Search Discovery helps Apartment Finder capture digital apartment hunters.

SDI is helping Apartment Finder find new ways to reach more apartment hunters as they transition from print to digital. The way people shop for and find apartments has shifted rapidly to the digital world. And digital is a crowded place.

Since 1981, Apartment Finder has been the preferred choice for consumers looking for apartments across the nation.

Success breeds more opportunity.

Let’s face it, if you look at the various apartment hunting websites, they all look pretty much the same. Similar names, same enter the zip code to search, and so on. Apartment Finder needed a way to stand out from their competition, but without significantly adding to the budget.

Search Discovery has been working with Apartment Finder since the launch of their new site several years ago. We partnered with them to ensure the highest level of visibility for search engines in their new site redesign. We managed the site migration from an SEO standpoint with the goal of not losing any valuable organic traffic. Our recommendation on migrating to a new platform, auditing current performance, and managing the migration project led to increased organic traffic and higher conversion rates when the new site launched.

Now, they’ve come to us with a second goal: increasing traffic without breaking the bank.

Bumps along the road.

We had a solid understanding of Apartment Finder’s business model, which was incredibly valuable to us as we considered options to design and launch a new paid media approach.

As Apartment Finder began their transition to digital they began revisiting their definition and view of communities. The previously created definitions were based on physical limitations when distributing printed materials. Now, the shift to digital meant they could revamp and retool how communities and locales were defined. Their current approach was to manage hundreds of local budgets so that spend on campaigns could tie direct to local revenues. We found the was a lot of opportunity to drive efficiency by consolidating and running national campaigns in parallel.

However, we went a little too far. While a national campaign made sense, it didn’t work as well as we had hoped. We had shifted too far and found ourselves needing to shift back to local to better align with how Apartment Finder worked as a business. We quickly changed direction and landed on a campaign approach that was semi-national, semi-local in approach, where we looked for technology to leverage improve buying media across the board.

The key to our joint success ultimately was not just the right blend of national and local campaigns but diversification. We worked to get Apartment Finder’s brand out to more places. The use of facebook became a key channel in this effort, where we could support local communities inexpensively. Facebook provided a lot of exposure, bringing traffic in through 3rd party referral. Not to mention, Facebook CPCs are cheaper than other channels, therefore meeting the clients goal of inexpensively raising awareness.

How our efforts paid off.

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The move from ASP.NET Web Forms to MVC when the site migrated resulted in a 300% improvement in load time, as well as a 50% increase in conversion rate. Page level performance was improved by using landing pages designed to support conversion and relevance. As a result, bounce rates were cut by 50% and conversion improved by 40-60%.

The work with Apartment Finder’s IT removing problems in the code now meant search engines were able to crawl and index 500% more content. The new content views better connected with search interests, which doubled Google’s indexed pages and drove over 1,000,000 annual visits from organic search.

We were able to bid and optimize in a different ways to make these 2,000 previously underserved Apartment Finder communities show up more in ads. We leveraged our expertise as an agency to deliver huge results, and 59% of leads came from this particular campaign.

New mindsets going forward.

Looking back, we really went through an interesting change in thinking with Apartment Finder. Through the project we ended up helping them migrate from physical-based geographical model for marketing, to a different thinking of the targeted geographies based on the digital world. The new mentality ended up providing them an opportunity to expand their offerings.

What could we have done better? It was interesting for us to learn that, although we already had worked with Apartment Finder in other areas, that didn’t mean we knew enough about them to just dive right in. The hiccup of trying to launch a national campaign clearly proved this. In hindsight, we should have done what we do with every new client, and do more stakeholder interviewing. We’ve since adjusted our approach to how we handle new ventures with existing clients to ensure we’re in tune with their specific needs.

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