A community website is the best tool available to apartment marketers, which is why choosing a vendor to establish a website for their properties is a serious (and sometimes daunting) endeavor.
Knowing the implications of this decision, apartment marketers must know what to look for when selecting a website vendor. We'll guide them through that selection process in this blog.
The first (and obvious) area most apartment marketers will look at is website design. Design is essential—a website should show a community in its best light to appeal to prospective residents.
That said, it's easy to get too carried away with design and focus less on performance when perusing different website vendors. Websites need to be appealing, but their primary function is to convert visitors to leads for the leasing office.
That's why apartment marketers must avoid boutique-style website vendors and prioritize those who build multifamily-specific websites that serve as a community's top source for lease generation.
The notable website features facilitating conversions and enhancing community performance include compelling visual content and calls-to-action that prompt users to contact the leasing office.
Performance-driven design is more than just features that enable website visitors to get into contact with leasing agents at an apartment community. There's also a technical facet to the conversation that apartment marketers must pay attention to when researching website vendors.
An apartment website should load quickly, meaning media content must be sized appropriately throughout the site. The site navigation should also be straightforward. Apartment websites that achieve these things make browsing the website easy for prospective residents and are also better optimized for search engine visibility.
Emphasis On Floorplan-Specific Content
It would be best to find a vendor who emphasizes floorplan-specific apartment websites. The reason is twofold.
Anyone looking for an apartment knows how many bedrooms and bathrooms they need before they start their search. So, one, it means renters will want to know if a community has floorplans that match those needs as well the specifics about those floorplans, such as layout and size.
Two, prospective renters express a clear desire to want to be able to see the inside of an apartment community before ever directly communicating with a leasing agent.
The best method for meeting both expectations is having an apartment community website with floorplan-specific pages and media content. Evaluate vendor websites and see if they have emphasized both features, which are more effective and give prospective residents the apartment website experience they want.
Integration With Property Management Software
In addition to wanting to be able to identify and see inside different floorplans on an apartment's website, renters also want real-time rent prices and availability status.
Choosing a multifamily-specific website vendor over a boutique-style website vendor becomes an apparent decision to get a community website that converts leads to leases. Multifamily-specific vendors build websites with property management software integration available so that it's possible to display updated prices and availability. With that vital information on the website, prospective residents will be more apt to reach out and start their leasing process.
Working recently with an apartment community's lease-up, we observed that 80% of all website visitors used a mobile device. That unignorable data points to two critical needs from an apartment website vendor.
One, their websites must be mobile responsive and easy for users to navigate on a mobile device. Prospective residents should be able to see photos, videos, and other relevant information at their fingertips.
Second, the vendor must place a high priority on the performance and design of the mobile version of their websites. Some vendors—like a property management software company that includes a 'free' apartment website—produce brilliant, beautiful, highly-performing desktop websites. But do their mobile sites match those traits? Take a close look at that when choosing a vendor.
Key Questions To Ask Apartment Website Vendors
How long is the onboarding process?
Recognizing a need for a website, searching for a vendor, and selecting one, can be a long process. (It's why redesigning or creating a new community website isn't necessarily the best play for stopping a current vacancy crisis.) The set-up steps beyond that can be just as long.
It would be helpful to clarify with a potential website vendor how long their onboarding process typically takes to launch the new website. There will be a lot of information to gather, so a website vendor must have a clearly defined outline for every step ahead of the launch.
Are the websites accessible to all users?
Website accessibility is a critical feature and ought to be something the vendor also endorses. In the new age of the Internet, programmers must design websites so all users, regardless of any temporary, situational, or permanent disabilities, can access them. Otherwise, a company's inaccessible website may make them susceptible to litigation. The relevance is clear to the multifamily industry—as apartment properties must meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) specifications, so should community websites.
It would be best if the website vendor designs code that meets Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Avoid vendors who rely solely on accessibility widgets, as those don't meet WCAG standards. Many disabled users have said that they make browsing websites unnecessarily more complex.
How are design requests handled?
Websites date very quickly. Don't get caught with a website vendor who finishes the new site and is never heard from again. It's an unfortunately common scenario. It's worth the due diligence of confirming how they handle design requests. How does one submit a design request? Is there a customer service representative or advisor to contact? It would be best to find an apartment vendor capable of promptly making necessary updates or changes in the best interests of their clients.
Will verifiable website performance data be available?
Lastly, vendors need to be willing to prove the success of their websites with verifiable data and reporting. Anyone can establish a Google Analytics profile for a website. Still, vendors who work with apartment communities should provide data such as specific page visits, organic traffic counts, and time on site. It's vital information that helps apartment operators and marketers make intelligent adjustments to their websites and advertising campaigns to improve leasing capabilities. With verifiable data, these individuals can stake the claim that their apartment's website is the lease-generating machine they need it to be.
Because websites have a foundational role in compelling prospective residents to sign a lease, choosing a website vendor that works exclusively for the multifamily industry is pivotal. They would have the best insights into what makes an apartment's website a community's top-performing marketing channel.
Let's discuss how RentVision develops apartment community websites that convert visitors to future residents. Each thing that apartment operators and marketers should look for when choosing a website vendor points directly back to what we can do. In addition to critical necessities—mobile responsiveness, integration, accessibility, floorplan-specific content, real-time performance insights, and a seamless onboarding process—RentVision's community websites also include:
Dynamic Featured Floorplan Reordering. Our powerful Future Occupancy metric predicts supply and demand for individual communities down to the bedroom and floorplan levels. With that information, our system automatically reorders the placement of Featured Floorplans on community websites to drive more traffic and visibility to the floorplan with the most upcoming vacancies. It's a powerful differentiator for apartment websites available exclusively to RentVision partners.
Walkthrough Video Tours. The best-performing apartment websites engage with prospective residents, and walkthrough video tours attract and keep attention more than any other virtual touring option. They give the best showings of each floorplan, 24/7—driving conversions by providing prospects with a way to see the inside of units without having to go to see the apartments in person.
Watch the video below to learn more about RentVision's apartment websites, and then schedule a demo.