Case Study

Go big or go home—making the case for digital outsourcing.

    Related Companies is a privately-owned real estate firm with a worldwide portfolio of properties valued at over $20 billion. Their US-based luxury rental portfolio includes over 25 properties that provide distinctive apartments in premier locations. Related Companies approached Smart Panda Labs in 2015, initially to help them get their rental division’s digital marketing efforts on track.

    When Smart Panda Labs began working with the company, they had little to no digital presence outside of their website, which itself was not optimized for search. Their rental division’s new senior vice president of marketing had a monumental task ahead of her, and she correctly gauged that her needs exceeded what could be managed successfully in house.

    We are thrilled with the complete transformation of Related Rentals’ digital marketing and technology programs after engaging Smart Panda Labs. They dedicated more than 20 experts to our digital efforts, including everything from SEO to database marketing and technology support. Their team is a truly invaluable extension of our own.
    – Andrea Kazanjian, Senior Vice President of Marketing

    A Complete Digital Strategy Transformation

    As our relationship with The Related Companies grew, so did our share of their digital marketing efforts. In the first year of the engagement we committed over 20,000 hours and more than 20 panda experts to their digital efforts, working across multiple channels simultaneously and collaborating closely with their marketing team. In fact, our consulting services for Related include the full spectrum of services we offer, from search engine marketing and conversion rate optimization to customer intelligence and marketing technology support.

    Here’s a peek behind the curtain.

    Search Engine Optimization

    The Related Companies turned to Smart Panda Labs to get their digital presence on the map.

    Initially, we ran scans of their website to find and assess weaknesses in SEO and user experience. We provided their IT department with recommendations to fix the uncovered issues ranked by priority and level of effort. Since we began, our pandas have:

    • Updated 230 page titles
    • Created and added meta descriptions for 22 pages
    • Updated 148 meta descriptions
    • Reduced 6,038 instances of broken links to 1,464 (-76%)
    • Resolved 192 CSS errors


    • Conversions from organic search increased +164% year over year.
    Increased Organic Search Traffic Conversion

    Paid Search Marketing

    We audited and rebuilt Related Companies’ paid search campaign for their luxury rental portfolio to improve performance and reduce costs. The migration and rebuild of their paid search included:

    • 17,214 bid changes
    • 38,334 keyword changes
    • 4,721 ad changes
    • Weekly, monthly and quarterly PPC reports
    • The design and development of 40+ campaign landing pages


    • Drove more than 2.1 million impressions
    • Increased click through rate (CTR) 439% after one month and 575% after two months compared to start of engagement
    • Reduced cost per click (CPC) 10.2% after one month and 16.5% after two months compared to start of engagement
    • Email subscription opt-in forms reaching over 1,500
    Increased Clickthrough Rate

    Testing + Optimization

    In the fall, we implemented an ABn/multivariate testing and content personalization tool called Optimizely. This technology has allowed us to quickly make and test changes to ensure recommended optimizations lead to measurable improvements.  What were the results of our earliest efforts?

    Actions + Results:

    • Made images/titles clickable on key campaign landing pages = Increased engagement by +6.7%
    • Changed the Call-to-Action on the website = Increased form initiation rate by +112%
    • Changed the form submit button copy on campaign landing pages = Increased lead conversion rate by +25.6%
    Increased Lead Conversion

    Email Database Marketing

    Prior to our collaboration Related was already using Salesforce Marketing Cloud, but their client relationship management and digital communications strategies had many challenges. Messages were not CAN-Spam compliant, for example, and there was no direct feed of prospect data into a CRM platform or email service provider.


    • Eliminated duplicate records and correct hundreds of mistyped email addresses through extensive data hygiene efforts
    • Established an API feed from several collection points into Salesforce Marketing Cloud
    • Initiated database growth initiatives, including landing page and social media sign ups and a pop-up modal
    • Mapped and segmented data to achieve more personal and effective marketing
    • Eliminated the need for manual data import and user upload errors
    • Leveraged the A/B testing module in their email platform to optimize user engagement


    • Collected over 2,500 new records
    • Email has averaged 50–60% open rates (30-40% above industry average)
    • Click-through rates are averaging 12–15% (9-12% above industry average)
    • Testing has increased engagement metrics up to 15%
    Industry Open Rate
    Related Open Rate

    Analytics + Intelligence

    Business intelligence can help maximize the results of digital marketing, but the right tools are necessary to acquire this informed perspective. We helped Related select, implement and leverage analytics and testing platforms, including:

    • Ensighten Tag Management—enabling faster deployment, updates and management of web analytics, campaign tracking, survey code and testing code
    • Adobe Analytics—to provide robust reporting and rich data
    • Foresee Results—to gather customer insight that aides informed decision making.


    • Reviewed and fixed more than 15 analytics tracking issues
    • Reactivated conversion tracking for the website and campaigns
    • Created a campaign tracking methodology
    • Built weekly, monthly and quarterly performance reports
    • Added new traffic channels, including email, vanity ads and display ads


    • Total conversions are up +57%
    • Conversion rate (conversions per visits) is up +124%
    • Mobile traffic is up +177%
    • Percent of paid search traffic increased +24%

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