Is Your Multifamily Marketing Strategy Mobile-First?

Alex Middel
February 15, 2017

Whether you’re an apartment marketer that’s driven by data, the latest trends or the future of consumer behavior, mobile-first marketing needs to be on your radar. The fact of the matter is if you want to be around five or ten years from now, you need to design your marketing strategy with mobile users in mind first, not as an afterthought.

In this article, we’ll go over why mobile-first marketing is a necessity, and five steps you need to take to avoid losing new renters.

 Is your multifamily marketing strategy mobile-first?

What Does Mobile-First Mean?

Mobile-first is a term that was coined in 2009 by a designer named Luke Wroblewski. The concept was a new approach to web design that encouraged people to start small (build for mobile devices first) and then build up for larger screens.

Prior, most websites, software and other parts of the web were designed for desktops first, then stripped down or made responsive to work on smaller screens and devices.

This process worked ok in the early stages of mobile use, but today we’re at a point where more people are using mobile devices than ever before. As a result, multifamily marketers need to adapt quickly, or risk becoming obsolete.

 Mobile phone users worldwide 2013-2019 Statistic

Why You Need a Mobile-First Strategy

You’ve probably noticed the increase in people using mobile devices just throughout your day. Whether it’s pedestrians looking at their phone while walking down the street or the amount of time you spend on Instagram. In fact, half of smartphone users grab their phones immediately when they wake up. So there’s no doubting the fact that we’ve grown attached to our phones.

But aside from changes in society, the shift is affecting apartment marketers in a big way. For instance, mobile email opens grew 180% from 2011-2014.

 email opens stats by quarter

It’s not just email that’s being affected. According to Google, “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan.”

And don’t think your website is immune to the mobile movement. Forty percent of people will choose another search result if the page they land on isn’t mobile friendly.

 surveymonkey infographic mobile if not mobile friendly

It’s time to stop looking at mobile compatibility as a “nice to have” and more of a necessity. As mobile devices continue to become more advanced, you can expect all of these statistics to continue growing.

So what can multifamily marketers do to become mobile-first? Follow these five tips to optimize your marketing efforts for mobile users.

1. Make Your Website Responsive

The simplest way to explain what “responsive” means is every part of your website should be fully functional on any device. The problem some multifamily websites run into is they weren’t designed with a mobile-first approach. They were made for desktops, then eventually adjusted to become mobile-friendly.

As a result, certain parts of the site don’t work the same on a mobile device as they do on desktop. Take a look at the website below. Here’s how this part of the website looks on a desktop:

 desktop version

And here’s how that same section looks on a mobile device:

 non-mobile friendly

Notice how the text isn’t aligned correctly. You may not think design issues like this are a big deal, but they can make a big difference when it comes to converting traffic into leads. According to a report from Adobe, 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content/layout is unattractive.

Not only do user experience issues like this harm your conversions, but they can also have a negative impact on your search rankings. In 2015, Google began rolling out its mobile-friendly ranking algorithm, nicknamed “Mobilegeddon.”

The purpose of the update was to reward sites that were mobile-friendly, and subsequently improve the quality of its search results. Sites that aren't mobile-friendly became susceptible to being pushed below mobile-friendly sites in the search results.

In order to make sure your site is mobile-friendly, take these two steps:

  1. Run a test with Google’s mobile-friendly tool.
  2. Browse your site on a mobile device to make sure every page looks and functions correctly.

Keep in mind that passing the mobile-friendly tester doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in the clear. There could be design issues like the example we showed above. That’s why it’s important to manually review every page on your site on a mobile device as well, and fix any issues you find as soon as possible.

2. Mobile-First Landing Pages

Are you running ads on social media or search engines? If so, your landing pages need to have a mobile-first design. Ideally, you should create landing pages specifically for mobile ad campaigns. However, some multifamily marketers also prefer to use an existing page on their website. If you go that route, make sure the page you use is optimized for mobile devices.

Here’s an example of an ad we found through Google search that uses a non-responsive page as a landing page. Notice how you have to scroll to the side to see all the content:

 non-mobile landing page

When you’re paying for traffic, the last thing you want is for people to arrive on a page that won’t convert. Someone that clicks-through to this page on a mobile device might be turned off since it’s not a seamless experience.

Instead, create pages that are specifically made for mobile devices. That means the experience should be smooth and fluid like this example:

 mobile friendly landing page

You can also use tools like UnbounceInstapage or Leadpages to create custom landing pages specifically for mobile devices.

3. Create Content for Mobile Devices

Writing for the web is different than printed copy. Magazines and newspapers are made for horizontal viewing. That’s why you usually see multiple columns of text on a single page and longer paragraphs.

However, on the web, the experience is more vertical. As a result, you have to do everything you can to break the text up and make it easily digestible for people scrolling down the page. This infographic from CMS Wire sheds light on how people read content on the web.

 how people read content online

Imagine someone reading through your blog content on their phone. They’re likely multitasking and aren’t 100% focused on your article, plus they’re reading on a smaller screen. In order to keep their attention and prevent them from bouncing, try these tips:

  • Use short paragraphs (2-3 sentences)
  • Use subheadings throughout your article
  • Use bullet lists when listing more than two things instead of commas
  • Don’t go more than two-page scrolls without an image, subhead or something to break up the text

If you need help optimizing your blog content for mobile users, check out our blogging and content marketing services.

4. Ditch QR Codes

Once hailed as the greatest innovation in mobile marketing, QR codes are about as effective as Google+ for multifamily marketers today. Sure, there may be a very small percentage of people that use them. But there are much more effective places to direct your time and money.

According to data from 2013, just 21% of smartphone users reported ever scanning a QR code, and only 2% scanned at least one a day. So you can only imagine how much those numbers have dwindled since then.

While the concept was intriguing, there were just too many roadblocks such as having to download apps, difficulty scanning some codes and other issues.

However, there are still ways to reach potential tenants on their phones. If you collect phone numbers from leads, you can start an SMS campaign, where people can opt-in to receive text messages from you.

This is a great way to update rental leads on newly available apartments. If the unit someone wants to see is unavailable, ask them if they’d like you to send them a text message when one becomes available. There are several SMS services that will allow you to automate the process.

Also, providing text messaging for customer service is a very appealing amenity for younger renters. According to a from The Harris Poll and OneReach, 77% of consumers between the ages of 18-34 are likely to have a positive perception of a company that offers text capability. Plus, 64% of consumers prefer texting over phone calls as a customer service channel.

5. Go Where Renters Are

While a good portion of apartment hunters head to Google to look for apartments, don’t forget the mobile experience is a bit different. Smartphone users spend a majority of their time in apps, most notably Facebook.

 tops digital chart 1

This is a strong sign that apartment marketers should invest in Facebook Ads. It’s where consumers’ attention is, and it doesn’t look like that’s changing anytime soon. (If you need help with your social media advertising, don't hesitate to reach out!)

In addition to advertising on social media, you should also ensure you’re listed on the top apartment listing sites. Apartment hunters are turning to these sites’ apps to search for new apartments from their phone rather than just a desktop, so you need to show up there.

Don’t rule out Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and other mobile apps that your target renter uses either.

It’s a Mobile World

Apartment marketers have to accept the fact that we’re living in a mobile world. If you’re not adjusting with the times, you’re putting yourself at a significant disadvantage.

Get in the habit of thinking of your campaigns from the perspective of someone viewing it from a smartphone or tablet. Whether it’s an email, blog post or your website’s design, you need to adopt a mobile-first mindset.

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