When you’re considering trying a new service or product, what’s the first thing you do?
You Google them, right?
You might look them up on Facebook or LinkedIn or an online review site as well, but it always starts with a Google search. The main goal for you is to get a better understanding of what ‘kind’ of company they are. You want to see both the customer's satisfaction levels as well as how the company communicates online - what kind of content they share and how they engage with the public to figure out whether they’re right for you.
Your business’ online presence may not necessarily be the first thing a potential new customer sees or hears about your company before making a decision but it’s very likely to be the last.
Research conducted by Dimensional Research found that 90% of customers were influenced by online reviews when deciding to purchase a service or product. NINETY PERCENT. That’s not just a majority, that’s pretty much everyone evaluating your business who doesn’t happen to personally know someone who works in the company.
The importance of having a good online presence is not just a nice-to-have it’s an absolute, base-level requirement for any property management business hoping to grow.
People are getting more and more savvy when it comes to researching a business or product before committing to buy. Not only do consumers expect a great service, these days, they also expect their personal values to be reflected by the company.
In the same way that companies in traditional industries like car manufacturing and energy are scrambling to promote themselves as ‘carbon-neutral’ and ‘renewably sourced’ to better align with shifting consumer values, property management businesses need to demonstrate publicly that they share the values of their market.
Messages that convey that you put your customers before your bottom line, have a genuine passion for the industry, provide true value for money, operate transparently and have high levels of responsiveness are just some examples of ‘values’ that potential landlords and tenants will want to see reinforced online.
How to improve your online presence and build social proof
1. Be consistent. What’s really important when it comes to developing a thriving online presence is consistency. This includes posting, interacting and updating your online portals regularly (every week, at least) as well as narrowing down your key messages to 2-3 ‘values’ that will resonate with your target market and promoting these systematically in different ways. For example: One of your key value propositions may include putting your customers first. To communicate this you might post monthly infographics which illustrate your high Net Promoter Score (NPS) results on Facebook and publish case studies of your landlords investment stories on your blog.
2. Ask for reviews from the right people. It’s one thing to have a call-to-action at the bottom of every email your business sends out asking for a review but the problem with this is it will also be made readily available to customers who may not currently be over-the-moon with your service. While you don’t want to restrict people from leaving reviews about your business, you certainly don’t want to suggest it to those who may not be favourable. Instead, increase the likelihood of receiving majority positive reviews by triggering review requests after positive actions. For example: Sending a congratulations email to a landlord after you’ve signed up a new tenant for them with a big call to action to write a Google review. You might even go a step further and outline in the email the ‘positives’ you would like them to mention; e.g. ‘we were able to find you a tenant in under 7 days and we got full market rent!’.
3. Project positivity. The real estate industry has a bit of a long history of being antagonistic and aggressively competitive. While it may seem like discrediting your competitors is an effective strategy to position yourself at the top, it actually has the opposite effect. Instead, people will wonder if you’ll treat them the same way should you have a disagreement and will be less inclined to trust you with their biggest assets. If you project integrity and a genuine passion for the industry, without resorting to petty smear campaigns, you’re automatically going to be perceived as more trustworthy. For example: Rather than trolling competitors online, try praising a high performing business (inside or outside the industry) on social media for doing something which aligns with your company’s values. A company that is confident enough to promote a competitor indicates to customers that it is not only a company with integrity and a passion for quality in the industry but successful enough that they don’t need to worry about competitors.
4. Align personal social media presence with company values. Unlike most businesses, in property management, your clients (landlords and tenants) will only really deal with one person in the company - their property manager. Therefore, their evaluation of the individual property manager is equally (if not more) important than the evaluation of the company as a whole. As a result, potential customers are just as likely to look up property management individuals online too. They’ll find them on LinkedIn and Facebook and anywhere else they pop up. Ensuring that your team have tight security on their personal social media accounts and appropriate profile pictures and publicly visible online activity is just as important as your business profiles. Nobody wants to see photos of their potential property manager drunk at a music festival wearing nothing but body glitter (even if they are really good at their job!).
5. Pay attention to your website. Almost every single customer is going to look at your website before they sign up. It’s critical that you keep your website up to date in terms of design and content. Web trends change very quickly and sites that look old or poorly constructed will have a negative impact on potential customers decision on whether to choose your company or not. If you can’t update your website, what are your property management practices like? For example: Apex Property Management Specialists have done a really nice job creating a simple yet modern website with plenty of white space, high quality images and limited text.
6. Create and share content that is useful to your target market and SEO-optimised. Not many real estate businesses have caught on to the age of content marketing yet, but those that do outstrip the rest in search engine ranking. Content marketing is the creation of content (blogs, social media posts, videos etc.) that focuses on topics relevant to your industry and is designed to provide value to the consumer as the primary purpose (rather than selling products). In doing so, the content indirectly promotes the company itself by showing customers that it’s in touch and a knowledgeable authority in the market. Including keywords and topics that are specific to your local area is a good way to SEO-optimise your content to target your local market. For example: Publishing a blog on ‘the best streets to buy property in X suburb’ is a great way to target your local market by providing content that they are already likely to be searching for.
Advertising is still an important part of a property management businesses marketing strategy but today’s consumers are becoming more and more immune to traditional selling tactics. People don’t want to be ‘sold to’ they want proof of value and they want to hear it from someone who isn’t getting paid a commission. Your company’s online presence and social proof created through reviews and interactions online are the most effective selling tools available today. __Invest in them. __