There is no doubt that the Internet is ‘where it’s at’ when it comes to marketing and exposing property product to the widest possible market.
Almost all people contemplating buying and selling property will have access to, and be a regular user of, the Internet. Any real estate agent who hasn’t realised the significance (and embraced the importance) of the Internet…will already be out of business, on the way out, or dead!!
Most people looking for something on the Internet use a search engine such as Google, MSN or Yahoo…as a kind of ‘first filter’ (Google is by far the most important in my view with circa +70% of global search traffic according to Hitwise). Sometimes property buyers will find what they are after the first search results page…or if not may be just one further click away from what they are seeking. Alternatively, they may already know the URL (web address) of a specialist site that provides the type of (or specific) information they are looking for.
For property searches, most developed economies and markets will have a number of preferred local property listing sites…all competing for search business. These sites are generally highly optimised to maintain web visibility and generate large volumes of potential buyer ‘traffic’ (both ‘unique browsers’ or ‘page views’). So if someone does a Google search for property in say Double Bay in Sydney, Manhattan in New York, or even Sheepdip in England…most of the relevant property sites (and some specific properties) should feature on the first page (or very close to it).
This search traffic can be substantially enhanced using targeted property-specific Internet ads. For sellers listing a home on a property website, it is critical to ensure that (like any ad) the content clearly sells the benefits of the property and portrays the property to best effect. Here…the most valuable material is visual (i.e. photography, video, map and floor plan) – not the agent’s photo! For property sellers, it is highly important that any Internet ad directs enquiry to the seller’s property – not the real estate agency’s website.
The Internet is a fabulous way for property buyers to research and screen suitable properties (in their own time…at their own pace…and in the privacy of their own home or office) prior to arranging any meeting with an agent or property inspection!
The most recent (and exciting) additions to the Internet direct marketing ‘tool-box’ are the Internet blog (an abridgment of the words ‘web’ and ‘log’), the podcast (an abridgment of the words i-Pod and broadcast) and a host of social-networking websites.
A blog is basically an interactive website where readers can give public or private feedback. A podcast is simply a digital file distributed over the Internet, often via RSS (really simple syndication) feed, subscription or automatic download.
Social networking Internet sites such as myspace, facebook, friendster, twitter, youtube, bebo, ringo and many other similar forums around the world will become increasingly important for property content-sharing…not just for the socially-addicted Gen X and Gen Y consumers but also for the socially and culturally demanding NEO consumers.
It is however ‘early days’ in terms of the efficacy of this form of networking for ‘selling’ property. Any good agent will still need access to quality customer data and contact information (either directly or via syndication) to make these forums and related marketing messages effective.
Notwithstanding this, these (more subtle and sophisticated) forms of media are absolutely where the future lies for direct property marketing. For property sellers, the key is discerning what is relevant to selling property and what is simply serving to promote the real estate agent. Sellers should be prepared to pay for the former…but definitely not the latter.
© Copyright Nigel Mayson. All rights reserved.
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