Lately I’ve been paying close attention to the different internet sites where apartment communities advertise. As a Marketing Manager for a large REIT, it was my responsibility to audit numerous sites for each individual community – a somewhat daunting task, but one that was very necessary.
Passing the responsibility along to the manager of each community ultimately proved to be equally as challenging, as a manager’s job is oftentimes very demanding on multiple levels. With the different pricing models being utilized today, the level of attention required increases as pricing can fluctuate on a daily basis. Despite the improvements in available software that allows for updates to be done automatically, attention to a community’s internet presence is still an integral part of advertising at any apartment community large or small.
It is vital for the management and leasing team at each community to know what their overall internet presence looks like. Taking the time to get familiar with where your community appears on a search is the best place to start and to conduct a thorough audit. Although time consuming, the initial audit will make the overall management of the sites more efficient and will create consistency which will greatly improve the overall internet presence of any community. Following are some ideas to consider as you begin the ‘tune-up’ process:
Google your community to find out which sites are being used. New sites are often developed that pull your community information from another site ~ oftentimes without management’s knowledge. Maintain a list of every site where your community appears and research the contact information for the site developers in the event changes are required.
Look at the pictures of your community posted at each site. Be sure that only quality photographs are being displayed and that they represent your community at its very best. If pictures are outdated or poor quality shots, contact the advertising company to arrange for any changes to be made as soon as possible. Good photos are imperative to your internet advertising success!
Develop a system where each site can be accessed DAILY by someone on the management or leasing team. Although it is best to assign this responsibility to one person, it can also work with multiple users when managed efficiently. A checklist should be developed so that updates can be documented and any changes needed can be noted and or requested.
Daily monitoring and management of each site is necessary
Update your pricing and any specials DAILY. If this information is not already done automatically, it should be checked daily, first thing in the morning to reflect information consistent with your community and/or company website.
Don’t forget about CRAIGSLIST! This has become one of the more widely used sites where people go to look for apartments. Although Craigslist is a free service, any editing must be done by the person posting the ad. Spelling and grammar should be flawless, pictures should be of the best possible quality, and the ads should be refreshed frequently to remain close to the top of the list. Consider using a ‘template’ for your ads to ensure consistency.
Checking your community web listings is no longer a monthly task. Because searching for apartments over the internet is now the most common way to search, daily monitoring and management of each site is necessary in order to maintain a consistent and professional way for your community to be viewed. An impressive web presence will drive traffic to your community. With successful and consistent management, the leasing process will be enhanced and the opportunity for overall community success will improve.