Moving is already a stressful and emotional time–throw in a pandemic, and it can be downright overwhelming for both renters and leasing agents. But this is the reality many have faced over the last year, and apartment marketers and property managers have been tasked with engaging and enticing renters while balancing new procedures, changing safety guidelines, and evolving renter behavior.
To better understand how renters are making decisions about where to live and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted those decisions, we conducted a survey of over 2,500 adults ages 25-64 who searched for an online rental property in the past 12 months—not including affordable or student housing.
Based on this data, we’re sharing the top apartment marketing ideas you can use to get more renters and sign more leases in 2021.
1. Invest in local SEO to show up on search engines
You want your apartment community or rental to show up on top search engines like Google when people are searching for rentals in your area. To do that, you need a local SEO strategy.
Our study found that 93% of respondents used a search engine during apartment research, and over 80% of respondents visited three or more online sites before deciding which communities to visit in person.
This means that the more opportunities you have to rank in search results for queries related to your community, the more chances you have of getting prospective renters to learn about you and visit you in person.
2. List your apartment community or rental on real estate websites
Real estate listing sites were a popular resource for prospective renters when looking for a new place to live. One of the benefits of these sites, too, is that they often rank in search results—giving you another place to capture leads for your apartment marketing.
Our study found that Zillow and Apartments.com were two of the most popular resources renters check or visit from Google when looking for a place to live.
Make sure your apartment community or rental is listed on these top sites so you can get in front of prospective renters as they research their next place to live.
3. Make sure your property is (accurately!) listed on top local listing sites
Local listings give you another opportunity to rank on search engines for searches related to your area and can help prospective renters find you.
For example, if someone searches “apartments in Fort Worth” on Google, they’ll see Google My Business listing results for these apartment communities:
Local listings also come into play when it’s time for a person to visit your apartment community for a tour—you want to make sure all your information is accurate and updated so you aren’t losing potential renters due to incorrect information (like the wrong address, hours of operation, or phone number) on your listings.
4. Use social media as part of your apartment marketing
Social media continues to grow as a key source renters turn to for reviews, listings, and the ability to interact with a community prior to moving. Use your social media presence to keep your current residents engaged while giving prospective residents an idea of what to expect.
Check out our best social media marketing ideas for real estate to get some ideas for what to post to attract new prospects and keep current residents coming back to your sites.
5. Run social media ads
Once you have a solid organic social media presence in place, you can (and should!) add on some social media ads. Nearly 70% of renters feel social media advertising is effective in creating interest in a community.
And our data shows that apartments and rentals see a low average cost per lead from Facebook advertising at just over $46.
Running social media ads can help you reach an active and engaged audience and drive them to learn more about your rental properties.
6. Manage your apartment community’s online reputation
Reviews are extremely important for successful apartment marketing. Our study found that 72% of respondents would pay higher rent for a community with better online reviews from previous renters.
Plus, renters trust reviews. Reviews, either from review sites or social media, are two of the three most trusted sources for apartment information
If you aren’t investing in reputation management, now is the time. Make sure you’re responding to reviews, getting new reviews, and using the information from your reviews to make improvements to your processes and your community.
7. Focus on your location and apartment amenities
While access to a pool or fitness center is a great value add to renters, two-thirds of respondents consider community amenities less important than both location and apartment amenities.
When it comes to your location, make sure you’re highlighting the ease of commuting, convenient shopping and dining options, and a great view.
For your apartment amenities, play up your balcony and patio options, pet friendliness, and furnished apartment options.
8. Market available units well in advance
Most apartments have a 90-day move-out period, meaning you can’t guarantee availability until closer to the beginning of a lease. This can be an issue for renters who begin their apartment search early.
Our study found that 60% of respondents began their search at least six months before the lease was to begin. This means that it would benefit your apartment marketing strategy to have some data on the types of units available—including features, location, and more—in advance to help renters plan as they narrow down their options for in-person visits.
If this data isn’t possible to get, it’s important to gather updated pictures of your different floorplans and potential upcoming units so you can present an accurate picture to those beginning their search early.
You may also consider including a “notify me!” button on your website for specific floorplans so prospective renters can be alerted when the floorplan they’re interested in comes available—it might even sway them to move in early!
9. Run resident referral programs
According to our study, referrals from a friend or family member are the most trusted source of information for renters.
Many apartment marketing strategies include resident referral programs, but if this isn’t something you’re offering, now’s the time to start.
Determine what would entice your residents to refer friends or family to your location. Many apartments offer a rent concession, a special gadget like a Google Home, or a gift card.
Ask some of your current residents what would encourage them to refer your community before launching your program, and follow our steps for asking for referrals here.
Once you have your resident referral in place, make sure to promote it on social media and through email marketing so you can increase your chances of seeing those referrals roll in!
10. Create an experience for your apartment tours
While the online experience you offer prospective renters is important, 72% still note that an in-person visit is their preferred research method. If you can wow them during their apartment tour, you have a better chance of getting them to sign a lease with you.
Who wouldn’t want to take a tour in this cool golf cart?
Creating a streamlined process for apartment tours, including scheduling times and gathering information about the types of units your prospective renters want to see, can help you keep prospective renters happy during their visit.
You can also look for ways to make your property stand out more, like by offering beer and wine as part of your tour, holding a monthly raffle for tour visitors, and by updating your community clubhouse area to give a great first impression to your prospective renters.
11. Invest in apartment tour videos or virtual tour software
With the current COVID-19 pandemic still discouraging in-person visits, updated professional videos and photos of apartments and communities remain essential to improve occupancy rates during and after the crisis. In fact, there was a marked increase in the percentage of people who preferred to watch a virtual tour or watch a YouTube video of the apartment from 2020 to 2021.
By investing in high-quality, updated tour videos (or virtual tour capabilities!) of your community, amenities, and different floorplans, you can encourage more people to visit you in person because they’ll feel confident you have what they’re looking for.
You can also incorporate video marketing into your strategy by regularly sharing videos from your community or residents, Q&A-style interviews with your leasing agents about amenities, and more to really give prospective renters an idea of what to expect when they live at your property.
12. Run PPC ads as part of your apartment marketing
Search advertising was the most effective apartment marketing tactic–after apartment or home listings in 2021, according to our study. And PPC advertising is still extremely effective for apartment marketing.
By running real estate PPC campaigns for your rentals and apartment community, you can get in front of active searchers, increase awareness for your property, and see a fairly low cost per lead that translates to signed leases.
13. Offer moving (or renewal) incentives
In a competitive market, it’s important to do whatever you can to stand out with your apartment marketing. Offering moving or renewal incentives can help you with this. In fact, 36% narrowed down community selection based on a “special offer.”
Consider offering a rent concession, putting together an attractive package for new renters, or bundling some extra amenities renters might enjoy to increase the chances they’ll choose your property.
While many apartments offer one-month free rent or other concessions, we’ve seen other communities allow new renters to choose from one of three packages to outfit their new home with smart locks, a smart thermostat, or a puppy cam. Think about what would entice new or existing renters and help you stand out.
14. Don’t slow down your apartment marketing
Over half of renters are planning to move in 2021 compared to only a third in 2020, so now is not the time to slow down your apartment marketing! Use these tips to complement your existing apartment marketing strategy and make sure to measure your marketing to determine what’s working best to drive results for your community.
Apartment marketing in 2021
Apartment marketing will continue to evolve as renter behavior evolves. By staying on top of the latest available data and using these data-backed apartment marketing tips, you can bring renters in and get leases signed.
Here are the top apartment marketing tips for 2021:
- Invest in local SEO to show up on search engines
- List your apartment community or rental on real estate websites
- Get on local listings
- Use social media marketing
- Run social media ads
- Manage your apartment community’s only reputation
- Focus on your location and apartment amenities
- Market available units well in advance
- Run resident referral programs
- Create an experience for your apartment tours
- Invest in apartment tour videos or virtual tour software
- Run PPC ads
- Offer moving (or renewal) incentives
- Don’t slow down your apartment marketing