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Apartments.com finds a home in mobile via campaign, Web site


Home page.

Apartments.com, a site that matches apartment seekers with units and provides property managers with a marketing platform, appears to be reaping the benefits of its recent mobile ramp-up, boosted by a campaign on Huffington Post, as sales and traffic to its site surge.

As more consumers search for residences on mobile, having a strong presence here is critical for brands such as Apartments.com and could be helping drive its recent jump during March to No. 1 in traffic versus other apartment rental sites and an eightfold sales surge. The results provide evidence why businesses need to treat mobile as a must-have rather than an optional feature as consumers perform more tasks on mobile. 

“Achieving good SEO is no small task,” said Shuli Lowy, marketing director for mobile with Ping Mobile. “It is a big win for a company. 

“One of the contributing factors to a high ranking spot on search results is having a mobile optimized experience,” she said. “In fact, earlier this year Google announced that it would give priority placement to mobile friendly sites.

“No doubt, Apartments.com’s attention to mobile has contributed to its success,” she said.

Topping traffic
Apartments.com was tops in traffic in March, according to Web traffic monitors comScore, Compete.com, Experian Hitwise and Alexa. 

Huffington Post mobile ad.

Traffic to Apartments.com more than doubled in March compared with a year ago with 15 million visits and seven million unique visitors. Leads to property managers and owners rose nearly 67 percent year-over-year. 

All these steps contributed to the best Apartments.com sales month ever amid an 827 percent increase in net bookings in the first quarter of 2015 compared with a year earlier.

Rankings for companies that play a role in brokering real estate are very competitive because their leads are valuable. Industries which can get a higher profit per customer tend to have a have a harder time achieving higher search engine rankings. 

Additionally, their search based campaigns are competitive and their trigger keywords are therefore more expensive. For example, it is more expensive to buy an ad that responds to someone who searches for an apartment than for a shoe repair. 

The consumer who is searching for an apartment will likely spend more on the final product—making him/her a more valuable lead. 

Since its acquisition of Apartments.com in April 2014, CoStar Group has completely rebuilt and launched a new consumer centric Apartments.com Web site that includes over 550,000 current availabilities. Apartments.com had 18,200 listings at the time it was acquired in April 2014. 

The makeover includes a national marketing campaign featuring acclaimed actor Jeff Goldblum which launched March 1. 

CoStar disclosed the results when it announced it had agreed to acquire Apartment Finder, a rental listings marketplace Web site, for $170 million to expand its network of apartment marketing Web sites. The acquisition is expected to close in 90 days.

Apartment Finder's service offerings include digital advertising on ApartmentFinder.com with approximately 13,400 properties advertised on its Web site. 

Headquartered in Washington, DC, CoStar maintains offices throughout the United States, Canada and Europe with a staff of approximately 3,000 worldwide. It operates Web sites with over 22 million unique monthly visitors in aggregate.

The Huffington Post campaign is an example of Apartments.com’s enhanced mobile strategy.

The Apartments.com ad appeared as a banner ad beneath the “HuffPost” flag.

Clicking on the ad opened onto a two part display that had a video at the top and a “Go there” button on the bottom. Clicking the button took the user directly to the mobile-optimized Apartments.com site. 

The home page prominently displayed a box for the user to fill in city, ZIP code and neighborhood.

Swiping down took the user to a promotion for Apartments.com’s search tools. The user could use Polygon to draw a neighborhood and Watch Plan Commute to search using a preferred commute time and method.

“The Huffington Post has 51.3 million unique visitors on mobile each month—that’s 26 percent more unique visitors than the site gets on PCs,” Ms. Lowy said. “Naturally, an open-ended campaign with Huffington Post would see significant mobile traffic.” 

Mobile initiatives
Apartments.com is no stranger to mobile initiatives. 

Making apartment-hunting easier.

Two years ago, with its mobile traffic growing 96 percent year-over-year, Apartments.com and sister site RentalHomesPlus.com both ramped up their mobile strategy with new apps and the enhancement of existing ones.

Whether consumers are shopping for an apartment or a rental home, renters on-the-go are embracing mobile to help in their search for a new place to live.

Renters looking for a single-family home can search thousands of listings from a wide range of mobile devices using the new RentalHomesPlus.com apps for Android, Kindle Fire, iPhone and iPad.

“Looking for an apartment usually begins with a Web search and the majority of searches are done on mobile devices,” Ms. Lowy said. “Apartments.com understands that in order to succeed they need to take mobile seriously. 

“The site has also released several apps—providing a better user experience for consumers who are searching for apartments, she said. “The app search tools provide multiple options for users to sort through apartment listings. 

“Sorting contributes to a significantly improved user experience in mobile because the screens are small and it is hard for consumers to comb through long lists,” she said. 

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York

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Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.

Related content: Real estate, Apartments.com, mobile, mobile commerce, mobile marketing, Shuli Lowy, Ping Mobile

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