Take a look at your property website. Does it tell a story? Or does it leave visitors with a fading impression of “just another apartment complex”?
Every year, apartment shoppers feel trapped into browsing through an endless parade of blasé exterior shots, brightly-colored slideshows and predictable amenities. After a while, diverse properties seem to blend together into one shapeless, indistinguishable mass—frustrating the already mentally exhausted customer. Debi Cole Williams, Vice President of Operations for the Content Services Organization at RealPage, believes that property websites need to put in more effort if they want to see conversions.
“You only have a few seconds to grab the attention of the person looking at your website. You want to get them to engage and process through the journey to leasing online, hopefully, and become a resident,” Williams said. “It’s critical because we are a very visual society.”
Keeping prospective renters engaged
But for how long can a property website sustain a person’s interest? According to Matt Stevenson, Senior Director of Product Management for RealPage Leasing and Marketing, the sweet spot for a visitor’s session duration is anywhere above two and a half minutes. Hanging onto viewers for that long, he said, requires good photography. “Right off the bat, you want to have a large photo of the living spaces, potentially even the kitchen,” Stevenson said.
And while some marketing branches are still taking pictures with iPhones, property websites demand sleeker content. “The technology is there, but having a professional photographer and a professional videographer is much different than doing it yourself,” Williams said. If property managers really wanted to simplify customer lives, their companies would have to hire the professionals.
Poor design features, however, aren’t the only reason property websites are suffering. SEO analysis is key to selling your website to the right audience. According to Stevenson, property websites are not made to win design awards but to convert your audience with excellent content and excellent SEO. “You want your photos and content to be tailored to the demographic that you’re targeting,” Stevenson said. “Being aware of the demographic comes out in SEO analysis.”
With these in mind, how do you create an amazing customer journey that meets the needs of your future residents?
Rich content through visual storytelling
The answer, as it turns out, is visual storytelling. Drone footage, looping video, storybook technology, flyovers and 3D apartment walkthroughs are new solutions expanding the reach of a property manager’s website—through visual storytelling—by leaps and bounds.
Adopting technology like Matterport to snap high-definition photos, stitch them together and express a photo-generated 3D guided tour of the real estate space, property managers are enjoying the new creative freedom that’s affordable and customer-friendly. At the RealWorld property management conference this July, presenters will unveil a new “Storybook” feature will be presented that allows property managers to showcase high-definition photos, videos, flyover footage and assets into one simple, animated storybook.
“It’s not a video, it’s not photography, it’s not Matterport,” Williams said about Storybook. “It’s like a Harry Potter moment. And we have composed music that goes along with it.”
Storybook’s immersive experience is a surprise for most viewers who creep up on apartment websites. Shots of neighbors enjoying coffee, sunlight streaking on houses, and trees lining the streets, accompanied by “metro-style music displays the lifestyle of the apartment community at its best, creating a unique experience for web-weary apartment hunters.
“The experience – that’s what it’s all about,” Williams said.
Capturing the best that properties have to offer
Like Google, RealPage is getting its own brand of traveling photographers. Integrating Google street view with 360-degree scans of exteriors and amenities, properties are about to get a tremendous boost in marketing and SEO. The new product combines high quality imagery with visibility on Google street view to let residents access their property from as far up as Google Earth. “It’s a great new product,” said Michael Prior, Photography Operations Manager at RealPage. “Residents can virtually go onto their property from their computers wherever they are.”
For more on the visual storytelling revolution in website optimization, don’t miss “How to Create an Amazing Prospect Journey with Rich Content” at this July 15-17 at RealWorld 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Register now!