How Are Renters Finding Your Apartments?

How are renters finding your apartments? How much are they using different internet listing services for apartments to do it? Are the internet listing services good or are they becoming dinosaurs?

By John Triplett

Rental Housing Journal

Apartments used to rely on the newspaper classified department to come up with abbreviations to shorten words and save them money when advertising for tenants.

Apartments were held hostage by the print restrictions and costs.

When one of my programmers first automated newspaper classifieds onto the web in the late 90s, apartments suddenly got a new distribution channel.

However the abbreviations describing apartment features looked pretty silly on the web where the items could easily have been spelled out.

Did renters know what these abbreviations meant?

Know what any of these used to mean? (hint: I will give you the answer below)

  • 2C
  • 2LV
  • 4/3
  • A/g pl
  • Frplc

Brittany Downey, marketing director for Rentping Media, takes on this topic in her email this week saying, “Now technology has given us an avenue for reaching potential residents in ways no one would have ever thought possible, without needing to abbreviate ‘fireplace.’ But sadly, multifamily marketing is still outdated. Our industry is rubbing together rocks to create fire when we have technology like gas heaters and electricity.”

Her point is that print newspapers were still doing some of those abbreviations as little as three years ago.

“We've been given the key to an overflowing treasure chest: the ability to own our web presence. Yet, as an entire industry, we've given that away. Instead of crafting a powerful online presence, we've entrusted marketing to Internet Listing Services––promising the world…then plastering you right next to your competition,” Downey says.

How are renters finding your apartments?

Where to spend marketing dollars for your apartments was less complicated and easier back in the days of the abbreviations. Now there are so many metrics to follow to try and understand where your marketing spend is working, and where it is not. Plus there are differences from market to market.

What really changed the world is Google and what is called the zero moment of truth. This changed the way people search for information online, how many sites they visit, and how they make decisions about brands including which apartment complex fits their need and lifestyle now.

Jim Lecinski writes, “Woody Allen is often credited with saying, ‘Eighty percent of success is showing up.’ This is especially true when it comes to digital. You cannot be a helpful brand partner and improve the lives of consumers if you are not present in the moments they need you most. And increasingly, these moments are happening on smartphones. On mobile:

  • Do you know how many people are searching for your brand?
  • Your category?
  •  How many of those times do you show up?
  •  How many times do they choose you, and why?
  •  Most importantly, how many times does your competitor show up, but you don't?

In blogger Jake Meador’s post, “Apartment Internet Listing Services are dying. Here's more proof,” he discusses research from J Turner Research on how renters are finding their apartments. And the results are not good news for internet listing services.

Here is a chart from J Turner Research he uses to illustrate the point that there is not a single listing service that is more popular with renters today than it was in 2012, Craigslist included.

how renters find your apartments

So why are Internet Listing Services dying?

Meador makes the point that it is much cheaper and easier to distribute content about your own apartment complex on the web through your own website. You do not need to pay the newspaper anymore or other media companies. You become your own small media company.

And was mentioned above with the Google Zero Moment of Truth, if you have the exact information on your website that someone is searching for right now, you can come to the top of the list.

Read more here on Meador’s post.

Last week blogger Matt Easton wrote about paid search campaigns and Google AdWords and some of advantages of that strategy.

Remember, do not try to outsmart Google’s algorithms.

Get help from an expert. And be careful not to put all your eggs in one basket.

Bigger players with bigger marketing budgets can outbid smaller players in paid search and take over the rankings in your geographic area. So get expert help.

Ok here are the answers to the abbreviations up top:

  • Two-car garage

  • Two Living AreasFour bedroom, three bathroom home

  • Above ground pool
  • Fireplace


Are online applications making renting an apartment easier or harder?

Apartment marketing ideas

Why the zero moment of truth matters more now than ever

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