Beth O’Brien, Chief Revenue Office at Onthehouse Group and founder of the Real Estate Ad Network gives her opinion on how agents can begin to ‘even the playing field’ with the portals through the use of next generation marketing.
I recently sold my own property in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. Like most vendors, I ended up paying a huge fee for online advertising, one that equated to thousands of dollars out of my back pocket for each pre-auction offer. As an advertising professional, that bothered me a lot.
The beauty of using online media is that you can scrutinise every dollar you spend, and every lead you acquire. This allows you to understand the return on your investment. In most industries this is standard practice. In real estate this is only now beginning to happen – great news for agents, vendors and consumers.
In recent weeks, major column inches have been dedicated to the industry’s trials and tribulations dealing with Australia’s largest property listing site – one of the concerns is the lack of transparency for advertisers. The real estate industry is full of some of the best negotiators in the country – how did we get into such a position of disadvantage? Australia’s dominant online media player is taking advantage the fact that principals and sales agents have little time to devote to understanding the return on investment for their e–marketing. It has also exploited a division within the industry, where some agents can make a small margin by passing the cost on to vendors.
But times have changed. Major capital cities are experiencing near record clearance rates, and clients are beginning to question the cost of advertising their property. It is past time that agents catch on that they are overpaying for online leads – and that only one company is reaping the benefits.
In principle, the appointment of media buyer Viseum by the Real Estate Digital Marketing Services (REDMS) group to negotiate advertising rates on its behalf is a good thing. Our industry is too fragmented for each office to have its own digital marketing expert on hand. The skills required take time to develop, and as most principals will agree, their teams are far too busy out in the market making sales to become online advertising experts.
The real estate industry needs the knowledge and support of partners like Viseum if agents are to be able to operate on an even playing field when it comes to digital marketing. For this to happen, a mindset change needs to occur. Agents need the knowledge and tools to measure the cost to lead – and be able to understand exactly what they are getting for what they pay. This valuable information is not just essential for managing their own business, but is of great help for building accountable relationships with vendors – the type of relationships that lead to new client referrals. At the moment, there is little or no transparency for agents, let alone clients in the market. And at the end of the day, it is the agents who are missing out.
How agents can improve their marketing game
- Increase the use of your own website and channels – make sure you are tracking leads from visitors and capturing information whenever possible.
- Examine other free listing opportunities – there are websites out there that allow free listings.
- Build and keep your own database current and relevant. Your best leads will come from your own database – so use it.
At Onthehouse Group’s Console site for agents, we’ve started our own blog to help provide some fast and simple tips on next gen marketing, read them here: http://www.console.com.au/latest/blogs.
Beth O’Brien is Chief Revenue Office at Onthehouse Group, and is the founder of the Real Estate Ad Network.