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November 03, 2010

posted by: Carissa Drohan-Jennings

Apartment Internet Marketing — Comparing Listing Websites

We are in the age of the Internet and it is now considered detrimental for landlords not to be marketing their apartments online.  So with the plethora of sites that offers landlords places to advertise how can you find the best buy?  How can you ensure your advertising dollars are working and generating results?  I will show you how to compare listing sites, how you can measure and track your results and more importantly, how you can maximize your advertising dollars while optimizing your online presence.

Online listing sites are a dime a dozen and many landlords are bombarded with sales calls monthly.  With all of these websites coming at you for advertising dollars, how do you make sense of it all and ultimately find the profitable investment?

Does it matter that you are familiar with their brand?  Does it matter that your competition is using them?  Does it matter that you have seen their signage sprinkled in your neighbourhood?  Not necessarily.  Those are not good enough reasons to buy their advertising and you should never assume that these things would equate to traffic.

Let’s face it, advertisers focus on building their brand recognition with the intent of charging more for their services.  That’s just good business.  But, what you as a purchase need to be aware of is that a strong brand does not necessarily equate to a good buy.  Don’t get me wrong, these websites all have their strengths, but let’s be clear, they also all have their weaknesses.  What it comes down to is simple: Will they generate the traffic you need and will they make your phone ring?

To make an informed decision you need to do your homework.  Many websites suffer from the 80/20 rule, with 80% of their traffic coming from 1 or 2 markets and the rest coming from the rest of the country.  Maybe they are strong in major city centers, maybe they are university oriented or maybe they are strong in a particular province.  But are they strong in your market and do they meet your demographic needs?

In this day and age statistics are accessible.  Sales representatives do have the ability to find you the numbers you need to answer your questions.  Push them to find the data for the cities in which you operate.  It may surprise you but many sites that can drive high traffic numbers overall will not necessarily have high traffic numbers in your markets.  If I have an apartment for rent in Orillia then I don’t care about the traffic numbers in the Greater Toronto Area.  I want to know what traffic is being generated for my city.

To pre-qualify a listing site you should ask for a Google Analytics report of their traffic.  For those of you who are not familiar with Google Analytics, it is a widely used service that provides website owners with the ability to analyze their website traffic.  This software makes it easy to pinpoint how many unique visitors the site gets, how long they stay, how much they are looking at, what they do when they’re there and more importantly, what cities they come from.  Landlord Web Solutions also offers their clients Google Analytics reports and analysis so that landlords can see what’s taking place on their own rental site as well.

Many listing sites already see the benefit of providing Google Analytics reports to their customers and they often include them in their sales packages.  For others you may have to insist on having them produced.  However, the benefits of being able to analyze them are well worth the trouble.

A particularly informative report is the Google Map Overview Report.  This report can identify all traffic coming to the site from within Canada, and it displays the individual cities the visitors are coming from.  You can now see how many visitors are coming from a particular city, which helps you make a wise purchasing decision.

So, remember apartment Internet marketing doesn’t have to be that hard.  Do your homework and pre-qualify those listing sites.  Ask for a Google Analytics report and check into those traffic numbers of the cities in which you operate.  Ask the tough questions and feel free to not be dazzled by brand equity and free trials.  In the end it’s your advertising dollars and your time that should not be wasted.