Leveraging the art and science of digital marketing

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Kettler’s chatbot feature allows prospects to get 24/7 information about its properties, such as 800 Carlyle Apartments in Alexandria, Virginia. The blue icon at the bottom left allows for customization of accessibility. Image courtesy of Kettler

Now more than ever, prospects of all ages spend hours staring at their screens. Multi-family marketers have responded to this reality with creative messages and calls to action delivered to desktops, laptops, tablets, phones and wearable devices.

Unlike static print ads or billboards – which the American Marketing Association (AMA) describes as “one-way” communication – digital marketing is an interactive, dynamic, and ever-changing process.

According to the AMA, digital marketing is the use of any method conducted through electronic devices to promote a brand or reach consumers. A multi-family digital marketing strategy typically involves a combination of various channels, including websites, online advertising, search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), marketing social media, content creation (blogging and video) and email to reach customers.


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Not all digital marketing channels offer return on investment (ROI). Experimentation will reveal which ones are appropriate for specific properties or regions of the portfolio. Even when proven digital marketing methods have been identified as delivering results consistently, it pays to test new ideas – but not all at once – and still save costs and results.

The most critical part of an effective apartment marketing strategy is measuring the success of the business. Additionally, be sure to define key metrics for each marketing channel and record them regularly on a real estate marketing report. Tracking your marketing spend and transactions made from your online business helps you easily determine the quantitative impact and overall ROI of real estate marketing for your entire marketing funnel.

With that framework in place, you can dig deeper into your analysis of channel performance and specific marketing activities to help answer this question: What gives me the best ROI in real estate marketing?

An omnichannel playbook

According to Daryl E. Smith, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Kettler, a critical aspect is having a reputation management program.

“Having a strong partner who can manage your reputation means that if your employees comment on any of your reputation channels, whether it’s Google My Business or anyone else, (that means) you have a way to ‘answer them,’ Smith said. “There is also transparency so that the organization can see what has been said and take stock of what people are saying about the brand.”

According to Smith, digital marketing has evolved as an art and a science. “My colleagues in sister industries such as hospitality and retail really understood this, and they did a great job with it. For us, it’s about how to continue to provide a rewarding experience to our consumers. “

At Kettler, the answer lies in omnichannel marketing, an approach that gives customers a completely seamless and integrated shopping experience from first point of contact to last.


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Omnichannel marketing relies on SMS, e-blasts, and other digital formats used to interact and engage with tenants. “We all have these digital entry points to connect with the consumer,” Smith noted. “Now we want it to be frictionless for them and tie them all together in a seamless digital experience.”

For example, if a prospect is on Instagram or Facebook and sees a real estate ad, instead of writing the URL and leaving Facebook to go to Kettler’s website, they can just click that link or that ad and get all of the information. they need. If they want to transact, they can complete an application or make an appointment, then return to the environments they were in now. Omnichannel marketing offers more capture and conversion opportunities in a real-time, 24/7 format.

The second part of this omnichannel engagement is to start a meaningful conversation using AI tools like chatbots. “We’re really excited about this because consumers want ease and efficiency – and that’s what digital tools have really positioned themselves to create,” Smith said.

Kettler’s chatbot can speak to prospects 24/7 and provide an experience very similar to that of a live rental agent. It’s programmed with each property’s policies, including the rents they offer, their hours, what’s nearby – all the basic questions a prospect would ask a live rental agent.

Customize tThe digital marketing stack

Each apartment business has its own needs based on market research. Harbor Group Management Co.’s digital marketing manual focuses on quality content, professional photos and the ability to rent online.

“The goal is to allow potential residents to gather as much information as possible to help them with their decision-making process and find the perfect apartment for them,” said Jennifer Williams, vice president of marketing at Harbor Group Management. MHN.

In response to COVID-19, Harbor Group Management has adjusted its digital marketing strategy with additional tools that allow prospects to visit and rent apartments virtually. Image courtesy of Harbor Group Management Co.

“As potential residents engage with our real estate teams, I hope they are closer to a decision than they otherwise would have been. Once they have made up their mind, renting online provides a convenient and comfortable rental experience, ”added Williams. The pandemic has only increased consumer demand for tools to make the experience more efficient and worry-free.


READ ALSO: Impact of the pandemic on multi-family leases


In response to COVID-19, Harbor Group Management has added additional contactless digital communication tools to its digital marketing stack. This includes chatbots, scheduling online tours, and additional virtual video tours. These tools provide additional ways for potential residents to get the information they are looking for and how they would like to receive it.

“It is imperative that we listen to our future residents and provide them with the rental experience that they are most comfortable with,” said Williams. “Finding a new home is stressful, and the more we help our prospects with digital tools and content to help them reduce stress, the more potential we have for lasting relationships that benefit our residents and businesses in return. “

Beware of the shiny new object

Whatever digital marketing channels reach the playbook, don’t lose your eyes on resident retention.

“You lose money every time a resident leaves. If your current residents aren’t happy, let’s see why. You’ll still need leads, but you can slow down the revolving door, ”said Rachel Ingber, CEO of Intentional Marketing. MHN.

Ingber started out in the industry as a leasing agent, moved into property management and then marketing before starting his own multi-family marketing consultancy.

“I work with onsite teams to understand what’s going on at the property itself and what we can do best for residents,” said Ingber, whose digital marketing strategy sessions help clients connect the points between retaining residents and attracting new prospects. .

Ingber also stressed the importance of having a customer relationship system (CRM) that really tracks where prospects are coming from. Your Internet Listing Service (ILS) may appear to deliver a lot more leads than other similar services, but some research can reveal that the conversion of leads is really low. Meanwhile, another ILS that doesn’t bring in as many leads is actually converting more leads into leases.


READ ALSO: Attract and convert potential tenants with your website


Tracking digital marketing initiatives across the portfolio is a no-brainer, but Ingber noticed that it’s not always done.

“Each property is different. In one business your Google ads may work great and maybe your ILS isn’t, but in another market your ILS doesn’t perform as well. You have to really understand the big picture and tie it all together, ”Ingber said.

Above all, don’t let your digital marketing strategy get stale. The marketing team should test ideas and tactics to see what works and, more importantly, what doesn’t. Make adjustments as you go, but beware of the shiny new object.

“If you really feel like something new and exciting is going to be essential, then yes, you want to try it,” Ingber said – but rather than jump on every new digital marketing platform, pick three and stay consistent with them. And if you can’t quantify their direct or indirect impact on your rental or resident retention efforts, it’s time to get back to the drawing board.



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