Marketing on the Internet Jeremy Schneider Founder, RentLinx Lead Developer, MSHDA’s MichiganHousingLocator.com Michigan Conference on Affordable Housing June 3, 2009 Internet: Not Just for Kids Anymore 78% of renters have a computer in their home and 85% of those subscribe to high speed Internet. 1 72% of renters begin their search on the Internet when moving to a new area. 2 Senior housing too! Many adults use the Internet to search for their parents. 1. NMHC Apartment Renter Technology Survey, 2007 2. MyNewPlace, Compete Survey, 2006 Obligatory Mention: Traditional Internet Listing Services (ILSs) Pay-per-month Pay-per-lead or pay-per-lease Pros: Cons: •High visibility •Often very pricey •Potentially less competition •No ROI Guarantee •Well marketed sites •Unnecessary pay-per-lease bills The Long Tail *Source Hitwise, April 2009 Causes of the Long Tail? Little collaboration between major players Vastly varying costs to advertise Many housing providers making varied choices Many renters making varied choices Popularity of local sites * Brought to you by MSHDA www.MichiganHousingLocator.com Free to list! Free to search! Affordable and Accessible housing options 24x7 Access, Unlimited updates Easy to use Part of the RentLinx network MHL Success (Through May 2009) Went live December, 2006 2,697,462 Property Views in last 12 months! 29,352 web leads in last 12 months! 20,800+ properties representing 299,000+ Michigan rental housing units listed – and more are added every day All of these numbers increased 60%-80% over 1 year ago! CU SIV E XL E EX LC E US IV Michigan Housing Locator MHL: Search Results •Sorted by Modification Date •Users can mark favorites TIP Keep your property information current! * Jump to the top of the list! Properties are sorted by modification date Click “Mark as Current” to update modification date MHL: New this year! •Hone in on exact location •Change search radius •Drag and drop starting point MHL: View results on a map EX TIP E LC US Add photos! IV Take photos on sunny days!* More photos = More traffic! *Statistics as tracked by RentLinx on the RentLinx network of sites Where Would You Rather Live? MHL: Property Details •Attachments & Links •Labels by MSHDA •Photo Gallery •Print Brochure •Mark as favorite •Utilities TIP Use the description! Potential residents crave the details A great place to list everything that won’t fit elsewhere More opportunities to match keyword searches Search engines thrive on this content! The Long Tail – Search Keywords The top 10 keywords make up a tiny 2% of the Top Search Engine Keywords 75,546 visitors who reached us through search engines 300 250 200 43,776 unique keywords accounted for 98% of the visits Visits 150 100 50 0 *RentLinx.com keyword stats from Google Analytics EXLC USIV E What are renters searching for? “Top” Keywords #1. “ann arbor apartments” #2. “kalamazoo apartments” #3. “east lansing apartments” Some other “down the list” searches #941. “houses for rent in manistee michigan” #3,139. “senior subsidized living in garden city michigan” #13,052. “all bills paid apartments flint, mi” #22,361. “for rent gas light district of grand rapids, mi” #35,477. “show me all the apartments by the #3 bus route” *RentLinx.com keyword stats from Google Analytics EXLC USIV E MHL: Unit Details •Interior Photos •Map •Modification Date TIP Add interior photos and floor plans! Renters love it Some sign leases sight-unseen! MHL: Satellite View Taking credit for Google’s hard work. TIP List the rent or rent range! Renters prefer to see places they know they can afford instead of calling to be disappointed If your rent is based on income, use the description to describe general qualifications Provide a link to your income qualifications MHL New this year: School Districts MHL: School Districts •Automatically decided based on latitude and longitude •View boundaries on map MHL: School Districts •Easy to change, if necessary! TIP Add links & attachments! Links provide helpful info to renters and improve the search engine rank of your website Attachments give your future residents access to important documents before they walk in the door TIP Upload your attachments in PDF format Everyone can view on any type of computer Will always be viewed and printed as you expect “But Jeremy,” you may be asking yourself, “don’t you need expensive software to create PDF documents?” No! Visit www.primopdf.com for a free converter! OR: Send your documents as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s like magic! Any file that you can print, you can convert to PDF When Are Renters Looking? Web Leads by Day of Week April 2007- March 2008 2500 2247 1986 2073 1973 2000 1645 1431 1500 Leads 1212 1000 500 0 ay ay y y ay y ay da a da sd id nd rd sd es on Fr tu ur Su ne Tu M Sa Th ed W Day EXLC USIV E Leads 12 :0 0 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 1: A M 00 2: AM 00 3: AM 00 4: AM 00 5: AM 00 6: AM 00 7: AM 00 8: AM 00 April 2007- March 2008 9: AM 0 Web Leads by Time of Day 10 0 A :0 M 11 0 A :0 M 12 0 A :0 M 0 1: P M 00 Time 2: PM 00 3: PM 00 4: PM 00 5: PM 00 9am-5pm Business Hours 6: PM 00 7: PM 00 8: PM 00 E 9: PM 0 10 0 P :0 M 11 0 P :0 M 0 When Are Renters Looking? EXLC PM USIV When Are Renters Looking? Moral. Only 40.9% of MHL web leads came in during 9-5, M-F business hours Many renters may not bother calling after hours Make sure your e-mail works! Reply as promptly as possible! But wait, there’s more! Many More! How to Get Listed? •Visit www.rentlinx.com •Click “List your Properties” craigslist.org* Free classified site Posts sorted by date City specific sub-sites Pros: Cons: •Free! •Can attract spam or fraud •High traffic in Detroit and Ann Arbor •Necessary to repost often •Some swear by it •May get less attention from affordable/senior housing seekers Watch out for scams! Bad guys pose as renters to try to extort money Here’s how a common scam works: Interested renter contacts you, excited to pay Rarely in person, they choose unit, send first month plus security deposit Check is for too much, they ask for extra to be returned or forwarded to a 3rd party (furniture, moving company, etc) Original check bounces, you’re out the difference Example Fraud Attempt • Leads from the MHL will include the country at the top • Nigeria is a hotbed of fraudulent activity • RentLinx blocks fraudulent users, and contacts any managers who heard from one Warning Signs – Protect Yourself Warning signs: Protect yourself! Out of the country Stay aware of potential Poor grammar for fraud Strange questions, as if he Use common sense didn’t read the ad Never send money Overly willing to send money away from your Check is for too much account! Asks for money from your account Wants to use WesternUnion, MoneyGrams, or similar Social Media Includes: Blogs, micro-blogging, social networking, event coordinating, etc. Not a silver bullet Great way to stay top of mind, increase referrals Example: facebook Invite residents to events Tag residents in photos* Residents can “become a fan” Status updates: “Free cookies in the office!” Follow the site rules, or risk alienating users Benefits: • Appear in news feeds • Residents get reminders about events • Your name will appear when browsing photos • Your property will appear on all your “fans” profile pages Your Website! Best Marketing? Renters trust as the most accurate source Can be very inexpensive A little can go a long way Cheap domain names: GoDaddy.com* Market Your Website! Signs Business Cards E-mail Signatures Brochures Print and Internet Ads Voicemail Links from Partner websites! * Add a link to your RentLinx listing! Your Listings on Your Site! Your Website! Visit www.rentlinx.com and click on “WebLinx” for more details Why not market on the Internet? Survey responses to “Don’t advertise online? Why?” Lack of Budget - 25% Confusion. Don’t know how or where to begin - 20% The internet is not relevant to our business - 18% Lack of time or personnel to do it - 15% Have all the business we need - 12% Skeptical that it is effective - 10% No more excuses! ☺ *ClickZ.com and Opus Research Study, 2007 Questions?