, classified ad website with various sections devoted to Housing, Jobs, Second-Hand Items, Roommates, Dating, and more. The website is completely free to use and is available to anyone willing to work within the company’s stated guidelines.

Now, how can you get maximum visibility in Craigslist’s search engine?

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38 Apartment Marketing Ideas for Apartment Lease Ups

With so much competition, it’s hard to come up with unique apartment marketing ideas.

You make a website.

You create social profiles.

You drive traffic.

You upgrade your ILS accounts.

You take beautiful photos; maybe even a 3D apartment tour.

But guess what? Everyone’s doing that.

Read on to get some marketing ideas for your apartment complex.

1. Create a Unique Logo

Your logo should be unique, recognizable and serve as a symbol of your property. Make it simple and include it in everything you create: signage, listing site profiles, and any other marketing materials. This helps you build a distinct reputation for your property and allows you to influence how others perceive your community.

apartment branding

2. Get high quality photos

Has anyone told you first impressions don’t matter? Not in this case. High quality photos are imperative if you want to attract leads and compel people to come and see your units in person. Don’t use your cell phone camera for these shots – spend the money to hire a professional to shoot your property, it will pay off in the long run.

apartment photography

3. Include every type of content to show off your property

Giving tenants multiple ways to experience your community will entice them more and save your leasing agents time on tours with prospects that won’t turn into residents. Make sure your site includes 3D floor plans, photography, video, 3D tours, etc., so you’re always putting your best foot forward.

4. Get more leads with craigslist

Create informative, detailed posts to attract residents. If you haven’t started posting on Craigslist yet, or are looking for some new strategies, you can find our extensive guide to getting more leads on Craigslist here.

craigslist logo

5. Be consistent on every platform

To ensure that you’re easily noticed and remembered, your logos, fonts, and photos must be consistent across every platform. It is a huge competitive advantage if your community can be recognized at a glance, and consistency is key in making that happen.

6. Be active on Social Media

We all know social media can be a gold mine for residents. Once you’ve built a community, you are able to reach hundreds of people with just one post. The more likes and shares you get, the more popular you will become, and the more likely you’ll be top of mind when it’s time for one of your followers (or their friends and family members) to find a new place to live.

apartment marketing ideas

7. Ask for reviews from current residents

Thank your current residents for living in your community, and make them feel appreciated. For example, if they renew their lease, ask for a review that you can post on social media or your website. Having positive reviews can have a great impact on your reputation, as 80% of leads won’t contact a business with less than 3 stars.

marketing idea for apartments

8. Recycle reviews

Use good reviews as a testimonial for your listing sites. Take a screenshot of your best review and post it to every listing you’re in; this can boost your reputation tremendously.

outreach marketing ideas for apartments

9. Focus on your website

Have an eye-catching website design to keep residents engaged. Always have the “tap to call” or “click to call” button ready on every page in your header.

 

apartment advertising ideas

10. Include a local area map on your website

Location Location Location. The first thing people think of when looking for an apartment is, “What is it near?” Don’t leave your site visitors guessing – add a map with key nearby places clearly marked. Make sure you include supermarkets, any schools in the area, parks, and shopping centers.

 

local marketing map

11. Claim your google my business listing

Google My Business can be a huge source of leads for any apartment complex. If you don’t know where to start, simply complete your listing and watch the leads come in.

 

SEO For Multifamily

12. Post your community on Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace is very easy to use. Just add your best photo, the price of the unit, and the terms of leasing. The advantage of using Facebook Marketplace is that it provides hyper-local results for users, which means you’re much more likely to get your post in front of someone in your area looking for an apartment. Facebook Marketplace also lets you directly respond to inquiries through the platform, making this a commonly untapped source of additional leads.

 

13. Facebook paid campaigns

Facebook ads can be a huge source for new leads. They tend to be cheaper than Google Ads and offer more advanced targeting. That said, we recommend hiring a professional to set this up for you, as setting it up incorrectly can be a costly mistake.

 

FB/IG Ads for Multifamily

14. Post on Pinterest

People visit Pinterest to get inspiration for anything, including apartments. With 291 million active users, Pinterest can be a great way to get discovered.

15. Get ideas from competitors

Not sure where to start? Check out some of your competitors. Tools like semrush.com or spyfu.com are a good place to start, just insert competitors’ URL into one of these tools.

16. Write personalized thank you letters

Always send a thank you letter after a prospect tour. In this digital age, that kind of personal touch is appreciated and makes you stand out.

17. Follow up with prospective residents

In addition to the thank you letter, you should always follow up with a prospect after a successful tour. It is important to stay in front of them. Make them feel valued in every situation.

18. Extend leasing hours

Consider extending your leasing hours to be more available to new prospects. Many people aren’t able to leave work during business hours to take an apartment tour, so staying open later can allow you to attract a larger pool of leads. Many calls occur between 11:00am and 1:00pm during people’s lunch breaks.

19. Add video!

Video can be a great tool to add to your arsenal of marketing strategies. When creating professional video, make sure you keep your audience in mind.

20. Create a referral program

Word of mouth still works. To create a tenant referral program, first calculate your cost-per-lease. You can do this by dividing your monthly marketing expenses by the number of leases you generate on average each month. Say this number is $500. You can then offer a $500 rent credit to any residents that refer you a tenant, saving you the hard work of tracking down a lead on your own!

 

21. Offer promotions and specials

Simply put, promos and specials get more eyes on your advertisements. Consider offering a promo that would benefit both you and your prospect, for example, offering a $199 security deposit on all new rentals with approved credit.

 

22. Respond to all the reviews

Good or bad, it’s important to respond to every review posted about you online. This shows that you care about providing the highest standard of service, and, more importantly, proves that you care about the experiences of your tenants.

23. Send resident satisfaction surveys quarterly

Managing a negative reputation is one thing, but imagine having the opportunity to engage unhappy tenants before their dissatisfaction gets posted online? Sending out a quarterly satisfaction survey can be powerful for managing your reputation. Have your community manager call each tenant who responds to the survey either thanking them for their participation (and possibly asking for a testimonial) or asking how they can improve the tenant’s experience.

24. Post pictures of your residents

Show prospective residents proof of satisfaction. Posting pictures of new renters makes for great social media content and shows prospects the life they could have if they moved into your community.

25. Have a website live chat

Offering live chat can increase the amount of leads you capture, as prospective residents often want to speak with a person right away. Having a chat function available on your site helps you engage these hot prospects further and answer their burning questions immediately.

26. Post testimonials on the website

Testimonials are one of the best ways to intrigue new renters. If prompted correctly, your satisfied residents can be your best salespeople — even better than your leasing staff!

27. Be a reliable source of information

It is important to create informative blog posts for your website. This helps you drive traffic to your site and increases your ranking among local rental communities, making you an authority in the eyes of Google and your prospective renter. Create relevant, interesting and entertaining posts that will make readers stop and read. Establish in their minds that you’re a reliable resource so they keep coming back for more.

28. Organize events at your property

Giving tenants the chance to mingle builds loyalty and trust from both current tenants and prospective ones. Organize an event and allow current tenants to invite a plus one. Having a fun atmosphere and casually interacting with current and prospective renters is a great way to show that you’re a community that cares.

29. Find your audience

It is essential that your marketing targets the audience you want to attract. One of the best ways to do this is to go where your renters are. For example, if your community is pet-friendly, reach out to the local pet shelter to discuss how you can work together. If you’re targeting college students, consider doing something in collaboration with a local college. Prospects who engage with these resources will be impressed with your commitment and more willing to consider your community when looking for a new home.

30. Partner with local businesses

Getting to know other local businesses is a great way to get your brand out there and make people aware of your property. Also, having a relationship with the owner or manager of other businesses will keep you top of mind if they get a lead from someone new to the neighborhood.

31. Micro-Influencers

Influencers are an excellent way to market through a trusted authority. A micro-influencer can help you promote and popularize your community. With their assorted followers, there is a good chance at least some of the followers will be good prospects for your community.

32. Always use a call to action 

What’s a call to action? It’s a directive for your prospect, telling them what to do. Calls for action include “Apply now,” “Call now,” and “Schedule a tour.” You should have a call to action with your absent for your prospect to have choices to interact with your website rather than just being a static website.

33. Use Google ads for website traffic

Google Ads is great because you only have to pay when someone clicks on your ad. Essentially, you’re only paying for the traffic being directed to your site. If you find that you aren’t ranking organically for your local market, this is a good way to help secure that top spot.

34. Use Google ads for retargeting

After someone visits your website, you can use Google Ads to follow that user onto other platforms and show them ads for your site. This is a great advantage because you’re reaching out to people who have already had a glance of what you offer. Following up with more information and more persuasive contents may help turn a lukewarm lead into a hot one.

35. Create a resident retention plan

Create an annual plan to understand what makes your residents tick and what they value in their living space. Surveys are a great way to get information from your residents, and you can turn around and use the data you’ve acquired to serve them better.

36. Create a Youtube Channel for your community

It’s nice to share video content of your community online – especially videos that are entertaining. Consider using the world’s most common video-sharing site, YouTube, to post videos that display the amenities you offer and give insight to viewers about your community.

37. Create eye-catching brochures

Your brochure should represent what makes your community stand out and be visually compelling enough to stop people from throwing it in the trash when they get home.

Create a brochure that catches readers’ eyes. Use tools like Canva and other design programs to create a brochure that will get you leads.

38. Create a Hashtag which your community can talk about

Hashtags are a fun and unique way of sharing the thoughts of your residents. For example, encourage residents to use #MyApartmentExperience or #BestApartmentEver and share their experience. This will serve as a wall where your residents can go to post their thoughts about your community.

 

 

There you go! Keep it handy.

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