You don't care about apartment leads. You care about leases.
One of our main beliefs as a company is that ultimately apartment communities don’t care about leads; they care about leases. That’s true, but also slightly hyperbolic. After all, leases come from quality leads. So what we’re really talking about isn’t forgetting about lead generation, but simply finding a way to generate better leads.
Put another way, you shouldn’t care how many “leads” you get if every single phone call is counted as the same kind of “lead,” or if every repeat visitor on your website is counted as a “lead.” That’s not a good way to measure things. What you want, instead, is a way to distinguish between low-quality apartment leads that aren’t going anywhere and high-quality leads that convert into leases.
Part of this, of course, will overlap with our previous discussion about assessing your phone leads, so we won’t repeat what we’ve already said there. In this post, we want to talk about how you generate a better quality lead so that you can increase your conversion rate. One of our clients expects to lease an apartment after only two in-person showings, so when we talk about getting you better quality leads and higher closing rates, that’s the kind of rate we’re talking about.
What do apartment shoppers want?
Let’s start out by talking about what exactly people care about when they’re looking for an apartment. There’s going to be a few things on the list. First, what does the apartment look like? If the carpet is hideous, the view is terrible, the rooms are small, etc. then that will probably keep some renters away.
On the other hand, you’ll also have people who aren’t as concerned about the view or who really like having a smaller bedroom, and so on. In any event, people want to know what their apartment will look like. They’ll be living there for at least a year, after all. It’s not an unreasonable expectation. Second, they probably want to know about your pet policy. 75% of renters own pets and 58% of renters who do not own pets actually enjoy having animals around the community. In a survey of property managers taken in 2012, rent.com found that 45% of property managers said that pet policy was the most important feature of the property according to residents. According to the same survey, the most important amenity to residents was having a washer and dryer in the unit.
So how do those objectively true facts shape your decision making as an apartment marketer? Specifically, how do they shape your approach to online marketing? Because those things are true, you want to make it as easy as possible for prospective residents to find those things when they go online.
What kind of content do you need?
This means that floorplan specific photos and walkthrough videos are pretty much non-negotiable. And for sake of simplicity, you should probably scale back your website by eliminating the specific pages for photos, amenities, and floorplan blueprints and replace all three with floorplan specific pages. On those pages you can show photos, a video tour of the unit, and a list of the community’s amenities. You must include your pet policy and whether or not the unit has washer/dryer, but you can also mention things like what utilities the resident pays, whether you offer free wifi, what appliances are included in the kitchen and so on.
You should also make sure that it is easy to find those floorplan pages on your website and that prospective residents have plenty of ways to end up there. Optimizing the floorplan page url is one good way to do that. Instead of using a generic ending like “yourcommunity.com/?p=1549” at the end, go for something like “yourcommunity.com/one-bedroom.” That makes the page a bit more likely to be found on Google--and a bit easier to remember for human beings, which is even more important. You can also do things like setting up PPC advertisements that send people to the floorplan pages or link to the floorplan pages in your Craigslist ad.
How do you apply this in practice?
How does this work out in practice? Well, if people can find your site and your site tells them everything they want to know about your community, one of two things will happen. They might decide that the unit isn’t for them and move on. That may not seem like a great outcome for you, but actually it is. Have you ever given a tour of a unit where you took one look at the prospect’s face as they entered the unit and immediately knew they weren’t going to sign? Having the photos and videos online means you never have to give a tour like that again. Instead, you can spend your time dealing with more engaged, qualified leads. So disqualifying some of your leads is actually a great marketing strategy.
Of course, some people will see the video, photos, and description and love the unit and will desperately want to move into it. That’s the other possible outcome and it’s a fantastic one for your community because your unit has already differentiated itself with this prospect before they ever set foot on your property. This is great for you because when that person calls in, they’re already excited and they may even be treating the in-person tour as a formality they have to go through in order to sign a lease. That’s the kind of high quality lead you want, right?
So that’s how you can generate a better class of lead while, at the same time, disqualifying your less engaged leads who were never going to sign anyway. That sort of strategy means you spend your leasing staff’s time more efficiently and don’t waste time and money chasing down low quality leads.