06 Mar

The Future of Apartment Marketing on the Internet

If you ask a property manager where their apartment traffic comes from they will unequivocally say the internet.  Not so long ago it was newspaper advertising and apartment guides.  So what is next? There is always something next. An example of what is coming is the coupling of online applications and online social marketing portals. Why not?  I have spoken with a Chicago web developer who tells me it is the next marketing vehicle and he is optimistic about his observations.  In an interview with him he provided me with the following insight. The real catch was his opinion that you will actually be able to raise your rent as a result of this theory. That surely got my attention….
Linda Day Harrison: Geoff, what is it that will enable me to raise my rent?
Geoff Domoracki: Online applications and online marketing will be able to fill apartment vacancies and make rental units so appealing that you can raise your rent. But you have to think about online marketing as more than simply buying ad space or posting on more apartment listing websites. As a web developer and web entrepreneur, I have some innovative ideas for how property managers can use a unique web application for turning your website into a social marketing machine.
Linda Day Harrison: Please explain your theory so our audience of property managers can explain this to their building owners?

Geoff Domoracki: In large cities with younger populations; choosing the apartment or condo building you live in becomes a social experience and a lifestyle choice. When I hold events in my downtown Chicago apartment building, guests regularly ask about the cost, amenities, and availability of units. Websites like Facebook, Yelp, Going, and Linkedin use events, reviews, photo galleries, and blogs to advertise products and venues. I have not yet chosen my apartment unit based on a social network.

Here is my concept for the future of apartment or condominium marketing. A robust web 2.0 application that performs the following purposes:

  • Profile-based social network for your building

  • Event invite and calendar for your building

  • Photos, articles, and discussions for your building

  • Unit vacancies / availability, with reviews and comments

  • Online leasing, rent payment, work orders, and condo docs

Linda Day Harrison: How much will this new concept cost? Someone has to pay for something sooner or later?
Geoff Domoracki: This type of platform will be a free service to the property owner, property manager or condominium association.  This business model will be similar to a rent.com or apartments.com. Essentially; you create websites for your properties and sign them up as part of the rental process (example: 820Davis.com) tell your tenants about the new features, they populate the site with photos, events, discussions, profiles, vacation dates, lease start / end dates, and friend referrals. If and when the web application is the procuring cause of the filling a vacancy; the website will take a finder’s fee of some sort. It is target marketing in its most efficient way. From existing customer to potential customer.
Linda Day Harrison: Why would you think this will be the future?
Geoff Domoracki: Because the new urban tech-savvy crowd will listen to Social Marketing before they listen to Direct Paid Marketing. Social Marketing means that customers and users draw in new customers and users simply by using the website. When your tenants invite new people to events, photo tags, feedback, and referrals – you get new tenants. It would be a free application; and the property will only pay for the service if it actually provides a service.
Linda Day Harrison: Currently, the apartment industry rewards existing residents by providing a referral fee, if they refer a friend who leases at the property. Will that concept be eliminated or do you see that being incorporated into the future of apartment leasing as well?
Geoff Domoracki: I think this concept will be integrated and made easier. I regularly refer my friends to restaurants or events I like on yelp.com; but I have not yet used a website for referring friends to an apartment. Take that concept a step further. When a friend who comes to an event in my building later becomes a tenant – I, the event host, can still get paid. You fill more vacancies – and tenants referring tenants becomes a more organic process.

 

  • Renae Maisano

    In some circles there is a belief that marketing is marketing when dealing with housing. Everyone is very concerned about the “appearance of something inappropriate” that they continue to spend marketing dollars on tried and true methods. Those methods that are tried and true for conventional housing. The most sucessful marketing plan I ever enacted for affordable housing was so simple and cost effective it amazed even me. I was dealing in very low income housing. We made tastful flyers and sent them to the local Human Resources Agencies announcing we had availability. We aimed for our targeted group and got great feedback. Not only did we get referrals in the hundreds, we spent basically nothing. I guess what I am saying is, remember who your real target is.
    That is not to say social networking vehicles will not work. There are many vehicles that would work such as craigslist, facebook etc. The object is to announce what you have. Don’t hide this factor under the main menu in a sub folder. So many times affordble housing sites have a little disclaimer on a website stating “call for availability”. Announce you are section 8 and based on your income, an affordable LIHTC property or 55 or better. Yell it out loud and clear. Be proud of the services you offer to and from your community. What you don’t want is to generate calls only to find you aren’t having success at converting those calls to leases.

  • I would like to see an example of a website that you are basing your theories on. What’s going to compel the tenants to participate in the social network for the apartment building? Secondly, the site will still need to generate traffic in order to find tenants and that costs money even if you handle the SEO yourself, time is money.

  • It’s great to see some unique content and a good quality blog for once, actually I would be very interested in doing a link exchange with you.

  • good start!

    I think the unique concept in itself would drive the traffic especially if enough unique interative features were offered.

    1. Trademark/Brand a name for the concept -> Virtual Apartments ->
    2. Think about how you will get around fair housing laws

    Online community manager will monitor blogs. Watch traffic logs to see which features are being clicked on for live feedback to further develop concept.

    If you establish the credibility, offer the service and create value with 3 person testimonials and offer referal and pictures with the online manager acting hands on helping users make decision, You Will start filling vacancies for the apartments site unseen.

    yes, It can be done