In 2017 we, at Digible, made a large commitment to research. Our two biggest initiatives were Networked Surveys and Digital Simulations. A lot of energy and resources were put into these projects, and we’d like to share some of that with the rest of the property management community 🙂
In this series, we'll speak to the digital simulations that we've been running over the past year = putting people in front of machines while they go through the process of looking for an apartment. Out of our two initiatives, this was undoubtedly the most ambitious and costly endeavor.
For years, my co-founder Reid Wicoff, has been interested in running a series of experiments he called "SimulSearch". His idea was that someone should do what Nielsen did for the TV industry - get a panel of people to allow us to study how consumers search online.
Sure, Google provides advertisers with access to "search query reports" but this doesn't show us all of the activity that a searcher did before they arrived at a given website. We as marketers also don't have great information on the demographics of the individual that conducted a given search before taking an action. With SimulSearch, Reid wanted to observe the entire customer journey. For example, how exactly does a 40-year old, $85K / yr, office worker search for an apartment?
And so, in the Summer of 2017 we took action and started running Digible Simulations.
How do apartment goers go about their apartment search
Is it direct or meandering?
What platforms are used?
How do people get to an ILS?
How do folks engage with the different ILS'?
What's their opinion of the user experience?
Do people with different demographics and socioeconomics search for apartments differently?
Survey the demographics and socioeconomics of our panel
Run Digital Simulations
Open Session (free roaming apartment searches)
Alternating PC's, Macs, and Chromebooks
Click-stream Tracking Installed
Desktop Screen Recording
Webcam Recording Enabled
Desktop Microphone Enabled
User Emotion Tracking Analytics
Move over heatmaps, we tracked people’s emotional responses as they surfed the web = for sure the coolest tech of the study and maybe the most fascinating
After running more than 100 tests, and analyzing over 60 hours of tape, we’ve learned some things... In this series of we'll dive into the details. To keep you interested, here are some quick nuggets:
Zillow is the ILS that is most like Google
People use Google Maps far more than you'd expect
(and almost no one is advertising there!)
Craigslist is not well liked for the user experience.... but it is SUPER effective
Even for a $10k / month penthouse apartment!
Apartments.com may feel like the industry gorilla, but few users get there purposely
Apartment websites are poor at converting
Digible Simulations - The ILS'
Digible Simulations - "The Google"
Digible Simulations - Craigslist
Digible Simulations - Conclusions and the future of the program
Stay tuned for more!