How to be the James Bond of Apartment Marketing: 6 Ways to Spy on Your Competition


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Multifamily is competitive. Apartment communities in the same geographical region are all vying for the same prospects. So how do you stand out? It all starts with taking a close look at your competition.

Prospects are bombarded with apartment advertising and marketing messages every day, but you can rise above it all by coming up with a unique value proposition that sets your apartment community apart from the others. To do this, you first need to analyze what your competition is doing, then find ways to zig where the others zag.

Channel your inner James Bond of apartment marketing and use these six tactics to spy on your competition.

Create Google Alerts

This free tool can help you keep track of every time your competitor is mentioned online, whether as a link or simply a mention. Create a separate alert for each property that you want to track, and make sure the name of the community is in quotes. You can refine it further by adding the location (this is especially important if a community has a common-sounding name).

If you want to go deeper, you can hone in on specific types of updates. For example, you are able to learn a lot about an apartment community’s strategy by keeping an eye on hiring patterns. You can set up an alert that will notify you when they place an employment ad online.

When setting up multiple alerts, it’s helpful to choose the digest option, which will have all of your alerts compiled in one email.

Follow Them on Social Media

You should be aware of how often your competitors are posting on social media, the type of content they’re posting, and how much engagement they’re receiving. This can help you craft your apartment social media strategy. If your competitors have an engaged audience on social media following, you may want to look at ways to step up your apartment social media presence.

Make sure to avoid using similar messaging or designs — the goal is to make your apartment community stand out as much as possible, and having unique messaging and graphics will help you do just that.

Set Up Social Media Listening

Social listening isn’t about watching what your competitors do online, it’s about gaining insights into what your apartment prospects want and how you can give it to them. It looks at the mood behind the data, which is also referred to as social media sentiment.

The first step is to monitor social media channels for mentions of your apartment brand and your competition as well as any relevant keywords. Next, analyze the information for ways to put the insights into action.

Hootsuite is one of many tools you can use to set up social media streams that keep tabs on your competition’s conversations, mentions, keywords and hashtags.

Monitor Their Online Apartment Reviews

Online reviews are tremendously important in Multifamily. They can provide valuable insight into what you’re doing right and what you can improve upon, and the same applies to your competition. By carefully reading their apartment reviews, you can try to find gaps that you can then fill. For example, if your competition has been getting negative apartment reviews recently about poor customer service, you can tout your best-in-class customer service in your messaging on social media.

First, come up with a list of apartment review sites to monitor. We recommend Google, Yelp, Facebook,, ApartmentRatings and ApartmentGuide. In addition to reading what reviewers are saying, also take a close look at the average apartment ratings, the apartment rating distribution, apartment ratings in specific categories and how your competitors are responding to their apartment reviews. You can check each apartment review site manually, or you can use a review management and monitoring platform, like Reputology or Review Push.

Look at SEO

The two most important things you should track from an apartment SEO perspective are the keywords they rank for and the backlinks they’ve received. Knowing their keywords will give you a good idea as to what search terms bring them apartment website traffic so that you can devise your own keyword strategy. Checking out their backlinks will show what authoritative websites link to them, and these are likely to be relevant to your site, too.

There are numerous tools you can use, and many of them are free. SEO PowerSuite will allow you to analyze the keywords they rank for as well as their backlinks. Rank Tracker is another tool that can help you with keywords, and SEO SpyGlass will show you the competition’s backlinks.

Watch Their Online Apartment Advertising

To win at the apartment ad game, you must keep an eye on your competition’s tactics. If you can figure out what’s working for them when it comes to apartment paid search advertising, you can improve upon their success. Luckily, there are numerous free tools that let you do just that.

The easiest place to start is your own apartment Google Ads (formerly called Google AdWords) account. Auction Insights shows the top advertisers competing for the keywords you’re targeting, and you can get a report at the campaign, ad group or keyword level for any time frame you want. SEMRush is another tool that allows you to research your competitors’ keywords from either paid or organic search.


Prospects have more choices than ever when it comes to choosing an apartment community. If you want to be heard above the digital noise of a competitive market, it’s worth it to put on your detective hat, gather data, and use that information to inform your own apartment marketing strategy. After all, chances are that your competition is already monitoring your apartment community, so it’s crucial that you do the same.

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