Apartmentguide.com: 2018 Guide for Property Management Companies

Apartmentguide.com is a popular, property listing site that help renters search for their next place. Renters can see high definition photos and get quality information about rental properties, as well as read reviews from verified residents. Owned by Rentpath, one of the biggest apartment website conglomerates, Apartment Guide can be a powerful marketing channel. This guide will show you how to build a strong profile and manage reviews on Aparmentguide.com so that your property stands out and gets more business.

Why is Apartmentguide.com important?

In February of this year, Apartmentguide.com saw 1.8 million views from desktop users alone. But what makes that number meaningful is that fact that Rentpath touts that 81% of the calls generated from their sites are from real customers. These are high-quality leads that could be renting your property.

How to Get Listed on Apartment Guide

To create a listing on Apartmentguide.com, you WILL need to purchase one of their advertising options. But on the plus side, in the Apartmentguide.com interface, you’ll have the ability to track your leads and measure the ROI (like you should with any marketing spend).

To get started, complete this contact form with info about the property and your contact info. Rentpath will reach out afterwards. Once the account is set up, managers can start to build their listings. This is where the “fun” happens.

Building the Best Profile

Your properties deserve to shine, and your Apartment Guide profile is the place to do it. A profile that is rich with detail and description will not only be helpful to prospective residents but also enhance your SEO, giving your listing profile a higher ranking in search results. Here are the different areas of your profile:

Images. The property images are what the potential customers will look to first when eyeing your profile. These should be high-quality images that show all the key parts of the property. Make sure to show off the selling points!

Details. The detail section is a place you can provide a nice overview and highlight attractive benefits.

Contact. Make sure your phone numbers and email addresses listed here are accurate.

Units/Pricing. The units that are available, as well as the pricing for each unit, are listed here.

Specials. Property managers can run special promotions for their properties, creating a coupon with start and end dates.

Features. All the niceties of the property are listed here, including balcony access, appliances, etc. as well as community features such as laundry facility, fitness center, pets allowed, etc.

Terms/Policies. This page is made for all the terms and policies about the property including standard lease information, pet policies, custom lease terms, etc. Any information regarding payment terms, etc. should be placed here for customers to view.

Hours. Updated hours for the property are critical to the sale because you want to capture all potential leads. These should be updated for weather changes, holidays, etc.

Locations and Directions. Make sure that this information is accurate and up to date. No lost leads! If the apartment complex has more than one location, it should be specified.

Leads. This page features a contact form for customers to reach out. The form should ask for just enough information to qualify a lead without scaring them off by its lengthiness.

Once you have updated each of these sections and added high-quality images to your listing, you are ready to publish!

Managing Reviews on Apartmentguide.com

The listings are not complete without shining reviews from past customers. So, ask for them! Apartment Guide encourages using reviews to boost leads. You will want a lot of high-quality reviews to gain trust from potential customers. 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting or inquiring about a business. And 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Online review sites were not created with just restaurants and hotels in mind. They were created for businesses in any industry, including property management.

The Apartmentguide.com interface allows you to view your positive reviews against the negative reviews to see the overall health of your listing. It can drill down by each property that is managed and show the number of reviews that are yet to be replied to.

Examples of Good Responses to Reviews

Responding to reviews requires tact and levelheadedness, but if done right, it has tremendous benefits. Responding to a positive review shows that you are listening, which builds loyalty with your current residents and can win over future ones. Here’s an example of an effective response to a positive review from Apartmentguide.com:

Review: Seeing reviews where a landlord cares about his tenants and stuff makes me want to move here. You take the time and get things done. I can honestly say better than the landlords up here!! I am searching fo a place. When it comes the time of going to move o believe me this is where I want to be. *** Reply: Thank you for the compliments and for taking the time to write. The team at [redacted] works hard to provide excellent value and service to all our residents. Enhancing people’s quality of life at our apartmnet communities is something we take great pride in. Please feel free to bring any apartment-hunting friends to [redacted]. We have newly renovated apartments for your and amazing specials to offer.
In addition to expressing gratitude, the responder also uses this as a chance to market the property: “We have newly renovated apartments waiting for you and amazing specials to offer”. Very clever.

Responding to a negative review can be more challenging. First, you’ll want to assess if replying to the review is appropriate. Here’s a decision tree that shows you how to manage a bad review.

Once you have figured out the replying is the right action to take, reply quickly and with poise. Let’s look at this example and identify their winning practices:

Review: New owners but same concerns. When it snows, expect nothing. There’s no plowing, the sidewalks are not cleared, and concrete stairs have no traction. No ice melting applied, you’re on your own. I don’t even think they have a snow shovel! Bu they have plenty of excuses. I suggested they invest in a snow blower or even a plow. Too logical, I suspect. Another property more concerned with money than resident safety. *** Reply: Thanks for writing. Despite the fact that we were short handed during the State of Emergency, our team did put icemelt all over the community to prevent accidents. Plowing would have caused a sheet of ice, making it all the more dangerous, whereas the crunchy snow helped with traction. Please do contact the office with any further concerns. Thank you.

Watch your tone. The tone should be respectful, explaining your position without being defensive. You have the right to help others understand what happened, in this case the State of Emergency. But you do not want to antagonize the reviewer.

Personalize. If possible, the response should be personalized and not scripted. Simply adding a “contact us with your concerns” and a phone number is not the way to go. The responder in this case took the time to speak to the specific complaint.

Be transparent. You do not need too much detail, but some transparency shows that you are not hiding from the problem and open to discussion.

Show gratitude. It is best to thank the reviewer for the review, regardless of the outcome. It shows professionalism and class. But also, customer feedback can be hard to come by. A reviewer is providing you insight on ways you can improve. That is something to be grateful for.

Discuss off-line. At the end, give the reviewer a chance to discuss their concerns further but do it privately so that the dispute does not turn into a he said/she said scenario.

How to reply to reviews in Apartmentguide.com

When responding to a reviewer through Apartment Guide, the interface will provide high level stats and the reviews themselves:

Click “reply”, and you’l have the option of replying online or through email to the customer.

If you think it’s best to take the conversation offline immediately, then the email messaging option may be best. Of course, keep future customers in mind when it comes to the publicly posted response. Your words matter.

Is getting listed on Apartmentguide.com worth the investment?

Apartmentguide.com can be a helpful tool for property managers to promote their properties to prospective renters. Like any marketing campaign, you will want to measure the ROI and make sure your marketing budget is spent wisely.

Respond to reviews directly from Reputology or Hootsuite

In addition to aggregating your Google and Facebook reviews into one place, Reputology also lets you reply to reviews directly from our interface.  No more clicking in and out, from site to site.

Screenshot #1: Monitor reviews and track replies from Reputology.

Screenshot #2: Post replies to Facebook and Google reviews directly the dashboard.

Our review monitoring app for Hootsuite also lets Hootsuite users to respond to reviews directly from the Hootsuite dashboard.

Screenshot 3: Monitor reviews along with all of your social channels from Hootsuite.

Screenshot #4: Reply to reviews from Hootsuite.

If you’d like to learn more about how Reputology’s technology can help your organization monitor and reply to reviews, contact us.

Will Google Make Local Review Sites Obsolete?

According to a recent study by Brightlocal, Google is acquiring new reviews much faster than Yelp, Tripadvisor, Facebook and Foursquare.  And as of July 2017, businesses were receiving more than double the amount of new Google reviews they were just a year before.  

Since releasing Google Maps in 2005, the search engine behemoth has made inroads into the local review space.  But this data shows more than progress. Google seems to have hit an inflection point and is now blowing away the competition.  Could this be a sign that Google will make other local review sites extinct?

The answer depends on the unique drivers of its growth and the sustainability of those drivers.  The rise of Google reviews seems linked to 3 massive distribution channels: Google’s Android phones, Google Maps and Google Search.  According to the Pew Research Center, 77% of all Americans now own a smartphone. Google has been able to tap into mobile users with both their Android phones and dominant Google Maps.  So anytime a mobile user searches for or needs directions to a local business, they are looking at business profiles and reviews courtesy of the Google Maps app.

Furthermore, Google Maps has made a simple but important product enhancement: it can identify users’ recently searched for and visited locales and automatically trigger a prompt asking users to leave a review.

The prompt makes writing a review easy for consumers, and it allows Google to get a review from someone who might never have bothered to leave one.  This is a big difference from other review sites, which have been critiqued for only capturing the very positive or very negative experiences because of how much effort it takes someone to write a review: open and/or install a separate review site app, find the business, and write a review with enough detail that it will not be filtered.  Google, on the other hand, can capture a broader range of reviewers – less motivated but perhaps more reflective of the average consumer’s experience.

This last point touches on an additional benefit for Google: the prompt lets Google qualify authentic reviewers more easily than other review platforms.  Due to businesses trying to game their ratings, other review sites expend significant effort evaluating the legitimacy of reviews by analyzing the user’s behavior and content of the review comments.  Some of the filtering can be automated through AI and natural language processing technology. But since the state of the art is not where it needs to be, many review sites err on the side of caution and over-filter reviews, screening genuine ones alongside the fakes.  (Yelp, for example, screens 25% of their reviews).  Google, however, can qualify reviewers based on their search intent and GPS coordinates.

Finally, Google has their ubiquitous search engine, which in recent years has prioritized Google Maps and placed it at or near the top of their search results.  This means links to other review sites end up being pushed beneath Google Maps, further down the page, where they inevitably receive less traffic. When it comes to search, these sites are at the mercy of Google.

But incumbents do have their advantages which may not be easy to overcome.  User-generated content – comments and photos – tend to be much richer on other platforms and thus more helpful to other consumers.  At Reputology, an analysis on character length in the body of the review comment found that Google reviews are about 150 characters in length – the size of a Tweet.  In comparison, Facebook averages closer to 300 characters and TripAdvisor comes in at 450. (That’s roughly double and triple the number of characters, respectively).  In other words, visitors of those other websites get more information about what reviewers liked and disliked.

Another impediment to Google’s dominance may be their reliance on the Local Guides program, which has also helped drive new reviews.  The Local Guides program rewards members with perks in exchange for creating/editing content for businesses on Google Maps, and this includes leaving reviews.  Those incentives may make those users feel more warm and fuzzy when writing a review, which would create a bias that an un-incentivized reviewer would not have.  A lack in authenticity in reviews could compromise consumer trust in Google reviews.

Also, other review sites can be much more focused on being review sites, whereas Google has other initiatives: self-driving cars, virtual reality, drones, etc.  Google may not be as successful at providing consumers with high quality reviews simply because they have have other priorities.

Even within the review site industry, vertical specific sites for autodealers like Cars.com and Edmunds.com or healthcare like Vitals.com and Healthgrades.com exist because they can offer many more details and features to visitors than a general local search directory.  

Moreover, some industries have evolved alongside Google Maps rather than become obsolete, like travel and hospitality.  When you search for hotels on Google Maps, reviews sourced from Orbtiz and Expedia may populate the results.  

So even if Google gains poll position, it could partner with other players.  But if Google continues leveraging its large distribution channels & counters the advantages of its competitors, the search engine giant may just take all the traffic for itself.