Marketing Through The Ages Jeremy Schneider Founder, RentLinx Lead Developer, MichiganHousingLocator.com Michigan Conference on Affordable Housing April 28th, 2008
Internet: Not Just for Kids Anymore • 78% of renters have a computer in their home and 85% of those subscribe to high speed Internet. 1 • 72% of renters begintheir search on the Internet when moving to a new area. 2 • Senior housing too! Many adults use the Internet to search for their parents. • NMHC Apartment Renter Technology Survey, 2007 • MyNewPlace, Compete Survey, 2006
Obligatory Mention: Traditional Internet Listing Services (ILSs) • Pros: • High visibility • Potentially less competition • Well marketed sites • Cons: • Can be pricey • No ROI Guarantee • Unnecessary pay-per-lease bills
The Long Tail *Source Hitwise and Inman news
Causes of the Long Tail? • Little collaboration between major players • Localized popularity of smaller sites • Vastly varying costs to advertise • Many housing providers making varied choices • Many renters making varied choices
* • Brought to you by MSHDA • www.MichiganHousingLocator.com • Free to list! Free to search! • Affordable and Accessible housing options • 24x7 Access, Unlimited updates • Easy to use • Part of the RentLinx network FREE!
MHL Success • Went live December, 2006 • 1,046,144 Property Views in last 12 months! • 12,567 leads in last 12 months! • 11,000+ properties representing 231,000+ Michigan rental housing units listed – and more are added every day
MHL:Search Results • Sorted by Modification Date • Users can mark favorites
TIP • Keep your property information current!* • Jump to the top of the list! Properties are sorted by modification date • Click “Mark as Current” to update modification date
TIP EXLCUSIVE • Add Photos! • Take photos on sunny days!* • More photos = More traffic! *Statistics as tracked by RentLinx on the RentLinx network of sites
TIP Add interior photos and floor plans! • Renters love it • Some sign leases sight-unseen!
MHL:Property Details • Attachments & Links • Labels by MSHDA • Photo Gallery • Print Brochure • Mark as favorite • Utilities
TIP • Use the description! • Potential residents crave the details • A great place to list everything that won’t fit elsewhere • Search engines thrive on this content!
The Long Tail – Search Keywords EXLCUSIVE *RentLinx.com keyword stats from Google Analytics
“Top” Keywords #1. “kalamazoo apartments” #2. “royal oak apartments” #3. “ann arbor apartments” Some other “down the list” searches #883. “income based apartments michigan” #3,139. “senior subsidized living in garden city michigan” #13,052. “all bills paid apartments flint, mi” #22,361. “for rent gas light district of grand rapids, mi” #35,477. “show me all the apartments by the #3 bus route” What are renters searching for? EXLCUSIVE
MHL:Unit Details • Interior Photos • Map • Modification Date
MHL: Satellite View Taking credit for Google’s hard work.
TIP • List the rent or rent range! • Renters prefer to see places they know they can afford instead. • If your rent is based on income, use the description to describe general qualifications • Provide a link to your income qualifications
TIP • Add links & attachments! • Links provide helpful info to renters and improve the search engine rank of your website • Attachments give your future residents access to important documents before they walk in the door
TIP • Upload your attachments in PDF format • Everyone can view on any type of computer • Will always be viewed and printed as you expect • “But Jeremy,” you may be asking yourself, “don’t you need expensive software to create PDF documents?” • No! Visit www.primopdf.com for a free converter! • OR: Send your documents as an attachment to email@example.com. It’s like magic! • Any file that you can print, you can convert to PDF
When Are Renters Looking? EXLCUSIVE
When Are Renters Looking? EXLCUSIVE
When Are Renters Looking? Moral. • Only 40.9% of MHL web leads came in during 9-5, M-F business hours • Many renters may not bother calling after hours • Make sure your e-mail works! • Reply as promptly as possible!
But wait, there’s more! Many More!
How to Get Listed? • Visit www.rentlinx.com • Click “List your Properties”
craigslist.org* • Free classified site • Posts sorted by date • City specific sub-sites • Pros: • Free! • High traffic in Detroit and Ann Arbor • Some swear by it • Cons: • Can attract spam or fraud • Necessary to repost often
Your Website! • Best Marketing? • Renters trust as the most accurate source • Can be very inexpensive • A little can go a long way • Cheap domain names: GoDaddy.com*
Market Your Website! • Signs • Business Cards • E-mail Signatures • Brochures • Print and Internet Ads • Voicemail • Links from Partner websites! * • Add a link to your RentLinx listing!
Your Listings on Your Site! Your Website! Visit www.rentlinx.com and click on “WebLinx” for more details
Why not market on the Internet? • Survey responses to “Don’t advertise online? Why?” • Lack of Budget - 25% • Confusion. Don’t know how or where to begin - 20% • The internet is not relevant to our business - 18% • Lack of time or personnel to do it - 15% • Have all the business we need - 12% • Skeptical that it is effective - 10% • No more excuses! *ClickZ.com and Opus Research Study, 2007