Out to Put a Dent in the Multifamily Universe

MonitorHits

I have a special guest post for you today. It’s on the topic of tracking and more specifically on the tracking Craigslist posts.

It comes to us from Ryan Brockschmitt who spends many of his daytime hours at The Laurel. A downtown St. Louis property that is managed by Mills Properties. Now, I could give you a line or two on Ryan but I think he does a much better job himself:

Ryan is still trying to find his place in life. He went to the University of Missouri-Columbia for journalism like everyone goes to Mizzou for. That journalism passion somehow turned into a Hotel & Restaurant Management degree and five years in the hotel industry. After finding it hard to make a living as a pizza delivery driver, he is trying to find his place in the world of multi-family housing. Ryan runs iLoveSoulard and Welcome2STL in his spare time and can usually be found in Soulard living the high life. He asks that any single ladies who frequently wear sundresses and cowboy boots and happen to read something he has written email him at their convenience.

 

If there are two things I don’t understand, it’s apartment marketing and dating.

Since this isn’t a dating site, we’ll look at an aspect of apartment marketing. From what I understand and can gather from my brief time in the apartment industry, most companies want multiple posts a day on Craigslist about their apartments. I’ll hold my personal feelings on that back because I enjoy my job and want to keep it.

Ideally, you want someone to read your post and think “I need that”. But how do you make that happen? I don’t think there is a magic pill in apartment marketing. When I was in the hotel industry, I never really had to think of marketing the product. You put your prices in to all of the channels and the people just magically show up. As long as you make sure the people writing reviews are happy, people will keep coming. And really, even if the “Yelp Elites” aren’t always happy, the Priceline and Hotwire folks will continue to show up.

The commitment to stay in a hotel is a lot less than it is to sign a lease on an apartment.

There are plenty of things you could read online and try to emulate, but do you really want to just believe that their market is the same as yours? Circling back to the dating reference, I equate this with sitting at a wedding hearing the bride and groom talk about how they were “so in love” since the day they met and knew they were going to marry each other. If you then go out into the dating world and really think that you are going to meet someone and it will be all rainbows and unicorns for the rest of your life, you are going to be disappointed. You have to live in reality and realize that maybe the people writing that post about what to do and what not to do may be looking at a different market than you.

I wanted a way to track my Craigslist posts and figure out what got people to click on posts and what days/times seemed to get the most views. I ran across MonitorHits.com. It’s a simpleMonitorhits.com script that puts an image in your post that is embedded with a tracking code. From the website, you can track your hits by day/time and by the location of the IP addresses.

I interviewed the guy behind the code, Nick Mote, via electronic correspondence.

How long did it take you to develop the MonitorHits code?

The initial site was coded and launched during a three day weekend last November (2011). I work full time and have continued working on the website on my spare time.

How did you use the code for your own posts?

At the time me and my wife (girl friend at the time) were strapped for cash and needed to sell some things on Craigslist. I started selling electronics including my Kinect, Ipod, Digital Camera, and an old laptop. I really enjoyed getting real time feedback on my listings and soon noticed that this website could be a valuable tool for power users such as car dealers and real estate agents.
How many hits were you seeing on them?
I lived in a small town, Yakima Washington, for the past couple years. The traffic my personal items generated was puny. I think my old Galant received the most views with around 700 hits a week.
What did you learn from using the hits on your own posts?
I really learned the power of being on the top of the list. I wrote a small article on my blog called “the Craigslist Drop-off Effect” describing the importance of re-posting after the 48 hour spam filter. I also learned how large the Craigslist audience was and how few people actually translate to potential buyers.
Have you done any experiments using the stats that you have gathered from users on the site?
I have not. I plan on publishing some overall trend data gathered from Craigslist. I plan on having general user information such as posting time vs. posting traffic and move into more Metro data as the user base continues to grow.
How many codes have been used?
I estimate we have had over 10,000 unique codes that have been active on Craigslist.
How many different people have created accounts on the site?

As of this morning we are at 336 registered users.

What percentage of people have used the premium codes?

In the last 30 days premium codes represented 39% of all active tracking codes.
What is your background? Location? Education? Other Projects?
Me and my wife are newly weds and live in Spokane Washington. I have a Bachelors in Business Administration Specializing in Marketing Management from CWU and am the Assistant Marketing Manager for Tree Top, inc. I’ve been dabbling in app development and hope to launch my first app later this month.
Where do you want to take this site? New features?
I have some new features in the works that I think will really benefit the real estate and car dealer power users. I plan on incorporating an api where users can dynamically incorporate tracking codes into their template software later this year. I also plan on expanding the site past Craigslist to other platforms such as Ebay, Backpage, Facebook, forums, and email tracking.
What’s in your future?
I plan on further developing my professional marketing experience with the goal of opening my own company that pioneers and markets new digital services and products.

 

About Mike Brewer

Out to put a dent in the multifamily universe. Love compelling conversation...

  • http://www.millsapartments.net/neighborhoods Jessica

    Sounds like a useful tool. Have you been using it Ryan? If so, have you noticed any effective trends that have been working for you?

  • RyanAlan

    I have been using it. Once I use it more, I think I will do a follow up post. I am surprised that posts I did a week or more ago are still getting hits. It also helps to renew old posts. The ones around the $900-1000 range are getting a good number of hits, but the higher priced ones are also getting hits. As Nick mentioned, it’s rough to see how few of the hits actually translate into people following through.

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