Looking for a home – whether renting or buying – is stressful. Back in the pre-Internet dark ages, people would pound the pavements in neighborhoods they liked, trying to find apartment buildings with openings or homes with “for sale” signs. They might also look in newspaper classified ads or go through a realtor.
Thanks to the Internet, a lot of that has changed, especially for the rental market.
Many people still tour buildings in person but identify which buildings to tour based on online searches. Some people even rent sight unseen, especially if they are moving from out of town. From the comfort of their couch, they browse photos and reviews before filling out an online application form.
Sounds great, right?
Well, for luxury real estate companies like The Bozzuto Group, it’s a mixed bag.
Bozzuto’s goal is to “create extraordinary experiences of home and community.” They do so through developing, building and managing high-end apartment buildings. Each building is unique, playing into its neighborhood’s history and architecture. Their service goes above and beyond: for example, the building concierge will water plants for tenants while they’re on vacation.
Bozzuto’s biggest challenge is articulating these luxurious differentiators online, and doing so in a way that will reach apartment hunters during their search.
Bozzuto’s Divided Online Presence
Bozzuto has one company website on which each property has a page that describes its apartment features, community amenities and available floor plans. (See images 1 and 2.) If apartment hunters start on the home page of the site, they can search for available apartments in their desired location and price range.
Bozzuto’s company site does not clearly articulate its luxurious edge, however. The site search function is clunky, and the individual property pages are filled with dense copy. An apartment hunter would not be able to tell from this site that the buildings themselves scream luxury and elegance.
In addition to its company site, each Bozzuto property has a website that reflects its individual brand rather than the Bozzuto brand. These sites are completely different from each other: they showcase each property’s personality, features and amenities. They do a much better job of articulating the incredible experience Bozzuto offers. (See images 3 and 4.)
A Typical Apartment Hunter’s Online Search
Most apartment hunters start their search with aggregators like apartments.com, Zillow or Trulia. These websites make it easy to search by location and by price. Hunters like them because they see all available options – not just buildings managed by one company like Bozzuto.
These websites showcase all properties in the exact same format, knowing that hunters are looking primarily for location and price. They list features and photos in the same way for each listing. (See image 5 and 6.) Since these websites aggregate listings, there is no way for Bozzuto to let their differentiators shine through. In fact, since Bozzuto rentals tend to be more expensive – and many hunters are price-focused – these websites probably do not help drive leases.
As it stands now, Bozzuto’s online presence is not reaching its target audience at the right moment, if at all.
Bozzuto should aim to achieve three goals:
- Drive more people to the Bozzuto website (or to its property websites)
Bozzuto already invests heavily in ads on Google, apartments.com, and other sites. But Bozzuto should invest in Facebook and Instagram ads that focus on lifestyle. These campaigns would emphasize the beauty of the architecture, the appeal of the neighborhoods, and the incredible service. This type of campaign would raise awareness among their target customer group before they are even considering moving.
- Better convey the luxury experience on the Bozzuto website
Bozzuto should redesign its website to emphasize the extraordinary experience that the company offers: the site itself should be an extraordinary experience, which, right now, it’s not. Moreover, Bozzuto should invest in its mobile site, which is even worse than its desktop website. These changes would better convey Bozzuto’s value proposition and would improve conversion rates.
- Improve the experience of Bozzuto properties on aggregator websites
Right now, Bozzuto can buy ads that push their postings to the top of the search results lists. But the company should start conversations with aggregators to start customizing their individual property pages. With over 200 properties, Bozzuto has some leverage. The focus of this customization should be to encourage the hunter to visit the Bozzuto property site. Right now, if you look closely at Image 6, you can see a small link to visit the property website. But it’s hidden in the corner with no emphasis, meaning the hunter still misses Bozzuto’s value proposition.
The Internet and smartphones have unleashed new possibilities for the apartment rental markets. Bozzuto needs to tap into those possibilities to improve its sales funnel.
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- The Bozzuto Group, Home Page, https://www.bozzuto.com/, accessed November 2016.
- The Hecht Warehouse at Ivy City, Home Page, https://www.hechtwarehouse.com/, accessed November 2016.
- Apartments.com, Home Page, https://www.apartments.com/, accessed November 2016.
- Zillow, Home Page, https://www.zillow.com/, accessed November 2016.
- Trulia, Home Page, https://www.trulia.com/, accessed November 2016.