Blog | Jacob Grant Property Management

Living In Idaho Falls: By The Numbers

The city of Idaho Falls is no stranger to “best places to live” lists. In 2013, Idaho Falls was ranked the second best ‘small city’ to move to in the United States. With a population of 57,899, the city of Idaho Falls has experienced steady growth in recent years. This growth can be attributed to a number of social and economic factors. Notably, Idaho Falls has the lowest cost of living (12 points below the national average) of any city on last year’s top 10 list. This, coupled with low crime and unemployment rates make living in Idaho Falls attractive to many people migrating out of larger cities.

Idaho Falls’ real estate market has also rebounded nicely since the economic recession. In 2013, the average home value in Idaho Falls increased 24.5%. Housing is now more accessible and affordable than ever – the median home price in Idaho Falls in 2013 was just $98,200. There was one home for sale for every 92 people.

There is also good news for people looking for house and apartment rentals in Idaho Falls, with the median price per bedroom set at $275.

With similar trends expected for 2014, the cost of living in Idaho Falls looks set to remain affordable. The Idaho Falls real estate market will likely see increased home sales and decreased rental vacancies. Job growth is predicted to increase 1.8%.

Idaho Falls: By The Numbers

By Robbie Richards.

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10 Digital Marketing Channels for Property Management and Real Estate Professionals

Every property manager and real estate professional understands the importance of attracting and retaining quality tenants. But, not everyone knows how to do it. In this post we are going to explore the digital marketing channels that will help you generate leads and reduce rental vacancies. In no particular order:

Responsive Website: your website is viewable on desktop, tablet and mobile devices. Today, close to 50% of mobile search is performed with local intent. This means that if you own a website that is not viewable on mobile and tablet devices you are missing out on a ton of online traffic, and conversions. There are two options for building a mobile web presence.

1. Build a single responsive website.
2. Build a dedicated mobile website.

For most property managers and real estate professionals I would recommend building a single responsive website. It is cheaper, and can be done relatively quickly (by a developer) using a responsive web template from a site such as Themeforest.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This is the process of optimizing your website to rank high in search engines for targeted keywords. This is a critical element of any digital marketing strategy. Ranking highly for targeted keywords such as “[location] house rentals” and “[location] apartment rentals” will ensure that your website is receiving a steady stream of targeted online traffic – filling the top of the sales funnel. Today’s major search engines (Google, Bing and Yahoo) are using over two hundred on-page and off-site ranking factors in its search algorithms. As a result, it is recommended that property management and real estate professionals consult with a SEO professional.

YouTube: is now the second largest search engine in the world, and is a must for marketing rental properties. Property managers should have a branded YouTube channel set up, and be using video content on rental listing pages to provide virtual tours to prospective tenants. This will increase online conversion rates.
Pinterest/Instagram: visual content is now king. The photo-sharing platform has over 70 million active monthly users. The site allows users to post and re-pin content to topic boards. Property managers can post pictures of rental properties and embed a source link. This way, if a user sees a property they are interested in and clicks on it, they will be taken to the website. Pinterest users are highly engaged, so this is a good channel for generating inbound traffic (leads) to your site.

Google Plus: is now the fastest growing social platform, and critical for local SEO performance. Google is using Google Local Business Listing information to generate its highly coveted “seven pack” of local search results, as seen below:

Property Management Marketing Best Practices

Further, user engagement (+1’s, mentions, number of people adding you to their circles) on the social channel is now one of the leading ranking factors for local SEO. In fact, if a person adds you to one of their circles on Google Plus they will see your website ranking high in search for targeted search terms. This is known as Google Search Plus Your World (SPYW). I will be dedicating a post to this topic shortly.

Facebook: with over one billion users, it’s impossible to look past facebook. This property is crucial for building a brand and managing the tenant relationship. Property managers should provide engaging content to users, such as rental tips and how-to’s, showcase new rental listings, provide valuable local industry information, run contest, giveaways and referral campaigns, demonstrate community involvement, answer questions and keep tenants updated. You can also leverage facebook ads and promoted post to increase reach and content engagement. We’ll dive deeper in a future post.

Pay Per Click (PPC): Reaching the first page of Google is a long term strategy, sometimes taking months, if not years to outrank competitors for highly competitive keywords. As a result, integrating PPC into your digital marketing strategy is recommended. PPC is a great way to generate an immediate presence on the first page of Google for targeted search terms, building brand awareness and increasing inbound leads to your site. When setting up a PPC campaign you will have two ad options:

1. Text ads – these are the ads that you see at the top and side of the search results pages, as seen below.

Property Management marketing

2. Display ads – these are ran through Google’s content network, and usually include images with text overlay. These ads can be placed on targeted sites that are Google partner sites. For example, you could create an ad with a picture of a 2 bedroom apartment rental that is only shown to people living in New York City on the Zillow website, searching for “New York City apartment rentals”. This ensures you are reaching a very targeted audience, increasing CTR and conversions.

Internet Listing Sites: posting rental properties on sites such as Zillow and Trulia is an effective way to get your rentals in front of a large audience.

Craigslist: even with the launch of Craiglist’s new rules, the site is still a great free resource for generating leads.

Email Marketing: Collecting email addresses is a great way to nurture leads. For example, each month we send out an email to current and prospective tenants showcasing new rental listings. If a tenant is close to lease renewal or is actively looking for a rental property we are often able to showcase our properties right when they are ready to convert. Even if they are not actively looking at the time, they might know someone who is, and can share the email with them.

Online Reviews: Encourage residents and landlords to leave reviews on sites such as Yelp, Google Plus (50%) and Bing Local. The quantity, velocity and frequency of online reviews are now a top five local SEO ranking factor. Also, having at least five online Google Plus reviews will make your site eligible to receive rating markup in the seven pack as seen below. This can increase click-through rate in the search engines by as much as 30%. It’s a great way to stand out from your competition. In fact, 70% of consumers consult online reviews before deciding with local business to choose.

Property management marketing

Measure: this is the most important element of any digital marketing strategy. Connecting your site with a free tool such as Google Analytics will allow you to understand on-site user behavior and measure the ROI of your marketing efforts. You can also setup custom goals and tracking events to monitor how many people are viewing rental properties, versus how many actually applied. You can also look at site traffic, referral sources, device preference, conversion rates and a whole lot more.

Conclusion:

Leveraging a variety of digital marketing channels is now more important than ever. Building a responsive website is the first step to increasing online traffic and local SEO performance. Incorporating a diverse content mix is also critical for building user engagement and making it easier for leads to convert. In the coming weeks we will be exploring each of these digital channels in greater depth.

If you would like to receive our 10 part email series exploring property management digital marketing best practices please enter your email address in the investment news section in the footer below.

By Robbie Richards.

New Craigslist Rules Hurt Real Estate Ad Listings

Thanks to recent rule changes to Craigslist’s “housing” and “for sale” sections, property owners are no longer able to post enhanced listings.  This is big news as many landlords and property managers rely on enhanced listings to generate tenant leads.

What changed?

The recent changes may seem minor, but they have had a big impact on the real estate industry. Companies that once relied on Craigslist to generate a steady stream of leads have seen this referral traffic all but disappear.  The changes:

-          Craigslist no longer supports the <img> HTML tag. All images in Craigslist ads must now be uploaded through its native image posting tool. A maximum of 12 images can be posted.

New Craigslist rules have changed the layout of enhanced listing ads

-          No support of <font>, <div>, <table>, and <span> HTML tags.

-          Live linking has been disabled. You will no longer be able to link directly from Craigslist to your website or dedicated rental listing landing page. Now, users must copy and paste the URL into the address bar in their internet browser.

-          Tracking codes have been disabled. Users won’t be able to track which specific ad listings are generating the most leads or conversions on their site.

-          You can no longer set up tables or style the formatting of listing ads. It’s purely text based.

-          No more logos, which will reduce a company’s branding capabilities.

How Should We Respond?

-          Use professional photos. Now that users are no longer able to include slideshows of high quality images, they need to make sure all uploaded images showcase the property’s best amenities. Consider contracting a professional photographer.

-          Include bullet points in your ads so that consumers can easily browse and locate the key amenities of the property. For example:

  • Washer/dryer
  • Off street parking
  • Central air
  • New hardwood floor

-          Clearly mark the URLs in your ad. Don’t bury them in the middle of a paragraph. Clearly explain why users should click on the URL (where they will be taken, and what information they will find). For example, visit our website to see a virtual tour of this apartment. Limit the number of URLs on the page.

-          Publish your pet policy. A study by RentLinx showed that online ads that include a pet policy generate five times more leads than ads that do not include a pet policy.

-          Include a phone number for your leasing office and make it prominent.

-          Capitalize your brand name in the post. This will help increase brand recognition, and likely increase the number of direct traffic leads (those typing a company’s name directly into the address bar).

Conclusion:

Craigslist is still a great source of leads for real estate professionals and property managers. The recent changes to the ad listing rules have not changed the way people perceive Craigslist. Many consumers still flock to Craigslist to find rental properties and homes for sale.

Craigslist is still a competitive landscape. So users will need to make sure that they are taking a strategic approach to optimize their ads and make them stand out from the competition. This is more difficult with the newly imposed text-based layout of the listing ads, but still doable. People posting ads will need to make sure they are including high quality images that showcase a property’s key amenities, include a prominent URL that users can copy and paste into their browser, include content in a bulleted format so that content is easily readable, include a pet policy and make the brand name stand out.

Users must remember that Craigslist is still free. Even if ad performance has reduced by 75%, it is still an incredibly cost-effective way for businesses to generate leads and brand awareness.

What other Craigslist workarounds did we miss?

By Robbie Richards.