Choosing a Product Name: Viewings on Demand™

Two individuals looking at an iPad, in a room with post it notes on a glass wall between them and the photographer.  There is an exposed brick wall in the background.

When we brainstormed a name for a new product, the ability to book apartment viewings instantly, we considered numerous ideas:

– Rent Now
– Showings on Demand
– Viewings on Demand
– Immediate View
– Instant Viewings
– InstaView
– InstaKey
– TourScheduler

And many more…

You name it, we probably thought of it – a lot of good ideas, and a lot of bad ideas.

We love to A/B or split test everything, but in this case, we were inventing a brand new concept in real estate and for clarity wanted to present a single name to introduce the feature.

Instead of testing, we decided to use the terms our renters used most often. We mined the previous 500,000 unique messages that our renters had sent via our messaging platform. We then counted the instances of certain words and phrases, to see what was most popular. The results of that test, from most to least popular, were the following:

1 – See
2 – Now
3 – View
4 – Viewing
5 – Show
6 – See It
7 – Today
8 – Schedule
9 – Showing

“See” was the term used most often, followed by “Now”, so we chose to call the feature “See It Now.” Clever, right? Well, not so much…

We made collateral, cartoons, flyers, etc., all with the term “See it Now”. But once we launched the beta, we realized that most users had no interest in actually seeing something now. In fact, 50% wanted to see the apartment the following day or in a few days.

We therefore decided to rename this new feature, but incorporate “on demand” because it connoted both immediately and a later time.

We were left deciding between “Showings on Demand” and “Viewings on Demand”. From our renter messages, we knew that “Viewings” was more popular, but “Showings” was the term used by real estate pros. (Like in many industries, there’s a large disconnect between insider jargon and what consumers understand, but that’s a different post altogether.) We had more difficulty getting real estate pros to adopt this idea, so we decided to use the phrase that they most easily understood – showings.

When we officially launched in July 2013 we were covered across industry and tech blogs, TV news, major papers, etc. Showings on Demand™ was everywhere, and would be emulated by other real estate companies, all claiming to be the first to have the idea. Someone even went as far as registering the trademark “Showing on Demand” with the US patent and trade office.

Consumers quickly adopted this new way of seeing apartments, which meant we could begin A/B testing names against real users and get statistically significant data. And just as we expected, using the word “Viewing” always converted at a higher rate than the word “Showing.”

We eventually convinced real estate pros to shift their perspective by illustrating how our product meets the demands of the modern real estate client. Now that we had the supply side of the marketplace on board, we decide it was finally time to drop the word showing, and use the more renter-centric term: Viewings on Demand™.

But in the end, what matters most to this product’s success isn’t the name, the marketing, or the PR, but rather the overall user experience. As the above story illustrates, we’ve tested and analyzed even the name until it met our high standards for customer satisfaction. But that testing doesn’t even come close to the amount of testing we’ve run on the user interface. And we’ll never settle there either– just look at our iOS experience compared to our desktop experience or our mobile web experience. You’re bound to run across slightly different features each time as we determine the best user experience for our customers.