One of the greater marketing challenges in the multifamily industry is figuring out how to market market-rate C-level properties. These properties get squeezed on both ends as many of their prospective residents may end up in affordable housing properties instead and those not eligible for such housing may well look for more of a B-type property if they can manage it. That leaves C-level properties stranded in the middle and often struggling to fill their units.
Do prospects for C-class properties research online when shopping for an apartment?
Before we can even begin to talk about how or why a C-class property should have a web presence, we first need to establish that it is even something their prospects will use. You might think that the people looking to rent properties of this sort simply aren't online, but that's actually not true.
A large percentage of Americans use their smartphone as their primary way of connecting to the internet. According to one survey, 10% of Americans do not have high speed internet access at home and an additional 15% do not have reliable high speed access. But those people are still online—thanks to their phones.
Additionally, 13% of Americans earning under $30,000 told surveyers that they are "heavily dependent" upon their phones and 50% of Americans earning under $30,000 a year own a smartphone. A senior researcher with Pew Research said he was surprised at how many working poor use their phones to look for jobs and to do other basic day-to-day tasks. Presumably this would include searching for a place to live when that time comes. So the target demographic of most C-type properties are online, even if they aren't using desktop devices.
Given that information, there are three main apartment marketing ideas for C-class properties that we need to develop today. They are:
- Use mobile as your primary outlet on search.
- Optimize your local business listings in Google.
- Qualify your leads with higher quality marketing content.
We'll expand on each of these three ideas below.
Use mobile as your primary outlet on search.
You need to begin by having a mobile-friendly site. If you are curious about what that means, we have written an extensive post on mobile-friendly apartment websites. Moving beyond this basic point, there are other ways to emphasize mobile.
One particularly good way to emphasize mobile is to run pay-per-click ads on Google using Google AdWords that are designed exclusively for mobile devices. This is especially powerful because you can show up at the top of the search results page on mobile, which is much more valuable than being at the top on desktop. Here's why:
As you can see, on desktop the top result still is only one amongst many, many other results on the page.
On mobile, the SERP is much smaller and more focused due to being on a device with a much smaller screen:
As you can see, in this case the paid search result is the only result on the page. On desktop, you will be sharing space with somewhere between five and nine additional clickable results. But top placement on mobile means that you will be, at worst, one of three clickable items on the SERP and maybe the only clickable item above the fold. So winning top placement with AdWords is a major victory on mobile search.
Optimize your local business listings.
Next to mobile, the most important thing you can do to is improve your local business listings on Google. This, again, is largely about mobile. If an AdWords ad doesn't display when someone searches for you on mobile, it's likely that your business listing will.
This is what that would look like:
In addition to that use, when someone searches for directions to your community that data is also pulled from your local business listing:
There are two ways to improve your local business listing on Google. The first is to actually work on the business listing that Google controls. The second is to make sure that your local business data is consistent across all the different local business directories online. This gives Google greater confidence that their own listing for your business is correct and therefore makes them more likely to show it to their users. To check to see if your business data online is consistent, use this free tool from Moz.
By improving your local business listing, you are making it easy for anyone—and mobile users especially—to find out about your community.
Qualify your leads with higher quality marketing content.
One point to consider with many C-class properties is that they tend to be smaller communities or scattered properties across town. In the latter case especially, travel time between showings for your leasing team can be a big issue. It's especially frustrating if they spend time driving from one six-plex to a small property with 30 units several miles away only to give a tour to someone who obviously would never lease that unit after seeing it.
Sometimes C-type properties can be nervous about having a lot of photos or video of the property online for fear of not looking good relative to their competitors. But there are tons of C-class properties and most of them tend to look pretty similar. So you won't typically suffer that much by way of comparison. People know that you get what you pay for so no reasonable person is going to be comparing your C-level property to the new luxury property on the other side of town.
Additionally, by making more photos and videos of the property available, you are making it easier for prospects to see your property and make an informed decision about whether or not to take a tour before they call your leasing staff. There will always, of course, be people who will see your property and decide it's not for them. But if they can do that before calling your leasing office they can save your staff a lot of wasted time not only giving the tour, but also driving from property to property.