The 2016 presidential election is a teaching tool for the multifamily industry. Yes, sounds crazy, but hear us out.
Whether you’re With Her or you want to Make America Great Again, one common theme has emerged among the campaigns: you can’t win the White House without a powerful digital marketing plan. From Trump’s tweets to Hillary’s multi-tiered email strategy, candidates are turning to digital to win over Americans like never before.
While multifamily marketers aren’t trying to court voters, we do want to reach renters and boost our brand online. So with the election in mind, here are six lessons you can apply to your digital marketing strategy:
1. Take advantage of tech
To succeed online, the candidates use powerfulsoftware. Reportedly, Hillary Clinton invested in nine diverse digital advertising platforms, while Trump used seven. Meanwhile, both candidates use sleek websites to explain their positions, but also (and maybe more importantly) to ask for donations and email addresses.
When you’re running a campaign (or an apartment company), it’s not enough to create a basic website and email leads haphazardly. To promote yourself and attract renters, you need a leading-edge website with built-in marketing power. From HD video tours to lead-tracking and reputation management, the right site can super-charge your marketing efforts.
2. Use social media to inform your renters
According to one study, 44% of adults polled in January 2016 got their election news from social media during the past week. It’s no wonder then that Donald Trump turns to social to express himself, and Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy on YouTube.
It’s a sign that you should use social media to make announcements about your property. Are you scheduling maintenance in the lobby? Want to let tenants know about a community event? Put it in a Facebook post. For Millennial renters, share behind-the-scenes videos on Snapchat to inform them of new hires to your property team.
3. Your social strategy should reflect your branding
Donald Trump’s tweets are direct, personal and spontaneous, conveying his status as a political outsider. Meanwhile, Clinton’s posts are crafted by her social media team, which ensures that her public voice is always on brand. It’s a consistent strategy for a candidate who touts her experience and professionalism.
If your branding is more direct, or if you perhaps own a smaller, family-run apartment company, take a more casual (but professional) approach to social media. For companies with a large portfolio, you may want to assign social media to a dedicated team that can create a content calendar, and ensure that your brand voice is consistent across all of your properties.
4. Invest in SEO
Still deciding whether or not an SEO strategy is right for your property? Take a lesson from Ted Cruz’s campaign. The former presidential nominee’s team failed to address a series of videos showing Cruz in an unflattering light; the videos then went viral. Meanwhile, a strange rumor claiming he was the Zodiac killer(?!) caught fire online. In fact, the term ‘ted cruz zodiac killer’ reached three million results on Google.
You can’t control every mention of your property online, but your website and (hopefully) positive reviews should appear on page-one of search results. But even if you get negative reviews of your property, you can turn them into an SEO opportunity.
Respond publicly, express sympathy and offer to solve the problem. Your show of dedication can have a ripple effect, causing other people to review you favorably, which will give you an organic boost in search results.
Google prioritizes businesses with positive reviews—and the more, the merrier. If a renter is searching for property reviews in a specific area, Google will highlight apartments that have a larger quantity of positive reviews over their less-reviewed competitors.
5. Connect to your audience through blogging
Speaking of SEO, a blog is an excellent way to add long-form content to your website (something Google loves). Plus, it lets you form a relationship with your audience, as it did for Bernie Sanders. Supporters of the senator from Vermont responded to his passion for democracy and ordinary people’s lives, which he wrote about at length on his website’s blog.
Blogging can also be an effective tool for property managers. Show renters you care about issues that are relevant to them. For example, if you have a lot of Millennial tenants, you might post content about your community or offer lifestyle tips (cooking at home, shopping on a budget, etc.). Make your blog a destination with useful content. You’ll strengthen the bond with your renters, and the increased traffic will grow your organic SEO.
6. A/B test your marketing
To optimize your digital marketing efforts for lead capture, try A/B testing, as many of the candidates have done. For example, Hillary Clinton used different calls to action across her PPC landing pages (“Sign up”, “Join the official campaign”), and changed up the color (red background versus blue) as well as the central image (picture of the candidate versus her logo) to maximize email sign-ups and donations.
If you have a PPC campaign in place for your property, try variations on your landing page to see which ones perform better. You can apply A/B testing to your website as well:
- Use different CTAs to entice renters to contact your leasing teams.
- Compare multiple offers (move-in specials versus ongoing discounts).
- Change up the visual layout (which design of your Contact Us page created more leads?).
By testing and analyzing your marketing efforts, you’ll inevitably turn more leads to leases.