Is Text and Mobile Marketing for Apartments Really All That?

Author: Alecia Pirulis

As I start to adjust here in my new roll with NCI, and help with the roll out of Community Sherpa, part of what we also want to place focus on is Marketing Apartments.

The sole purpose that clients hire us is to Rent More Apartments, and we want to bring more of a flavor of that to the blog, shaped and structured to help our following and community do more of that in every way.

Does Text and Mobile Marketing Work for Apartments?

I wanted to kick off a discussion on Text and Mobile Marketing. Based on rumblings from last weeks NMHC Apartment Tech Conference, several vendors are working on mobile and text applications, but do they really work?

We have reached out into the apartment community for some feedback, as our experiment with a Text Message Lead System at the Urbane Laboratory didn’t work so well and we ended up dropping the service. I would add that the text message vendor was very helpful and made the claim, that it didn’t work well for us because our “Call to Action” was not clear in our signage, and they may well have been right.

Kim Cory, Marketing Director at University Village, a student housing community in Columbus OH had the below listed to share on their Text Marketing Experience.

What we found once implementing the program for leasing to prospects, was an invasion or that we were not friends yet. Prospects seem to view text as a means to communicate with their FRIENDS, people they already know and are comfortable with. The last thing you want is a creeper constantly sending you a text you either have to pay for or get annoyed when you just have to delete the message.

2,500 of our residents are college students and when asked if they would like text from us they really did not jump all over it. Actually it felt like we were in a bar trying to pick them up! That is the vibe we would get on the sales side. The last impression I want to leave someone with during a sales presentation is I am going to STALK YOU!! I want to leave them with a memorable experience.

The Cool Factor

Just because we think something is innovative or cool does not mean that it is! We were so excited about this program and thought it would blow our competition and our prospects away. In reality the competition may have been envious, but what they didn’t know was the prospects were not really taking advantage of it.

We tried using the text for everything from open house invites, promotions, blitz on campus etc. to get attention but the return was so minimal. During our peak leasing season we average over 60 pieces of traffic every week and I have to admit the amount of traffic or returns from text marketing was not worth keeping.

What Does Work
Where text works best for us is to communicate with our residents. We have our own private shuttle service that transports our residents to and from the campus every day. One thing I am working on for 2010 is the ability for our residents to text US with a # & key words like UV shuttle #3 and they will receive a text right back on when they can expect the shuttle to arrive at that stop. It’s all about maximizing time for all of us & our residents.

Are you using a text Marketing System with any success, let us know what is working and what isn’t, we value your feedback.