Creating a strong online marketing program for your property management company is tricky. It can be tough to tell the difference between success and failure. You invest time, money, and resources into planning and implementing a marketing strategy for your property management business. How do you know if it is working…or not?
The solution is fairly simple…you must measure. I like this quote from H. James Harrington (CEO, Harrington Institute):
Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.
Marketers must keep an eye on past performance so they can create a vision for future strategies. However, knowing what to measure and how to interpret available data is harder.
During the month of January, I was living and breathing measurement. As Marketing Director for LandlordSource, I evaluated 2013 marketing efforts and created a plan for 2014. I’ll be truthful – digging through data is not the most exciting responsibility I have. However, it is one of the more important ones. I thought it might be helpful to share my process with you.
We use Google Analytics and our Infusionsoft database to pull and compare statistics. Here are the questions I asked; the data I gathered; and an explanation of my interpretation of that data:
Are people finding our website?
The 2 Google Analytics metrics that answer this question are: Average # of Visits & Average # of Unique Visitors (individuals). In comparing performance stats for the new LandlordSource site (launched Oct. 2012) to the previous website, we were pleased to discover a 65% increase in the number of visits and a 66% increase in unique visitors.The Average # of Visits number includes people who view the site more than once during a specified date range. The Average # of Unique Visitors eliminates duplication – it measures individuals who visit the site. We’re happy with this growth and have identified strategies to continue improving website visibility.
Your property management website is an important marketing asset; it’s important to know what’s happening with website traffic in order to evaluate its effectiveness. If traffic stagnant or declining, it may be time to redesign the website, add or update content, evaluate your overall marketing message, or launch a new search or paid advertising strategy. You can’t be complacent – the Internet is a dynamic force and your website’s visibility will constantly change.
Are the RIGHT people (professional property managers) visiting our website?
We could have a million website visitors every month and our website could still be ineffective. Why? Because the LandlordSource website is specifically for those in the property management industry. The Google Analytics stats that help us know whether the RIGHT people are visiting our website are: Average # of Page Views, Average # of Pages per Visit, & Average Bounce Rate. In 2013, our average page views went up 272% (WOW!) and the average pages per visit increased 67%. Most importantly, the bounce rate dropped dramatically (from 60% to 8%).
These metrics tell us that most of the people who visit the LandlordSource site are probably property managers or involved in the property management industry. They also suggest that our messaging resonates with website visitors. LandlordSource.com visitors take time to view multiple pages of the site and they generally don’t “bounce.”
If you ask me, the Bounce Rate is the biggest indicator of website success. When it comes to bounce rate, lower is better. A high bounce rate is a bad thing because it means people arrive at your website and then leave right away. To give you some perspective, I went to a conference recently where I heard people striving for a 50% bounce rate, which they considered good (so we’re extremely happy with 8%).
A high bounce rate may mean your SEO tactics are bringing in the wrong people or that your property management company website isn’t very user friendly. It could also indicate that property owners or tenants can’t quickly understand what you can do for them (or that nothing grabs their interest enough to stay on the site). Don’t invest a lot of money into driving traffic to your website if your bounce rate is extremely high. You need to fix the problems with your website first, or you are just wasting your money. As you make changes to your site, monitor the resulting bounce rate to see if you are moving in the right direction.
What are people looking for when they come to the website?
Google Analytics has traditionally reported the key words people use to find your website in search engines. However, with the latest Google update, this information is getting harder to access. Knowing the key search words and phrases that generate traffic is helpful. These terms tell you whether you are producing the right content (blogs, videos, etc.) and whether your site is relevant to the top search terms. (If not, you might have a high bounce rate.)
The top search terms for LandlordSource.com are: Property Management Forms / Starting a Property Management Company / Property Management Checklist / Property Management Manual / Property Management Policies and Procedures. We do provide information and products that are relevant to all of these terms. Most of our website traffic comes from Google searches – so it is good to know that we’re getting to the right people!
Because property management companies are location based businesses, the top search terms for your website should include more local phrases (like Property Management in Chandler Arizona or Rental House in Lincoln California). If your top search terms don’t include phrases like this, consider rewriting your web copy to weave in key local terms (in appropriate context). You could also add useful, relevant local information to your website that helps investors looking to expand their portfolio or tenants looking for a great place to live.
Do the people who visit our website take action?
In 2013, we didn’t use Google Analytics to measure conversion. I just set this up for 2014. In Google Analytics there is an option called “Goals” that calculates the stats for people who fill out forms and (in our case) make purchases. These “Goals” deliver data to help you understand how many of the people who visit your website actually take an action that could lead to a new management account or lease.
Last year, we did track LandlordSource email subscriber statistics. Our average number of newsletter subscribers per month increased 375%. We have an awesome retention rate for the Professional Management Matters newsletter list – very few people unsubscribe or report spam! We prefer to maintain an email list, but we also offer an option to subscribe to our blog. Our blog subscription rate is low – our email list subscription rate is high. These metrics indicate the content we offer is attractive to property management professionals and that they like getting it delivered via email.
If you are not doing any email marketing for your property management company, I encourage you to consider it. It’s a fairly easy way to stay in front of potential clients and to maintain a positive relationship with your existing ones. These are the key statistics you should track for newsletters and other email marketing: Open Rate / Clickthrough Rate / Unsubscribe Rate / Spam Complaint Rate.
- A low open rate indicates people are either not receiving your emails or they are not all that interested what you’re sending.
- Clickthroughs tell you how many people read enough of your email to click on a link – this stat measures engagement.
- If Unsubscribe rates are high, you might not be doing a good job of earning interest or you may not be updating your list regularly.
- A high Spam complaint rate is a problem that needs immediate attention. It could mean you are sending email marketing to people who did not ask for it and don’t want it. It can also mean that you are leaving too many old clients and prospects on your list.
Unlike a property management company, LandlordSource sells products online. We tracked our sales figures for 2013 and saw a healthy growth, with the majority of our sales taking place online. So it is reasonable to assume that our site generates trust and that we make it easy for property management professionals to evaluate and buy our products online.
Your property management company should track the sources of new business for your property management company, including those who contact you after visiting your website. These numbers help you determine the best ways to invest your online marketing dollars.
Are our social media marketing efforts paying off?
LandlordSource uses social media to increase visibility and awareness – LinkedIn, and Facebook. Google Analytics told us that these platforms were in the top 10 traffic sources for 2013, and that the visitors coming from social interactions were taking time to explore our website (the bounce rates were low). LandlordSource invests in paid advertising on LinkedIn and Facebook; it’s important to know that the dollars (and hours) spent are generating qualified website traffic.
If your property management company is actively using social media, make sure you measure results too. If these efforts don’t get more owner and tenant eyeballs on your company website and/or generate relevant inquiries, then you either need to improve your tactics or invest YOUR dollars (and hours) elsewhere.
Marketing your property management company can be fun – you get to be creative, you get to be social, you get to investigate new technology & trends…but your online marketing investments must make a difference in your business. These efforts must produce tangible results that move you closer to achieving your business goals.
Disclaimer: LandlordSource does not represent the article content in this website as legal advice. It is shared information only and up to the reader to use this information responsibly, seeking legal advice as necessary to their business.