As you're implementing your apartment marketing strategy, it's easy to want to dive deep into details like, 'Which sources are working best for getting leads?' or 'How much will these ads cost?'.
Sure, those things are significant. But beyond your marketing strategy's budget and performance, it must also be trustworthy. Remember, renters are selecting where to live! Their faith in your apartment community as the best decision for them is a part of the marketing process that often feels unintentionally forgotten.
For example, there are still plenty of apartment websites today that lack media content showing the inside of units or amenities. Others display confusing rent prices with complicated leasing grids. Both instances ignore the basic needs of today's renters and, ultimately, erode their trust.
Your goal should be to build trust by putting yourself in the shoes of your renters at every stage of their search. In this blog, we'll discuss establishing a trustworthy apartment marketing strategy and how doing so can put your community over the top.
Be present at every stage of a renter's search.
We've reiterated this multiple times, but it's always essential context for apartment marketing: Every renter subconsciously goes through a series of three distinct stages during their search.
- Awareness: When the renter enters the market and begins to explore all the available apartment communities where their predetermined needs and location apply.
- Consideration: The renter has whittled down their search to a few separate communities and will begin to do a deeper dive into each.
- Decision: The renter has completed comparing finalist communities, and one has emerged as the top choice. They then will want to confirm their choice by scheduling an in-person tour (or, at least, contacting the leasing office) before ultimately signing a lease.
Here's why this framework is essential to developing a trustworthy apartment marketing strategy—there are channels optimal for each stage of a renter's typical search (a.k.a the 'Leasing Funnel). By aligning your marketing mix accordingly, you're ensuring that your community's presence occurs throughout the most critical moments of a renter's search, which is essential for earning their trust.
You should be the top result if someone searches for your community by name on Google. If they look at your social media channels, they should see fresh, engaging content. If someone opens a navigational app on their phone, they should see your Google Business Profile or Apple Business Connect listings. And everything featured across each channel must be accurate (more on that later).
Discovering and learning more about your apartments online must be easy to develop renter trust.
Make it easy for renters to get answers to basic questions.
Of course, all roads in your marketing mix should lead to your apartment community's website—the source of truth for prospective renters.
The question is: Does your website let prospects discover and engage with the critical, basic information they need to confidently lease one of your apartments?
As stated earlier, your rent prices and unit availability are essential information for every renter. You can establish a high level of trust in how you present both on your website. The best practice is to show one rent price (a standard 12-month lease) per unit and each's current availability.
Price and availability are just the prerequisites. To further develop trust—and ultimately cement your community as a viable option—your website should also feature:
- Media content specific to each floorplan that shows the inside of units. Apartment websites need this for two reasons: renters know before they search exactly how many bedrooms and bathrooms they'll need, so they're not just searching for the right apartment community but, really, the right floorplan at the right community. And second, imagine buying a house based only on photos of the exterior. You'd never do that; everyone wants to see the inside! The same goes for apartments, and with well-organized floorplan videos and photos on your website, you are establishing a level of transparency that renters will both love and trust.
- Comprehensive list of amenities. Sure, your apartment may have a stellar-looking clubhouse and pool. Amenities like these matter, but how much information about in-unit amenities do you also feature on your website? You would be surprised by the different things that renters are looking for. A 2023 study from Apartments.com confirmed an assortment of features, from amenities regarding property safety to dishwashers, that renters have high regard for when choosing an apartment community. In that light, highlighting all amenities on your website would provide renters with the most complete depiction of your offerings and help them identify some of the things they're looking for in a future apartment.
- Unit mapping. An emerging integration on apartment websites involves unit-mapping software such as Engrain that allows prospects to see a unit's actual location at a property. Unit mapping provides an additional layer of information that delights renters and, again, is another great way to build their trust because you've invested in a marketing tool that shows you care about what your prospects want.
- Resident reviews. It's a virtual guarantee that apartment seekers will review what others say about your apartments online. Why not feature tenant testimonials on your community website? Doing so would show you understand what today's renters want. Reviews have always played an essential role in apartment searches. Still, new data shows that authentic, 'real' reviews from current residents are more influential to Gen Z renters (who are about to become the largest population group in U.S. history).
- Map of the neighborhood. Your apartment community's location, especially nearby attractions, is a significant factor in the average prospect's search. Lean into your location on your website by featuring tools like a map or highlight video of your neighborhood.
- Mobile-friendly features. A mobile-friendly apartment website that works seamlessly on any device will establish your community's credibility and separate it from others, as modern renters execute most of their searches on their phones today.
The more prospect-centric features you can apply to your website, the more they can learn about your apartments. Plus the more they familiarize themselves with everything your community has to offer, the more trust they build in your community.
Ensure that what renters see in person matches what they see online.
Lastly, a trustworthy apartment marketing strategy emphasizes accuracy and transparency—renters should know precisely what to expect about your community before seeing it in person.
The photos and videos of your apartments online must portray their actual appearance. Altering or creating a misleading representation of your community and its offerings is a major violation of trust. There are ways to ethically edit your apartment's media content and improve its online presentation while maintaining accuracy.
Beyond just your presentation, as stated earlier, the information you share on your website, ads, ILS listings, and more must be as up-to-date as possible. Work actively to avoid scenarios where pricing, availability, or other critical information online differ from what renters may see or hear in person. The conversation in your leasing office would be negative if someone scheduled a tour or applied based on the wrong information.
1. Be present throughout the renter's search journey:
- Understand the three stages of a renter's search: awareness, consideration, and decision.
- Align your marketing channels with each stage to build familiarity and trust.
- Ensure your community is easily found online at every stage.
2. Make information easy to find and understand:
- Your website should be the central hub for all essential renter information.
- Present rent prices and unit availability clearly and accurately.
- Showcase unit interiors with photos and videos to build transparency.
- List all amenities, both in-unit and community-wide.
- Utilize unit mapping tools and resident reviews to enhance trust.
- Highlight your surrounding neighborhood to attract location-conscious renters.
- Optimize your website for mobile devices for seamless searching.
3. Ensure online and offline experiences match:
- Maintain accurate and up-to-date information across all online platforms.
- Use authentic imagery that reflects the actual appearance of your units.
- Avoid misleading representations that could erode trust.
- Strive for consistent communication and information accuracy between online and offline interactions.
Following these steps, you can build a trustworthy apartment marketing strategy that attracts renters, fosters positive first impressions, and leads to more lease signings.