Shifting gears, not stopping engines: How to adapt your multifamily marketing strategy during times of high occupancy

Feb 7, 2024

Playful illustration showing the many components of a multifamily marketing strategy, including SEO, analytics, social media likes and review stars

Any professional understands the importance of proper budgeting. In the multifamily space, marketing spend is often linked to occupancy levels. If you’re leasing up a new property or struggling to fill an older one, you often have more budget available to market those properties.

But what about stable properties and markets where occupancy isn’t a challenge? When you’re at high occupancy, do you still need to spend money on marketing?

The short answer is yes! Here’s the low down on why you need to market your communities consistently, even when your occupancy is high.

Peak performance: Why SEO shouldn’t take a back seat regardless of occupancy goals

Search engine optimization (SEO) positions your sites for success by catering to algorithms, building what they value most — expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. To achieve this, SEO strategy involves ongoing website changes that continually adapt to what major search engines value most.

This means that even when you’ve reached your occupancy goals, SEO is key to keeping your site visible in search. Learn a little more about ongoing SEO.

Understanding the role of SEO beyond occupancy goals

As search behaviors and patterns evolve, search engines must evolve to match user expectations. Search never sleeps, so search engines update regularly to provide a more tailored search engine results pages (SERPs). When algorithms change, your SEO has to be updated to adapt so your site doesn’t drop in search, becoming immediately less visible to potential renters.

When your property achieves high occupancy, it may seem tempting to eliminate spend towards organic marketing efforts like SEO. You might think, “Hey, I don’t actually need more traffic right now anyway.” But this thinking puts you at significant risk since search engine algorithm updates occur frequently based on projected positive impact for the user’s search journey. What if you suddenly lost all the traffic you’re used to getting?

Should you choose to pause your SEO efforts due to high occupancy, when Google releases a core update, your current optimization strategies won’t adapt, and you will suddenly have fewer leads than usual. Without a dedicated partner like REACH, you may find yourself falling behind the trends without even knowing it.

Ever-evolving search algorithms

In the past, website content was purposefully crafted to be easily crawled and understood by search engines to promote site visibility.

Then, as outlined by the SEMrush Google algorithm update blog, Google pivoted to provide a more user-oriented search journey by using machine learning to evaluate content from a user perspective. By evaluating the content through the proposed expertise of the site and the trustworthiness of the information being presented, Google’s goal of providing a more user-intent focused SERP was finely tuned.

Let’s imagine you paused all SEO efforts in 2021 due to high occupancy.

  • It’s likely your site’s content would be optimized to be understood and crawled by search engines.
  • After the core Google update in 2022, when Google shifted content focus to user understanding, the content from 2021 would become less impactful on an optimization level.
  • Your site would start to drop in the SERP rankings, meaning fewer potential renters would find you.

When continuing SEO marketing efforts (no matter occupancy levels), you ensure that on and off-page optimizations align with Google updates and your site remains prominent in search results.

Timely adaptations: Ensuring SEO strategies align with Google updates

“SEO is a marathon, not a sprint” is one of the most common sayings in the digital marketing world, and for good reason. SEO focuses on building an established relationship with Google to increase site visibility, consistently evolving to establish expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.

Authoritativeness to Google means becoming an established resource across your subject matter. The goal in every SERP is to provide the searcher with credible results that fit their need. So how does your site become this resource?

It’s easy to assume that user experience on the site or the optimizations made to increase visibility are the primary pieces of establishing authority, but authority is primarily established by time and influence.

So why does this mean you should continue SEO efforts even when at high occupancy?

  • Small SEO tweaks that improve large-scale results constantly build your site authority.
  • Your site authority contributes to search engines recognizing your site as a trusted resource on your topic.
  • Working with an experienced marketing agency ensures that your site is habitually being evaluated, meaning it becomes a more visible and impactful result in the SERP.

Adapt, click, conquer: Leveraging PPC agility at times of high occupancy

PPC is the MVP of paid digital marketing. As we outlined in our article ‘Apartment PPC data: Why, where and how it converts prospects into renters,’ people who click on PPC ads tend to be more rent-ready leads.

So why should you continue your PPC strategy if your occupancy is high? Let’s take a look.

Leveraging PPC’s sprint mentality for instantaneous adaptability

Let’s imagine your property is sitting at ideal occupancy, and you want to consider pausing your PPC efforts.

  • A critical piece of marketing is the understanding that marketing efforts are an ongoing necessity due to the demand for leads and leases.
  • PPC replaces the ‘marathon’ mentality of SEO, and instead embraces a ‘sprint’, allowing instantaneous adaptability.
  • By leveraging this adaptability, you gain the power to seamlessly transition your goals.

So what goals can you prioritize? And how do you target those goals through strategy shifts?

Targeting goals: Adapting PPC efforts to your needs

Inevitably, residents will move out, leaving units ready to fill. Analyzing your leasing trends and finding the timeframe when more leases are needed can give you a new way to look at your PPC efforts.

Since PPC is a fast-adapting digital marketing source, changes can be made quickly and consistently. If your goal is to promote lead acquisition that better aligns with your occupancy objectives, you can build new ad copy that appeals to users who want to move in when you need the leases.

Sometimes, we don’t want to look that far in advance! If pivoting your strategy to create a reserve of leads for a specified time isn’t in your primary focus, consider the market with which you are engaging.

In our article, ‘Apartments search trends: What the data says about SEO & PPC shifts’, PPC trends showed an increase in click-through rates and in the number of people that saw ads. If your property is in a highly competitive market (where you risk falling behind), start campaigns specifically designed to help your property name stand out prominently in search. By utilizing this type of goal reformation, your property is able to gain recognition in the market, giving it the competitive edge to ensure you stay at the top of everyone’s radar, no matter your occupancy.

Pivoting your strategy to prioritize different goals also provides valuable insights into future market efforts. Through continuing your PPC efforts, even when achieving your occupancy goals, you learn which copy is most impactful, which campaign types are most productive and help the algorithms learn which are the most successful assets.

Budget flexibility: Scaling back without sacrificing insights

But unlike SEO, PPC is pay to play. PPC has a constant running budget where you’re allocating spend to get the results you need.

So, if you’re at high occupancy should you continue to spend significantly on PPC efforts?

  • Depending on your priorities of budget utilization, PPC is a source that if paused, would not cause the same repercussions of pausing SEO.
  • What’s important: Your PPC budget does not have to remain the same!
  • When you remain at that higher occupancy and want to reevaluate spend, you can scale back the budget and still find success.

By decreasing budget but continuing to use PPC during periods of high occupancy, you can save on spend while still gaining insight into user behavior, influencing the type of user behavior you want and promoting a strong brand presence in your competitive market.

Social media marketing’s role in building a complete image

Earlier, we pointed out that search is always evolving. One of the contributors to this evolution is the demand for and significant presence of social media.

Social media marketing is here to stay. In fact, it’s a component of marketing that current residents and prospects rely on. Did you know that, according to the 2024 Grace Hill/ NMHC Renter Preferences Survey, 42% of renters checked out a community’s social media profiles in their most recent home search?

Renters use social media to help build the full picture of living at a community. Social media offers a window into day-to-day life and access to authentic perspectives from people living at the property.

Does this property go above and beyond to make sure their residents are enjoying living there? What makes this property different from all the rest? How do current residents engage with the property now? Social media can help answer those questions for a prospect, and help you stand out from the competition.

So if you’re at high occupancy, why should you continue social media marketing?

  • An established profile helps a prospect experience life at your property and gives search engines another reliable result to supply to user queries.
  • Utilizing as much space on the SERP as possible is an excellent way to ensure those who are searching for your property find multiple platforms to interact with.
  • Social media platforms are similar to search engines! By committing to habitual posting, platform algorithms start establishing your account as a trusted source that engages users. The more data that proves such, the more probable your property’s account will appear in a feed.

Proactive marketing: Your fuel for sustainable multifamily growth

When your occupancy is high, continuing your digital marketing efforts is part of a proactive multifamily marketing strategy. Between the marathon of SEO, the sprint of PPC and the increasing importance of social media, each and every source works together to contribute to the continued success of your community.

No matter your occupancy, with each source needing strategies, optimizations, budget and advancements, we can’t ignore the added ease of having a partner to guide you through it all. Here at REACH, our goal is to work with you so you can enjoy premium, personalized service from experts in the industry while your property remains competitive in the ever-evolving digital landscape. Get in touch.

Madeleine Bittancourt

Madeleine Bittancourt is a search marketing specialist for REACH. She thrives on the fast-paced evolution of digital marketing and enjoys working closely with clients to achieve marketing goals. When she’s not strategizing, she can be found running with the most precious Akita or exploring new trails.

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