Possessing an online presence for your apartment community is vital for reaching prospective residents, generating interest, and developing leads for your leasing staff.
There are multiple digital platforms available that apartment marketers can use to do this, the most notable being a website.
Nearly all apartment communities should have their own website. Still, we've also seen cases where individual properties are exclusively featured on their corporate company's website.
Which is more effective: a dedicated community website or a community landing page hosted exclusively on a corporate website?
While both options provide tangible benefits to multifamily marketers, there are differences between corporate and community websites that may impact online visibility and, more critically, lead generation. Let's discuss this.
A Corporate Website
✅ Establishes renters' trust and authority in your company.
Suppose you're looking to rent an apartment and, in your search, you come across two separate communities that fit your needs. When you've narrowed down your choices, the next step is to gather as much information as possible about each property to make a confident decision.
The apartment community that usually wins in this scenario is the one that earned a prospective resident's trust. You can improve their trust in, and build authority for, your apartments with a corporate website for your property management company. A corporate website is best when it features all your communities, provides compelling media content, and includes additional helpful information together in one place. It lets renters know that the apartments they like are managed by a reputable company.
✅ Builds awareness of your company's brand.
In addition to building trust and authority, a corporate website enables prospective residents to recognize your company's brand. Many multifamily portfolios are designed with a specific theme, meaning the communities share similar logos, colors, paint schemes, interior designs, and amenities.
✅ Allows for cross-selling.
Another benefit of corporate websites is that they enable leasing agents to cross-sell when their community has no available units. Instead, they can point prospects to another nearby property in their company's portfolio with similar floorplan layouts and other shared features—a win for all involved.
⚠️ Limited information on individual communities.
The first significant obstacle of relying solely on a corporate website to host information about individual communities is that the critical pieces of information, media content, and conversion points are limited to one page. That doesn't fit the needs (or expectations) of what prospective residents want in a community's online marketing presence.
⚠️ SEO challenges that could hurt online visibility.
Another obstacle is that it's challenging for an individual apartment community to garner needed online visibility in Google when its only web presence is on a corporate website. Search engines have a harder time matching a single page for one apartment community when it's hosted on a separate domain. More on that in a bit.
⚠️ Navigation must be simple, or the corporate website will be ineffective.
Site navigation must be minimal and straightforward for a corporate website to be successful. Remember that there are only two reasons to visit a multifamily company's website. People either want to know more about the company, or they're looking to rent an apartment. Where's the value if it's difficult for the latter audience to find what they're looking for because your corporate site is full of fluff?
Furthermore, it would help if you had a robust search and filter option to help residents narrow down the community they're looking for. (This is especially key for multifamily companies with a vast portfolio across multiple locations.)
A Community Website
✅ Establishes domain authority that Google can recognize.
Establishing domain authority in Google is an underrated but critical benefit of having a dedicated community website. The search engine can clearly match the URL to the community website when someone enters a relevant search term for that apartment community.
This means two things. A community website will have a higher organic search result ranking, which is free traffic to that website from interested prospects. Second, suppose a community has a website and Google Ads pointing traffic to it. In that case, an established domain authority strengthens the likelihood that a particular community achieves the top paid, organic, and local listing on the search engine results page. That should be every apartment marketer's goal.
The difference between domain authority for a community website and a corporate website is that one drives up visibility directly for an individual apartment complex, while the other points to potentially hundreds of apartments. So while it's certainly possible for a corporate site to rank highly in Google, it doesn't laterally improve online visibility for an individual community featured on the corporate site.
✅ Can provide critical details and visibility for individual floorplan pages.
Apartment shoppers deserve to get as much essential information as possible about an individual property. A single webpage on a corporate website may be enough for some renters and specific communities. But as stated earlier, nearly every apartment community would be better off having its own website because it better serves the needs of prospective residents.
They want to be able to acknowledge, as well see the inside of, each floorplan at an individual apartment community. (After all, every resident knows before they search how many bedrooms and bathrooms they need.) A community website allows you to create a page for each floorplan with specific photos, videos, amenities, rents, and availability information.
As those various floorplan pages are all featured on the same domain, it's easier for Google to point browsers to those pages, too. That is key for traffic generation, especially if specific floorplans have more availability than others.
✅ Best platform to showcase visual content.
It's typical for there to be a photo gallery or video on an individual apartment community's page on a corporate website. But corporate websites are usually limited in how much visual content can be shown for specific properties.
Community websites have far more real estate to display compelling media content. A practical example of this is when apartment communities show floorplan-specific video tours and photo galleries on their website.
✅ More conversion points available for visitors to become leads.
Conversion points are anything from a click-to-call feature to an 'Apply Now' button. Instead of having one conversion point for a single community on a corporate website, a community website allows for conversion points to be placed on every single page via the main navigation and floorplan pages. With more applicable placements for conversion points, community websites are better equipped to churn visitors into leads for your leasing office.
⚠️ Bad or neglected apartment websites will negatively impact leasing.
While there are clear benefits of using a community website as the main lead generator, the caveat is that it must be user-friendly, informational, and updated. Simply having a website for an individual apartment community is not a guarantee it will generate leads or leases.
Conclusion: Community Websites Are Better Lead Gens For Apartments (But Corporate Websites Are Important, Too)
To generate leads, apartment communities need three things:
- High online visibility (especially in Google).
- Floorplan-specific pages with media content.
- Conversion points where prospective residents can reach out to the leasing office.
All three are achievable with a community website, making it the better option for lead generation.
That said, there is value in corporate sites, too. They establish trust and brand recognition for multifamily companies and can bolster overall leasing performance. Nevertheless there are too many limitations to using a corporate site to provide a steady stream of leads for individual apartment communities.
At RentVision, we build dynamic apartment community websites that feature floorplan-specific content. (We also build corporate websites that link to these community sites). You can watch the video below to learn more about RentVision's apartment websites and then schedule a demo.