This week, we hosted a webinar to discuss a few website tricks to treat your prospects better, as well as new updates to ProspectPortal. Matt Frandsen from Entrata along with panelists Taryn Silva from Paradigm Management and Jaemi Carkin from Greystar, shared with us stats and opinions about what works to create effective websites.
Matt Frandsen then covered all the upcoming features to ProspectPortal. He discussed how these new updates will be useful in implementing the tricks that were presented on how to make a powerful and effective website.
In case you missed it, we’ve included the full webinar video below.
Brooke: Hi. Welcome to the webinar. Sorry, we were having some technical difficulties there. This is the Website Tricks to Treat Your Prospects Better. We’re excited to have all of you on the line, and sorry about those technical difficulties again. I am Brooke Grant, the product marketing manager here at Entrata over the marketing suite. And we have an exciting webinar up for you guys today. Just before we start, there’s some housekeeping items we’d like to go over. First of all, the webinar is being recorded, and a followup email will go out later this afternoon in this week with the link to the recording. So you will have access to that there, and all questions can be submitted through the GoToMeeting control panel. So please, if you have any questions, please go there, and we will be answering questions throughout the webinar and at the end. We have an exciting agenda today. Like I mentioned, we’re gonna be talking about websites, and going to be giving you tips to help make your websites more engaging. And after that, we will go through some updates to the website, the ProspectPortal products. And we’re really excited about those updates. So stay tuned for those. And at the end, we’ll have a question and answer section, where we’ll answer those questions that you guys send in. And like, we’re gonna be live tweeting this event, so please use the #ProspectPortal if you hear anything that’s interesting, or that you like that you can share with your friends.
And today, we are excited to have some panelists with us, and we’re grateful that you guys have joined us. We have Taryn Silva from Paradigm Management. We also have Jaemi Carkin from Greystar, and Matt Frandsen from Entrata. And we’re excited to hear from them and what they have to say about website design and what’s worked for them and what hasn’t. So, let’s dig in, and let’s see what we can do with our websites. Before you can make any changes to your website, it’s really important to know what people are doing when they come to your website. So Matt, can you talk to us a little bit about where people should be looking and what they should be looking for when they come to their website?
Matt: Yes, absolutely. The first thing that…And this is kind of like marketing 101, but the first thing you’re gonna understand about your websites is what’s happening on those websites, right? So, the easiest and probably lowest barrier to entry to do that is just Google Analytics. It provides a lot of data, it can be overwhelming. But if you know what you’re looking for, and know kind of how to filter out some of the noise, it’s an excellent resource to help you understand what’s going on on your website, where you need to make changes, and even sometimes what those changes need to be.
So let me dive in here. What we’ve done recently with ProspectPortal is we’ve rolled out event tracking, and this has been live since May 11th. And let me go through briefly what this is. So this is kind of, you know, two or three levels deep into analytics. But we’re trying to make this as easy to understand as possible, so that anyone can log in and really understand what’s happening on their website and what they can do about it. So, if you log in to Analytics, on the left hand navigation, you’ll wanna scroll all the way down to the left hand side and the first place that you’ll click into is Behavior. From there, you’ll go into Events, and then the third place you can click into Overview, or Top Events, or any of those underneath Events. And what you’ll see is a couple different ways to look at this data, and the way that we’ve structured it here in ProspectPortal is what I’ll describe next.
So if you’re looking at the screen now, you will see that I have selected Event Category, and there’s 10 listed. And I have an X through 4 through 10. And those are actually our older events. And so what we’ve had some clients that have been confused when they see sort of these older outdated categories that are still left over from our previous event tracking. So if you’re looking at your website and your date range is back farther than May 11th, you’ll still pick up some of these older category names. And so you don’t need to pay attention to those, they’re not pulling in anymore, you’ll only see what I have listed up here as the top three. So Engagement, Application and Conversion, so we’ll only focus on those for now. And what we wanna do is basically categorize the events that take place on the website in as few categories as possible.
So the way that it’s structured in Analytics is your top level is Categories, and then you can have many Actions underneath a Category, and then many Labels underneath an Action. So we’ll look at that next. So now, if I’m looking at Event Action, you can see this starts to look like what someone might do on a website. You can see there’s Navigate, there’s Section Submit, there’s an Apply Now Landing Page, there’s a Click to link, Click to Call, Form Submit. So these are all of the types of actions that can take place on the website. And then from there, you could click into any of those, and you’ll see these Event Labels. So the important thing to understand about the Event Labels is they are unique to whatever Event you’re tracking. So, if we look at number one and two, there’s a Next Gallery Button and a Previous Gallery Button. So there won’t be any other label named that. And so if you know what that label is, you know what event we just tracked. And we’ll send out a PDF after this webinar that lines out our structure and how we’ve organized this, so you’ll know exactly what every label means to your website. So that’s a quick overview of event tracking. It’s kind of one of the newest and most recent ways that we’ve improved ProspectPortal in order to put as much data as possible into your hands, so you can make effective and intelligent marketing decisions based on what’s going on on your website.
Brooke: Matt, thank you so much. That was great. It’s a great tool for all of you to use to really track your conversion funnel. So that leads us to our first trick, which is “Make it Easy.” Make it easy for your prospects to come to your website and to know where to go and what to. Make it easy for you to track that. And that’s what event tracking really does. So I’d like to turn to our panelists now. Maybe we can start with you, Taryn. How have you understood your conversion funnel, and how has that made a difference in the way you design and utilize your website?
Taryn: Sure. Well, first, thanks so much for having us. And Matt, I love that you guys rolled out Event Tracking. It’s been super helpful being able to easily see what’s happening on our websites within Analytics. If anyone doesn’t have an Analytics account for your website, or you’re not sure how to set it up, I definitely recommend going onto Google and getting an account set up. It’s free, it’s easy, and Google has excellent tutorials available for you guys too, if you need help learning sort of how to manage Analytics. But in relation to the Paradigm funnel of how everything works, right? I think as marketing professionals are sort of on a global level, you kind of have to understand where your traffic is coming from, you know, what’s drawing traffic to your website, and then once they’re on your website, what are they doing. And Event Tracking helps us understand once they’re on our site, but I think if you’re focused sort of on getting that traffic to your website, you sort of need to look at an exterior view for a moment, and say, “Okay…” You know, we follow AIDA, which A-I-D-A, or awareness, interest, desire, action. I think that’s a pretty typical funnel, right? So how do they find your site? Is your site appealing? How are you creating this desire to create those actions that you want them to take? And what is the real action that you want them to take? Is it that you want more guest cards or do you want more applications or do you just want them to spend, you know, longer amounts of time on your website, which I think all leads to a conversion at the end of the day. So, what you need to sort of evaluate as a marketing professional, or as a [inaudible 00:11:35] professional, as a manager, where are they coming from? And analytics will help you in addition to, “How can we keep them on our website a little bit longer?” And then drawing them to the places where we want, which in most cases is creating that application and finalizing that to hopefully move in, getting that kind of conversion.
Brooke: Great. Thank you so much, Taryn. Jaemi, do you have anything to add to that?
Jaemi: Well, I mean, Taryn did an amazing job covering everything. And I think, you know, Greystar’s kinda takes a very similar approach. You know, sometimes when we’re looking at things at a higher level as well, we just wanna make sure that we’re making sure that all the pages are actually optimized and making sure that everything, like Taryn had said, was designed to that prospect, and making sure that we’re playing around with different options as we go through and making adjustments on the go, and not sort of thinking that it’s sort of a set and forget. We wanna make sure that we’re examining that consistently, and making changes as needed.
Brooke: That’s great. Thank you so much, Jaemi. You guys sound like you’re on the ball with that. So as we move on to the next trick, some of these statistics for those of you that are on the call will sound a little bit familiar. We presented a lot of these statistics at Summit, but there’s a lot of new information that we’re going to present about what are some of the things that maybe aren’t so obvious that people are doing on their websites that are actually hurting them. So, the next topic is to our next trick, which is make your information on your website count. And, basically what we wanna focus on here it’s really an obvious marketing thing to put the user first. But a lot of these things we’re gonna go over, like I said, are kind of those things that aren’t as noticeable, or not as common that you would think that would be a bad thing. So the first thing is, is not using photos on form fields. You will kind of think that that’s like a trivial thing, not having a photo with your application, but in the end, it affects the end user. In fact we’ve found that form fields without photos perform better than those with a photo. And so, Taryn, what have you guys done with your applications? Have you seen a difference in like your…I know that you’ve been working on your application, so what have you guys been doing?
Taryn: Yeah. We’ve been making a lot of changes, a lot of changes. And it mostly is, at some point, you have to sort of evaluate what information do you really need at that moment, and what information could you maybe gather from an applicant a little bit later on. So what we learned, both at Summit and in general, is that people will apply more quickly and get through the application if there are less fields, right? So minimize the number of fields, as many fields as you can, and try to figure out what you can get a little bit later that you don’t need right this second from them, so that they can complete that application seamlessly and move on. I think in addition to the photos, this is such a, you know, it’s, as a marketer, it’s really hard, because you want everything to be visually beautiful, and sometimes it’s just what it is, right? It’s just a form field. So, sometimes it is a little bit difficult to put the user first, because from our perspective, we want everything to be beautiful, right? And then we’re looking at it like “This as a hideous field.” But, I think at the end of the day, if you’re really thinking about the user and the ease of use, you have to sort of think about, “Okay. What do I need to remove to make this as easy as possible for my prospects or for my residents?” Depending on what you’re using this for.
In addition to that, we’re paying really close attention to bounce rate on our website, and seeing, “Okay. Why are they leaving and during application?” Right. Look at the abandonment points on your application, and try to have some really awesome reports that you can pool, they’re called application abandoned points and application progress summary. This is gonna tell you where people are stopping on your application, right? So, at that point for us it was really clear, like people got caught and they stopped at unit info. And so we started to realize that people were not really wanting to open an application, they actually just wanted to talk to us, and they kept clicking on the “Apply Now” instead of just the “Contact Us” form. So in some of those cases, you sort of have to make these changes to direct them to the proper place, so that they get the attention that they want at the end of the day. And then make sure that you make those changes within your application to reduce the number of applications that are quote, unquote lost or abandoned, right? Where did they stop, and why? What completely threw them off? Was it maybe your parking rate that was listed on your app, did they not understand that that was not included in the rent, or something like that. Maybe make it more transparent. So things like that are the stuff that we’ve been focusing on a lot.
Matt: Okay. Sorry, Brooke. Let me jump in. Taryn, we just got a really good question that came about as you were speaking. So let me bring that up for the rest of those of us here on the webinar. So the question we received was, “How do you communicate changes to the application to your site level people? How do you help them understand why you’re making these changes?”
Taryn: Wow, that’s a really good point. So I think you have to sort of talk to them on a whole, at a global level. You have to decide what the changes are, right? I think that has to come from senior leadership, that can’t just be a marketing change, right? We have to understand, “Okay, why is it that we’re making these changes? Is it to get more applications?” Understanding that there may be additional steps later on. And then once you can tell people, “Look, we’re going to increase our application conversion ratio by making these small changes, and then later we can go back and achieve some of this information.” Now, obviously you’re gonna need some of this stuff to run credit and criminal, to maybe verify employment, right? Like if you’re still doing that, whatever, you know, depending on your guys’ processes. And then you do have to take some time to train your teams, and talk about the changes that were made and why. I have always found that actually giving people the why makes it a little bit easier to swallow, because otherwise they’re just like, “Oh, they’re just making more changes,” right?
Well, there’s a reason that we make these things. If you can track it in Analytics and say, “Look ” know, a lot of the times what we do is we test it on a couple properties before we move it out globally. So we’ll say, “Look, at these three properties, this is has been our success ratio, and how many more converted apps we got by making these changes, versus people that had abandoned or we lost them because we didn’t make these changes.” So that’s sort of I guess, I know that doesn’t tell you a step-by-step for how to do it. I don’t necessarily have all the answers without knowing everything, but I think that’s a good start, if that helps.
Brooke: Great. Thank you so much, Taryn. Great information. And that is something that I think everyone can just sort of consider. Let’s move on to the next kind of thing that we can do to make it count, and this is gonna surprise a lot of people. Do not use pop-ups. Pop-ups actually lower every part of your site, they lower your page [inaudible 00:18:05], they lower your average visit duration and you have less unique visitors when you have pop-ups on your page. Now Matt, we’ve heard from Google that there’s gonna be some big changes with pop-ups now. Can you kind of explain that to us?
Matt: Yeah. I think the change is pretty straightforward. They’ve come out with an announcement that says starting January 10th they will start to…I don’t wanna say penalize right now, like you’ll fall out of the search index, but you won’t…You’ll receive negative ranking I guess, or your rankings will lower might be the best way to say it, if you use what they deem a disruptive interstitial. And based on the guidelines that they outlined, we recognized very quickly that what we’re offering through ProspectPortal probably falls within that criteria of a disruptive interstitial. So we found, we ran a bunch of studies, you know, you can see the stats here of what pop-ups do to the engagement on the site, and what actually, I’ll just mention this briefly, for ProspectPortal we will have an alternative solution by the time that date rolls around. So we recognize the need to advertise your promotions, and to bring attention to those when people visit the site. And so we’re working on a solution to that that you won’t need to use a pop-up. They’ll end up looking more like banner ads or banner space on your website, and they’ll be on all of the pages, so that you can still run your promotions, you can still get visibility there without sort or falling into that lower your ranking criteria that Google has laid out for what they’re calling “disruptive interstitials.”
Brooke: Thank you so much, Matt. And Jaemi, what have you guys done at Greystar with pop-ups?
Jaemi: Yeah. So, I mean, I find pop-ups to be sort of the challenge from a marketing perspective and an onsite perspective. So we know that we wanna get that special out there, and, you know, make it up in everyone’s face, but what I like to remind the teams to make sure that, you know, they’re being thoughtful about their specials, and that they’re really utilizing the tools that Entrata has on their specials. You know, we get that little dollar sign to show up next to their pricing. I mean, most people go right to the pricing, “How much is this apartment gonna cost me?” And, you know, making that dollar sign there with that little special hovering up I think can sometimes be a lot more informative and effective than the actual pop-up that people kinda get annoyed with and click out. So it’s been something that we’ve been trying to work on and seeing if the pop-up versus the little special dollar sign in the floorplan availability page is actually performing better and getting more conversions with the specials.
Brooke: That’s great. I’m glad you guys are working on it. That’s fabulous. And moving on to the next one, one of the things you can do is use brand ads. And Matt, I’d like to turn to you this one as well just to kinda more elaborate on this, that your competitors, what I understand is you get nearly 40% more clicks…that your competitors get those 40% clicks when no brand ad is present. Can you elaborate a little bit more on that?
Matt: Sure. So this is a piece of data that I actually shared in my Summit session, and what we learned prior to the summit was…And PPC, so paid ads, a lot of times people think they don’t need to be bidding on their own name. So someone searches, you know, for your community, you don’t need to bid on that, because clearly they’re already trying to find you. And so, they’ll always click on your result, or your website when that result page comes up. And that’s not true. A lot of times, competitors that are bidding in that space will steal your traffic, up to 40% of your traffic. So what we found is that when people do a branded search for your community, and you have your own ads showing there, you capture 88% of those clicks. So that’s another way where even before people get to your website, you could be losing them if you’re not making it as easy as possible for them to find you and get to your website. So if you have someone that is performing that search and trying to get there, capitalize on that, right. Make it count, have your ad there, and make sure that you’re capturing as many of those clicks as you can. Don’t lose them in that moment where they sort of get enticed by a competitor.
Brooke: Great. Thank you so much, Matt. And we’re gonna move on to the next one, which is make your images correct size, the correct size. And basically we’re finding that about half of your people will leave your site if your images won’t load. So, this is, was study that Adobe actually did, and it talked about how there’s…if the site isn’t loading fast enough, people are gonna leave. So Matt, what is Entrata doing right now to combat this epidemic?
Matt: Great question. So we also recognize that there’s a need here, and the way, and I’ll be very candid here as the product owner so I can own that, the way that we’re doing image sizing right now, so we’re putting it all on the client, to make sure that they know what image size they need on the website, and then to use it appropriately. Well, we’re gonna simplify that, we’re actually rolling out a new media library where you will upload one large file, and then wherever you use it on the websites, it will be automatically sized and compressed to an appropriate size for that use case on the website. So you don’t need to know how many pixels it should be, you don’t need to know how many kilobytes you need to compress to. We’ll do all of that, we’ll take that original, squeeze it down, and fit it into its slot.
So the problem that we sometimes face where we’re trying to fit these large images into small spaces or small images into large spaces will be solved, and we’ll take care of this. And this is largely in response to a lot of issues that we start to see with mobile. So, we usually design for a desktop, and that’s changing more and more. So this will be a way where we can handle both desktop and mobile, without any extra effort, and then also reduce those load times where the optimized or optimal load time for a mobile device, it needs to be under six seconds for your website. So a lot of things that we’ll be doing with ProspectPortal will be pushing and enhancing that mobile load time and mobile experience. And this is just a piece of that.
Brooke: Great. That is super interesting, and I think it’s vital to just to have that there so people don’t get frustrated with the website, they don’t get annoyed that it’s not working. So, moving on to the next area that we wanna talk about, about how you can really make the information on your website count, is always including contact info. This might seem very obvious, but again, almost half of prospects leave if there’s no contact information or phone number. So, I think it’s interesting, going back to the idea of, if your website isn’t doing what it should for the end user, it’s really important to re-evaluate and say, “What are we missing that people are actually looking for?” Now, Taryn and Jaemi, what have you guys noticed for your contact information? What has worked and what hasn’t?
Taryn: Jaemi, do you wanna go first?
Jaemi: Sure. Thank you. A little back and forth there for a second. Again, I think some of this kind of circles back to the same part of the application that we talked about earlier, right? Identifying what information we absolutely need to have in order for our onsite teams to make sure that they’re following up correctly and quickly, and have the right information, without loading them down and asking them for too much. We’ve talked about, we’ve looked at the different things from buttons in the corner and colors when we’re designing the Entrata template websites, and making sure that it’s easy to find. I mean, we all wanna know that availability’s, you know, front and center as well. But if we can’t find it, or it doesn’t draw out, or gets flushed out, we need make those changes as well. That’s one of the things that we’ve sort of been looking at is making sure we have the right amount of fields for our teams to follow up with, as well as making sure that you can actually see it.
Taryn: Yeah. I would agree with that, and then making, as you guys have pointed out, making sure you have your phone number and your email address very visible. So if people, you know, don’t wanna have to fill out the contact form, but wanna reach out directly, they have that option as well. I would agree with all of that, for sure.
Matt: Let me jump in. One thing I was thinking of as we went through these stats, as Brooke mentioned before we kind of jumped into this section, these are non-obvious, right? And what we have to think of when we’re thinking of the end user is their level of commitment on our website is typically pretty low until they start into the application process, or maybe they’ve paid an application fee. Their ability to walk away, like what they lose, is almost nothing, right? It could be a few minutes of their time. So when we’re thinking of the end user, we have to remember that, right? So, sort of like a contrast to that is if I saved up a lot money for a year, I wanna take my family on vacation and I went to Disneyland and I got into the park, I paid the money, I paid the flights, and found that my favorite ride was closed, I’m not necessarily gonna walk away, right? That hasn’t…I’ve committed so much at that point that I’m not walking away based on one bad experience. Well, with a website, we don’t have that luxury. So that’s why something as simple as an image that doesn’t load right, or a photo in a wrong place that distracts them from the purpose of that page, you can start to lose people. So when we’re thinking of the end user, and making it easy and making it count, we have to realize that their ability to walk away and cut their losses is so easy, and what they will lose is next to nothing. And so that makes our job more difficult, but that’s the environment that we’re working in, that we’re trying to attract attention in.
Taryn: That’s a great point, Matt. And I also, I would say that, depending on your market, there’s so much inventory out there and so many different websites that are more attractive. So you just have to make sure that you’re being conscious of all of those things. It’s a great point.
Jaemi: Taryn, you bring up a good point with, you know, there’s so many things, so much competition out there. You know, one thing that we’ve sort of been fortunate enough with having as many properties in a lot of the similar markets is actually looking at the difference between a custom website that your client or owner wants to pay all this money for, or a template with Entrata, and then also the templates within themselves, right? We’ve been looking at sort of what works in the different markets. I mean, because not all templates are created equal, and not all websites are created equal.
Jaemi: I think what’s important for everyone on the call to remember is that, you know, just because you’re paying, you know, $20,000, $30,000 for a website doesn’t mean that it’s automatically gonna perform better than a template that maybe you customize yourself. So I think, just to remember some of that when you go into it, and looking at all the data that we’ve talked about so far, that it’s okay to change templates with Entrata.
Taryn: Yeah, test, test, test. That’s right.
Jaemi: To see what works best.
Taryn: Jaemi is absolutely right, you guys. Test, test, test. If it doesn’t work, you know, make a change. But I mean, obviously we’re not telling you guys to go back and overhaul your whole website at one time, right? Sometimes it’s making the small changes that make the biggest difference, and so, you know, you have to figure out what works for you guys, and then make changes accordingly. And I will say that the ProspectPortal templates make it super easy to do that whenever it’s time to revamp them.
Brooke: Great. Wow. Great information. And I hope everyone takes that back to their websites. I think that was fabulous. Thank you so much, Jaemi, Taryn and Matt. The last trick that we’re gonna go over today is making your website connected. And let me explain just a little bit what that means. A lot of you have standalone websites, and a lot of you have corporate websites with sub-pages to your specific properties, and then some of you have them connected. So our recommendation and our trick is making it connected, and here’s why. We did a study. We surveyed over 17,000 properties over a 12 month period, that sit under those corporate structures, and the other structures as well, like a standalone site. And we analyzed what is the best way to get the most guest cards completed, the most applications completed, the most incoming calls. And we found that when a site is interconnected, both with their corporate site and their property sites are connected together, they performed well in all aspects. And Matt, can you elaborate a little bit more on this study that you guys did?
Matt: Yeah. So this was great. We’ve actually been recommending this for a while. You know, what we come up against is a lot of clients, they come and say, “I can either make standalone sites, and I have 20, or I can make one corporate page and just have one. So it’s gonna be easier, more cost effective, and take less of my time to do just do the one, right?” And yes, while that’s true, you can see that you’ll get results equal to the efforts, right? So what we found is that by using both together, so your corporate site with sub-pages, and the standalone websites, it just gives you more opportunity to be seen. Those sites will link to each, which is an SEO benefit, and it gives you more real estate to work with. And so what we found, again, like Brooke explained, is that by piecing those together and sort of marrying those two strategies, you outperform either of the other two strategies by themselves, in every category that can move the needle.
Brooke: Great. Thank you, Matt. And I just wanna turn to Taryn and Jaemi really quick. So Taryn, what it is like managing a corporate site and a property site? What experience have you had with that?
Taryn: Well, it’s fun times. You know, it’s, I’m not gonna tell anyone it’s not a lot of work, but I think it’s worth it. So what I can tell you is that, you know, with the templates, it’s not hard to do individual property websites for everyone. So we have over 25 websites that are live right now on ProspectPortal, and then we also have our corporate site that’s live that also features all of our communities. And I think having those two things together are super, as Matt mentioned, for organic traffic, organic links, we’re trying to make Google happy, right? Always try to make Google happy, and I think having those, you know, true organic links are really important in making sure that you have multiple ways for people to find you, is always a good thing. So, you know, it’s not a difficult task, it’s one that’s worth the investment of time and energy, and so I think I would definitely recommend everyone to do it. I know it’s hard to make the leap and trust that it’s gonna get done, and just do it. You know, we did, as we’ve done with most of our rollouts, we do little bits at a time. So, when we first signed on with ProspectPortal, we only had, you know, like branded sites or custom sites, and then we slowly decided, “You know what, we wanna be able to make changes more regularly. We don’t wanna have to pay for changes every time, we wanna change something or swap out a photo.” And it just made sense to go ahead and do it for every property, so that every property has its own brand, and can be branded and get that traffic that they deserve to their front door as well. So, it is worth the time, and it’s really, the initial time is the hardest. And then after that, it becomes a lot more easier to manage those sites, as you get more familiar with the changes that you need to make.
Brooke: Great. Thank you, Taryn. Jaemi, do you have anything to add to that?
Jaemi: I mean, I think Taryn did an awesome job of explaining it, and I think she was being kind by saying it’s not easy. It can be, you know, challenging at first, which I think everyone understands. But one thing that we’re trying, or at least I’m trying to do here with Greystar, is, and I hope I’m not tossing a wrench into your Entrata plans, but, you know, we actually have three properties all built by the same owner, and they’re actually building a neighborhood around these properties. And they’ve been going out individually as, you know, their own sort or unique brand, and now they’re sort of rebranding them all, and making them three separate names, but one leasing office. We’ve taken advantage of the Entrata corporate template, if you will, and sort of customized it to actually work for the property, so, to be their one property site. And so we’re actually looking forward to sort of seeing that. Pretty much what you guys are looking at here is, you know, the individual property sites, with three separate leasing offices, perform better than one leasing office and three separate and one leasing site, while still being on greystar.com. So, while it’s sort of just a different take on, you know, situations where you have sister properties that are so close and if you get short-staffed and you need something, to consolidate to one leasing office, it could be another chance to use, to take advantage of the Entrata templates, and using the corporate versus the property.
Brooke: Wow. That’s great, Jaemi. Thank you so much. That was great feedback. So, now we’re just gonna jump in to our ProspectPortal updates. We’re really excited about these updates. So Matt, could you just walk us through what’s new with ProspectPortal?
Matt: Yeah, love to. And I won’t spend a ton of time on these, because we will send this out after, and so you can review the slides. But here, so we’ve rolled out HTTPS for all ProspectPortal templates, and unlike some of the the other updates, this does require action on you as the client. So, what I should say, it’s more accurate, is we’ve made HTTPS available for your websites, and so you do have to get a security certificate. But what you’re seeing here is the setting where you would upload that file and upload the public key. So we’ve tried to make the, you know, when you incorporate that into your website, as easy as possible. But we’re not actually providing a security certificate for you. So, you’ve heard us talk a lot about HTTPS, but there is some action required on your end to sort of take advantage of that.
Taryn: One thing with that [inaudible 00:36:03] is Google’s new algorithm will naturally rank you higher if you’re using HTTPS. So that’s another huge thing, if you’re playing that game with Google, which you all should be doing, to be prominent in the market, this is a huge thing for you to do, HTTPS.
Matt: Yeah. Great point. Again, Google, they sort of, whenever they attach the word “ranking signal” to anything that they want us to do, we all jump, and so this is one of it, right, where they want a secure web, and so they’ve just made it a ranking signal. And so now everyone’s gonna have to follow suit, or get left behind.
So the image that you’re looking at now is a mockup of what the media library will look like. And so, in addition to just some UI updates, which is gonna make it nicer to look at, it’s gonna make it easier to use. So you’ve got sort of the tile view versus the list view here. Here’s the image cropping tool I talked a little bit about, and so this will be updated to be a little bit easier. I know that the crop tool we have now can be finicky. And so this will be more familiar to other crop tools out there, it’ll be something that you’re more used to seeing. Here’s that compression tool I talked about, and you will actually be able to, you can see in the middle of the mountain image there, there’s sort of this line with a dot on it, and that’s actually a slider that will go left to right and up and down. So you can see what the image will look like as you compress it, and as you use it in more compressed areas or smaller areas versus the original. So you don’t have to upload it, save your site, and then look at it and realize it’s horribly pixelated before you upload it. You’ll actually be able to see that and kind of toggle back and forth right here in the media compression tool.
We’re rolling out blogs, a new blog posting platform within Entrata, and this is gonna be such a big upgrade from what we have now. And so here are just some of the mock ups. Again, we’re looking for simplicity, we wanna make this as easy as possible. And the reason for that is we realize that you guys have a lot of sites and a lot of websites. And so, if we make this process too complicated, or even bog it down with too many features, that can slow down the creation process when you have 20 blogs to write and publish in a week. And so, when we’re rolling out these new products, we’re really starting simply, and then building from there. So even if every feature that you want is not in there right at first, please submit those feature requests, let us know what you’re after, and we can build the product from there. But again, to start, it’s gonna be more simple. It’ll have a calendar so you can schedule a post, you can get approval, if you have an approval process, all of that can be handled through Entrata. You can reply to comments, you can approve them, archive them, all of that will be available. Here’s another screen of when you’re editing a single blog post and what that will look like, and some of the tags down at the bottom that will be available for you to select, add.
And the last one, which we don’t have a screenshot for, is actually just macro analytics. And so, what this allows us to do is anytime you create analytics for a single website, that’s what we consider micro analytics, or your diving into the nitty gritty of that single website. So macro analytics will replace the global analytics that we have now, and it will actually allow you to look at your entire portfolio in aggregate. So you would put the same UA code, or same analytics code, on each website, and then it will track all of them from a global perspective. So you’ll have a global view of what’s going on for your portfolio, in addition to that sort of micro view into what’s going on in each website.
And so the macro analytics will make it easy to understand sort of the flow, as people go from page to page within your website, what page they’re spending the most time on, even where they’re falling off in sort of their journey through your website, if you wanna call it that. And so this will allow you to look at your portfolio in aggregate, and understand, “You know what, people aren’t spending enough time on my floor plans page as a whole. I need to make some changes.” Or, “People are always leaving after the amenities page. Am I including everything that I offer?” Or, “Do I need to beef up that content more, and attract more of their attention, entice them to take that next step, and possibly apply to live there?”
So macro analytics will accomplish that, and this is gonna be a huge benefit for those that are dealing with multiple websites. And Taryn, I know you mentioned you have 25 websites and all these different templates. And so, this will be a tool available for everyone to understand what’s going on at that global level.
Taryn: Yeah. I’m really excited for it. I think it’s a great asset.
Matt: And then one more is an omni-contact button, and this will just be an easier way for people to contact you via the various methods you have made available, whether that’s phone, or guest card or even live chat. We’ll have one, prominent button that will kinda sit down in the corner of your website, and people will be able to click that, and have several different ways to get in touch with you, whatever works best for them. Again, whatever is easiest for them, we wanna make it all available, so that they can make that selection on their own.
Brooke: Great. Thank you so much, Matt. And I think we have two other slides here. We’re really excited about kind of the new way out of the website settings. This is coming soon out of beta as I understand, right? So this is coming soon as well. This will be a new kind of way to design your template to have kind of an easier to use, a better looking layout for your Entrata ProspectPortal websites. So these are just some samples of what that will look like.
Matt: Yep. If you’re familiar with the change that we made not too long ago to property settings, where we…then this will follow suit, right, so it’s unifying our user experience, it’s taking away that huge list of settings on that one page, and making it easier to find what you’re after if, you know, if you don’t have that whole page memorized, this is a more natural flow or more natural navigation to get to those individual settings.
Brooke: Great. Thank you so much Matt for that recap. So, now we have some time for some questions. As we’ve been talking, we’ve had a lot of questions come in. And so if you have any right now, please type them in, we’d love to answer or respond to those. So let’s just go to our first question, and it’s, “Can Entrata help us set up brand ads and figure out how to place those?”
Matt: So yeah, let me take this one. Absolutely. So this falls under our Entrata SEO, or our PPC services. And so if you get in touch, we can give a whole PPC analysis, we can give an estimated cost per click, we’ll even create those ads for you. And typically, what we do is we create many ads to start, and then we run them for a little bit, find out which ones are working. And then we push all of the budget to those that we know are gonna convert, and that we know are gonna drive traffic. So there is a process and a science behind optimizing those brand ads. But yes, absolutely, we can help and consult in that process.
Brooke: Great. Thanks, Matt. Let’s go to Taryn for this next question. “What are your thoughts on auto play video in the hero image slot of a website, in regards to load times?” And maybe Matt, you can speak to this, too.
Taryn: Oh, yeah. Matt, you may wanna take that one. But I think having video is really important. I think obviously having those visual components is really important. I think it’s difficult sometimes if you’re, you know, with load times. I’m not gonna deny that sometimes those videos get glitchy, or they’re not loading as quickly as possible. But I think on a whole, having videos is a great, you know…I guess from a perspective of a prospect, it’s eye-grabbing, it’s eye-catching, it has some of those things. But I think…it’s hard, because you have to make sure they’re fully optimized, the right size, and that they’re working well. Matt, do you wanna…
Matt: Yeah. And Taryn, you’re exactly right. There’s a lot to gain from those videos, but done wrong, it can cost you. And so, what we’ve done with ProspectPortal is we’re leveraging YouTube, so they do all of the compression, they manage the bandwidth for the video. We’ve passed that over to them because they’re the best. There’s no reason to try and recreate that. But in addition to that, for the content of your video, the design and the intent of those hero image videos is to be 10 to 15 seconds on a loop, right? Initially, and maybe we didn’t do a good job of communicating this, but we have people put in a two or three minute video, and that’s not the intent there. It’s to grab attention, give them a taste of what your community, what life is like in that community, and what their life could be like in that community. But if you keep those videos to probably 10 to 15 seconds, it will just loop over and over, and that will greatly reduce the load time. Ten to 15 seconds on a video is probably not gonna take a lot from their end.
Taryn: To load.
Matt: So keep them short, keep them simple, and you shouldn’t run into any problems affecting load time of those videos.
Brooke: Great. Next question, “Is there a way to switch vanity phone numbers on the website based on the referral source to the website?”
Matt: Yeah. Let me take this one again. The answer is yes, absolutely. portal, underneath your lead sources, we have what are called switch codes. And so when you go to set up that lead source, you’ll actually see in there there’s a little bit of instruction there, and it will say, you know, copy and paste this onto the end of your URL. And then whenever they come from that lead source, clicking that URL that you’ve then modified, it will switch the numbers. And so that’s the solution that we’ve built in ProspectPortal. And Jaemi and Taryn, maybe you’ve seen solutions that worked for third party websites that you might wanna talk about, for those on the call that aren’t using ProspectPortal yet.
Jaemi: It came up…Oops, sorry. Go ahead.
Taryn: Yeah, go ahead Jaemi. I was gonna say, we use your guys’ stuff, so I’m not a good one for this one, but, go ahead Jaemi.
Jaemi: Yeah. I was gonna say, we don’t…Right now, the dynamic tracking outside of the Entrata port…ProspectPortal isn’t something that we’re actively doing. But I can, just as a little friendly tip, is the one thing that I’ve found using the ad sources, if you’re using a third party for Craigslist postings, or you’re doing them manually, making sure that the onsite teams have that code, because a lot of times, it will automatically show up with apartments.com, Apartment Guide, once they have that number and you’re setup with the feed. But the Craigslist isn’t going to do that. So you need to make sure that your teams have that long source code for it to change onto your website.
Brooke: Great. Thank you so much, Jaemi and Taryn. We love your feedback. And these two I guess are for Matt, because this kind of goes with the implementation of the new product. So, “Will the image sizing apply to Message Center as well, when referring to the new media library?”
Matt: I am gonna be measured in my response here. So what we’re trying to do is…This is where I do a little shuffle where I say, “Oh, yeah, yeah. We can do all these things,” and then come back and someone’s made a decision, or changed something. So, the idea is to unify the way that we’re doing images across Entrata, right? So we’re one platform. There shouldn’t be several tools to do images. I can’t say for sure that they’re gonna use exactly what we’re doing for ProspectPortal, but I can say we are trying to make that a more consistent experience across the board.
Brooke: Thank you, Matt. And this will be our last question for today. “When will the blog posting product center be live?”
Matt: So we’re looking at a early Q2 launch for that. We’ve got one standard release left this year, and then two in Q1 of next year. And so we’re trying to fit it in there, and I’m not making any promises. Q2 is our scheduled delivery, we’re gonna try and do it early. We’ve already started work, but it just depends, right? Dev can be a finicky thing, and we can run into problems that we didn’t anticipate. And so we’d like to give ourselves a little bit of leeway. And typically, when we say a date, you know, we’re held to that, and so we try to be a little bit conservative. So, early Q2 is when we’re looking at rolling out the blog functions and some of those mock ups that I showed you. That’s when that will be live.
Brooke: Thank you so much, Matt. And that’s all the time that we have today for the webinar. Thank you so much for joining us on the call. Thank you so much to Taryn and Jaemi, and Matt, especially for being our panelists. You guys did excellent. And we’ll be sending a recording of this webinar and a follow up email this week, and we look forward to having you on the next Entrata webinar. Have a great day.