Chris Brown Bio
Chris is vice president of product management at Apartments.com, and has been building products for the web since the late 1990s. In recent years he has become particularly fascinated with user-centered design, mobile computing and the emergence of social media, and how they are transforming business and communications both inside and out of the multifamily industry. Chris is by nature skeptical but not cynical, and tends to cast a wary but hopeful eye on new technologies and behaviors. Ultimately, he believes, good product development comes from keeping an open mind to new ideas, and validating those ideas through iteration, user feedback, testing and more testing. Outside of work, Chris likes to enjoy the architecture, food, shopping and parks of his hometown of Oak Park, IL, with his wife and two kids.
Yesterday, I paid for my coffee with my iPhone.
So you’re thinking, whoop-de-doo for you. I didn’t even think much of it myself. I simply downloaded the latest Starbucks app, coupled it to a gift card I had registered earlier online, and, voila, the $14 left on that gift card was now at my disposal on my phone. The barista scanned the QR-like barcode directly from my phone, which debited the balance on my card. What convenience — other than no longer having to carry a slim gift card in my pocket — did this advance grant me? I can check my balance anytime, which is nice, but, otherwise, not much.
So why is this a bigger deal than even I thought? Read More
There’s been a lot of debate about the roll – and the perils – of online reviews in the multifamily space. Mostly, the concern, when boiled down, is about ceding control of the message from the marketing department to the consumer/renter. And that’s a daunting prospect, no doubt.
Those who know me know I’ve got my own reservations about user reviews, not so much because, if abused, they can be unfairly damaging to a business (that risk is overblown), but because I often find them more confusing than helpful, and don’t like the anonymity factor. (I have other issues, too. For example, have you noticed recently how pretty much every restaurant on Yelp! is now rated 3-4 stars? It’s uncanny how consistent our restaurants are today!) Read More
As if browsing the web wasn’t distracting enough, along comes RockMelt, a new browser causing buzz and envy over invites into the not-so-private beta (any club that accepts me as a member can’t be too exclusive, to paraphrase Groucho Marx).
While I would like to believe my recent post inspired our friends at Archstone to up their investment in their mobile presence, clearly they have been all over this for a long time.
As the release of their new mobile website and iPhone app for residents demonstrates, Archstone understands that mobility is key to reaching its audience. I tried out the site (to use the app you must prove you’re a resident, which, unfortunately, I am not) and was truly impressed by how fast and easy the site is to use. I was even more impressed by Archstone’s motivation to invest in mobile, as Donald Davidoff explains in his recent blog post: 1. Prospective and current residents are mobile, 2. It improves efficiency and 3. It improves communication. Read More
Are you investing in mobile advertising? Well, someone sure is.
According to an eMarketer study released yesterday, mobile ad spending will be up nearly 80 percent in 2010, to $743 million (which is revised from a $593 million estimate released earlier this year), and in 2011 will top $1 billion. Therefore, says eMarketer, “Mobile has broken through to reach the mainstream of digital advertising.”
This growth is driven by the explosion in smartphone usage. At Apartments.com, visits to our mobile sites have more than doubled year over year and the trend can be traced back to the 2009 holiday season when the proliferation of Android-powered handsets and iPhones, not to mention the steady sales of Blackberries, caused an unmistakable hockey stick-style spike in traffic. Those trends have continued through 2010, and throw in the expected surge in mobile-enabled tablet sales this holiday season, and it’s safe to agree with eMarketer’s assertion that ad spending – which, let’s face it, always follows consumers – in mobile is going mainstream. Read More
We’ve been talking a lot about how October 1, along with May 1, are traditionally the biggest moving days of the year, and naturally got a lot of folks asking why that is. Our assumption was that it was pegged to the seasons: That no one in his or her right mind would choose to move in the extremes of winter or summer. But we decided to do a little digging – internet-style – into the origins of the fall and spring moving rituals, and found we were not too far off. According to Wikipedia, the May 1 tradition got its start in New York:
Moving Day was a tradition in New York City dating back to colonial times and lasting until after World War II. On February 1, sometimes known as “Rent Day”, landlords would give notice to their tenants what the new rent would be after the end of the quarter, the tenants would spend good-weather days in the early spring searching for new houses and the best deals and on May 1 all leases in the city expired simultaneously at 9:00 AM, causing thousands of people to change their residences, all at the same time. Read More
Read on for six short-description writing tips that will improve your listing performance on Apartments.com and any listing service.
“Great location… close to the bus stop.” Read More
As you may know, Apartments.com recently announced the results of our testing and subsequent launch of Live Chat. Long story short, by facilitating a live online conversation directly between the leasing office (or the call center) and the renter, we’re seeing an increase in leads without sacrificing other lead types, like email, phone and availability checks through vendors like VaultWare. We’ve effectively (and not too immodestly) introduced a new, highly effective and incremental lead type to the ILS space, and needless to say are pretty excited about it. But like any lead, you get out of Live Chat what you put into it.
Below is a little exercise I like to call “Good Chat/Not-As-Good Chat,” where I compare two actual Live Chat transcripts taken from our site. A Good Chat takes attentiveness and strong customer service skills. Leasing professionals who focus first on answering questions, not selling a lease, will ultimately capture more lead data and have more success with Live Chat. Read More