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The Challenge

Cleveland-based developer Stark Enterprises, in partnership with Campus Advantage — a leader in student housing, providing property management, consulting, acquisitions, and development services — contracted Catalyst to assist in the lease-up of Liv+ Gainesville, a new student housing property in Gainesville, Florida, that catered to the University of Florida student market. Scheduled to open in fall 2020, the property was in a unique position where the physical building did not yet exist, but marketing needed to take place during the construction phases to not only create awareness and excitement in the market, but also generate a significant pre-leasing effort via a strong digital branding presence.

The Solution

The Catalyst team established the brand look and feel along with the creation of a marketing strategy that would help support leasing efforts for the Liv+ Gainesville team — a custom website, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), social media marketing (SMM), and reputation management.

A custom designed website incorporated the new brand identity and color palette, which featured eye-catching elements of purple, teal, and lime green, as well as an unconventional grid layout with a floor plans slider, unique interactive features, and lifestyle images/video that catered to their target audience. A strong brand presence was created with visual appeal that caused the client to stand out among the more traditional competitors within a very saturated market. To generate interest and boost leasing efforts for a unit unseen, Catalyst created a marketing strategy that encompassed the use of strategic digital tools.

SEO was utilized to maximize the clients’ online brand visibility while ensuring the site is streamlined and optimized to offer the best user experience, avoid search engine red flags, and implement strategic development and indexing of content. This allowed the brand to reach as many users as possible who are searching for an apartment to rent near campus.

The implementation of SEM was also 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 Liv+ Gainesville reached precisely the users they were looking for, at the perfect time and place, via a Search with Display campaign.

The off-campus property will also incorporate Catalyst’s reputation management service, which is designed to maintain the property’s branded image and serve as a beneficial tool to increase leasing traffic. Each review receives personalized communication, while the client receives Online Reputation Assessment (ORA™) score monitoring, operational insights, PR and legal support, and more.

In addition, a strong aspect of establishing a standout digital presence was the implementation of SMM, where Tier 2 (carousel images) ads ran on Facebook and Instagram that captured the targeted audience’s attention.

The Results

At the time this case study was written, leasing numbers and reputation reporting were not available due to the property just beginning the construction phase. However, the custom website successfully serves as a home base for prospects interested in signing at the property or just wanting to learn more information. The website gives visitors an opportunity to experience a sense of upscale student living, while also positioning Liv+ Gainesville as a successful, attractive brand. At the time this case study was written, the following data was available:

SEO (Date range: 7/15/19–9/27/19)

  • Improved average position on Google by 38.6 positions for the 36 targeted non-branded keywords being tracked
  • Average daily impressions on Google improved by more than 1,000% after beginning SEO services

SEM (Date range: 8/30/19–9/26/19)

  • 1,123 clicks at a 8.42% CTR

SMM (Date range: 8/28/19–9/26/19)

  • Generated 459 clicks at a 1.12% CTR
  • Reached 19,375 people

Website General (Date range: 7/15/19–9/26/19)

  • Drove 4,073 unique users to the website
  • 5,087 user sessions
  • 15.86% bounce rate
  • 2.46 pages per session
  • 2:05 avg. session duration
  • Generated 178 form submissions from users at a 3.5% CVR