Last modified on July 30th, 2020
By Brittany Benz
In today’s digital world, online listings are your primary way to make a good first impression. Outdated photography, inaccurate information, and a poor user experience will all cause your prospects to look elsewhere, which is why it’s essential to make sure your listings are compelling. When you remove as much friction as possible from the online experience, you can get your listings in front of the right candidates and convert them into residents more quickly. Follow these 10 proven tips to convert more leads and fill vacancies:
1.) Be Descriptive
To create high-quality listings you need to have detailed, accurate descriptions of your apartment or single-family home and its amenities, in addition to the surrounding community and the property’s proximity to parks, cafes, and other attractions. As more renters look online first in their home search, it’s vital that your descriptions are thorough if you want to capture more interest and that you paint a picture of how it would feel to live there. In addition, by listing everything up front can save your team from having to answer repetitive questions later and ensure you’re getting only the most qualified leads.
When writing your listings it’s a good idea to incorporate SEO keywords to make sure you’re getting the right filters and to increase your clickthrough rates. You could also hire a professional writer or editor to help out.
2.) Prioritize Photography
Today’s renters are highly visual and accustomed to seeing quality photography in advertising, and your listings are no exception. Listings without photos will automatically be deprioritized by prospects. Be sure to include at least 10 to 20 photos of the interior, exterior, and communal spaces — the more the better. Put your best foot forward by investing in photography and lighting equipment, and learning how to capture a great image. Here are some tips for taking high-quality photos:
- Shoot on an overcast day, as the sun creates a lot of shadows
- Before you take any photos, clean and declutter the property
- Make sure each room is well lit and the curtains are open
- Use a tripod to ensure your pictures are crisp and not blurry
- Take photos from every angle, leaving the camera on the widest angle. Standing in the doorway or corner usually gives the best perspective.
Taking great photos definitely requires some skill. If you don’t have the time or resources to shoot all of your properties, think about hiring a professional photographer to take photos of your vacancies and also your community amenities.
3.) Leverage the Latest Technology
Along with great imagery, you should also offer modern ways to view and experience the space by adding a video walkthrough or 3D virtual tour to your listing. Consider shooting a video tour of the interior of your property, as well as the outside of your apartment complex and all common areas.
For example, on AppFolio-powered websites, you can directly embed interactive 3D models of vacant units. AppFolio also integrates with Engrain’s SightMap tool, an interactive property map feature that can help your prospects better understand the location of a unit and visualize living in your properties. Giving prospective residents a modern experience from the very beginning with high-quality video and interactive models will show them your business is forward-thinking and values their needs.
4.) Reach More Leads
The majority of renters today (72%) use 3rd-party listing sites, like Apartments.com or Zillow when searching for an apartment according to a study conducted by NMHC / Kingsley Associates. You can reach more prospects by posting your vacancies on multiple 3rd party sites such as Zillow, Trulia, Rent.com, and more. However, entering listings one by one on many different sites can be time consuming. Not to mention, when you fill a vacancy you have to remember to go back and take the listing down from each site. Using a property management software that has this feature integrated directly into the system can eliminate a lot of the frustration.
For instance, AppFolio’s One-Click Vacancy Posting can stream your listings to hundreds of listing sites with the click of a button. This not only enables you to attract more leads, but also ensures all of your information is consistent and accurate. Brian Hartsell from Key Property Management has had great success with this feature, “The service to deploy properties to various rental advertising sites has assisted in keeping our vacancy rates at less than 2% annually.”
5.) Invest in Online Advertising
PPC or pay-per-click advertising can be another simple, yet effective way to generate listing traffic. Set a budget and select keywords that include your city or town, plus search terms like “studio apartment” or “2BR apartment.” You’ll only pay when users click through to your listing. PPC ads are a reliable way to get traffic quickly. If you accept pets, have short-term rentals or any other niche that will set you apart, PPC advertising can help you attract leads searching for apartments like yours.
If you really want to expand your reach and attract even more renters, you can use a service like AppFolio Premium Leads to syndicate your listings to the top pay-to-list sites, all from one place. The best part? You only have to pay for the leads that are unique, real people interested in your property.
6.) Share on Social Media
Social media is a great way to drive traffic to apartment listings, yet many property managers aren’t using social media to advertise vacant units. In fact, based on the NMHC / Kingsley Associates report, 45% of renters visited communities’ social media websites when searching for their most recent apartment. Be sure to advertise your open listings across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest — and include high-quality photos of your unit and a brief, yet compelling description.
Social sharing is also a great way to generate organic referrals, since existing residents can share your social post with friends looking for an apartment to rent, effectively marketing on your behalf. While it will take a little time to create initial social posts for apartments, you’ll be able to reuse the descriptions going forward to be more efficient.
7.) Improve Your Website
After your prospects see your listing on a 3rd-party rental site, it’s likely they will check out your company’s website next. According to the NMHC / Kingsley Associates study, 85% of renters said they visited the company’s website when searching for their most recent apartment. If your website is slow to load, contains inaccurate information, or offers a poor user experience, your prospects will get frustrated and look elsewhere. Make sure your website is easy to navigate, beautifully designed, mobile-friendly, SEO optimized, and content rich.
8.) Cross-Sell Your Vacancies
Just because a prospect isn’t a good fit for one of your vacancies, doesn’t mean they couldn’t work for another unit. An easy way to recapture leads who have lost interest is by cross-selling other vacancies in your portfolio that may be a better fit. Take a look at your current vacancies and make a list of any additional units you could send to prospects. You can also proactively email them new vacancies as they become available.
9.) Incentivize Sharing
If you’ve tried all these tips and you still need more traffic for your open listings, then you could recruit your residents to help you out. Host a contest where residents are encouraged to share your apartment listing via social media and tag you in the shared post. Then choose a winner to reward with a gift certificate, pair of movie tickets, or other incentive. Your residents will love the chance to win something for free, and you’ll love the increased traffic.
10.) Highlight Virtual Showings
If you don’t have the ability to conduct virtual showings or live video walkthroughs, then now is the time to invest in having it as an option. Many prospects might not be quite ready for in-person showings yet or they may be moving from a different area. Virtual showings can enable them to get a good sense of the property without having to be there physically. By mentioning “Virtual Showings Available” clearly at the top of your listing you can attract leads who may have otherwise put off scheduling a tour of your property. For tips on how to make virtual showings a win-win for you and your prospects, read this article.
When testing out these strategies to enhance your rental listings, have patience. Some strategies can take a while to pay off, but they will prove to be valuable in the long run. Make sure you have detailed descriptions, great photography, and video to make your properties stand out from the crowd — and don’t forget to rely on tools such as online advertising and social media to reach more prospects and increase traffic.
Once you have amazing listings, you can capitalize on the traffic by implementing other technology tools, such as an AI leasing assistant to capture even more leads. To learn more about how AI can help maximize lead conversion and deliver an outstanding customer experience, check out this article.