Every property has its own personality – quirks, charms, available amenities, and leasing office atmosphere. However, even with all that personality, when you put your properties up on Google, your community can suddenly feel…flat.
With only text to inform your prospective tenants, it can be hard to paint a picture of what it’s like to live at your property, not to mention that the industry tends to gravitate towards the same descriptors - Spacious rooms, luxurious amenities, vibrant communities, etc. What makes our spaces unique begins to feel like more of the same.
Fortunately, there are a few tips you can follow to help your ads stand out against the competition and generate more engagement for your apartment community. .
One of the best ways to set your ads apart is by using one of Google’s newest features, the Image Extenstion. Simply put, the Image Extension allows you to include images on your responsive Google ads to showcase your property and entice prospective tenants.
This allows you to give Google searchers a peak into what your property has to offer, and it also creates a space for the eye to rest on the wall of text that usually accompanies a Google search. That means more attention share, and more clicks.
If you need a little help setting up image extensions for the first time, check out this Google Image Extension Guide for some pointers.
You want to choose photos that showcase the best elements of your property and it’s defining features. Is the front entrance impressive and recognizable? Does the property have a luxurious clubhouse? Is there a standout feature of your units, like stunning fireplaces, or maybe marble countertops in the kitchen?
A great way to find these defining features would be to ask you leasing staff what feature excite visitors when they first come to your property.
You also want to make sure that whatever is highlighted in the image is also part of the ad copy for consistency.
We can see how that works in practice by doing a quick search for Apartments in Reno Nevada.
As you can see the top ad for rent.com takes up a lot of space, but the image in the ad below commands attention because it contrasts everything else on the page.
One thing to note is that many of the apartment listing services like apartments.com are starting to get pretty good at including images to their search placements. These means that it’s even more important to include them if you want to stand out.
Often properties have qualities or characteristics that draw a particular type of tenant. Whether it be students, young professionals, families or older residents it’s important to establish who exactly you expect to fill your units.
If you already have the ideal tenant in mind, a productive next step would be creating a “persona or avatar” to hone in your messaging. It doesn’t have to be too complicated either. We just need to answer a few questions about our preferred tenant. Apartments typically serve multiple demographics, so it can be helpful to run this exercise a few times.
How old is your target, what gender are you trying to target? Are they married? Do they have kids? Giving the prospect a name is also helpful.
For example, to target young families, your tenant avatar might be a woman in their mid-30s. She is a working mother, who is married and has one young child who will be in kindergarten next year.
To help us empathize, we will call her Bethany so that when we write, we are writing to an individual, not just a fuzzy outline of a person.
Bethany values safety, security and the wellbeing of her child. Bethany and her husband are currently saving for a house, but that might be a few years off, so they want a stable place for their child to make friends and grow while they figure out the next step.
With that in mind, we may want to highlight the proximity to a great elementary school, a newly built play structure on premise, and a security gate that closes at 9PM. We might also highlight family accessible amenities like a movie theater in the clubhouse or a pool.
Bethany might be looking to stay in shape but doesn’t have the budget for a gym membership, or the time to commute with her young child at home. Highlighting a 24 hour gym on premises, might help entice here to check out the property.
Bethany is also preparing her kid for school next year and wants to make sure he will be able to make friends nearby that are her son’s age.
She also just needs some time to relax, so maybe we want to highlight the large bathtubs in unit.
Most properties have at least some tradeoffs. Maybe you have large spacious units, but you’re further away from the major shopping centers of town. Maybe you have newly renovated kitchens, but the gym lacks modern equipment. What is it that would make them walk out of the leasing office?
Identifying these objections will help you get into the head of the visitor. You likely won’t want to write copy to combat your properties shortcomings, but it can help you to get a deeper understanding before you start putting pen to paper.
For Bethany, it might be that our fictional property is a 7 minute drive away from the nearest grocery store. Knowing this, we could highlight the quietness of the property away from the traffic.
Once you have your avatars, you can start writing copy that better speaks to the audience. You can feature the things they care about, and leave out extra information that would otherwise add noise to your messaging. As the old saying goes, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” We want our messaging to be clear, concise and compelling, speaking to what our prospective tenant cares about in the voice the voice they would expect from their closest friends.
Here is an example ad we could test with our fictional property
H1: Welcome to the Western Village
H2: A Quiet Community in Houston
H3: Ample Family Ammenities
H4: Move-in Ready Units Available
Description 1: Enjoy a quiet community with schools within walking ditance.Only 5 blocks from I-10.
Description 2: Family friendly 1-3 bedrooms available. Ask our about our June move-in specials.
Call Out Exentions: rentable movie room, luxurious baths, quiet community, renovated play structure, close to schools, monitored security gate, 24 hour gym, hot tub and pool, welcoming staff.
As much as we want people to respond to the brands we build, people are, in general, reactionary. Promotions, giveaways, and seasonal specials all drive actions through scarcity. Call it FOMO if you will, but there is something primal about our need to capture opportunity before it disappears.
Half off your first month’s rent, or a $200 gift card with a signed lease before January 10th can, and does drive action, so we want to make sure that we can get our offers in front of prospects as early as possible.
One thing to consider when writing copy for offers is making sure that it fits your property’s voice and tone. For example, if you have a luxury apartment, you might consider shrouding the offer in a bit of mystery. For example, “Ask our leasing agents about exclusive seasonal offerings” fits the tone better than “Ask about our $500 move-in special!”. You want to keep the brand elevated and elegant, and would avoid language like “giveaway” or “FREE”.
A student on the other hand may be really enticed by seeing the words “Free rent for a month” as a headline in an apartment ad, and so if you are writing copy for a student apartment, you can get away with using that language.
A simple “Units Are Filling Up Fast. Don’t Wait!” can also induce a similar feeling to a limited time offer and may be worth testing.
You may also consider changing ad copy to reflect the seasons. Now Leasing For Summer” as a headline or “Find your new home before Christmas.” in the ad description can help you stand out against ads that say the same thing all year long, and get the prospect thinking about where they are today.
This can be particularly important for certain markets like student apartments, who want to capture leads beforer Spring and Fall semesters, or if your have a consistent pattern of leases throughout the year.
By using the above tips and templates you’re sure to see a lift in the performance of your ads. That being said, we here at Lease Engine are crazy about testing. Intuition is a great starting point, but finding your optimal copy is going to take time and testing. It’s important to set up accurate tracking so that you know how messaging changes affect things like your cost per click, click through rates and conversion rates.
It’s about creating an environment of continous improvement. Just because your ads are performing well today doesn’t mean you should settle. You should always be looking to squeeze a little more performance out of your ads.
For example, once you have your images chosen for your Image Extensions, it’s a good idea to test the images to find the ones that lead to the most clicks at the cheapest CPC. To see how an extension is performing, head to the Assests Section of you account. Here you can average CPC, CPM, impressions and more.
Assets can be found under Ads & Assets in the lefthand google navigation.
Collect performance data on your extensions for a couple of weeks and then try switching them out and collecting performance data for another couple of weeks. If you see that one is performing better than the other, make that your “champion” variant and start running tests to beat it.
You can run these test alongside running your champion extension, just know that it might take longer to collect enough data to tell weather or not the results are statistically significant.
If that’s something you would like to see for your ad accounts, contact Lease Engine to supercharge your apartments Google PPC efforts.