Why Your Digital Marketing Strategy is Important Now More than Ever

As we all adapted to social distancing and quarantine, digital marketing in multi-family real estate changed rapidly. Now, marketing online has become even more important as our audiences more comfortably conduct what were once in-person interactions on virtual platforms.

Screen time is way up across the board, there are fewer walk-in prospects in leasing offices, and virtual property tours are preferred. Because of safe social distancing practices, the digital experience is now the default touchpoint for more people than ever before. And given the circumstances, it has experienced some significant changes too.

From mobile phone to desktop

These changes to digital marketing and online experience aren’t just anecdotal; they’re supported by the data. Prior to social distancing, our campaigns saw a steadily increasing number of mobile users. Accounts were seeing anywhere from 75-90% of their total traffic coming from smartphones. With everyone spending more time at home, this changed significantly.

pie chart showing impressions on mobile versus desktop
The account in this pie chart is a typical illustration of what we’re seeing. Computers have come back to take anywhere from 40-50% of the Click Share within accounts. This means people are conducting their apartment search at home and are more likely to convert on their computers.

line graph showing peak impression 3/29/20-4/4/20

And while people are continuing to practice social distancing at home, we’ve seen a steady increase in impressions week over week. Our team has worked hard adjusting our digital marketing strategy to make sure that Cost/Conversion has remained steady during this time. Our accounts are putting ads in front of more people and continuing to cost-effectively translate them into leads.

Social media use

We’ve also seen social media usage increase drastically. As a result, it’s more affordable and cost effective than it has been in the past to raise both impressions and reach through social media advertising. We’re capitalizing on this by leveraging social channels to get in front of your audience. Social is applicable for all properties right now as a way to reach prospects while on-site leasing office traffic remains low.

We’re also finding Snapchat to be an especially affordable channel, and it’s a great way to stay front of mind with students in anticipation of reopening schools. Snapchat added their “Swipe Up” tracking to multi-family accounts which we will be adding to our reporting soon, allowing you to see more detailed data on Snap campaigns.

Impact and adaptation

Looking forward to summer and fall leasing, we’re going to see a few impacts on the market. Once amenities start opening up, they will once again become top of mind for prospects. Students will be waiting on school announcements before signing leases for 2020-2021 housing.

One notable point is that while most properties are currently behind on leasing due to COVID-19, this will result in a crowded market down the line. And depending on when colleges reopen, there may also be a rush to fill student properties with extremely short notice.

So what can you do now? In short, do not slow down your online marketing efforts. The leasing process is one that takes weeks—if not months—for prospects. Starting from scratch later this year will mean starting behind. Keep in mind certain residents are still looking now and are waiting for the right time to move.

Additionally, adding a video or a 360 tour is a feature that has proven its importance during social distancing. Prospects will always want to view their future home and community online—especially if they can’t visit in person. So, while we want to get the right leads to your website, we also want to make it as easy as possible for them to convert: by giving them a full view of what your property offers.

Lastly, make sure your Google My Business profile is verified and every detail is present and up to date. This is one of the best ways to showcase your business right away in search and give your audience the details they’re looking for immediately—before the user even reaches your website.


While this remains a shaky time for the multi-family industry, we can assure you that PPC remains a powerful lead driver. Additionally, there are opportunities for YouTube and display ads to drive affordable impressions. In the current climate, social media is often providing more bang for your buck, and Snapchat is a great option for student accounts.

We also have a few options to run marketing for Renewal Campaigns focused on reaching your current residents. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your digital marketing vendor to explore the best ways you can continue to have an online presence right now.