In this age of click-happy shopping, your first interaction with a new tenant will almost certainly begin online, while they’re sitting on the couch in the apartment they don’t love, wondering what else is out there. A property website, like a perfect leasing agent, must provide visitors with tempered guidance in making this huge decision.
To gain some perspective on the subject, we chatted with PERQ client Katrina Greene, regional property manager with Sheehan Property Management. Here’s a rundown of why your site should act like your best, yet most subtle leasing agent.
Property Websites Should Form a First Impression
It’s unlikely you’ll get walk-ins from off the street who are simply curious about making a huge renting decision, so you should assume most interested parties have already scoped out your digs online. In many ways, the initial visit to the property website will act as a potential resident’s first – and sometimes only – experience with your apartment complex.
“It starts with the aesthetic,” Greene says. “There’s an image we need to portray for the customer base and rent structure. You want to walk in the door and see someone that’s really polished. On the website, a person’s not there to do so, so it all has to look really clean.” Much like a realtor or leasing agent, your site should reflect a warm, personal and pleasing aesthetic, one that makes people feel, well, at home and confident.
Though an agent may be able to reflect this through a nice suit, or a perfectly placed plate of pastries, a website doesn’t have such advantages. In order to communicate this sense of style, you’ll need to consider the content and design of your page.
“We do have flash and pop-ups, but it’s not in their face. Everything we do is geared around the environment and culture, using the same language our agents would,” Greene says.
Apartment Websites Must Give Essential Information
There are some essential bits of information you’ll need to include on your property site. If a potential tenant is unable to locate basic information, or has to undergo a frustrating process to retrieve it, they’ll head to another site.
Photography and floor plans, it seems, still reign in the property website kingdom. That being said, Greene stresses that these pieces of information act best as a lure for something more concrete.
“It’s clear that photos are what they’re looking for – that’s how they peek inside,” Greene says. “The demographic has actually been more people coming from outside of our city, and leasing without the ability to see the apartment. It’s almost always the photos and floor plans, but every site has that. The conversion comes from having them set an appointment online with us. From the analytical point, the Schedule a Tour button is huge for us. It’s just a button, but it’s so easy and brings the experience to them.”
“The Schedule a Tour button is huge for us. It’s just a button, but it’s so easy and brings the experience to them.”
It’s all about starting that conversation online without a potential renter ever having to talk to a leasing agent. Answering their questions through interactive experiences, like getting them to determine what floor plan is best for them, helps them narrow their selection. Renters are likely to remember helpful websites that have already anticipated what they need to know and aren’t overwhelming them with information.
Property Websites Can Pique Interest
In fact, there’s also a good chance they’ve visited several property sites, so the key is to find some way to stand out from the pack. There’s always traditional routes of promoting your content with dollars, but even these paid ads can easily be lost in the white noise. Though they have a heavy presence on social media, Greene says Sheehan Property Management has benefited most from having a distinct website for each property they manage.
“It’s the first place where each multifamily property asserts an identity of its own,” Greene says. “That’s where a prospect starts to get the feel for the building’s culture for the first time, because it’s our own. Unlike social media, the format is our own, too.”
Your site has a huge amount of potential, and can be utilized in many different ways. The most important one is to engage with the customer and keep them clicking.
“Sure, we’re on Snapchat and Instagram, but if [a prospective resident] has been on the site they’re identifying very specific things and moving their own way down the funnel,” Greene says. “That journey keeps them engaged, so they’re on the site longer.”
For example, it’s easy to help prospective renters determine if they pre-qualify to live in your apartment complex through a call to action (CTA) button or banner on your website that asks: Do you Pre-Qualify? Once visitors click the button, they’ll receive a series of questions through an interactive experience and their results or a note that says an agent will be contacting them soon.
Though your multifamily property website may seem like a simple necessity you want to set and forget, it makes the first impression on potential renters and can help you capture leads and increase your occupancy numbers. By thinking critically about the site’s aesthetic, interactive features and design, you could easily unlock the power of the page, as well as transform your site into your company’s best leasing agent.