The world seemed to deal with aftershocks from the technology earthquake of the 21st century when COVID-19 happened in early 2020. The modern consumer began demanding a complete shift to digital in both their business and personal life in order to stay fully connected and informed. The general public has now come to expect businesses to be fully online asking more of businesses in their online resources with a (to no surprise) lower tolerance for anything less.
It sounds harsh, but in reality, consumers have changed and they know what they want and where to find it online. If you’re not online, to many, it might be as if your business doesn’t exist. But even if you are online, you have another hurdle. Because of the Internet and the massive zoo that is online content, it’s difficult to know where and how to get in front of consumers. Not only just consumers but the right consumers need to be able to easily find your property’s website or they might never bother to find your business at all (remember the low tolerance?)
SEO, Paid Ads, and An Active Website… Oh my!
The trifecta of an online presence includes: SEO (search engine optimization), paid ads and an active website. These three initiatives should drive people to your website if they aren’t already visiting. Here’s a short guide to getting these three things where they need to be:
SEO – We’ll get into the active website, but if your website is being updated regularly with fresh content, you can easily figure out the keywords that your prospects are searching for. Neil Patel has a great tool for SEO beginners. Go from a free to inexpensive plan and gauge traffic for keyword searches and percentage possibilities of rankings on page 1 of Google.
Paid Ads – List your active units and properties in paid ads, whether on social media or Google. Start with a small amount of money and test out different copy and images. See where traffic engages the most and put a little more money toward it. Repeat several times. Always test ads as much as possible by figuring out what the market wants to see once your ad is in front of them.
Active Website – The word “active” is key here. Uploading regular resources signals to Google that your site is putting fresh content out for consumers – and Google rewards that by bumping you to higher pages on their search engine. That content, whether it be blogs, announcements, or general unit information, should include SEO keywords that your prospective renters are searching for so that links to your site are returned in their search results.
The entire point is: make it easy for the consumer to find you. The easier it is for them, the more likely they are to give your brand and website a chance to earn their business. If you don’t have the internal resources or capabilities to help you with these initiatives, you can outsource to an expert to get the process started. Now that you have an approach for driving traffic to your website, let’s talk about what they want to see once they arrive.
What are future residents looking for on your website?
In writing school, they teach you “show, don’t tell.” What it really means is let the reader figure out some things on their own – don’t write every detail for them. This is the same for your property’s website. You still need to provide some detail, but your website is the beginning of a customer experience and that’s why it’s important not to overwhelm them.
A website with nothing but copy and words will quickly motivate a user to bounce, even if the words on the website feel important. Focus on your target market and understanding who they are and what they care about. They’re looking for a future home, so typically any consumer wants to eventually see units, photos of the property, and maybe information on amenities and pricing. However, starting with your home page, you still have to convince them to travel to other parts of the site.
Typically, your properties’ home pages will be more image-heavy than information-heavy. It should give a visual expectation of their future experience living at your property. Video and photos are a great way to do this and can be a great opportunity to call out important and high interest areas of the site. Putting a CTA (call-to-action) button or a headline about a new promotion the property is running near these eye-catching images and videos is what’s going to keep them interested.
What does their future home look like?
As they are checking out units and amenities, it’s important to note that you still have the opportunity to give them all the information they need without writing it all out in words. Your property’s website visitors are more likely to convert when they get as much information as they can online, before they commit to touring in-person. We suggest providing this information visually in three ways:
Prospects who complete self-guided tours online are 54% more likely to convert into an in-person tour. Giving your prospects the chance to see the landscape tells them exactly what they will experience if they make it their new home. When the prospect does tour in-person, they are not caught by surprise and often have higher intent to lease.
If this is their future home, visitors are going to want to see what’s beyond the gates of the apartment community. Interactive neighborhood maps are another way to create transparency with online researchers as they can get a sense for their apartment’s surroundings including schools, shopping centers, and even the distance to the highway.
Interactive and Unit-specific floor plans
Many properties upload a single interactive floor plan for each type of unit (studio, 1B1B, 2B1B, and so on). But probably the layout of each unit type varies depending on where it is located. More often than not, prospects are surprised when they tour in-person and see the available unit looks completely backwards or different than what they saw virtually. If they’re already picturing themselves in a unit and you change that picture, it can create friction for them as a prospective resident.
We advise you let them see it all. Give unit-specific floor plans that are interactive and can not only show what the exact available unit will look like, but where it’s located on the property. Believe it or not, another point of friction for prospects is around location of the unit. When they realize their potential apartment is far away from their parking spot and they try imagining carrying groceries back and forth, they can quickly lose interest. There can be other reasons like being close to the elevator or trash chute or even for a nice view, a customer might be led astray when they don’t get the full picture beforehand. The more a prospective resident knows in advance before touring, the more the in-person visit will reinforce the personal connection they have to your property that drove them to visit in the first place!
If you aren’t reaching your prospective residents online or aren’t catering to their pre-visit information needs, you’re making it harder than it needs to be to generate and convert leads. Interested in getting your property website to its full potential? Book a demo with us to see how we support property management companies with their websites here.