Even though crisis struck, it’s moving season, and customers are relying on local listings to find information that allows them to continue doing business with you. Complicating that effort are the varied local and regional guidelines that leave consumers wondering when, where and how to engage with property managers.
Many prospective tenants won’t make it all the way to your website for answers. To provide the right information at the right time and in the right place, property listings on search engines and other third-party directories need to be prioritized.
In this post, we share effective strategies and lessons learned from managing local listings in a crisis. You’ll also find tips for managing property listings and providing timely, reassuring information to potential residents.
Optimize Property Management Listings for Search
During a crisis – more than any other time – you need to control the online conversation around your brand. Search insights offer “voice of customer” data, telling you what consumers need from you right now and how they look for that information.
Customers are actively searching for information about sanitization practices, updated hours, tour availability and more to help them decide when and where to move. Overwhelmingly, they’re looking for these solutions on search engines, where they can often find exactly what they need without clicking through to your corporate site or property landing page.
You have plenty of opportunities to answer these questions for your customers in your listings.
The most important step for search optimization during this crisis is making sure phone numbers and hours are correct. Binary Fountain client data shows that phone calls to property management companies from GMB listings are 43% higher than pre-pandemic levels, as of July 21 – even though total searches are down nearly 17%.
For a full picture of the search landscape, Google Trends has daily updates for the top 100 places searching for coronavirus information and the top related queries – what people type when searching for the virus.
Use Google My Business Features
When consumers search for a new apartment or condo, they usually turn to Google first. Luckily, the search engine rolled out several features for businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic.
During the crisis, marketers can make good use of special hours and attributes, which display prominently on search engine results pages (SERPs) and in Map Pack listings. There are also new GMB links that are valuable to property management organizations, including “COVID-19 info.”
Google Posts are another great way to deliver crucial updates to local communities. Google is now making it easier for businesses to publish coronavirus-specific information on their listings by adding a COVID-19 Google Post option.
When published, COVID-19 Google Posts will immediately appear on the post carousel and “Updates” tab on GMB profiles.
Learn what Ben Fisher recommends for managing Google My Business profiles in this webinar.
Emphasize Safety and Virtual Tour Options
If you are not communicating information across your online presence that makes people feel safe, they won’t consider your properties or schedule a tour. Online listings are your first opportunity to earn their trust.
As you distribute information to your local communities during the crisis, be sure to share the measures you’ve taken to ensure a clean and orderly environment at your facilities. This should be driven by a data-based understanding of your current and prospective tenants’ communication preferences, their specific safety concerns, and where they search for rentals.
Of course, the safest tour of a new apartment is a virtual one. Alongside physical safety precautions, your virtual tour availability should be clearly stated on every platform where your properties are listed.
Learn what Bild & Co. executives recommend for promoting virtual tours in this webinar.
Monitor Reviews on Business Listings
Communicating your properties’ safety practices might reassure prospective residents to a degree, but it won’t necessarily motivate them to schedule a tour. For that, they will want to hear from other consumers through reviews.
The recency of ratings and reviews will prove essential as consumers look for safe places to move. The resident experience at your properties likely looks different than it did three months ago, making older reviews irrelevant and increasing prospective patients’ reliance on new feedback. Additionally, with so many people staying home during the COVID-19 outbreak, they want to know they’ll be comfortable in their new community.
Learn what Jay Baer recommends for rebuilding customer knowledge in this webinar.
Not to mention, publishing resident feedback is an essential part of your ranking on search engine results pages. But remember: If you are making changes and trying out new policies, new issues will likely arise in reviews that your review response team needs to be prepared for.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we also saw a suspension of new Google reviews, though those are returning for most industries.
If this happens in the future, be prepared to adjust review generation campaigns to push patients to an internal survey, social media or platforms like Zillow, Trulia and Zumper, rather than to Google. Keep in mind that reviews left while publication was suspended are starting to publish as of mid-July.
Keep Your Property Listings Consistent
Listings management strategies will differ based on your organization’s size and location count. But whether that’s five properties or 100, your listings need to be consistent across the board, especially as state and local guidelines change and residents look to you for authoritative information.
It’s important to maintain a baseline of clean, accurate, optimized local listings to make sure listing inaccuracies don’t compound your problems during a crisis. But it’s not easy. Binary Fountain’s listings management platform and online reputation experts are ready to keep your brand’s online presence robust, informative and engaging. Schedule a quick demo to learn more.
Read more on listings management during the COVID-19 crisis:
- Ask an Expert: How to Optimize Your Listings for COVID-19 Reopening
- How to Add a COVID-19 Google Post to Your Google My Business Listing
- 8 Steps to Rewire Customer Relationships Disrupted by Pandemic (ft. Jay Baer)
- Expert Panel: Keys to Property Marketing Through the COVID-19 Crisis
About the Author
Content Marketing Specialist