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August 1, 2022

12 Ways to Improve Your Online Reputation for Property Management Marketers

Reviews are important in property management and multifamily marketing. Learn to leverage reviews and video testimonials in a reputation management strategy.

In 2022, renters care about and use online reviews for major decision-making. According to the 2022 NMHC/Grace Hill Renter Preferences Survey Report,  69 percent of renters referenced property ratings and reviews in their most recent rental-home search. Even greater, 84 percent said that their leasing decisions were influenced by the content of the ratings. 

It’s clearer than ever: your property’s reviews and ratings are impacting residents’ decisions.

Your community’s online reputation matters. If you’re not doing so already, you should be actively managing your online reputation. Here are 12 tips that property managers may find useful for improving the online reputation of your multi-family property. (Find even more rep management tips here!) 

1. Stay on top of all review platforms. 

You never know which path your renters take to finding your community. That is why it’s important to monitor and manage all the review sites where tenants are reading and writing reviews. Besides Google, this includes Apartments.com, ApartmentRatings, Facebook, Yelp, and even your property’s social media posts (treat comments on your posts like mini-reviews).

2. Increase the volume and frequency of your reviews.

RentCafe found that the number of reviews of a property is directly correlated to the property’s lead-to-lease conversion rate. The higher the number of reviews, the higher the lead-to-lease conversion rate. Our general advice is to take every reasonable opportunity possible to ask for a review. More recently, we’ve found asking at three key moments will lead to the best results - see point #3. 

Frequency of reviews matters, too. Reviews have a half-life, meaning the relevance and trustworthiness of a review fades over time. In fact, 40% of customers won’t even consider reviews older than two weeks. We think this timeframe is too short for an industry that primarily operates on a yearly cadence, but it's safe to say reviews written in the last 3 months will have the greatest impact. Start getting more reviews, more often in order to draw in future renters. 

3. Ask everyone for a review in the moments that matter. 

To get more reviews, start by increasing the # of people you ask for reviews. Technology and automation help here. Think of major resident touchpoints as an opportunity to request a review. 

We’ve found 3 property management “trigger” events that reliably produce the best review content:

    • Upon finishing a tour– Prospective residents will have fresh feedback for you about their visit.  
    • When moving in– This is an exciting albeit stressful time for renters, and they will have comments and first impressions to pass on about their new home.
    • When renewing–  Give happy and committed residents the chance to share why they’re excited to stay with you another year. 

Why should you ask for a review in all these moments? Prospective renters need to see how the resident experience is as a whole–the reasons why people take tours, move in, and renew. Plus, these are interactions directly owned by the property manager, whereas maintenance, among other touchpoints, may be owned by a subcontractor, and thus not a direct reflection of the work done by the property management team.

4. Ask for reviews via text message.

The best way to get more reviews is to make it easy to leave a review. They’re easy, direct, and a convenient method of communication Don’t forget to personalize the requests in the context of the person’s interaction. Personalized texts are much more likely to be trusted and acted upon. 

Use specific campaigns to personalize further. For tours, try sending a text that reads:

“Hi, Katie! This is Tina from Brea Luxury Apartments. Thanks so much for taking a tour. Would you please take a minute to leave us a review of the experience?”

Do the same for move-ins. And renewals.

“Hello Jose, welcome to Whispering Lake Apartments! We’d love to know how your move-in experience went. Would you mind leaving us a review?”

5. Perform a competitive analysis to determine your review volume and rating goals.

The goal of a reputation strategy is to rank higher in local search and convert more Google profile viewers into engaged prospects. Doing so does not necessarily require an endless amount of 5-star reviews. Rather, it requires your communities to consistently generate more positive reviews than the surrounding communities. To determine exactly how many reviews to target to start, we recommend you conduct an analysis.

Competitive analysis involves more than just checking your ORA score. Determine where your property ranks in comparison to others in the area with a quick Google search. Then, set review volume goals that will boost your property’s rank. Once initial targets are identified, determine what review request volume you can realistically support, which will dictate how long it will take your communities to surpass competitive communities.

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6. Respond to all your reviews–good and bad.

No response is a response - and never a good look. Canned or automated replies are also a no-go. Everybody can tell when your communities are mailing it in. Be enthusiastic and grateful to your positive reviewers, and be thoughtful, apologetic, and considerate to any negative commenters. Above all else, be human and strive to solve problems. Read Widewail’s review response tips here

Think about the next renter. Your reviews and replies have two audiences, prospective renters and current tenants. In your reply, you want to be genuinely helpful to the reviewer while showing off your customer service to prospective renters.

7. Use SEO-friendly keywords in positive responses, avoid them in negatives.

While reviews have merely a moderate impact on ranking in traditional SEO, it’s a different story entirely within local search. Reviews heavily influence local search rankings. Your residents will naturally use keywords in their reviews, and your responses present the opportunity to include even more specific keywords that help Google show the most relevant reviews in search results.

Do: Use the name of your property in your reply. Make sure your keyword-rich reply sounds natural. Highlight your property’s unique selling points.

Don’t: Overfill a response with keywords at the risk of sounding awkward. Avoid using keywords when replying to negative reviews (3 stars and lower).

8. Develop a video testimonial collection strategy.

User-generated content is the future of advertising. Get your renters to share videos of your properties by asking them to leave a video testimonial of their experience. Testimonials are social proof, and prospective renters will trust the faces of your current renters. Make the video review process easy through automation and just like for written reviews, ask via SMS. 

9. Hone in your trust marketing strategy.

In today’s era of distributed trust, prospective renters will trust their peers more than your property’s ads. (For example, a current renter who states “this is the cleanest property!” is inherently trusted more than a line on your website that claims “we have the cleanest property!”)

Trust marketing capitalizes on basic principles of psychology and embraces a marketing strategy that features and highlights the voices of your renters through text and video reviews. This is the next evolution of internal feedback surveys.

On your social media posts, website, and marketing, consider sharing quotes of your happy renters or posting videos filmed by those taking tours or moving in. Lean into trust marketing to get an edge over your competitors. 

10. Understand that managing reputation is also about managing relationships.

In the world of property management, relationships are key. This is true for online and in-person communication. Your reviews can only ever be as good as your customer service is. Managing your reputation is forever linked to managing your relationships. 

Your residents are your priority, but you can’t do everything at once. Taking all your time to read and reply to your reviews yourself may actually take away from you helping your residents in person. A vendor with the right technology and experience will be able to immediately impact your reputation, and focusing your community management teams on in-person customer service will ensure everybody is playing to their strengths.

11. Take feedback seriously (& respond online in a timely fashion).

Negative feedback can sting. But often it stems from legitimate criticism, which is why it’s important to consider negative reviews an opportunity to improve

The feedback you get in your reviews may address challenges you know you have or raise concerns you didn’t know existed. Either way, use negative feedback to make priorities and take steps to improve the resident experience.

When responding to feedback online, do so in a timely way, and invite the reviewer to take the conversation offline. Do not attempt to resolve the issue online, in the public view. Reviews and responses are forever. Leave your name and contact information so that the upset individual can get in touch. Attempt to resolve the issue privately, and if successful we frequently see previously unhappy customers return to update the previously negative review. 

12. Understand the root of your property’s reputation. 

The reputation of your property is the total sum of what it offers, the customer service you provide, and the unique experiences of your renters and prospective renters. You can influence your online reputation but you can’t fully control it. Think of your reputation like a sailing trip. You know the general direction you want to go, and you can manipulate the sails to consistently head in the right direction, but you don’t entirely control the wind and it will likely be variable. And that’s ok. It’s part of the fun, right?

Take time to determine the factors that influence how you’re perceived and take action about those that can be controlled. If you’re receiving consistent, negative feedback about your customer service, consider where the root of this feedback lies. It can likely be addressed. 

Online reputation management is an essential activity for property managers and apartment marketers. Widewail has tools and resources available to help you get more apartment reviews.

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Keaton Smith

I’m a writer, philosopher, climber, mountain biker, and a fried-egg enthusiast. Before joining Widewail as a Review Response Specialist, I attended Middlebury College and studied Philosophy and Art History. I grew up in Michigan, but I fell in love with Vermont while in school.

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