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The Challenge

The Cottages of Columbia was part of a 19-property portfolio acquired by Campus Advantage in 2016. The student housing property was located in Columbia, Missouri, which catered to the University of Missouri demographic.

Catalyst was contracted for rebranding efforts that included a new name, a logo, a templated website, and digital marketing campaigns to encourage interest, boost leasing, and cause them to stand out in the market. Grayson Cottages was the new name selected for the cottage-style apartment community.

One of the biggest challenges was the immediate need for a strong digital presence due to the Columbia market being highly saturated with off-campus housing for University of Missouri students, as well as noting the university dorms were not performing well from an occupancy perspective.


Once Catalyst rebranded the property as Grayson Cottages, a templated website was created to showcase new branding, property photos, floor plans, a top five amenities slider, location, etc.

In addition, search engine optimization (SEO) was utilized to maximize the clients’ online brand visibility while ensuring the site ran streamlined and optimized to offer the best user experience and avoid search engine red flags. Along with the implementation of strategic development and indexing of content, the property and its new brand were quickly presented to prospective residents, reaching as many users as possible who are searching for an apartment to rent near campus.

The implementation of search engine marketing (SEM) also was a critical component to the brand’s lead generation efforts to leverage the power of search engines such as Google to reach potential customers. By using a thoughtful and strategic approach to building out their SEM campaigns, Catalyst ensured Grayson Cottages reached precisely the users they were looking for, at the perfect time and place.

The off-campus property also incorporated Catalyst’s reputation management service, which improved the property’s image post-rebrand and served as a beneficial tool to increase leasing traffic. Each review received personalized communication, while the client received Online Reputation Assessment (ORA™) score monitoring, operational insights, PR and legal support, and more.


Grayson Cottages is a strong rebrand that continues to position the client as a standout property in the Columbia student housing market, while also giving prospective residents a strong first impression as the property ranks high in online searches. At the time this case study was written, the following data was available:

SEO (Date range: 9/26/18–9/25/19)

  • Impressions on Google improved by 699.16% over the previous year
  • Clicks on Google improved by 177.93% over the previous year
  • Generated 293 form conversions from Google users (2.05% CVR)
  • Generated 578 Apply Now clicks (2.38% CVR)

SEM (Date range: 8/6/19–9/25/19)

  • Generated 1,040 clicks to the website with a CTR of 8.42%
  • Generated 16 form conversions and 75 phone calls (8.54% CVR)
  • Cost per lead was $22.45

Website General (Date range: 10/19/18–9/25/19)

  • Website General (Date range: 10/19/18–9/25/19)
  • 14,446 unique users
  • 23,994 user sessions
  • Bounce rate: 27.24%
  • Drove 477 form conversions during this period (1.78% CVR)
  • Drove 573 Apply Now clicks (2.39% CVR)