7 min readWhy The Multifamily Industry Needs to Increase Online Engagement Now
If you’re a property manager, it’s likely you’re already using your online presence to capture new leads. You’re uploading new photos, offering lease incentives and making sure your ads are seen in all the right places. However, are you doing enough to not only attract visitors, but also engage them?
The multifamily industry often struggles to connect with customers on a deeper level, and this can have serious effects on a property’s bottom line.
Property managers interested in increasing both the number and the quality of their apartment rental leads, must focus on creating a memorable website that is worth exploring, not just browsing.
What Is Web Engagement?
Though web engagement may seem like an intangible buzzword, it can be both measured and defined. When an apartment seeker visits a property’s website for the first time, they are still in the research phase.
Though this can seem like the best time to just give the shopper every piece of information about your property, you need to engage the visitor. You can’t simply measure a visitor’s clicks and the length of time on your site, but must get them to share their information.
Katrina Greene, the Senior Property Manager of Sheehan Properties in Indianapolis; Columbus, Indiana; and Louisville, Kentucky; explained that at the end of the day, her site and online materials aim to capture information about the customer, and doesn’t just give them something to look at.
“The main metric we use to gauge our website’s engagement is lead conversion,” she says. “It’s not enough for someone to just look through a gallery and maybe call to book a tour; we need to be more proactive about collecting their information.
That’s why on our site, many features require the shopper to give us some kind of information as a barrier to entry. But that also means we need to offer them something engaging enough that it’s worth sharing their email or phone number to get in return.”
Passive Web Engagement Tools Leave Apartment Shoppers Cold
At its very core, online customer engagement starts with offering visitors quality interactions. These features must allow visitors to get a good sense of what life is like at your apartment building.
Traditionally, property managers seek to achieve this by sharing interior photos and floorplans on the site. For this reason, many websites now offer the same basic tools for apartment shoppers to use to research and explore. But, according to Greene, they don’t actually add up to better leads or more engaged renters.
“I think that what property managers are doing wrong is continuing to just sell the same product over and over again,” she explains. “It’s all the same thing. It’s selling four walls. Ultimately the finishes are different and the colors and layouts vary, but they’re still basically the same. The pictures and floor plans are very cold details to focus on” Greene says. “There needs to be a warmth and friendliness to the website that represents their new home.”
Active Multifamily Web Engagement Tools Bring Leads Home
As evidenced by Greene’s explanation, lead conversion and online engagement can’t be improved with content alone. Engagement is something much deeper than providing customers with relevant information about an apartment, or photos of the interior from every angle. Engagement means connecting with your leads on an emotional level, too.
Finding a new home is stressful for apartment seekers, and if they don’t feel welcomed, why would they share their information? Rather than revamping a site or blindly increasing your ad spend budget, improving online engagement means a radical rethinking of what a website experience should feel like.
In Greene’s mind, this means appealing to a prospective renter’s sensitive side and showing them what living with you really feels like.
“As an industry, I don’t think we’re utilizing the social aspect enough, or making sure that piece of the puzzle is integrated into our sites,” she says. “This means not just sharing customer reviews and experiences, but also injecting some real authenticity about who we are, how we treat our residents, and what the overall experience is like. Renters aren’t shopping for a product, but the lifestyle that product provides.”
So, how can a property manager stop selling the property as a product and start selling a property’s lifestyle? For experts like Greene, the answer comes in the form of smart and intuitive tools like those created and managed by PERQ.
“Renters aren’t shopping for a product, but the lifestyle that product provides.”
— Katrina Greene, Senior Property Manager, Sheehan Properties
For instance, PERQ offers an online tool that allows apartment shoppers to explore their interests in the surrounding neighborhood, satisfying their curiosity beyond the floorplan.
For companies managing several different multifamily properties like Greene’s, PERQ also develops in-depth quizzes that allow apartment hunters to learn which neighborhood and property is best for them, even from a distance.
Other tools like budgeting calculators provide leads a chance to factor in necessary costs like utilities and amenities like pet or add-on fees along with projected rent, to get an idea of a potential budget. Rather than call to make an appointment, a renter can also schedule a tour right on your website, picking the day and time that works best for them.
With PERQ-powered tools, a multifamily property website doesn’t just display a static listing; it creates a living scenario that’s rich with details and beauty. And, as Greene explains, it improves the bottom line with cold hard numbers. “With the addition of PERQ’s tools, we’ve been able to convert at much higher rates than we ever did before,” Greene says.
It’s no secret that today’s consumers are looking for more integrated, seamless digital experiences, and their shopping for an apartment home is no different.
It used to be enough that an apartment building had a website at all, but today, even small developments have something online. Multifamily properties can capture more of their local market through the web using unique web engagement tools that share the warmth, personality and polish your property has to offer above the rest.