Our blog today is a special one, because we are going to give you an overview of everything we have learned about property management marketing in the last four and a half years. That’s right – Fourandhalf is turning four and a half, and we thought we’d celebrate by completing one big blog, distilling what we’ve learned over those four and a half years.
To make it easier to move around the article, here is a table of contents:
Where do we start?
You Have a Property Management Website, What’s Next?
Nowadays, it’s common knowledge that a business needs a website. So, most of the future clients that contact us already have one. However, just because they have a website, doesn’t mean anyone is going there. In the digital age, that’s where property management marketing comes in.
How does it work? Start with getting traffic; traffic brings you leads, and then the leads move to qualified prospects, and then those prospects hopefully become closed clients. That was our plan at the beginning, and it’s still the core of what we do today.
That may still be the core of what we do, but these days, an additional focus is closing leads. Why? Because in the property management industry there are a limited amount of leads available in any given area, in any given month, so there’s a lot of competition for a finite number of leads.
Think about this: If you only get three leads a month and you close all three leads, and the guy down the street gets 20 leads a month, but only closes three of them, you’re both growing at the same rate. The difference is that you are probably spending less money and time to get those contracts.
After the sales process comes your reputation. Why reputation? You can bring in all the traffic and leads you want, but if you have only one star and your competition has four stars, you’ll lose new business to the guy with the better reputation. Once you’ve figured out your sales process and built your reputation, you’ll be ready to throw smart money behind client acquisition and growth.
One of the ways to do this is with the different types of pay-per-click marketing. It can get expensive, so the goal here is to make sure your customer acquisition cost remains a reasonable percentage of your customer lifetime value.
Next, we’ll talk about social media, which plays a small but important role, and finally, content. Content is the big ticket item here. Content is huge, it’s the behemoth. Quality content is the most important thing for your business.
So let’s get started on Marketing 101.
1. Property Management Sales Process and Advice
Setting up a successful sales process is an essential part of growing your business. It doesn’t matter how many leads you bring in to your business; if you can’t close them, you’re in trouble. Appreciate the monetary cost of the leads that are coming your way. Just because you got a lot this month, does not guarantee you will get a lot of leads next month. Make sure you are doing everything you can to close each one.
The foundation of a good property management sales practice is to answer every phone call. It doesn’t matter if the person at the other end of the line is a vendor, an owner, or someone else. Act like each call could be a $5,000 phone call, because it just might end up being one. Any individual call can bring business to your business.
Follow up on each lead. Just because you aren’t following up, doesn’t mean your competition isn’t either. Maybe you’ve wondered why other companies are growing and you’re not. One of those reasons could be a lack of follow-up.
When you have a lead on the phone, you need to be curious and ask questions. Engage them in conversation, find out what their problems are, because if they are calling you, they almost certainly have problems. Keep in mind, people taking the time to call you are worried about what is most likely their single biggest investment – a home. You have to convince them why you’re the company best qualified to take care of that investment.
How a CRM Helps Close More Property Management Leads
Even if you do have a sales process, you might not be closing as many deals as you could be. If you want to have a higher close percentage, you’ll need to use a CRM system. A CRM system will track the status of all of your leads, and remind you to follow up with them on a regular basis. Most people only try to contact a lead one or two times. Statistics tell us that a large percentage of leads only close after the eighth contact. You need to maximize your chances to get in touch with a particular lead. A CRM system does that.
A quality CRM will even register leads from online forms automatically, such as the ones on your website, and also track where your leads are coming from. This tells you where to put your marketing dollars and where not to put them. It helps you focus on what works.
Our recommendation is LeadSimple, a sales CRM designed expressly for the property management industry.
You need to establish an effective sales process early on, so when your marketing really kicks in, you’re ready to handle a high volume of incoming leads.
2. Manage Your Reputation
OK, let’s say all of your marketing efforts are paying off, and people are finding you online. The next thing people look at is your online reputation. According to BrightLocal, star rating is the #1 factor used by consumers to judge a business.
You need to focus on your reputation because it will help convert traffic into leads, no matter where that traffic comes from. For instance, Fourandhalf’s AdWords team consistently sees better results from clients with four-star or better online reputations. Companies with poor online reputations simply get fewer leads. Also consider, some people will go directly to online review sites to find local businesses. They will naturally call the highest rated businesses first.
There are lots of review sites that people use, but two websites are the best. These are more important because the ratings show up not only on customer profile pages on the site, but are used right next to company names when seen in the largest search engines’ results pages. These sites are Google and Yelp.
Yelp is a national review site which is popular in large cities around the country, and is expanding to other areas around the U.S. Most importantly, Yelp partners with Bing and Yahoo, so if you search property management on either of those search engines and the local listings show up, the reviews you see are coming from Yelp.
Google is even more important. Most people already know that Google is the world’s most popular search engine. Within Google, when someone types in your name, or searches for property management within your service area or names it, local listings will then pop up. The Google star rating will also be there, right next to your company’s name. You obviously want to have as many stars there as possible.
Pro Tip: You need five reviews on Google to have your star rating show up.
Get More Stars on Yelp and Google
Either way, you need a steady stream of positive reviews. Unlike some industries, you will have to work to get them. You’re going to have to ask. Requesting online reviews can be pretty scary for property managers. Property managers are working for the landlord, and acting in the owner’s best interest, and tenants don’t always realize that. So maybe someone didn’t pass your screening, or you’ll have to hold back a large part of someone’s security deposit. Those tenants may be upset, and they may want to go online and leave a bad review.
What is a property management company to do?
One recommendation we have is to use a middle man website like Reputation.com. They allow you to request reviews from both tenants and owners without the worry that a negative review is going to show up on Google or Yelp.
You can also choose to do the work yourself and send review requests via email to clients that you know are happy. Some situations where you know they’ll be happy include tenants who just moved in, owners who are now getting more rent for their property, or even tenants who just received a full security deposit refund.
As a goal when starting out, aim to get more than the minimum five reviews to have your star rating appear on Google. Set goals for yourself. Start with a goal of about 20 reviews over the first six months. Then, keep going. Try to get one or two reviews a month on each site. We cannot overstate the importance of having good reviews. As one of our customers recently said to us, “My four and a half star rating is like money in my pocket.”
3. Property Management Pay-Per-Click
Google Ads, Bing campaigns, and other forms of paid search are a form of advertising called Search Engine Marketing (SEM). On Google’s search results page, the ads are at the top, above the organic and local search results.
SEM is great for a company that is looking to show up on the first page of Google (or Bing, or Yahoo) for keywords relevant to their business. This is useful not only for companies who show up on page two or higher, but even for companies that already show up on the first page but are looking to gain more of that valuable “Page One” real estate.
SEM is also great for targeting an audience that’s ready to buy. Because you are only showing your ad to people who are actively searching terms associated with property management, they are more likely to have an immediate problem that you can solve.
A Search Engine Marketing campaign can be more expensive than other types of marketing, but if you have a strong reputation and a great sales process, you can still get an excellent return on your investment. As we’ve said earlier, the goal here is to make sure your customer acquisition cost remains a reasonable percentage of your customer lifetime value. One of the benefits is that you get access to immediate leads, where most less expensive marketing methods take a while to produce results.
Content remarketing, sometimes called “banner ads,” is a really good supplement to traditional SEM campaigns. If you have additional marketing dollars, consider banner ads. If you have ever gone online to buy shoes, and left the web store without making a purchase, you may have noticed that shoe ads tend to show up everywhere you go. That’s content remarketing.
The value in remarketing is that your ad is a reminder to people who weren’t ready to buy right away. Your company name will show up on a regular basis, but you still only pay if they click on the ad. You’ll be right there when they become ready. In addition, banner ads are often less expensive than traditional SEM campaigns, so they work as a great supplement to an AdWords or Bing campaign – or even visitors to your website.
“Giveaway” campaigns are also effective, especially on social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. These can target very specific demographics. They work best when coupled with a tangible giveaway like an eBook. At the very least, they can help you build an email list even if a customer isn’t ready to buy. That way, when they finally start thinking about trying property management, they’ll think of you first.
If you really want to be aggressive, do all three of these. Start with search engine marketing, then go with banner ads, and also build an email list with a giveaway, adding leads to your nurturing campaign.
4. Social Media for Property Managers
Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about how social media can impact your marketing campaign – which isn’t much if you don’t know what you are doing. You need to think about which sites to focus on and which you can do without, you need to set them up correctly, and you need to post content relevant to your business.
In our opinion, Google+ is the most important service to have a profile on. Specifically, a profile for your business. The section of Google+ that is designed for local businesses is now called “Google My Business.” It’s how you rank on local searches in two places:
- Google places a little pin on the map to show search results and locations for businesses that have filled out their “Google My Business” profile (which is the same thing as Google+). When you complete your profile you have a better chance of showing up on page one.
- The primary way your company is showcased on mobile devices is powered by Google’s business listings, and filling out your “Google My Business” profile is how you get there.
Additionally, setting up a Google My Business page helps you with your Google Reviews. Even if you don’t set up a profile, Google may have already set one up for you based on public business information – which may or may not be correct. Also, people may already be leaving reviews there without your knowledge. You want to be able to interact with those reviewers and make sure that the business information presented next to your – hopefully – “four to five-star” reviews are correct.
Facebook is no doubt a powerful social networking site, and serves as the “modern watercooler.” Everyone has heard of it, but not everyone uses it correctly. On behalf of our customers, we use Facebook as a way to educate owners and prospective clients on who they are and what they do. You should use your business Facebook page as a recommendation and an education platform. It’s a good place to publish and post links to your content and get reviews.
Twitter is similar to Facebook, but with a 140-character limit it’s more difficult to make an impression. However, it’s a great platform to use to educate current and prospective clients. To make things easier, we use an application that takes anything we post on Facebook and duplicates it to Twitter. That way, it takes the same amount of effort to post on both services as it does to post on just one. We’ll talk about this application a little later.
You are unlikely to get any leads directly from Facebook or Twitter, however, posting activity on these pages gives your website an SEO boost (if you’ve linked it to your profile), and are important when prospective customers are researching your company.
YouTube is owned by Google, and, believe it or not, it’s the second busiest search engine in the world, after Google itself. It can have a tremendous impact on your marketing campaign. Google actively promotes videos posted on YouTube. Everything you record and publish on YouTube can be searchable, and will absolutely help you rank on Google. Use YouTube to (mainly) record educational video blogs; publish what your company is doing; and let the public know who you are, and what services you offer.
In recent years, LinkedIn has become a powerful tool to connect with other professionals. In addition to networking, you can also publish content on their forums. Property management companies can use this to their advantage. Within the past year, we have seen a large number of property managers start to post their own original content on the LinkedIn forums. And, if you already using it to network, keep in mind that this may be a great place to connect with real estate agents in your area.
Other Social Media Sites and Tools for Property Managers
Pinterest and Instagram are more image-dependent social media sites. Unfortunately, the property management industry is not a very visual business. What we mean is, pictures don’t adequately express or describe what a property management company does. You may think you can post pictures of vacancies, but keep in mind that you would need to keep your profile updated at all times and manually add and remove the vacancies you post. This would result in more work than it’s worth. Additionally, users on Instagram and Pinterest tend to be younger people, who are less likely to own investment properties, and therefore you’re less likely to get quality leads.
The last site we’ll talk about is Reddit. Reddit is a kind of a forum. People answer different questions posted on the site. It’s not a bad platform per se, but, like Instagram and Pinterest, attracts a primarily younger audience. Additionally, it is not moderated for content; there is a lot of off-color and questionable content on the site.
Finally, when we talk about posting, and using social media to educate current and prospective clients, there’s a way to make it easy on yourself. We use Hootsuite, an online application that allows you to compose posts and schedule them for posting later across all your social media channels. It’s free to try.
5. Property Management Content Marketing
Content is what has really made Fourandhalf the company it is today. In short, this is how local businesses get found on search engines. Why? People are looking to tap the expertise you have. Google isn’t out there answering people’s questions themselves, they are simply directing searchers to people who have published relevant information. You need to be one of the experts providing that information.
Content marketing works because people now have more power to choose what information they see. From the 50s through the 80s and beyond, people would pay to get their businesses seen in the Yellow Pages, in the newspaper or magazines, on local TV, or heard on the radio. Back then, these were the primary ways people got their information, and advertisers were charged dearly to show up there. Today, the Internet is the primary source of information for the vast majority of people, and you can publish useful information on the Internet for free – and attract even more customers. You just need to present that information in a way that is easily understood by Google and other search engines.
For content, you’ll want to produce blogs and articles as well as videos. Combine these so you can get the widest exposure. Your business will be seen when your articles are found in searches and your videos show up on YouTube. You need both video and text because video attracts more clicks and ranks better on Google, but the written articles that are associated with them contain the needed keywords for the blog and video to rank in the first place.
The written content – blogs – is where Google finds the information it needs to properly categorize your site. The more blogs you have on the different aspects of property management, the more keywords your website will rank for. Because, remember, a blog is simply a way for you to add content to your site yourself without necessarily hiring a web developer to do it. Even a site with as few as four or five professionally created pages will eventually rank for a growing number of keywords as the number of blog pages you publish grows.
Reusing Content for Maximum Value
Other reasons content marketing is so economical is because the content you produce can be reused. For instance, if some of your leads are just not closing, send them some of your blogs and articles every month. You have a good chance to catch them at the right time and keep your business on the top of their minds.
Also, if you have six to seven similar blog topics, you can turn that content into an eBook and give it out to people in your network. When people see that you wrote a book on property management, they’ll recognize you as an expert.
During sales calls, you can offer to send leads one of your videos where you talk about your solutions to their pain points. It gives you credibility because the lead knows that if you bothered to make a video on this subject, then this is a problem that you have handled many times.
We recommend you start creating blog posts with videos. Do it on a regular basis, until you have a library of 20-40 videos. At first, you may have trouble thinking of topics to blog about, but trust us, eventually you’ll be thinking of topics on a regular basis. At Fourandhalf, we have created a blog post once very week for the last four years. The one drawback to content marketing is the approximately six months between the time you start producing blogs and the moment the leads start coming in. However, if you produce blogs regularly, once they start coming in, they will keep coming in.
Conclusion: Your Property Management Website
So, there we have Property Management Marketing 101. We’ve told you how to bring visitors to your website, so now let’s talk about the website itself. Now that you’ve been working for a while to improve your marketing campaign and have leads flowing in, you have to make sure your website is doing its job.
When you first put your website together, we’re sure what you tried to do is get a good deal and create a good looking website for a low price. That makes sense. But is it helping you close your leads? A $1,000 website that doesn’t close costs you $1,000. A $10,000 website that does close makes you money in the long run. So here are some questions you need to ask yourself:
Is it focused?
Does the website just ramble, and is there a lot of stuff creating clutter? No one wants to spend an hour on your site. Tenants want to go in and pay their rent. Prospective tenants want to go in and find a vacancy. Prospective owners want to go in, hear about your company, and give you a call. Current owners might want to check on their finances. So make sure your website is focused to these uses. Post about your interests, hobbies and beliefs on your personal Facebook page.
Websites with 27 pages cost a lot of money and don’t necessarily get you anywhere. Sometimes a five-page website can do all that you need.
Is it clear?
Everyone who comes to your site has a different reason for being there. The main options should be displayed and easy to understand. Tenants should know where to pay rent and see vacancies. Current owners should see their portal right away. Don’t force people to poke around to find what they need. Have content, but make it relevant and easy to find.
Does it close?
A prospective owner should understand immediately that you provide property management services in your town. You need to have value propositions that address an owner’s pain points. They want to know how you will fix their problems. Then, make it easy for them to find your phone number or fill out a form.
So, all of this marketing and sales work depends on a quality website. It needs to be an asset to you and work for you, not just look pretty.
Thank you for listening to our long anniversary blog. If you have any questions about anything pertaining to marketing for property managers, please contact us at Fourandhalf. We’d be happy to talk to you.