State of Search – June 2020
Kristi Fickert, Senior Vice President of Engagement and Growth
Patrick Laycock, Senior Manager of Digital Strategy
Our team of strategists spend the majority of their time digging into data. It’s their job and it’s what they live and breathe, every day (even outside of the COVID-19 era). Numbers tell a story that can more effectively guide all of our marketing decisions and now more than ever, it’s imperative we keep a pulse on what’s happening in the apartment industry today. Each month we’re reviewing the ‘State of Search’. How are prospects and apartment renters shifting their priorities? What search terms are they using, and what’s happening with search volume? Are large metropolitan areas seeing a variation in online leasing velocity compared to other markets?
During this critical time, we’ll scrutinize the data, help you make sense of the trends, and more importantly, determine the exact actions you should be taking to maximize your marketing efforts (while being mindful of potential budget constraints).
COVID-19 restrictions began lifting just as what would regularly be heavy leasing season. This combination led to a return to normalcy for the search terms surrounding the multifamily industry. Searches are beginning to approach similar highs from last year and easily surpassing numbers from the rest of 2020. Additionally, we also are beginning to see terms that jumped in popularity like “open apartments” begin to come back down to earth.
Trend Data Highlights
Apartments for Rent
Our main search term, “apartments for rent,” continued on an upward trajectory in June. In fact, search volume is only about 5% behind June 2019. Considering 2020’s circumstances, that level of search volume should give apartment marketers cause for celebration.
Key Takeaway: People still need to move even during a pandemic. According to The Washington Post, real estate agents say the rental market has remained relatively active amid the pandemic. Based on the search volume, heavy leasing season should still be expected even amid the uncertainty.
Last month, we looked at how “open apartments” was becoming a term with growing potential in SEO and PPC due to its rising popularity. June saw a slight dip from May in search volume (around 10% on average) but the overall interest in this search term is still up around 60-70% from last year making this term perfect for targeting with PPC search ads as heavy leasing season rolls around.
Key Takeaway: As we hit a peak in overall search interest for the year with leasing season, now is the perfect time to hit the gas on ad spend budgets for niche terms like “open apartments in [city].” The combination of high renting intent and this new term’s high search volume makes for a great opportunity to capitalize on search ads.
The second half of 2020 is bound to be turbulent just like the first, so it’s vital that we pick up on trends from January through June and apply the lessons learned to the rest of the year.
High Volatility Needs High Flexibility
The recent numbers on the spread of COVID-19 are worrying. With states opening up, infections have begun to increase again which very well may lead down the path to a second wave of closings. This will inevitably lead to decreased search volume for apartments. This, along with the massive economic consequences of the pandemic mean that the rest of 2020 is bound to be a wild ride. It is imperative that marketers maintain flexibility when it comes to search marketing in times like these.
Key Takeaways: Going into a high-volume month like July means that we should plan on increasing weekly ad spends for search ads to capitalize. Conversely, if and when search volume drops, either because of the pandemic or normal seasonality, marketers should be ready to increase their investments in organic search marketing (SEO) to build up authority during slower months.
2020 has made it incredibly apparent how important it is to monitor trends. Flexibility is the word of the year when it comes to marketing. The normally hyper-cyclical multifamily season has been thrown into uncertainty which only emphasizes that marketers must have versatility in their work.
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