How To Use Google Analytics to Understand Your Renter Audience

How To Use Google Analytics to Understand Your Renter Audience

If you have a real estate website, when is the last time you dove into your Google Analytics? While most real estate marketers have a Google Analytics account set up for their website(s), many of them still underutilize this tool.

Not only is Google Analytics (GA) a must when it comes to integrating your Google Ad campaigns with site data like traffic volume and on-page conversions, it’s also one of the best tools at your disposal for understanding your online audience. Whether your goal is to reach more qualified users, improve conversion rates, or just gain a deeper understanding of who your audience really is, Google Analytics can help. You just have to know how to use it.

Today, we’re covering some of the best features of GA and showing how they can help you understand your audience better so you can execute more effective real estate marketing.

person using Google Analytics for real estate marketing insights

How To Find Out What Content Interests Your Audience The Most

Finding out what areas of your site draw the most attention from your audience can teach you a lot about what motivates them to take the next step and eventually become a tenant or customer.  You can then use this information to make it easier to reach those sections of your site or even link users directly to this information by creating Search, Social, and Display Ad campaigns with messaging related to this information. For example, if users are engaging most with your floor plans page, you may choose to run ads highlighting your floor plan availability, or you may even choose to run a special on specific floor plans that are getting attention.

There are two key ways to gather this information: Screen Performance reports and Event Performance reports.

Screen Performance

This report can be found in the Behavior section under Site Content. This will tell you the top pages on your site so that you can see which areas draw the most users. Bear in mind that this can be influenced by how easy it is to reach that section of your site, so take this information with a grain of salt. Think about how many clicks or turns of the scroll wheel it takes to view an area of your site and compare this to how many users actually view that area. If you have easy-to-access sections that no one is viewing or difficult-to-access sections that many users are seeking out, that can help give you ideas for site improvements or marketing campaigns.

This tool can also show you the time spent on each of these pages and the bounce and exit rates for each page, which offers further insights into which pages are your most successful drivers of prospect engagement.

Event Performance

Your Event performance can be found in the Behavior section under Events. This shows you what events people take most often on your site.

This information can help you diagnose whether people are taking the actions you want them to take on your site. For example, if you want people to use the contact page to get in touch with your leasing staff, you can check how often this event actually occurs on your site. If it’s not occurring very often, this could indicate that your contact form is difficult to find or use. It may even help you catch problems with your form, like a broken link or other UX issues.

Similarly, GA can show you your top conversions along with an Event count for those conversions. This can be found in the Conversions section in the left panel. Note that in order to get accurate conversion information, you first need to tell Google Analytics which events count as conversions.

How To Use GA To Tap Into Your Audience’s Interests

Did you know that the user demographics information in your Google Analytics account can show your users’ interests as well as their city, gender, age, and language? Not only that, but you can see which user interests correlate with the highest site engagement and conversions. This is located under “Audience” in the left pane, in the Interests section.

audience interests in Google Analytics

This information can help you create more accurate audience personas and inspire more effective marketing tactics. For example, if you find that many of your users are interested in the automotive industry, you might be inspired to draw more attention to your attached garages, covered carports, or EV charging stations through ads with targeted messaging or an amenity highlight on your home page, Google My Business page, or social accounts.

How To Find Out Who is Most Likely to Convert

At the end of the day, you want visitors to your website to take further action like scheduling a tour or starting an application. Luckily, Google Analytics has tools to help you understand who is converting, where they’re converting, and how often.

Engagement Reports

Engagement reports show you what actions users take once they’ve reached your site. An engagement report can be found by selecting “Audience” then “Behavior” and then “Engagement” in the left panel. These reports help you determine how well your site gets people to engage (by comparing total site users to users who actually engage). It can also show you which users are most likely to convert across factors like how they navigated to your site (e.g. organic search, link from social, search ad click, etc.) and user demographics.

Retention Reports

Similar to engagement reports, retention reports can tell you which users are interested enough to become a return visitor. A retention report will show you the number of return visitors you have over time, but it will also show you your number of return visitors by cohort. A cohort is a group of users who share a common characteristic such as when they first viewed your website. This feature is useful when you are making website updates, because it helps you determine whether those changes result in more return users, fewer return users, or no change. If a site update results in more return users, that’s a great sign that it’s generating more interest, more brand awareness, and ultimately more brand loyalty.

Compare Converters vs. Non-Converters

If you’ve configured your conversion events, you can easily compare users who convert to users who don’t convert. Navigate to Audiences in your left pane, then create an audience that includes a particular conversion event and another audience that excludes that conversion event. Once you’ve created these audiences, you can compare them in your reports. This will help you compare the behavior and attributes of converters vs. non-converters directly.

This can tell you the user behaviors and attributes that are most likely to lead to a conversion. For example, it might reveal to you that users who navigate to your floor plans page first are likely to convert, while users who visit your amenities page tend not to convert. This can help you diagnose site issues and show you where you should direct users through ad landing pages, home page links, or social media posts.

How To Understand Your Audience’s Full Renter Journey

Acquisition reports and user journey information in Google Analytics can teach you a lot about how users find and navigate your site and what behaviors make them most likely to eventually become a tenant. These features are particularly useful for understanding how your audience thinks as they navigate your site and can also give you insights into how to make your site experience more conducive to conversions.

acquisition report in Google Analytics

Acquisition Reports

Acquisition reports are a small glimpse into your prospects’ renter journey before they have arrived to your site. It tells you where the user was before they came to your site and/or what action resulted in them arriving on your site. In other words, clicking on the Acquisitions section in the left panel will bring up reports showing you the sources bringing in new users; that might be organic searches, ad clicks, referrals from your social media accounts, or other behaviors like typing your URL directly into their address bar.

Knowing how users tend to get to your site is useful because it shows you where your energies are best spent when it comes to digital and print marketing strategies. For example, if people are coming in from organic searches, that could mean SEO enhancements are your best low-hanging fruit to gain even more users. But, if people are clicking over directly from your social media accounts, that means putting extra effort into your social media presence could deliver the highest ROI when it comes to generating site traffic.

Not only that, but these reports can show you whether a particular acquisition source correlates with higher rates of engagement and conversion. This information provides additional insight into how your different marketing tactics are resonating with users and whether a particular marketing tactic is aligning with what users eventually find on your site. For example, if users arriving from ad clicks tend not to engage with your site very much, you might want to ask yourself whether your ad messaging and design is consistent with what a user sees when they first land on your site.

User Path Exploration

One of our favorite features of GA is the ability to explore a user’s full journey through your website. The path exploration or Behavior Flow feature allows you to see how users tend to move from one screen, page, or event to another.

For example, it could tell you that users tend to start at your home page, scroll to a CTA button about amenities, click that button, arrive on the amenities page, then bounce. Or, it might show you that a common user journey is arriving on your floor plans page, clicking on a particular floor plan, viewing a virtual tour video, then navigating to your contact page and filling out a contact form. Each step of the way, you can see how many users make it to the next step, how many end up somewhere else, and how many exit your site altogether. You can even dive down into a specific user’s journey to help troubleshoot a specific user flow or create an audience segment based on that specific user flow to help you gain further insights into your audience.

user path example in Google Analytics

All this information about how users move through your site can be an eye-opening experience for real estate marketers, designers, and web developers. For one thing, it can help diagnose problem pages that lead to the most exits and give you the opportunity to redevelop those pages. Or it can help you identify which landing pages lead most consistently to a conversion action further down the line, giving you the opportunity to direct more of your ads, social media links, or links in email campaigns to that page. Whatever you discover, diving into path exploration really helps you get in the mind of your users and see what’s important to them, what they find most eye-catching, and what messaging leads them to keep exploring and/or take action.

How Class C and D Properties Can Compete In a Market Full of New Starts

How Class C and D Properties Can Compete In a Market Full of New Starts

The housing market can be a difficult place for Class C and D properties. With older construction, less flashy amenities, and less affluent neighborhoods with fewer public services and attractions, Class C and D properties can struggle to appeal to prospective renters. And with plenty of new developments filling out the ranks of A- and B-Class properties, the competition can seem especially stiff.

But the truth is, there’s a market for C- and D-Class communities; the challenge simply lies in figuring out how to tap into it. From our years of experience in apartment marketing across a variety of property classes, we’ve never met a community we couldn’t connect with the right audience, even amid waves of new starts offering additional competition. If you have a C- or D-Class property you’re struggling to market effectively, here are our top four tips toward better apartment marketing results.

Understand Your Audience

If you’re asking yourself why anyone would choose to live at a C- or D-Class property when there are so many A- and B-Class communities out there, you may be overlooking entire sections of the American renter audience. Understanding who your audience is and what motivates them is the first step to a successful real estate marketing strategy.

Start by letting go of your assumptions. Although you may be starting with some good ideas, it’s also important to overcome any potential bias you may have about your audience, especially if you’ve never lived in a C- or D-Class apartment community yourself and therefore lack this insider perspective.

Instead of operating on your own assumptions, it’s time to do some research. First and foremost, get out there and ask actual people what motivates them when choosing where to live. Conducting quick surveys on the street in the neighborhood surrounding your community is an excellent place to start. If you have trouble finding participants, offering to enter people into a drawing for a prize can help overcome this hurdle. You can also send surveys online, gathering responses through services like Survey Monkey or Qualtrics.

person signing apartment lease

In addition to this on-the-ground research, research the demographic and sociographic information of your neighborhood. You might be surprised how much information you can find for free online. One tool we often use is the ESRI Tapestry Segmentation profiles, which provides demographic and sociographic info for over 60 different audience segments in the US. ESRI also has an in-browser Know Your Neighborhood app which allows you to look up audience segmentation info by zip code (scroll down and click “Explore Your Zip Code”).

Don’t Be Afraid of the Word “Affordable”

Now that you’ve ditched your biases in favor of a data-driven approach, it’s time to overcome another common instinct we tend to see among apartment marketers, owners, and property managers. If you’re afraid of the word “affordable,” you’re far from alone. But avoiding this term doesn’t serve you or your audience.

The truth is, one of the primary reasons some residents are drawn to Class C and Class D communities is because they know they’ll get a better deal that suits their budget. For many, cutting-edge amenities and brand new interiors are simply out of their price range, or they’d prefer to save the extra money they’d otherwise spend on these nice-to-haves and instead focus on the essentials. Don’t snub this audience by avoiding terms like “cheap” and “affordable” like they are dirty words. In nearly every market, keyword research shows that search terms including the words “cheap,” “affordable,” and “low cost” get plenty of search volume, revealing just how many are interested in precisely that. By including these words in your website and ad copy, you help this audience weed out the communities that don’t fit their needs and find a community that is perfect for them—namely, yours.

Just in case you still have some hesitation, consider this: There certainly are those for whom “cheap” and “affordable” carry negative connotations. Some prospects will indeed see those terms and use that as a reason to not click on your ad or your website. But this is actually a good thing. The more you qualify your audience by connecting with people who actually want what you offer, the less time, energy, and money you waste on prospects who are more likely to look elsewhere.

example of apartment display ad using the word "affordable"

Show Your Online Reputation Some Love

Class C and D properties tend to be on the older side, which means you’ve had plenty of time to accumulate reviews—and we all know people are more likely to leave a review when angry than when they’re satisfied. Plus, older communities tend to face added maintenance challenges, which are common catalysts for negative online reviews, even if those challenges are resolved later. Not only that, but for Class C and D properties who are in neighborhoods that enjoy less financial stability and less access to public services tend to face higher instances of on-site vandalism, theft, and other crimes, which is also a common reason that some upset residents are inspired to take their concerns online.

These overlapping factors can all come together to spell disaster for your online reputation if you’re not careful. But there’s a lot you can do to turn your reputation around and show residents both current and future that you care. To see the tips we’ve compiled from our own Reputation Management experts, check out the posts below.

How To Make Online Property Reviews Work for You

How to Give a Boost to Your Business’ Online Reputation

Enhance Your Online Visibility

Do you have a modern website? Updated Google My Business page? Social media accounts? Active search ads? Just because your building may be older doesn’t mean your marketing tactics have to be. These days, nearly every housing search begins online, so enhancing your online visibility is one of the quickest ways to connect with your audience.

For starters, be sure to keep your Google My Business page up to date. Even if you don’t have a shiny new website with great UX, simply having an up-to-date GMB page with accurate contact information, leasing office hours, and property photos helps make you visible to the wide range of prospects who begin their apartment search on Google.

If you don’t have that shiny new website with great UX we mentioned, it might be time for an update. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but an outdated website with broken links and missing information is easy for prospects to spot and likely to disqualify you early on in a prospect’s buyer journey. If building a new website from scratch isn’t in the cards, consider at least creating a single landing page with all your most important information and links to apply online. A single landing page can be cheaper, quicker, and sometimes just as effective as a multi-page website.

Finally, get in front of your audience with strategic ad campaigns. For example, YouTube ads are a great awareness tactic, especially for Gen Z and Millennial prospects. And you don’t have to have stunning photography or videography assets to make them work for you—stock photography and videography, paired with upbeat music and a compelling message can be all you need to make a difference. Geofencing may also be a useful tactic to reach more renters who may already be living or working in your neighborhood and looking for a place to live. And Google Search Ads are a must for driving site traffic and conversions among prospects who are actively searching for housing.

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