When it comes to new apartment construction, there are no signs of the industry slowing down anytime soon. With construction at a 10-year high, property managers and marketing directors are looking for ways to successfully establish a credible presence – and increase occupancy rates – in incredibly saturated markets.
For apartment lease ups, this process can be convoluted thanks to the sheer number of stakeholders involved: architects, construction teams, developers, property management teams, and even residents.
We’ve put together the ultimate 5-step lease up marketing plan to take any confusion out of the process and replace it with serious results.
Before we dive into the 5 step plan, let me deliver you a few quick tips in the below video.
Our marketing plan is broken down into 5 parts starting with your foundation.
The first thing you need to do is establish your identity. A strong identity is the foundation of all your marketing efforts.
Start by addressing these 6 foundational items:
What are you going to call this development? You want something unique, but still simple enough to pronounce. At the very least, Google your potential names to avoid duplicating a nearby community within the sub-market or possible offensive names that have many meanings.
Make it easy to type, keep it as short as possible, avoid hyphens, and try to keep the .com extension.
Should You Have Keywords In Your Domain Name? The short answer is “Yes.”
Having a keyword in your domain name will help you rank better on Google. Why? The keyword gives Google a clear indication of what your website is about.
For example, take the domain U32Apartments.com. It’s obvious to you and I – this is about apartments. Obvious to Google as well.
Now take the domain LiveatCortesian.com. It’s not immediately obvious this is an apartment website. It has to do with living, but no clear indication it’s apartments.
That’s where having that specific keyword can give you a little bump on Google search results.
To add to that – a prospective resident is much more likely to use the word “Apartments” in their Google search. Armed with this information, the next logical step is to secure a domain name that contains your community name plus the word apartments.
Now the problem with domains that have the word “Apartments” in them – is they’re rarely available anymore. They’re also not that sexy when using it for a luxe development.
In this case we need to get creative.
#1 – The ideal domain name looks like this: [Community]Apartments.com
Something you’ll need to be aware of is the length. If you have a long community name then I would look at one of the variations listed below.
#2 – Another good option looks like this: [Community][Neighborhood].com
I like this style domain name because it includes the local area as the keyword. This will help with Google rankings.
#3 – A shorter domain looks like this: [Community] + Apts.com
This variation is good for communities with long names. If none of the above variations work for you, I recommend just sticking with the community name as the actual domain.
If that’s not available then you can play with variations of “rent” and “living:”
Example: RentJasper.com or [Community]Living.com.
You should be able to secure a great domain using one of my variations listed above. Make sure you always go for .com over .net or any other ending. If you’ve never purchased a domain before, Godaddy.com is still our go-to source for domain searches and purchases. They’re a good resource.
When people search your name, they need to find you. Claim your directory listings (like Google My Business), website URL, and social media profiles as soon as possible. Here’s a good article we wrote on how to claim and optimize your Google My Business listing.
How do you want people to think of your development? Modern? Luxury? Your logo design should capture how you want your brand to look and feel. The logo/ID is not like a brochure or banner that can be discarded down the road to start over — you are setting the tone for the overall brand.
This will also tie in with your logo/ID and acts as a blueprint for the property, guiding all of the materials and assets that are developed for marketing. Color palette, style guide, typography and brand book can all be included here.
You probably have an exterior rendering for your new community but what about unit and amenity renderings? You should strongly consider both and also make sure your exterior rendering is up to standards in terms of quality.
These elements establish the foundation of your new community. Next, you need to build anticipation and excitement around your development. This should be a key part of your apartment lease up strategy.
In Part 2, it’s all about building your marketing list of hot prospects. That means you need to drive a lot of interest to your new development.
Here are 6 marketing items you should consider:
Otherwise, known as a landing page, is the launching point for your digital marketing actions (this isn’t your full website just yet, it’s much simpler).
On this waiting list website, prospective residents can enter their contact information to stay in the loop as your new apartment community is developed. This will help you build a solid list of good prospects.
Your waiting list website is collecting contact info that includes email addresses of interested prospects. You want to make sure you stay top of mind with these hot prospects.
The best way to do this is with email marketing.
How often should I email?
1-2 emails a month is plenty, but be consistent so you stay top of mind. The first time a prospect opts in for more info on your website, they need to receive an email immediately welcoming them. This very first email is important. Spend extra time making sure you’re creating the right experience with your words. Then set this email up as an auto responder, so they receive it a few minutes after leaving their information.
What should I say in my emails?
These emails can simply be updating them on the construction progress, making them feel part of the process. Keep your emails fairly short, to the point, and include a picture if possible. You can also post these updates on your branded social media profiles.
What should my subject line be?
To get your emails opened, you need to have a good subject. We’ve had a lot of success using the following: VIP Update. What you want to keep in mind here is you need to be consistent with the messaging that’s on your interest list website. For example, if your interest list website says, Join Our VIP list. Then your emails should reference this.
How do I send the emails?
You can use a DIY service like Mailchimp or Constant Contact for managing and sending your emails. If you want to be totally hands off you can partner with Resident360 for best results.
What else should I be aware of?
Prospects will reply to your emails, so make sure you have someone that can talk to them in a timely manner. Nothing is worse then a prospect’s emails sitting in your inbox for two weeks with no-reply.
Once you have the waiting-list website, you need to drive traffic to it. Google AdWords is an effective way to draw people in who are already searching for a new apartment community in your area.
For example, people are actively searching on Google for, “Apartments in [Your Area].” You want to make sure your property is at the top of those search results. That’s what Google AdWords will do for you. Here’s a recent article we published on Google AdWords that will give you further insight.
Create large construction banners or fence wraps with your new logo, web address, quality image, and call to action. Display your banners around the development to attract prospective residents walking by the community.
What makes a great construction banner? Check out the video below where I breakdown banners for several new apartment lease ups here in San Diego.
Don’t forget branded social media profiles, too. Social media could help generate more potential residents. Post construction updates here as well.
Virtual reality (VR) is finding uses in many industries right now, including multifamily. When a potential resident comes to the sales office, invite them to put on a VR headset to walk through a simulation of one of the units. It will be a unique and unforgettable experience.
A few weeks before your grand opening is the time to create and launch your full website, with all the features you’ll need to capture leads and interact with your residents.
Of course, you’ll also need to continue (and even ramp up) your email marketing efforts. Every person who gave you their email is someone who might want to live in your new community. Just because they didn’t sign a lease now doesn’t mean they won’t in the future.
You can invite people to grand opening events, share photos and videos about the community, and promote any special move-in offers you might have on your property.
Now is also the time to create more offline marketing materials, like brochures, business cards, flyers, and giveaways such as branded water bottles or t-shirts with your logo.
It’s a good idea to start searching for local business partnerships for your launch parties. You can create connections with local businesses, which may attract more residents or offer special perks to existing ones later down the line.
After the opening, you can start to sell the living experience of your community.
Have a professional photographer take photos of the living areas and any other amenities you think will excite potential residents. You want them to see these pictures and be able to visualize themselves and their families there, cooking in the kitchen or hanging out by the pool. Get photos of neighborhood hotspots to show off your property’s location.
Ask residents when they’re handed their keys, “Why did you choose to lease here.” The answer to that one question will make a very good testimonial. Stay proactive – your on-site teams should be constantly on the lookout for new review opportunities.
Tie-in some type of benefit/reward, so on-site staff actually makes it a goal to get a set number of reviews monthly.
Hands down it’s the #1 lead source for every community that Resident360 manages it for.
Once you’ve opened and the occupancy is stabilized, you can start prepping for more long-term efforts.
Now that the community is open, your marketing needs to continue so you can maintain your occupancy goals. A few things to consider:
Your brand, website, and social media channels should all communicate a similar message about why your community is unique; this will appeal to new residents while keeping your current residents happy and in-the-know.
You can use a more aggressive approach when you need to fill vacancies and then dial back as needed. Keep an eye on results or hire an agency to help you manage campaigns for optimal effectiveness.
Google, Facebook and Yelp are some of the first reviews that will pop up as prospective residents look into your development. Create a plan to manage them now, instead of waiting until there’s a problem. Responding to negative reviews can help you to earn trust and turn negative situations into positives.
Here are a few things to think about:
There are several third party monitoring dashboards out there that will handle the collection of reviews/mentions of your properties and alert you to what’s hot.
Ideally you want to have a point person overseeing this dashboard and your reputation management as a whole. They should be working with on-site teams to respond authentically to negative reviews. Keeping the responses authentic is the hard part, but it’s truly what needs to be done.
As you can see, there are a ton of moving parts when it comes to a new apartment lease up. You may want to consider working with a company that can help lay out and manage a step-by-step plan, including establishing an apartment lease up schedule tailored especially for you.
While there are many apartment lease up companies to consult, Resident360 offers a free discovery call where we’ll analyze your development and give you a thorough game plan of what needs to be done to get your new lease up fully occupied. Just give us a call at 855-360-9327 Press 1 or fill out the form here.
Josh Grillo is a #1 Best Selling Author, Speaker and Co-Founder of Resident360.