The real estate industry is witnessing some interesting developments globally. From India to the Middle East, the slowing down of economies, introduction of new regulations and taxes and changing customer sentiments are making real estate businesses take a hard look at what they should be doing to close deals. Marketers aren’t exempt from this exercise. It is now, more critical than ever, for them to develop and execute campaigns that bring high quality leads to the table that converts. In this article, we seek to explore how the industry is evolving and why digital marketing for the real estate industry needs a fresh perspective.
The Real Estate Industry Is Affected By Slowing Economies
Before we delve into how marketing for real estate is shaping up, it is important to look at the emerging trends in the industry. In India, the effect of demonetisation has hit all Tier-1 cities to the extent that it is becoming difficult for the builders to sell their inventory.
Earlier, people used to buy properties as investments, even if they had a primary home to live in, to get additional income in the form of rent. This scenario is now changing due to the high property costs and the slowing down of the economy.
A similar trend can be seen in other markets as well. Take UAE for instance. According to a report by Deloitte, the introduction of VAT at a 5% rate, effective from January 2018, is expected to pose a challenge for many stakeholders in the real estate industry. It may cause cash flow concerns for some developers.
Lease incentives may also become more complicated. The average sales price for residential properties in Dubai declined by approximately 2% between Q4 2016 and Q3 2017. The same report also states that new residential supply continued to focus on the affordable segment with some developers offering multi-year payment plans.
In light of these trends, what businesses in the real estate industry need to understand is that traditional marketing will no longer cut through the clutter since not just any “leads” will do. The slow down of business in real estate coupled with rising prices, demands more focused marketing tactics.
This is why it is necessary to focus on digital marketing for the real estate industry if long-term results are to be reaped.
Where Current Marketing Practices Are Lacking
Too often businesses fall prey to paying for leads. Junk internet leads not only have horrible close-ratios, but they also end up wasting a lot of your team’s time. With a limited budget and resources available to marketing, you cannot afford to depend on such tactics to scale your business.
There is a lot you have to contend with – too many competitors, too many promotional messages and short attention spans of your audience. While traditionally, real estate advertising used print ads in newspapers, magazines, hoardings and even radio and TV ads, the changing consumer behaviour demands a change in tactics. People now spend more time browsing the Internet or on social media on their mobiles and laptops.
This is why, if you are in the real estate business, it is time to move to a performance-based marketing model.
What You Need To Know About Performance-Based Marketing
Performance-based marketing, as the name implies, uses clearly defined and measurable objectives as the basis of optimisation or payment. This can include CPA models such as affiliate marketing or ads that are based on real-time performance metrics.
Performance-based marketing is the highest ROI-producing marketing initiative that has been devised. Marketers or advertisers are paid only when a specific action such as a lead is captured or a sale is completed. Unlike traditional marketing where fees are paid up-front and are not dependent on the success of a campaign, in performance-based marketing, you only pay for successful transactions, say when you get qualified leads.
According to a survey conducted by Forrester, performance-based marketing is now the new normal. It is acknowledged by successful advertisers to be an essential approach when it comes to optimising their customer relationships.
- 70% of the survey respondents plan to improve the measurement of their ad spend effectiveness.
- 64% say they will invest in better integration of CRM with attribution/marketing performance.
Performance-Based Marketing Creates A Platform For Success
Every business should be driven by the results they truly want, not just “some” result from “some” random leads. What you need for this is a performance and a funnel-based approach. You need a marketing strategy that is custom-created for your real estate business, driven by your goals, your defined target audience and your products and services.
Don’t just think of it simply as translating traditional marketing into digital marketing for real estate industry by converting a print ad into a banner ad online or a property brochure into a landing page. Instead, what you need is to focus on building a stellar sales funnel through lead generation, lead nurturing, optimising the funnel and taking leads to closure. A strong sales funnel will make you loads of money, and a weak one could cost you just as much.
A fully validated funnel is tough to build, It depends on many variables, and a lot of research goes into it. This is why performance-based marketing needs the expertise of an agency.
- A marketing technology agency will have the strategic experience required to make technology work for selling, renting or leasing out commercial and residential spaces.
- A qualified agency is better than an in-house team. With an internal team, you might end up spending a lot on payroll and not enough on execution.
- An agency will begin by studying your business at a strategic level and execute campaigns that have long-term results.
- Such an agency will have access to the latest technology. This means they are in a better position to meet or exceed your targets with premium services, automation tools and analytical tools for better and informed decision making that impacts not only future marketing practices but also strategic C-suite level decisions.
With performance-based marketing you will be taking a holistic look at everything – from business objectives to branding, website analytics to ad spend, and margins to the viability of channels. It can be used both for enhanced retargeting and personalised advertising and requires the deployment of software to track and manage campaigns.
How To Run A Performance-Based Campaign
Digital marketing for the real estate industry is the key to unlocking valid and visible results. Understanding the process of such a campaign will help you formulate more result-oriented plans.
Start with getting the business funnel right
- Begin by identifying your ideal customers and their personas. What is the point of getting the contact details of a “lead” that is not the right target audience for you, or worse, is not even in the market looking to buy, sell or rent? The personas of customers for the real estate industry usually fall into one of these categories
- People who want to buy property for investment. They are looking for high rental yield.
- People who want to buy property with the intention of renting it out now and moving into it later. They are looking at both, high rental yield as well as how much they like the place since they intend to live there too.
- People who want to buy a property and move in immediately.
You will need to craft different targeted messages depending on which persona you are talking to as each one’s needs and aspirations are different.
Create an ad campaign:
- Start with the creative for the ad copy which can be text, images, video or a combination of the three. Map the ad to the target persona to increase the appeal of the ad.
- This can be done using targeting options, like choosing the relevant keywords or defining demographics. While creating the ad, it is also important to keep in mind which platform it is being designed for, whether Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter or Google, since every platform has its own unique features for you to play around with.
- Capture the details of visitors who are interested in your products and services (now called as leads). Leads are usually captured using forms on landing pages of your company’s website. Usually, social media followers or newsletter subscribers are not accounted for as leads unless they leave behind contact details like their name, phone number or email id.
Attribute the leads to the source:
- Once leads have been captured in your CRM system, you must attribute it to a source.
- Did the lead come from a Facebook ad, a blog post on your website or an organic Google search? There are two reasons why attribution is important (and where the true magic of performance-based digital marketing for the real estate industry lies).
- One – It is the only way to optimise an ad campaign and get better results. Two – It helps you figure out which channel, format, and ad copy produces greater ROI and needs to continue to be used in the future.
- Some sources could be giving you a higher volume of leads, but those leads might not be converting in which case you would want to focus on a channel which perhaps brings in lesser leads but which convert.
Engage and persuade:
- Now that leads have been generated, taking it to closure requires you to nurture them using appealing engagement tactics. This increases the desire for your property.
- Tactics needed to engage with luxury property buyers will differ from those needed to persuade those looking for affordable housing.
- Likewise, people looking for residential properties seek different information from builders like amenities, parking facilities, nearby schools and shopping centres, compared to commercial property buyers who will be more interested in getting information about ease of connectivity to airports, highways and train stations. One way to engage with a lead is to send an email as soon as you receive someone’s contact details. In big ticket items like housing, people expect you to call them back with more details.
- Make use of marketing automation tools to send out automated emails to educate. Such tools can also help you score leads to know which prospects are “hotter” and have your sales representative engage with them over a phone call, in-person or even with a site visit.
- Automation tools also let your sales representative know the entire history of communication with a particular lead – when an email was opened, what brochures have already been sent out, what videos have been watched by them – thus ensuring there is no repetition of communication.
Get Clear Benefits With Measurable Results
Performance-based marketing is a better approach for digital marketing for the real estate industry, instead of buying leads.
You can measure campaigns in real-time:
- According to the Performance Marketing Association, “Performance marketing is trackable and measurable down to the click. Advertisers can measure everything from the cost of acquisition to incrementality (e.g., new customers of new customers or average order value).
- Online print advertising, online advertising can be tracked and is thus subject to real-time scrutiny when it comes to the results. You can gauge the effectiveness of your campaign and respond accordingly.
- You can create personalised marketing programs:
- Depending on the customer persona, you can vary the ad creative, tone, and even the information you share, across different channels including the desktop, mobile web, mobile app, email and social media.
- What’s more, you can use the features of each platform to enrich the positioning of your ads further.
- You can make marketing and advertising accountable:
- You won’t have to waste another dollar because the rewards are based on the publisher getting real value out of the audience. You won’t have to pay the ad publishers just to get eyeballs but also to stimulate transactions. Since you pay for performance, you don’t have to worry about showing results to your management team in the form of intangibles like branding.
If You Are In The Real Estate Industry, You Should Prefer A Performance-Based Model
Marketing today is as much of a science as it is an art. The best digital marketing results will come from research and metrics and by applying them to your business. It is a major commitment that needs both technology and expert people on board to run the program.
Before you embark on a performance-based digital marketing program for your real estate business, here are a few questions you need to ask yourself. Do you have the budget and people in place to run this program effectively? Will you be able to maintain your strategy and keep it running smoothly? Have you considered collaborating with a marketing technology agency to run the program efficiently for you?