According to e-commerce company Oberlo, 85% of all internet users in the United States watch video content online on a monthly basis.
They also tell us that marketers who use video get 66% more qualified leads per year, and that the average user spends 88% more time on a website with a video.
If you’re an apartment marketer in 2019, you need to be using video to market your community.
But that raises an obvious question: What kind of videos should you use? That, in turn, raises another question: How do you define quality for apartment videos?
What makes a good apartment video?
Great apartment videos get three things right:
- Product Focused
Why does usability matter?
The baseline for any online marketing technology is whether or not it works for the end user. If your video takes a long time to load or watch, your viewer will likely lose interest and bounce right off the page..
Why should my videos be product-focused?
Ultimately, your videos are marketing tools. So they need to focus on the product being marketed, which is the floorplan rather than the whole community.
Why does quality matter?
Renting an apartment is one of the riskiest and most expensive purchase a person will make—probably the riskiest and the most expensive, in fact. So your marketing is proving that your community is worth their money and where they should call home.
There are three main types of videos we see in the industry. In the remainder of this blog, we’ll identify each type and then assess it on the basis of the video’s usability, focus, and quality.
360 tours are a video shot by pivoting the camera around a fixed point in the room, eventually giving the viewer a 360 degree perspective of the room.
In terms of usability, these videos typically load quickly, but they often take a long time to play all the way through, which causes them to score poorly on usability. Jakob Nielsen, a web usability guru, found that people typically spend only 10–20 seconds on a website before leaving. When someone opens up your website and looks around, you have to make an impression quickly. And 360 tours aren't a great way to do that because the video takes so long to play.
These videos are focused on the actual multifamily product—individual apartments—rather than the whole community, which is good. However, a 360 video tour of one room will take anywhere from 50 seconds to a full minute, and they can't really go faster without making viewers dizzy. If it's a two-bed apartment, then you may have 4–5 rooms to shoot and now you're looking at a five-minute video.
Lastly, the video quality is quite low because the cameras used often are not the best, and finding the right angle to shoot a 360 video is difficult. Since the camera simply pivots around a single point, it's difficult to get much of a sense for how the space fits together.
For all these reasons, we discourage apartment communities from using these kinds of video tours. They may be cheap and relatively easy to do, but they offer minimal marketing value.
Community Overview Videos
The most common videos we see in the industry are community overview videos.
As their name implies, these are videos that are more an advertisement for the entire community than something that shows off individual floorplans. You can make these videos in a few different ways:
- Some community overview videos aren't actually videos at all—they're slide shows. If there's any motion, it comes from slowly zooming in or out on a single photo to create the illusion of a video.
- Some community overview videos are of the amenities. For instance, they showcase the lobby, clubhouse, pool, fitness room, and so on.
- Some community overview videos combine short snippets of video and photography to showcase the property.
Most shoppers are coming to your website looking for information about a specific floorplan. A community video isn’t going to help them. If they call at all, they are likely to still be only lukewarm because they haven’t been able to actually see inside their future home.
It's always important to remember what your actual product is when developing a marketing strategy. The product people buy is the individual apartment. Roughly, 85% of people who click a link on an apartment community home page are clicking through to information about specific floorplans. So your marketing content needs to push individual apartments more than the much broader, more generic, and less powerful appeal of nice amenities, as valuable as those might be.
Walkthrough Video Tours: The ideal apartment video for leasing apartments
Walkthrough videos are exactly what they sound like—a video made by a videographer who walks through the entire apartment with the camera, showing the viewer the apartment exactly as they would find it if they were walking through the unit.
Using the criteria above, these videos are easy to use because you can simply upload them to YouTube and then embed them on your website. They're also product-specific, and with the right videographer the quality can be very high.
There are many benefits to this approach: Walkthrough videos are as floorplan-specific as it gets. The prospective resident sees exactly what their apartment will look like. Additionally, the data we've gathered suggests that walkthrough video tours lead to higher user engagement.
For example, we looked at average time on page for pages that had a walkthrough video tour. In four cases, here's what we found:
- Video 1: Walkthrough video tour length: 2:18. Average time on page: 2:29.
- Video 2: Walkthrough video tour length: 1:55. Average time on page: 2:46.
- Video 3: Walkthrough video tour length: 2:27. Average time on page: 3:17.
- Video 4: Walkthrough video tour length: 3:26. Average time on page: 2:19.
In other words, in three out of four cases, users were spending enough time on the page to see the video and read about the unit. The only case where the average time on page did not exceed the video length was for a three bedroom unit with a longer video tour. Even with that one, the average user spent enough time on the page to see over 66% of the video tour, which may be enough for most viewers.
The main con with walkthrough video tours is that they can be difficult and time-consuming to produce—getting the lighting right, steadying the camera, editing the video, shooting it so that the videographer is never visible (can be very difficult in rooms with lots of mirrors), etc. That said, the benefits with these videos are so significant that, in our experience they are well worth the extra work.
Video production is difficult. You need to understand the technical points of how to film high-quality video. You also need equipment and to know how to use the equipment. Then, you need to know how to upload it to the internet and publish it onto your website. There are many obstacles to producing high-quality video, but the rewards are significant. The videos will keep people on your website longer. It will help warm up leads that are good fits for your community. It will disqualify bad leads before they call in and waste your leasing team’s time. It is also the best way to offer easy-access information about your community to users, which these days is becoming an expectation amongst many shoppers when looking to make a purchase. So while there are difficulties with apartment marketing videos, we think the rewards for doing them well are significant and outweigh the risk.