Speakers: Ronn Ruiz and Martin Canchola
Martin: Welcome to The Multifamily Podcast with Ronn and Martin. I cannot believe it, Ronn but it’s 2024 is right around the corner and we will be saying goodbye to 2023. How are you feeling right now about going into the new year?
Ronn: Wow, well, hello. Could just chat with you. Welcome everybody. I cannot believe we say this every year, right? Even all of us say it, like you know, can’t believe the holidays are here. The year end is here. 2023 was pretty wildI think. I don’t know, I mean, you know we are celebrating our 10th year. So for us there were some milestones going on. I think we’re all looking forward to the new year. And definitely trying to wrap up 2023 with a bang.
Martin: Yeah, totally. I mean, I feel like you know, 10 years, that’s a big deal, right? 10 years in business. You remember, in 2013 when we first set up shop in Long Beach, we were in our co working spot and just how far we’ve come from that very day.
Ronn: Yeah, actually 2013, we were in the loft of my house.
Martin: Oh, yes.
Ronn: Definitely. Yeah, we started smaller than that. Yeah, humble beginnings. But now to your point. I am very honored and proud that we have, you know, been a young startup, scrappy, self funded, made it to 10 years, that’s a huge milestone for any business. Digital marketing multifamily, y know, they proven to serve as well. And I think, much like other economic upticks and downturns, I think multifamily always shows to be strong. So we very much appreciate all of our business partners out there across the country, for helping us get through the 10 year mark. So super excited about that.
Martin: Totally. So let’s get into some of the major milestones and initiatives in 2023. Shall we? I will say the first and foremost one is developing our first self service platform ads manager, which is a Google Ads search builder for apartments. So Ronn, what would you say inspired us to get this project up and running?
Ronn: Well, obviously we are Google premier partner as you know, and many do know that out there we’ve been a partner since for about like, oh my god, I mean, a partner in general for like 9 of our 10 year existence and a premier partner for our 7 of our 10 year existence. And through that we recognize just obviously the power of digital ads obviously in and around any business model. We have always been in and came out of the woodwork as a full service agency. And I realized the need when we started utilizing AI, oh my god, what like 2019, 2020. But most people I know we’re talking all about and that’s a buzzword now. And it’s funny because we’ve been utilizing it behind the scenes for many years now. And so when I saw that, I saw the efficiency that our team was getting, I saw how many man hours we were saving, you know, the bandwidth we opened up just internally on having our smart ads utilized within our campaign management team. I said, you know, this could be great for the end user. You know, there were clients that wanted to do it alone. There’s a few competitors out there, but you know who better than in my opinion than a digital ads platform, a company that does full service solutions that does this day in and day out, to build a software as a service and sell it to companies that would not meet or don’t use or don’t have a need for a full service agency. They have, you know, maybe the marketing teams and the bandwidth themselves, the knowledge. So it was so important for us to do it. We started during what I called our downtime, which was COVID-19. So we worked with our development team and built it and got this ready to go.
Martin: I mean, just taking the best of what we know and been doing as apartment marketer for the last decade and putting it into an easy to use software platform that really any apartment marketer could just kind of dive into, without even knowing the ins and outs of building a Google ads campaign, can plug in some basic information of their community and be up and running within the hour really. So it is a pretty big breakthrough. And I’d say the next one, the next major milestone kind of ties in to Adz Manager and us developing more in house self service platforms, because of our actual application integration with Yardi. So you want to dig into that a little bit.
Ronn: For sure. Yeah, I mean, we’ve always had some form of integration partners out there. And definitely know that, you know, we want to get deeper in and have more capabilities. So we’re working with our partners, yeah already that’s already a done deal, working on the rest, hereafter, actively as we speak. So, that will be next if we can speak to. The benefit of that, as you know is we wouldn’t be able to utilize the real time availability like we do currently already. But we are building a system where we could have what we’re doubling it as called Smart ads. So being able to have real time ads based on your real time availability. So it’ll be able to scale your growth, it’ll be able to save money, will let the business intelligence do the work for all of us, right our teams as well as their needs out there. So we’re really excited about that. And that is coming very, very soon.
Martin: Yep, Yardi and also we have some other integration partners coming on the horizon as well. So we’re very excited for 2024 and all the new partnerships coming up. Our recent one that we just actually inked up is the LCP media. You know, with them really pushing their 360 tours, the digital assets. Now, they have a way to actually turn their virtual tours into little short form vertical videos that we can actually use and Performance Max, which is a rich media campaign type that uses Search, Display, YouTube, Gmail, and Google Maps all in one. Same thing with demand generation, a very YouTube focused campaign. We’re able to use LCP media assets to actually bring into our campaign. So that was another, we’ve been working with them forever and just referring clients to them because of just the services that they offer. LC media is just a powerhouse in the kind of content they can create. So we’re just happy to now be able to actually bring that into our campaigns for the clients that we have mutually.
Ronn: Probably it’s a game changer. I mean, we’ve always been obviously that media partner out there, but just let’s be honest, content is king and we want beautiful looking content. And so yeah, it’s a perfect marriage, right? It’s everything that we do and they do and it’s just combining it. So they’re fun to work with. So you’ll see us more on the conference circuit moving forward.
Martin: Yeah, we’re definitely some fun stuff ahead there. And so, I say overall, though, moving on to like actual initiatives and strategies we’re definitely focusing on this year into next year. Generative AI focused SEO strategies. EEAT, which as you know, is now, it used to be EAT, which was expertise, authority and trust. Now it’s EEAT, so it’s all about experience, expertise, authority and trust. So, how do we show that our communities and these residents are having experiences that have pretty much come in through with reviews, right, so the more Google Map reviews we can get on a community with a positive sentiment, the more we see them kind of grow positively in the rankings as well. I’m also becoming more of a publisher. So the communities need to become publishers, whether it’s on Google posts, LinkedIn blog, publishing on their own blog and website and creating content about the community and becoming the expert in the local area, is going to be a big win for those willing to take the extra manpower and actually put that together. Put together the contents of the videos to make that impact. Another big initiative that I think everyone has seen is the rise of Bing and chat GBT. With Google obviously is always going to be as of right now the King Kong of search, getting you the most of your community’s traffic, but when reviewing like performance reports for clients, we’re seeing Bing rise up as a top source of traffic, we’re talking top three, top five, even if it’s still only 10% to 20% of extra traffic, is still 10% to 20% of extra traffic that you could be getting. And from what I’m seeing in the data, the time on site, the engagement rate on how many pages are viewing through. So all those major metrics we look for for positive engagement, Bing is actually kind of surpassing Google. So even though it’s a lesser amount of traffic you’re getting from them. The quality is actually getting way better. I remember kind of were first talking Bing in 2013, that wasn’t a major conversation, the quality and traffic was not there. So now we’re looking at you know, Bing organic SEO strategies, as well as also looking more into Bing Ads for our clients in the future because we see with chat GBT, more users becoming, just getting more familiar with the Bing conversational search engine and actually utilizing that more. I see even people like me who are pretty savvy, I’m using Google and Bing and they both serve their purpose now. So, I have both open and I’m utilizing them more and more. So, I think I can’t be the only one doing that. There’s got to be other people out there using Bing. The amount of users is just constantly growing and it’s something we want to keep tabs on moving into 2024. Next is actually a premier, being a premier Google partner. The biggest AI powered Google Ads campaigns are really at the forefront now. So pushing Performance Max, where I mentioned that, where it’s like five campaigns rolled into one, Search, Display, Gmail, YouTube, so being able to maximize and get complimentary traffic on top of your other search and display campaigns. And also if you have a lot of rich video demand gen where that takes advantage of YouTube, being shown within the results, short form videos as well. You know, that’s going to be a big push for us. And I’d say last but not least, is the overall enhanced reporting and attribution with some AI features for being able to look at your performance report, and being able to pull out recommendations from it, and even maybe being able to actually create a video, AI video generated video from the actual performance report itself. So if you just want to have a quick synopsis on what’s going on, you’re able to actually check that out. And at your leisure whenever you can.
Ronn: Yeah, those are all huge. Definitely, love and appreciate that you shared what we are up to and what the role of digital marketing is. But how about, this is my favorite part of when we do a year and recap is, for some of our audience, what are things that they can keep an eye on moving into the new year?
Martin: I see one of the biggest things right now is the battle of the AI search engines will continue with Google. Google, obviously they have borrowed, they have a newer version of their AI that was recently released that is supposed to contend with chat GBT. So right now we’re just keeping close tabs and pulling up different searches for apartments and how they’re going to be looking in Google, how they’re gonna be looking in being chat GBT and just keeping a close eye on the generative results that we’re able to kind of see and quantify. But just know, if you do have access to some of these like Google’s generative search engine, only certain people have access to it. So if you do or if you get it later, that you realize they’re always going to be changing, right now the AI search engine for Google is in constant beta. So the UI is constantly fluctuating and changing. So something to be mindful of, but we’re going to be bringing a lot of examples of common apartment searches and different things people would probably look for. So we can see, you know, whether it’s informational, transactional, or discovery that we want to just see the different types of searches and be able to kind of show our clients what that could look like. And kind of think of strategies on how we can make sure to be placed in there because you’re still going to have Google Map results. They’re still going to be tied to your reputation sentiment. So all of that is still gonna tie together on top of like your actual, overall authority, how much are you publishing? And so something to be mindful of, but I think you have to have a being strategy, you have to have a multi SEO platform, and you got to be in YouTube because even though TikTok and Instagram are all the rage, when you look at actual videos ranking in Google, or in discovery, which is Google’s new app, you’re gonna find 98% of them are YouTube. So if you don’t have a YouTube strategy, there’s a very big missed opportunity where I just think all multifamily is kind of sleeping on YouTube still.
Ronn: I think so too, a totally big opportunity.
Martin: So, the next is…
Ronn: This is actually every year we say this.
Martin: Yeah, yeah, it’s been growing. Yes. And the opportunity is still there. Yeah.
Ronn: It’s partners like LCP, it helps you.
Martin: Totally. The next one was actually very controversial. It came up, my friend Joy in the SEO space. She kind of found this out. So keep an eye on local Google SERPs for apartments around opened and closed hours because some mainly service businesses from what they’re saying, depending on your opening and closed hours. If you’re open, and somebody searches for that service, then you usually have pretty good placement. And then if for whatever reason you had placement, but your hours were closed when that person searched, that your Google ranking would go away during that time. And so this is mainly for a lot of service industries, as of right now for our like actual apartment clients. As of right now, there’s no major fluctuations and ranking based on that, but I’m going to continue to kind of do testing and running the ranking reports at different you know, basically hours where the apartment wouldn’t technically be open. And then kind of getting a full spectrum and making sure that we’re in the clear there, but she did get a little feedback from a Google search liaison on the topic. And this is what they said. The team tells me we’ve long used openness, which is ours open as part of our local ranking systems, and it recently became a stronger signal for non navigational queries. This might change in various ways as we continue to evaluate the usefulness of it, however. So, they’re saying it’s here now but it might change later, depending on how the users are, you know, if it makes for a better user experience or a worse one, right? So just because they’re not open wrong, doesn’t mean they’re not the best choice, right, and kind of make an appointment.
Ronn: And it could lean on the side of like more of, it’s more for the user than clearly for the business operator. Right.
Ronn: We want to make sure, especially during the holidays, that we keep our hours up to date.
Martin: Yes, totally. And it doesn’t mean go switch your hours for your apartment to 24 hours because that little trick doesn’t work. So just FYI, they do not do that.
Ronn: Full disclosure.
Martin: Probably the last one I say again, just tying it all together with more video, creating more rich media experiences, whether it’s actual video testimonials, maybe you heard of a new community manager. You know, there’s so many opportunities to showcase a specific floor plan, a specific amenity or feature and YouTube shorts and more vertical video is where you’re going to want to be because there’s less competing results for these types of content. Whereas right now with the rise of chat GBT AI created content, there’s going to be so much regurgitated content on the web, that it’s just going to, it’s not going to set the bar really high for actual content strategy. So if you want to set yourself apart in the SERPs and Google search results pages, you’re going to want to have a short form video strategy, because that’s the only way really, you’re going to be able to get that extra umph and extra traffic. And if you do a good strategy with YouTube shorts, you can get more traffic back to your websites when you link back to the shorts to your actual main page or apply now. Whatever it may be, there’s tons of opportunity there again, with YouTube shorts.
Ronn: That’s some great insight. So, let’s get into some multifamily related news. Thanks for sharing that. By the way, I always love to recap. So obviously, this is a big topic, right? So some of the biggest news is around interest rates. That’s a nasty word, but it’s starting to go down is what they’re saying. And obviously, the feds are looking to make some adjustments. Let’s hope. As we know, currently hovering around 7% coming from 8%, can you believe that. When I talked to my parents about theirs they said, that’s nothing, like in their lifetime, you know, we were all spoiled in our generations to have bought homes and stuff at a very, like almost free money, right? We missed those days.
Martin: Then it was like 10% or 15% something. Ridiculous. Yeah.
Ronn: My parents bought a home in the eighties, like I want to say 80 or 81 and it was in the teens and they had enough money to assume the person’s loan they were buying. So, they got a better favor or rate than what was out there at the time. But yeah, it was in the teens. So a percent were crying about and yeah, money is not cheap anymore, but it’s going down and so that’s a good thing. But what I always say and the reason why we want to talk about the real estate market overall, like you know, home buying percentage is because clearly it works in concert with and in favor or against the rental housing market. And so the one thing that we’re identifying according to Yahoo Finance, is that inflation truly is still alive and well, obviously, it’s, we’re working on that. But the number one component to inflation is still rent and almost at 7%there. What I do know also from talking with our operators and just you know, keeping an eye obviously on the market overall is that, you know, there is some reduction in rents in some markets, concessions are coming up, we see them again. We also have the ability of seeing, you know, where they’re not going to have as big of a rent growth in the new year. I, as you know, Martin, I’m an investor as well and I’ve for over 12 months we’ve been getting, we’ve been being told that this is the writing on the wall, we still saw some gains, you know, in as investors. So while rents may not be going up the way they were, we were so spoiled with getting those 10 plus percent rent increases there. I think what I’ve known about multifamily for the decades that I’ve been in it is that we will be fine. So I’m telling you guys that right now and for those that need to know, it may be bumpy, we may not see the gains, again, much like the interest rates we’re gonna cry all about it. But multifamily is very resilient. Because of those interest rates people may not and are not buying homes and are not moving. So they’re going to be renting if they need to make a move for the same reasons. Some people are lifetime renters. Obviously, some people are changing jobs, relocation, all of the above. So the rental market is here to stay and it’s gonna stay strong.
Martin: Yeah, I actually pulled a quote from a guy I follow. His name is Grant Cordon and he’s actually a real estate multifamily investor. He’s really big on just multifamily and really pushing it, you know, as like a non, like really the main best way to build wealth over a lifetime, just always pushing multifamily but he said the Fed will make more renters in this country in the next two years than it has in the last 50 because mortgage applications are at all time lows, Cordon says. What do you think of that comment?
Ronn: I mean, exactly that, what I said earlier, I think that you know, multifamily, when markets go down, or the markets have gotten crazy, I remember the 2008 financial crisis. I remember 911, like that was a rough time.
Martin: I mean, COVID crisis, yeah.
Ronn: Right. We definitely still saw strengths. I mean when people were losing their home and had to walk away from their homes and oh hey, you know, some people had to shack up share and maybe some people went from a one bedroom to a two bedroom. So there was still movement, even during COVID I think we proved to ourselves. I remember in the first couple of weeks of COVID, clients were saying we need to stop advertising because nobody’s renting and then within less than two weeks they are calling like we need more traffic, like people are renting but we need more. So I think that is a very true statement. I mean, when mortgage applications are lower, people still have their natural life changes that are going on, right. I mentioned earlier like, you know, jobs, relocation, marriages, divorces, whatever it is, new babies, you know, increase, school, all the above. So we are going to be good, but let’s buckle up.
Martin: I mean, that’s pretty much the main topics we want to discuss today. So Ronn, if you have any final comments before we wrap up the show.
Ronn: No, I mean, this is always fun. I appreciate us doing the podcast. It was nice to have, you know, we always talk back and forth about our next guests and our next guest and I personally always love the year end recap. I definitely want to say a shout out to all of our listeners out there that happens to be our active upon SEO clients. Thank you so much for an amazing year, another great year, a partnership. I promise you that we are continuing to double down on our tech efforts, our growth as an organization, our development overall and just what makes us, you know, we had, what makes us the best of breed digital marketing agency. What is an assurance my team knows that we’ve had several senior team events this year and I said what will the next 10 years look like? And so, be assured we have a long laundry list of items on there that we are going to be working on. We already are. We’re deploying immediately in the new year and are going to continue that. So, thank you for your partnership. For those that don’t work with us currently, you might want to. That’s all I want to say.
Ronn: Everybody have a safe holiday.
Martin: Totally. And a shout out also to the whole apartmentSEO team. Without all y’all you know wouldn’t be possible. I know we have some definitely listening in. I hope so. Right? No, definitely 2023 was an amazing year. Ten years, who would have thought Ronn? We did it.
Ronn: Started with the two of us and now we have over 70 Associates around the country. And beyond. And we definitely… Yeah, thank you to the team.
Martin: So many good things come in, 2024 so be on the lookout folks. Again, that’s it for 2023, we hope everyone has a safe and prosperous new year moving into 2024. We look forward to our next podcast guests joining us on the show and the exciting topics we will be discussing in the upcoming year. So make sure to subscribe to The Multifamily Podcast at MultifamilyPodcast.com and get your free marketing analysis and reputation report card at ApartmentSEO.com. Until next time, bye everyone.