Everyone wants digital. But what exactly is digital?

It seems very ambiguous and intimidating at the same time.

According to sas.com

“Digital marketing is the promotion of products or brands via one or more forms of electronic media.”

Lee Odden from TopRank Marketing goes on to say…

“Digital marketing can be utilized through various channels like the Internet, social media, apps, etc.”

The best way to look at digital is to separate it into its various forms. Let’s start with these three. (It will keep us busy as there is a lot of ground to cover!)

  1. Website
  2. Social
  3. Cellular/Mobile Devices

We will focus on these three. However, digital marketing is constantly growing. You may want to look further into online video, online advertising, paid promotion through social media and other digital opportunities. Most of these platforms perform outside of your community and bring the prospect in. But more than ever, these formats are being used onsite for some dramatic advances in residential service, convenience and retention. The key is to truly understand the full potential of what these digital allies can accomplish.

The Essential 6 - Digital

First, let’s look at the modern website.

There is no way we can cover every aspect of each of these digital avenues, but you MUST have a website. It still is the go-to method of getting your info out 24/7. Websites never close (unless your server goes down!). They provide a visual of what a resident’s life can be living at the community. You may showcase your featured plans, photography, detail your amenities, and present your neighborhood & its benefits… as well as allowing potential clients a method to connect.

Your main objective is to present a consistent brand with your site. This sometimes is difficult on corporate sites. On corporate sites, management companies want their brand prominent and the property secondary. If you fall into this camp, ensure your logo is at least incorporated and, possibly, your brand colors. Sites should be clear and simple. We suggest you test the design with a variety of people so you know the average person can navigate through the site.

Here is a 10-Tip Checklist from ActiveEndurance.com:

    1. Have a memorable web address
    2. Get your website to rank in search engines
    3. Engage your visitors
    4. Have clear navigation
    5. Update your content
    6. Offer online discounts
    7. Make “calls to action” prominent
    8. Keep branding consistent
    9. Enable social sharing and social media
    10. Create a mobile version

A website also increases your clientele to beyond your local area. Not only can you generate a larger customer base outside your city, but internationally. This creates a global community and enables customers to experience your community around the world. Additionally, your website can give you access to information like market data, traffic and website performance. Incorporating a site also provides your company with an opportunity to build credibility.

One major element that MUST be considered is mobile site optimization. Because smart phones and mobile devices are utilized for everything today, your site must easily translate into a mobile format. It is difficult for a user to navigate through a traditional site on their cell.

“93% of small business websites are not mobile optimized and will not work properly and/or will not be user friendly on smartphones. This is vital because 88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours.” (Omaha).

***Effective Business Websites – Why One Will Help your Business Succeed

Today’s multifamily sites incorporate property management software and are designed to show instant availability to prospects, include interactive area maps, allow residents to submit service requests and pay rent through portals.

An Ingenious Multifamily Site Expands Their Reach With The Following:

    • Uses the Net to Draw Prospects to the Community
    • Incorporates Site Links in Emails, Social Media and Print
    • Constantly Updates and Manages Website SEO
    • On-Going Maintenance To Ensure Site is Always Updated
    • Incorporates The Site Address on All Area Location Sites
    • Encourages Site Interaction with Existing Residents
    • Regularly Includes Video To Engage Visitors

Robinson Creative can program an entire site or work closely with your property management software company to ensure a site connects with your brand while being most effective.

The next digital arena is social media.

WhatIs.com says…

“Social media is the collective of online communications channels dedicated to community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration. Websites and applications dedicated to forums, microblogging, social networking , social bookmarking, social curation, and wikis are among the different types of social media.”

Most traditional online media include social components, such as comment fields for users. In business, social media is used to market products, promote brands, connect to current customers and foster new business.

Social media marketing (SMM) takes advantage of social networking to help a company increase brand exposure and broaden customer reach. The goal is usually to create content compelling enough that users will share it with their social networks.

Social CRM (customer relationship marketing) can be a very powerful business tool. For example, establishing a Facebook page allows people who like your brand and the way you conduct business to Like your page, which creates a venue for communication, marketing and networking. Through social media sites, you can follow conversations about your brand for real-time market data and feedback.

In short, social media:

    • Is used to create and maintain customer relationships.
    • Is used to follow conversations and “mentions” about your business to collect market data and feedback.
    • Allows customers to share the experience they had with your company.
    • Enables your company to easily respond to positive and/or negative feedback from customers.
    • Used to conduct marketing research and utilize the resulting research to improve business operations.

The danger we see in multifamily social media is that pages are started but never fully utilized or updated. These leads to dated posts. Social Media takes time to build. You must realize that there is a commitment and it must be taken seriously for results. Social media can be overwhelming. With the number of social networks ever increasing, it is progressively becoming more difficult to manage the content on every channel. Fortunately, apps can be an effective tool to help make social media management less of a chore! Social media management apps allow you to schedule posts, message fans and clients, track brand mentions, analyze traffic, and monitor company data on multiple social platforms. The best part, this can all be done from just one app instead of having to open each social network individually! Such apps include Hootsuite, Buffer and Sprout Social.

Here are some great ideas to cement your social media efforts….

    • Pick Three! We recommend the most popular: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
    • Assign A Social Media Captain. These duties should be the responsibility of one person in the office.
    • Post At Least 2 Times A Week on All Platforms.
    • Get Creative with Posts!
    • Engage Residents with Contests, Events & Gatherings.
    • Start Social Media Resident Groups (Single, Sports Guys, Crafts, TV Show Fans, etc…) And Assign Residents as Captains.
    • Use A Platform Like HootSuite or Buffer To Organize All Social Media in One Place.
    • Encourage Residents to Contribute and Comment.
    • Promote Your 3 Social Media Networks in All Other Media & Marketing.
    • Get A Plan in Place! Outline A Month in Advance So Every Week is Covered and Scheduled.
    • Monitor Comments Daily and Respond Appropriately.
    • Promoting Your Page to Like-Minded Individuals Through Facebook Boosts and Paid Promotions Expands Your Reach.

Finally, Smartphones & Mobile Devices have taken the culture by storm!

It has already been mentioned above that all websites must be mobile enabled. Smartphones, iPads, Phablets and other mobile devices have become a standard. Users stay connected with their smartphones and always have them in a pocket or purse. Smartphones have become a necessity, and not only for the phone. These devices extend our reach. People utilize their phones for emails, texts, social media, video, music, photos, GPS, etc… And now, with the introduction of Apple Pay and others, mobile devices have become convenient wallets. Because everyone possesses these must-have devices, it is crucial your community develops a mobile presence.

“…more and more consumers, especially teens and college students are using their smartphones, phablets and tablets as their primary computing device and their sole device to access email and other productivity apps, like Google Docs, Quip, Slack and the Microsoft productivity suite.”

– Flurry Insights

Media, Productivity & Emojis Give Mobile Another Stunning Growth Year

Apple coined the phrase, “There’s an App for That!” Applications may soon take the place of websites. Apps are also more convenient and easily accessible on mobile devices. You can do just about anything with an App. From monitoring your health to purchasing the latest fashions, locating the area’s hottest restaurants to delivering a hot pizza… Games, Travel, Business, Customer Loyalty, Creative Photo Imaging, etc.

Key App Usage Statistics:

    • The time spent per user with digital media on mobile in US daily in 2015 – 2.8 hours
    • The total number of iOS app downloads in 2015 – 25 billions
    • The total number of Android app downloads in 2015 – 50 billions
    • The app category people utilize the most – Social Networking (29% of users)
    • The age group that spends the most time on apps monthly – 18-24 (90.6 hrs on smartphone apps, 34.7 hrs. on tablet apps)

Leasing consultants use iPads & Phablets to present their community to prospects. It has become customary. However, there have only been a few management companies take the leap to apps. If they have created a company application, most are clunky. We believe once management companies discover the power of Apps, they will become the new standard. Since prospects and residents live on their smartphones, this is the new way to expand your reach and strengthen resident retention. In fact, according to The Ocius Apartment Resident Insights Survey, 59.5 percent of residents prefer to make rent and utility payments with their mobile device.

Robinson Creative has been researching new technology in mobile apps and is planning to introduce much needed industry services. Utilizing digital technology will catapult multifamily into a new age. Using Apps will give communities an edge and introduce a host of new resident services.

What A Community Can Do With An APP!

    • Present Community To Prospects
    • Provide GPS Services
    • Introduce Sister Communities
    • Push Notify Prospects of Availability
    • Prospect Application Services
    • Prospect Reservations
    • Resident Services
    • Social Group Connect
    • Push Notify Residents
    • Interactive Area Services/Dining/Shopping
    • Resident Contests/Games

The NAA (National Apartment Association) states in their article, “Gaining Mobile Momentum”

“Expect to see your residents requesting these types of mobile-based conveniences. To beat the crowd and improve retention, be proactive about how you can enhance your mobile application services, exciting your residents, improving your maintenance protocols with more timely access to information, and bettering your bottom line.”

Continue to Number 4: Essential 6: Community Signs!

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