The great wide world of marketing can be intimidating when you have little or no experience. When you are a property manager with a hundred things already on your plate, advertising and maintaining your public image to attract new renters sounds like something you just don’t have time for. In an effort to make things less scary, AppFolio teamed up with Sprout Marketing to provide you with a few quick ideas for improving your current digital marketing strategies.
Continue to utilize outreach marketing—don’t assume just because you build it they will come
Even a well designed website will not guarantee that your audience will find you. If you are looking to expand your current market, you will need to present yourself to your desired market. While the most direct way to reach many people today is through digital media, don’t be afraid to use more traditional methods that will bring attention to your business. Examples include:
- Magazine Ads
- Company Outreach
Invest in social media advertising, focus on your target demo—don’t run ads to try to reach a broad range of people
When looking to capture an audience through social media engagement, it is better to spend time focusing your efforts on a specific group of people. Instead of spamming a zip code to generate interest near you, paid social advertising also allows you to pinpoint your target demographic by including keywords or hashtags that your audience has already expressed an interest in. In this way, you only generate interest from people who are already looking for what you have to offer. If your properties include gym access and a yoga studio for example, adding fitness keywords to your paid advertising will attract only those people who are looking for a place to rent and also have an active interest in fitness pages or have noted an active lifestyle on their profile pages or search history.
Digital Push Marketing includes:
- Display ads
- Content Marketing
- Hashtag outreach
- Social media ads
- Digital PR
How can you measure your results?
When it comes to digital marketing, it can be difficult to predict which of your campaigns will be successful. In order to stay on top of your online presence, you need to be sure that the actions that you are taking are effective. There are a number of metrics that you can use to measure your current efforts and you can report on many of them in real time.
- Measure Brand Awareness by Search Volume: This is a great indicator of the number of people that are searching directly for your brand. If you use a system like Google AdWords for your advertising, this metric can be found in your Keyword Planner. This metric can be refined by location or keyword.
- Measure Your Engagement: If you are focusing your efforts on Facebook or other social media sites, a great way to measure the success of your marketing efforts is through New Page Likes (the number of people that are liking your page over time), or through Total Post Reach (the number of people who see your posts but may not be interacting). Remember, if someone is talking about you, you just gained access to their entire network of friends and family!
- Awareness by search volume, new likes, and post reach are often directly correlated: If you are finding a drop in interest in any of these fields, take a step back and re-evaluate your current efforts as to how you could better reach your current target.
Asking the Experts: Improving Your Digital Marketing Strategies Webinar
Sprout Marketing experts Rebecca Ross and Barbara Savona presented a webinar on Digital Marketing Strategies that you can use to make your efforts more effective. This session focused on three main strategies: Push Marketing, Pull Marketing, and Conversion Marketing. Rebecca and Barbara distinguished the key differences to these strategies and included some thrilling real-life success stories from their firm, illustrating their practicality within the Property Management business.They also discuss the importance of optimizing your property management website with keywords, as well as making sure that your site design is mobile-friendly.
The Webinar was packed with great information, so in case you missed it you can check out the recording and slides here.
There were so many great questions that came in we didn’t have time to answer them all so Rebecca has answered your questions below.
1. Do you recommend a company Twitter account?
I think it is worth it to set up a Twitter account for a listing purpose no matter what, however, I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all approach to managing Twitter for corporate or at the community-level. It is all about knowing your audience and knowing what social media channels will really count when communicating with them. Even at Sprout we pay more attention to our company Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest pages because we know that is where our audience is interacting with us and what results in the most traffic to our website.
If your core audience is urban, tech-centric, from the millennial generation or business leaders in their appropriate industry then Twitter is definitely a social channel to prioritize. If your target demo doesn’t hit those areas, that doesn’t mean Twitter is not a viable option, it just means there might be other channels you can prioritize.
2. How do you see ad blocking apps affecting SEO/SEM?
Ad blocking apps will not effect SEO, however, it does impact SEM. Remember, SEO is the process of optimizing your web presence to rank higher in the free search results versus SEM is the process of paying for advertisements on the search engine. Here is a great article on ad blocking affects on SEM and I have highlighted some of the takeaways below:
- In SEM, everything is pay per click. Therefore you are only paying for people who see your ad AND who click on it. Therefore if your ad isn’t showing because someone has an ad blocker you aren’t wasting money on them.
- Mobile ad blockers do not effect desktop search campaigns
- Social media is not effected by ad blockers
- Overall, ad blocking is a scary idea, however, this is why having a full-circle approach to marketing is so important. This way you aren’t putting all your eggs in one basket!
3. How much time should you expect to spend weekly/or monthly on keeping your digital footprint up to date?
For Facebook, I would recommend investing at the beginning of the month around 2-3 hours scheduling out content for the remainder of the month and looking at what was successful last month. Then, I would invest 30 minutes each week posting any event or on-site pictures to your pages. Finally, I would invest between between 20 minutes (10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes before you leave for the day) checking and responding to comments, reviews, check-ins, etc.
Social Media does take a lot of time which is why vendors (like Sprout) can help with this process. Learn how Sprout can transform your property social media strategy!
For SEO or SEM, I would highly recommend hiring this out. You really need a vendor that has your back, understands the SEO/SEM landscape and is constantly keeping up-to-date with any algorithm changes. I would invest in a couple meetings at the beginning of your partnership to look closely at the following:
- Targeted Keyword List: Make sure to weed out any non-relevant keywords to your community. Other neighborhood targets that are too far away, works like cheap that may not work for you, etc. Remember: If someone Googled that word and ended up on your website, would they be happy?
- Ad Copy: No fluff! Make sure the keywords are being used in the ad copy itself, and make sure there is a strong call-to-action.
- Display Ad Allocation: Ask how much of your budget is going to display ads. I would recommend a 70:30 ratio. 70% or more going to text ads and 30% or less going to display ads
Then I would check in one month and ask the following questions:
- What keywords have the highest Click-Through Rate (CTR)?
- What keywords have the lowest CTR?
- What keywords or ad group (group of similar keywords) are taking a lot of our budget? Is it resulting in qualified traffic to the site? (Look at metrics like average time on site for that specific segment).
- What keywords are struggling to be in the top ad positions? Is there anything we can cut so that these relevant keywords can get the spotlight?
4. If I am averaging 97% occupancy do I need to worry about my minimal digital footprint or just learn about it in case the averages dip?
The market can turn at any time and it is always good to be prepared. I would focus on the following:
Make sure your priority social media channels are active. You don’t need to spend money on ads, however, utilize those free digital outreach pieces like hashtag outreach to expand your reach.
Make sure your site is following SEO best practices such as targeting the right keywords in key areas and is mobile friendly. This way you have a solid foundation. If you want to go above and beyond, this would be great time to have a blog on your website that showcases relevant articles about your community. Don’t invest heavily or at all in SEM or Google ads at this time.
I would consider email marketing to keep relevant prospects in the funnel. This way if you have an opening or need the push you have a qualified base.
Check out Sprout Marketing’s follow-up Webinar on Conversion Marketing Strategies.