Marketing Ideas for Property Management That Work
A single Google search for the word “marketing” turns up 6.5 billion results in a matter of seconds. Clearly, a lot of digital ink has been spilled by people searching for the best ways to get their product or service in front of their leads’ eyes.
But marketing isn’t just about finding customers for your solution—it’s about finding the right customers. These are the people who will not only buy what you’re providing, but they’re also the kind of people you’re looking to serve in the first place.
Finding the ideal customer matters more in property management than in many other industries. When you’re marketing your properties to prospective tenants, it isn’t just about finding people looking to rent, or even about finding people in your rental units’ income range.
It’s about finding people who will take care of your unit, pay their rent on time, and mesh well with other tenants in the building if there are any. While you’ll find indicators for most of these traits in your applicant screening process, having a solid marketing approach can help you target good tenants from the jump. If you’re a property manager looking to up your marketing game, here are a few ideas that will kickstart the process.
Create a captivating website
A good website is essential for any modern business, real estate investment included. Just like you screen tenants before approving or denying them, prospective tenants will also be screening your business and properties to see if you’re the kind of people they trust to provide them with housing. Browsing your website is one of the ways for prospective tenants to do this pre-screening on their own terms.
A good website should prioritize the user’s experience and include important details like your contact information, the types of units you have available for rent, what kinds of amenities tenants can expect, and any favorable reviews from previous or current tenants.
Understand your audience
As a property manager, you already have a good idea of the tenant demographic you serve. Whether it’s college-age students, young professionals, families, or older adults, the type of tenant has a significant impact on your marketing strategy. Your tenant demographic is essentially the audience whose attention you want, so your marketing materials should speak to them accordingly.
For example, consider the types of phrases your tenants would use to search for you. A recent graduate probably won’t be searching for “luxury apartments,” but an established professional might. College students likely won’t care for “rentals near good elementary schools,” but that will be a top priority for young families. Understanding your audience can help you refine your messaging so that you’re more likely to pop up in searches for your ideal tenants.
Search engine optimization
According to BrightEdge research, 53% of website traffic today comes from organic search. That means that roughly half of all incoming traffic to websites starts with a user typing something into a search engine like Google or Bing. Research also shows that 75% of searchers will never look past the first page of Google—when it comes to search engines, the potential payoff is huge, but you’ve gotta get as close as possible to being the top-ranked search result.
The process of trying to move your website as close to the top of the result rankings as possible is called search engine optimization, or SEO for short. When your SEO game is on point, customers can find you more easily, and if you rank above your competitors in the search results, they might be more likely to give you their business just because they clicked on your website first.
If you’re a newcomer to SEO, you might feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of advice and strategizing tips out there. For more simple ways to get started, you can try researching the keywords that are worth targeting (for example, “apartments for rent in X area,”) and then including those keywords in your website. You can also try starting a blog with informative content about renting and including relevant primary and secondary keywords in your blog posts.
If you seriously want to bring your SEO strategy to the next level, it might be a good idea to hire a contractor or agency for help.
Create a Google business profile
Remember that 53% statistic from above? People search for just about everything on Google, and a lot of those searches are targeted at local businesses. To help consumers find information about local companies more easily, and to help businesses provide accurate information to searching customers, Google has a feature known as the Google business profile.
Setting up your Google business profile means that searching customers will be able to find accurate information about your business name, phone number, hours, website, and more. It also means you’ll be able to collect Google reviews. When people searching for rentals in your area can easily find all of the information they need—including how current and former tenants feel about you—they’re more likely to give you a call or submit an application.
List your properties online
Like almost anything else, nowadays most people prefer to search for a place to live on the Internet rather than on foot hunting for “for rent” signs or thumbing through the classifieds. Websites like Zillow, Apartments.com, Realtor, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Trulia, Rent.com, and others are all places where you can post your vacancies. Some even offer built-in features for pre-screening tenant applications or scheduling viewings.
Before you list on one of these sites, invest some time into making sure that your listing is visually appealing. Take brightly-lit photos of the unit’s rooms, including the bathroom, kitchen, and exterior, plus any common areas if the unit is inside a larger building.
Next, list the unit’s features. How many rooms? Bathrooms? Basement or attic? What’s the rent, and what bills are included in it, if any? What’s the pet policy? Listing as many of these criteria as possible can help tenants self-select based on what they’re looking for in a place to live.
Finally, you can write your own description of the property. This is the place to really sell the open unit. What’s the neighborhood like? Quiet and cozy, or lively and upbeat? Is the unit newly renovated? Does it have an antique charm? Describing the rental’s character can help you catch and hold your audience’s attention for longer—ideally, long enough that they leave their information, schedule a viewing, or fill out a pre-application on the website.
Understand your competition
As T.S. Eliot said, “Good writers borrow, great writers steal.” Studying what your competition’s marketing strategy looks like might give you some ideas to propel your own business forward. For example, if they’re ranking better than you in search engine results, dedicate some time to figuring out what’s different about their SEO strategy and how you can replicate it. If their socials have better numbers than yours, spend some time with their content to see what sets it apart.
When you’re a marketing master in the making, anyone can become your teacher, including (and perhaps especially) your competition.
Invest in content marketing
If you spend any time researching marketing topics, you’ll quickly come across the phrase, “Content is king.” That’s because content marketing is an excellent way to market your properties, establish your authority, and improve your SEO ranking.
Content isn’t just about blogs, although those are a great place to start. Content can also be videos, social media posts, podcast episodes, and ebooks. Naturally, some of these content types will be more relevant to your audience than others, but creating informative content that targets the keywords you want to rank for is an excellent way to bring eyes onto your website, which brings you one step closer to finding new tenants and filling your vacancies.
Take to social media
Social media is an excellent way to get the message out about your properties because you can essentially market as much as you want for free. Many platforms offer paid ads, but you can get decent traffic just by posting regularly and putting effort into your content. Social media marketing includes anything you might post for the business on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and so on.
Think about the tone you’d like to project to prospective tenants and also about your target demographic (older adults are more likely to use Facebook, whereas younger adults tend to prefer Instagram or Twitter).
You can also use social media to promote new vacancies, remodels, and other events. Remember also to use plenty of hashtags and keywords; while SEO and social media marketing are different, social media websites often have their own search engines that you can optimize accordingly.
Some social media marketing is paid, although posting on the platforms normally is usually free. Paid ads will be pushed onto more user feeds, so it can help you reach a larger audience if you’re struggling to gain traction or if you just need a bigger push.
Google Ads can also help you get to the top of the search engine results while you’re still working on your organic SEO strategy. Google Ads usually follow a pay-per-click model, meaning your cost directly correlates to how much traffic you get on your ads. When someone searches for “rental units in x area,” your website will be one of the first results, albeit with the word “sponsored” or “ad” next to it. Still, this strategy can help put eyes on your page while you wait for a more long-term organic search campaign to start paying dividends.
Host or attend events
Hosting or attending local real estate investment or property management-themed events can help you meet other people in your local industry. For example, you may meet landlord clients in need of services or even contractors that you can hire out for maintenance and repairs. Keeping in the loop with your local real estate community is a good way to get the word out about your properties and to take full advantage of your community’s resources.
Attending events also gives you the opportunity to learn what others in the area are doing on a marketing level. Maybe a broker will give a talk about marketing their for-sale properties that strikes a chord with you, or you can get a front-row seat to a competitor’s presentation about how they’ve been filling vacancies with effective outreach.
Create a referral program
It may be possible to start a mutually beneficial marketing relationship with your existing tenants. You could create a referral program in which tenants refer people they know who are looking for a place to stay, and in exchange, both the existing tenant and the applicant (if accepted) get a small discount on their rent or security deposit. This strategy is great because it encourages word-of-mouth about your properties and incentivizes your current tenants to not only bring you leads but to renew their own leases and stay close to the perks.
As the people who currently live in and pay for your properties, your tenants can be some of your most valuable marketers. By offering them a reward for bringing in new leads, you show that you recognize their influence at the same time as you harness it to fill more units.
Hang flyers in local hang-out spots
Coffee shops, laundromats, nail salons, community centers, and more—these are all places where your future tenants might hang out in their free time or while they’re running errands. Try hanging flyers highlighting the amenities of your property along with your contact information. If people need more incentive to make that call, try attaching tear-off “coupons” to your fliers that interested parties can use for an application fee waiver or a small first-month discount.
Take advantage of digital billboards
If your “FOR RENT” yard signs aren’t quite doing the trick, try taking your ads to the big screen—not the silver screen, but the digital billboard you pass on the freeway every day. Have you ever seen an “If you lived here, you’d be home by now,” sign aimed at commuters? That could be your property in front of the eyes of everyday commuters and other interested parties. Try to find a digital billboard space near a highly-trafficked area to get the most bang for your buck.
Send your materials to local businesses & employers
A shorter commute is better for employees and bosses alike. If there’s a large business or employment agency in your community, give them a call or send along some of your marketing materials letting them know you have vacancies in town for any employees that are looking for a place in the area. If you really want to sweeten the deal, you could also throw in an extra incentive like waived application fees or a small discount on the first month’s rent for qualified applicants.
A parting tip for your property management advertising is not to stick to just one avenue. There’s no reason why you can’t combine a website blog with an SEO strategy with some social media accounts, or any other combination of marketing methods. No matter which methods you choose to advertise to your target customers and find new tenants if you work consistently at it, your efforts are sure to pay off with time.