What Apartments.com Doesn't Want You To Know

Apartments.com is a stock traded company. Their business model is to take the millions of dollars invested by their stockholders and allocate funds to ads, mainly Google ads. This is why when you search the frequently used “apartments near me” or “apartments in city name” you typically see an Apartments.com ad at the top OR you will see Apartments.com listed at the top of the organic search. Apartments.com then leverages their ad and SEO strength by selling subscriptions to property management companies like yours, but what they don’t tell you is that you can do it too. TLM offers the exact same service except instead of seeing Apartments.com we place ads with your property name. We do this by keyword selection.

Apartments.com produces hundreds of millions of dollars each year, but with that kind of money flowing in it only makes sense to focus on the money makers. So imagine a big pond like Atlanta. It’s not only an attractive destination, but has lots of inner city migration. Renters move to the various pockets throughout the city annually, and it’s common to live in Sandy Springs and be completely unaware of apartments in Midtown or East Point. This prospect behavior is perfect for Apartments.com. They not only get to target those moving to the city, but those moving around the city as well. Apartments.com has put so much behind their advertising to the housing communities that most property management companies miss the big opportunity sign. Remember, when someone is good at something, figure out what they do and how they do it and duplicate it.

Cut Your Marketing Costs

When I acted as a marketing director to a property management company, I was responsible for managing marketing contracts. The company I worked for was already signed up with Apartments.com. Even after negotiations the rates I received were $599 to $699 for the gold package and $1299 for the platinum package.

We weren’t considering any other Apartments.com packages at the time, but paying that kind of money per month per property seemed absurd to me. Don’t get me wrong, for some of the properties it was great; hundreds of leads were flowing in. But for others it was just absolutely ridiculous. Even Apartments.com wasn’t investing in these markets. You could tell by their keyword selection. We had properties receiving 24 pieces of traffic in exchange for almost $600. Even on the higher end of the average lead to tour conversion, that’s only 10 engaging leads and with a realistic average closing ratio, leasing agents could only produce 4 leases at best. The problem was these properties had over 300 units and were below 80% occupied. To make matters worse they weren’t really pulling in traffic from anywhere else. Of their marketing sources - sad to say - the 24 leads they got from Apartments.com was the best they had, but there was a better way to allocate those funds.

By creating geo-targeted on-to-on keyword ads properties can produce more traffic at a lower cost and eliminate the middle-man. Again, Apartments.com is great for those high traffic locations, but when it comes to smaller, more rural towns the key is focusing in on keywords.

Leveraging Keyword Opportunities

Apartments.com is amazing at keyword focus, but they often neglect the little guys. They don’t have the time to research what keywords work in the lower traffic towns. I took the time to chat with a property manager and simply said, “Tell me about this area.” She went on to tell me about the schools, the hospital, the local factories and what was attracting people to the city. She mentioned that typically besides the jobs that attract people to the area, the majority are born and raised in the city and move around from property to property. She told me the various names people use to refer to the town. My eyes lit up. This girl knew her stuff, but what shocked me was the fact that the company wasn’t placing ads. They had the secret gem, the inside knowledge of knowing what people could be searching for in this local town and they were ignoring the opportunity.

Keywords are what drive traffic and SEO, but Apartments.com can’t focus on the little guys. They go where the money is frequent and fluid. If you have a property that is struggling to get traffic, talk to your on site staff. Talk to locals. Find the information that you could include in your ads that will increase traffic. Don’t waste hundreds or thousands of dollars every month hoping Apartments.com will deliver.

Ad Structure Opportunities

Geo-Targeted ads are ads that target prospects based on location. Locations can be communicated online via keywords. In addition to keyword selection, you want to be mindful of how you structure your ad.

When creating a Google ad, you will set up something called a campaign. Within that campaign you will set up something called an ad group. Within each ad group are keywords. Google Ads recommends 7 to 10 keywords per ad group. An ad group is a set of keywords that Google acknowledges and “matches” to put your ad in front of Google site visitors searching for similar or exact keywords.

Have you ever been searching online for something and found the search results to be ironically relatable, but irrelevant to what you had in mind? There are two common reasons for this: 1-You may have selected the wrong search term or mistyped OR 2-Google’s recommendation of including 7 to 10 keywords per ad group caused the search results you’re seeing to identify with search terms that are off topic. I like to call this ad dilution.

Imagine you’re driving, and you’re trying to get from point A to point B, but you have Google Maps telling you to go East, Waze telling you to go Left, a paper map telling you to go Northwest, two friends in the backseat saying make a U-turn and your mom on bluetooth saying just come home. Chances are these directives could be accurate and get you to your destination, but the route or “relevancy” makes it difficult. To make matters worse they are all communicating their suggestions to you at the same time. So, you decide to focus on one directive, but then you’re at a stop light and decide to switch to a new directive.

This is exactly how diluted ads work. Google Ads is in the driver’s seat. By listing 7 to 10 keywords per ad group you’re yelling 7 to 10 various directives and hoping your ad gets you to point B. My recommendation, only list one keyword per ad group. This eliminates the confusion and tells Google, “This is the keyword I want you to target with this ad group.

You’re probably wondering what if I have more than one keyword I need to target. No problem. Each campaign can have numerous ad groups and you can have way more than 10, but it could take quite a while to develop a campaign using ad groups that only contain one keyword each. They say it takes about 5 to 10 minutes to set up an ad group. I recommend you find a company that does one-to-one keyword ads like TLM Marketing. Be sure they understand geo-targeting and keyword selection along with keyword cost efficiency.

I know there is likely a fear that your ads will be ineffective or that you will try and fail, but remember you will be saving money. You can also hire a team of experts like the team at TLM Marketing to do this for you. And hey, how much worse could it be than the low level of traffic you’re currently getting? At least you’ll save money.

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