Real estate marketing on the web requires an ongoing effort to engage the potential buyer

Peter ChittendenAugust 12, 20130 min read

I recently read a headline attributed to a US market research group that in part announced, “that virtually every home buyer did the majority of their research on the internet” – I think that most of us would agree that is also our experience in Australia.

While traditional media still has a role to play, buyers are clearly relying upon property related web sites and the internet to help find their new home.

Other research (from a number of sources including the Newspaper Association of America and AC Neilsen) clearly shows that the most trusted information on the web comes from company branded web sites.

These sites rank much higher and a more trusted than commercial portals, in fact company branded sites are only out ranked by personal recommendation, consumer on-line forums and editorial comment while at the bottom of the survey we find text advertising on mobile phones as the least trusted.

Potential buyers are now clearly investing time to ‘self-educate’ themselves about real estate market conditions.

It is vital that any engagement with the market remains a two-way process and that as a professional service we enhance the decision-marking journey via our own and project web sites.

To do so requires an ongoing effort to understand how the Internet is being used.

Recently, I had the opportunity of taking a detailed look at some interesting trends drawn from almost seven million site visits across a number of major projects.

None of us are strangers to the value of the internet in helping to market projects and so I think it is valuable to recount some of the key trends that I came across.

From the outset I think it is now realistic to see our marketing operating on a 24/7 basis – office hours and open for inspections aside in ‘virtual’ terms the market never sleeps, it might nap but never really switches off.

Web traffic to the real estate sites that I refer to ran across a full 24 hours, traffic was at its lowest point from around mid-night to seven am and after seven am traffic then ramped up to peak visit numbers around 10am daily. Then between 10am and 10pm – that’s a full 12 hours, activity was more or less constant.

One fact this clearly reinforces is that the impact of  smart phones and tablets as potential buyers access the web anywhere, from being on a bus to being in bed and now at almost any time.

It is also worth noting that the early bird traffic, that is between mid-night and 7am was about 30% of the peak time of 10am, and so that’s not a small number of potential buyers.

Another stand out trend, which I have to freely admit, is a statistic I have seen quoted frequently, was that most web traffic was recorded on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, with Saturday and Sunday both low volume days.

Tuesday has long been seen as one of the best days for email marketing to your data base and that appears to be sound thinking, there’s lots of research to support this. With weekends a prime time to visit properties it also comes as no surprise that Friday’s are popular – it’s common sense.

Another key measure of activity was that first impressions on a web site appear to be critical as the drop off between visits to a site’s home page to the next most read page was frequently well over 70%.

That is 70% of site visitors did not bother or feel interested enough to go past the home page of a site, either they had not interest in the sites details or they may not have been attracted to what they read or saw on the home page. It’s another reason the home page should always be fresh.

While I am the first to admit these are just a few points relating to a complex and ongoing subject, each is worth noting and serves to my mind, to reinforce the need to keep an eye on how we use the internet as a key marketing tool.

Peter Chittenden is managing director for residential of Colliers International.

Peter Chittenden

Peter Chittenden is managing director for residential of Colliers International.
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