In years past, word of mouth was one of the primary ways apartment hunters found their next place. That evolved into free printed booklets available at grocery stores, then Craigslist.
Technology has evolved to meet the needs of the digital-savvy renters of today. More than half of apartment searchers are looking on mobile devices, and apartment review sites play an increasingly strong role in the decision-making process.
Here are some emerging trends for apartment marketers and property managers to keep in mind:
1. Google is now king.
A few years ago, Yelp was the go-to apartment review site. Now that Google has built out its review product, it’s not only attracting more reviews, some say it’s suppressing other review sites like Yelp in Google search results. The important takeaway for the multifamily industry is that 78 percent of apartment hunters use apartment online reviews when deciding on where to live, so keep a close eye on your Google apartment reviews as well as reviews on other sites, like Apartments.com and Apartment Ratings.
The best practice when it comes to online reputation management is to respond to every review, both positive and negative, with an original, custom reply that addresses concerns and expresses gratitude. Not only is it crucial to keep your current residents as happy as possible, prospective renters are also paying attention to how you resolve conflicts raised in apartment reviews. Respond in a timely manner, ideally within a day or less, and try to move negative exchanges offline to face-to-face conversations instead.
2. Mobile is more important than ever.
The average person spends about 87 hours per month on a smartphone compared to 34 hours on a desktop. Further, more than half of Google’s search queries are conducted on mobile devices, according to Google. So, it’s important that your apartment community’s online presence is optimized for mobile. An apartment chatbot is an increasingly popular, engaging, and time-saving tool for interacting with prospects on your website. It makes you available for them 24/7 – and it works on mobile. Make sure your apartment website is responsive, and empower residents to conduct important business on their mobile devices, such as paying rent and submitting maintenance requests.
This also means that your apartment paid search campaigns should factor in the use of mobile devices in order for your campaigns to have the most reach. When it comes to Google Ads, this means taking advantage of the ad extensions designed for mobile, including location, price and call extensions that make it easier for prospects to find your apartment community on the go.
3. Don’t overlook the importance of social.
In 2016, research showed that only 13 percent of apartment hunters took into account a community’s social media presence. Things have shifted since then, and now an apartment community’s social media ranks third in importance for current and potential residents. While some still see social media as a marketing tool, it should now be viewed as an opportunity for property managers to build a sense of community, which can help in terms of resident retention.
While most apartment communities have pages on Facebook, the rise in popularity of Instagram shouldn’t be ignored. Instagram has more than 800 million monthly users, making it a potential gold mine when it comes to apartment advertising and engagement. Further, Generation Z — those born between the mid-1990s to mid-2000s, are the most tech savvy generation we’ve known, and they’re also starting to look for their first apartments. Advertising on Instagram meets them where they are.
Respage can help your apartment community when it comes to online reputation management, mobile-focused websites, apartment chatbots, advertising optimization and social media…so reach out if you would like to learn more!