This summer, WhoseYourLandlord set out to achieve one thing – growth.
We offer a way for tenants to rate their landlords and to find housing, making money through advertising and renter services, like credit reports and background checks. Historically, we’ve been a company geared towards Philly and New York City. After a few years in the game, we knew it was time to deepen those existing roots while also angling for expansion. So, in May, we selected three key areas of focus: increasing our inventory of listings and reviews, boosting user engagement and committing ourselves to strong content marketing. In our minds, while there was a straight path to achieving these goals, we knew there’d inevitably be some snags in the road getting there.
During the top half of the year, we worked with a listings aggregating partner that just wasn’t good. Our housing listings were sucky and outdated. The images were grainy. And, therefore, we didn’t promote the listings at all. They were all based in New York City, D.C. and Philly, our key markets, but they weren’t providing any value to our end users. We knew we had to do something.
In July, we made a change. After many phone calls and pitches, we were able to nail down several high-quality real estate partners. We also started running our organic listings process in beta, where property managers, landlords, building owners and brokers could list their own properties on our site. This was great for us because we were able to set up many sit-down meetings with those kinds of people around Philly and New York City. If we were going to grow in these markets, it was important we make a personal connection with the real estate folks who operated within them.
Lastly, we put an all-out ground effort and university partnership campaign towards gathering reviews and engaging with communities. By the summer’s end, we increased our review total, on the platform, by 320 percent, from the top of the year and had partnerships with the likes of Philly’s own Allan Domb Real Estate, listing platform Listhub and property management software Appfolio. So far, we’ve added 250,000 listings to the platform — nationwide.
Upping our marketing game
When this year started, we had 80,000 active users, or renters, in the housing market. When it came to game planning, we had to figure out a way to increase this number on a weekly and monthly basis. We opened Q1 with a two-month subway and bus ad campaign (some ads are still up, shh!). It’s not the first time we’ve done this. We do it to set brand precedence. As people, we attach importance and a perceived level of sophistication to companies we see on TV ads and in subway campaigns. We assume they have a lot of money and, therefore, a lot of clout. We took advantage of this.
Aside from the physical ads, we added college ambassadors to our team. Our ambassadors used Temple as their home base and went into the surrounding community, garnering reviews and boosting face-to-face engagement. We even partnered up with campus safety on Temple’s campus to gather landlord data for the student body.
Our social media game increased too and we became super intentional in who we were targeting with our ads, boosted posts and overall messaging. Facebook helps us share our story and content. Instagram establishes our brand feel. And Twitter allows us to be a part of the conversation (something we’re still getting better at). All in all, we’ve reached 150,000 active users and we’re experiencing a 27 percent month over month growth rate. And this has all been accomplished with minimal funding.
Using content to drive engagement
WhoseYourLandlord started the year with around 1,000 likes on Facebook. We now sit here in Q4 with more than 10,000. This is due to a few factors. First, we started sharing content that people actually care about. I continue to blog with LinkedIn, which gets new eyeballs on the kind of content we share and helps drive traffic to our site. We started sharing the stories of WhoseYourLandlord’s users and would also do posts around the current state of the rental industry.
Beyond normal blogging, we began profiling tastemakers in different cities. For example, this summer, we shot a series called Women Taking Ownership of NYC. In this series we highlighted some of the most accomplished and hard working women in one of the toughest cities in America. This series included people who work at Google, TV personalities, artists, educators and entrepreneurs. Not only did our users read and engage with their stories, but the subjects’ own networks engaged, too.
As I mentioned in the beginning, our goal for this summer was to experience growth. With partnerships inked with TransUnion, Allstate NYC and several listings syndicators, we’re ready to surpass our expectations. We’ve done a solid job putting ourselves in a space where we can capitalize off of future media opportunities we’ll receive and we have no intentions of slowing down — just speeding up.-30-
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