If you’re reading this, then it’s likely that you own or manage a building or property with apartments to rent. You know that finding a tenant is about more than just putting out the word and hoping for the best. More often than not, tenants are going to be doing their due diligence before they sign a lease on any given space. This includes browsing online listings for hours on end until they find something that looks like it could work for them. If your listing isn’t listed on the first page of Google search results, then chances are good that nobody will ever see it!
As more millennials enter the workforce, they’re looking for high quality living spaces at affordable prices – but these two things don’t often come together. Since this group is willing to spend less time commuting than any previous generation, many are opting to live closer to city centers where rents are higher. This means that apartment websites need to offer features like interactive floor plans and 360° virtual tours that highlight the features of your apartments and to help justify these higher prices to potential renters.
Our goal in this post is to cover the lesser-known must-haves for your apartment websites to perform well in the years to come. We will continue to add to this post, so please check back for more important multifamily website strategies. Let’s start with the first thing you are going to encounter when visiting a website.
Let me repeat that. Your apartment’s website must load fast. I can’t stress this enough.
How long would you be willing to wait for this?
With most users visiting websites now from a mobile device, and all other content just a tap away, every millisecond counts toward making an impression on a renter.
Beyond potentially losing someone’s interest while they wait for your website to load. Imagery and frameworks that are not optimized for mobile, have a real cost for your end user as they have to use more data to download your website.
Wondering if your website speed is fast enough? We recommend plugging your website into Google’s PageSpeed Insights to see how you are doing. Now, getting the lowest load times possible is not the goal by itself, but should be balanced with your other marketing goals (i.e. Perhaps displaying more media may increase your page size, but it could serve to do a better job of qualifying potential renters and improving your conversions). These decision should be made as a part of your SEO strategy.
As technology continues to evolve, the need for businesses to be mobile friendly grows as well. It’s no longer enough for your business to have an online presence; it needs to be accessible on any device at anytime. A recent study by Emarketer found that “the average time spent with mobile increased by 31 minutes in 2020 to reach 4 hours and 16 minutes for US adults—and the gains are sticky.” This means people are constantly searching for information and browsing products or services on their phones, so it’s important that your business can compete in this market space with ease.
While a mobile-responsive apartment website is a must today. It’s important to optimize your site for mobile devices because it impacts how many people are visiting your site, what they think of the site’s design, and whether they are making purchases or signing up on the website. Mobile-first design is what you should be focused on, as this will make sure that everything is built for your primary user on mobile, but also optimized for all possible screens. Not sure what mobile-first design means, here’s a nice overview from BrowserStack.
The first step is assessing how well your current site works on mobile devices. Rather than assigning this out, or requesting that your developer accommodate these changes, we highly HIGHLY recommend that you simply pick up your phone and try to pretend being a renter on your own website. This should not be a simple checkbox on your marketing checklist. Take the time and make sure you can find what you want to easily on your site. Ask yourself is this really how I want renters to see our property?
As you are practicing this, please keep in mind, you know what you are looking for! Prospective renters do not know how you have laid out your site, where your navigation is, and or how to find the information they want. This brings us to our next point.
In 2022, your web presence simply must be aesthetically pleasing and be extremely intuitive to navigate. Your website template from 2015 just isn’t going to cut it anymore today. Users decide whether they like your apartment website in as little as 50 milliseconds, so it NEEDS to look amazing. You are trying to impress incoming renters, are you not?! Are you sure you want to fill their screen with popups and chatbots? If you are, you should have a very good reason.
Not only does your website need to look great on mobile, but your site needs to stand out. People are bombarded daily on their phone with notifications and apps trying to pull their attention. In fact, “people tapped, swiped and clicked a whopping 2,617 times each day, on average” according to a report by the research platform, Dscout. You need to find a way not only to stand out in this noise, but to capture the attention of your renters.
The user experience you provide on your website is the first impression potential renters are going to have of your property, it deserve the utmost attention to detail. Your goal today should be for as flawless of an experience as possible. From filling out an initial contact form to completing the online leasing process and the move-in, all of your branding, communication and user experience, should be clean, personalized and consistent!
Nothing could be more frustrating as a prospective renter than to find the apartment you want to rent, only to start the application process or even just set up a tour and find out that the apartment is no longer available. Renters expect your website to be up-to-date with available inventory and real-time pricing.
You wouldn’t want someone to find an apartment on your website and then go submit their lead information via Zillow or apartments.com because that’s where they went to check availability, would you?
This is easily accomplished today, whether through a website provided by your property management software, or better yet, with a website that integrates with your management software, but provides an even better user experience.
Beyond creating and meeting the expectations of your target audience, there is the very valuable added bonus of how real-time inventory and pricing can improve your turnover costs. When a notice to vacate a unit is received in the future, your website should begin showing that unit immediately.
The world of web design is constantly evolving, and with it comes new standards. It’s important to be able to adjust as the times change, but what does that mean for your property website? What will happen if you don’t upgrade now? If you want to find out how we can help make your apartment building or property a more attractive online destination in 2022 and in the future, give us a call today!