DALLAS, TX - A long list of web and mobile technology advances over the past few years, from new search tools to the proliferation of social media outlets, have greatly advanced apartment firms’ approaches to community marketing, adding science, sophistication and fun to the mix. But, there’s still more work to do to stay in step with the ever-changing apartment marketing landscape.
Israel Carunungan, director of marketing at Charleston, S.C.-based management powerhouse Greystar, offers his take on the three most important technologies apartment marketing professionals should focus on to be successful in 2014.
No. 1: Online Ratings and Reviews
Internet ratings and reviews have been around for a long time, but Carunungan says the industry is just now figuring out how to monitor and manage them. “For years, we haven’t really been paying attention to it until we realized we could potentially be losing prospects because of what they see online,” he says.
These days Carunungan thinks industry leaders like Greystar are being more proactive than reactive, even hiring dedicated, full-time people to work online reputation management. “Ratings and reviews will continue to get bigger,” he says. “One of Greystar’s major initiatives is honing in on the online reputation management piece.”
Knowing how to optimize search engines such as Google, as well as pure-play rating sites such as Apartmentratings.com, factors into effective reputation management, but good ratings ultimately are a reflection of good, old-fashioned customer service. Greystar has found success by reaching out to satisfied residents and encouraging them to go to review sites and express their opinion. “We’re seeing a jump in the number of reviews a month and the number of positive reviews and recommendations,” Carunungan says.
No. 2: More Mobile
Consensus among apartment marketing leaders is that apartment operators that haven’t already focused on mobile have been left behind the pack. “Mobile is getting bigger and bigger,” Carunungan says. “The penetration and market share is significant enough you have to be doing something in it.”
Acknowledging that fact, Greystar recently made a large investment in tablet leasing and ensured its mobile platform can communicate with its other systems so that guest cards, pricing, unit availability and lead management are all linked. “The key is the integration of the systems,” Carunungan says. “It’s not just that your mobile system is functioning, but how are all of the systems connected? To me, that’s the hardest part of the equation—to make sure that they’re not only working, but that everything is synched together.”
No. 3: New App Features
While corporate-level apps, showing the multiple properties available in a company’s portfolio, have been around for awhile, property specific apps are beginning to show increasing value. “Property specific apps are not only generating decent leads, but also improving the residents’ experience and providing prospects with real time information,” Carunungan says.
Apps are providing another opportunity for communication with residents and prospects as well. “We’re pushing more real time interaction through mobile,” Carunungan says. For example, video was once viewed solely on television and movie screens, then video began to be viewed on computer desktops, and those times are changing again. “People are viewing more and more videos through tablets and mobile sites,” Carunungan says.
Want to know more? Carunungan will join Mike Whaling, president of online communications and marketing services firm 30 Lines, and independent marketing consultant Gary Redmond in a session on top marketing trends during the 2013 NMHC OpTech (Multifamily Business Operations and Technology Conference and Exposition), Nov. 11-13 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. Using maps as a search tool, innovative uses of social media, location based marketing tools, ratings and reviews, geo-coding, and the move to “full access mobile” are all marketing trends that will be covered in this session. So, for a snapshot of where the industry is and where it’ll likely be next year, register now at www.nmhc.org/goto/OpTech13.