In May 2017, the Victorian government introduced the statement of information (SOI), a document which was designed to add more transparency into residential real estate sales and address underquoting. The SOI needs to be displayed wherever a property is advertised, including online.
While many Australian states have introduced similar policies, Victoria’s is the most stringent. One of the impacts of the SOI is that email enquiries from sources like the real estate portals have dropped.
In fact, since 2016, the average number of enquiries a Victorian real estate office receives annually from major real estate portals has dropped by over 60%. In other states, over the same period portal enquiry volume has been consistent.
So, why is enquiry volume from the portals dropping in Victoria?
Think about why people submit an enquiry. They want answers to questions like: What is the selling price the vendor wants? What are comparable sales in the area? What offers have been made and rejected?
With all this information is available in the SOI, then there is no real incentive for a prospect to submit an email enquiry. They will roll up to the open home, decide if they like the property, and hopefully place a bid on auction day.
It’s essential to keep in mind that customer behaviour is not static. As technology changes so do customer expectations and how customers respond to marketing campaigns. As a result, real estate agents need to use technology to meet customer expectations and execute effective campaigns.
What is telling is that over the same period since the SOI was adopted, we have seen enquiry volume from different sources such as websites and digital ads increase by 120% in Victoria.
The key driver of this is effective marketing that uses technology to provide consumers with an incentive to submit their contact details – and generate a crucial lead.
What is fascinating about what has happened in Victoria is that it is a case study of what to do when the ‘usual’ marketing strategies no longer work.
So what are the strategies you can use to make sure your agency generates good, high-quality buyer leads?
Optimise your website
Your website is the home of your brand online. It is where you have absolute control over the messaging, the design, and your customers experience. Invest in making your website a place where all your customer segments – vendors, investors, tenants, and buyers – can find the information they need.
Review your property listing pages and look at what incentives you can provide to generate a lead. What extra information do you have about a property or an area that you can deliver to your prospects? The leading agencies we work with are continually optimising their websites to provide more value and generate more online enquiries.
Create high-quality content
It’s an adage that content is king. With great content, you can become known as the expert in your local area and attract new visitors – potential buyers and sellers – to your website. And of course, when your fantastic content gets distributed on your website, your social channels, and via email and messaging channels, you can nurture your existing database and position your brand as top-of-mind when they need to make a choice.
Use digital advertising
Digital advertising on Facebook, Instagram, and Google is a very cost-effective way of driving traffic to your website. It is 100% measurable and best of all you own the customer experience. With Facebook Lead Ads, we have successfully generated five times the volume of leads compared to the portals. We have done this using new technologies that target consumers on the platforms they use every day.
Design for your customers’ experience today
Your customers are social, mobile, and using messaging platforms like Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat. You cannot expect to continue to generate excellent lead volume if you don’t evolve to meet your customer’s needs. If they are using social media 5 hours a day, then that’s where your property listings need to be. If they are more comfortable using messaging platforms, then make sure you’re available via those platforms.
Understand your customers’ journey
At Plezzel, we are passionate about attribution. That is, we recognise that each lead is the result of a discrete set of actions undertaken by a user, and to succeed, we need to identify and understand the value of each interaction. That is why we track and report everything from a digital ad click to an open home visit, to an email interaction. By understanding the value of each step, we can empower our customers to make better marketing decisions.
The decline in the volume of leads from the portals is just a symptom of a changing market. It is possible to arrest this decline with a smart marketing approach focused on great content on your website, and a customer experience optimised to meet the needs of buyers by using the technologies they use every day.
If you want to accelerate your buyer leads, get in touch with the Plezzel team.