Commentary by Celeste Starchild
RISMEDIA, May 15, 2008-Online advertising is already a hot topic in real estate, and by the looks of consumer trends, we have only begun learning how it fits into our businesses. Firms that simply throw dollars at online ads are not making the most of their online opportunities. Instead, they should position themselves with a complete online marketing strategy to manage their listing assets so that they are better equipped to succeed in today’s environment.
Here are six specific ways:
1) Get more listings: Present your e-marketing strategy to prospective sellers. The facts speak for themselves based on statistics revealed in the NAR 2007 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. One in three buyers now finds the home they ultimately purchase on the Internet. And for the first time, buyers look to the Internet for property information equally as often as they consult an agent.
2) Recruit and retain good agents: A well-planned e-marketing strategy results in an increasing supply of qualified buyer leads at no cost. Nothing shows value to an agent more than an immediate opportunity to secure a buyer for their listing.
3) Close more transactions: Qualified buyer leads abound on the Internet. Despite a persistent myth that Internet leads are not serious, research by the WAV Group has demonstrated that 32% of active Internet searchers are interested in purchasing in the next one to two months, and 65% are interested in purchasing in the next six months.
4) Reduced print-ad spending: If you choose to spend money enhancing your listings online, reduce your print-ad spending. The pool of buyers has not grown, but the population’s behavior has transitioned from flipping through print advertising to Internet searches. We need to make the same transition, shifting our dollars from print to online at a balance that maximizes results.
5) Reduce administrative costs: Submitting listings for print ads often involves cumbersome data entry. Emerging technologies for electronic advertising offer more automation, like MLS feeds to power the online ads. Progress in technology contributes to increased efficiency for brokerage and agent administration-not to mention data accuracy.
6) Spend ad money wisely: As online listing inventory increases and as more consumers go online, it becomes more important to distinguish your listings from the ocean of available properties. Many search sites offer paid ads and enhancement packages. Before investing in these opportunities, first understand what sites are generating quality traffic for you. Sites show varied results in different regional markets, and for different types of properties. Evaluating results through a third-party provider that can show apples-to-apples comparison is the only way to know your best bets in this changing landscape.
We don’t know how the Internet and real estate will marry in the long run. I suspect that the relationship for each brokerage will be different, just as real estate has always been comprised of entrepreneurs embracing a different niche. Regardless of your niche, these points of evaluation offer a healthy framework for considering the options to make sure you emerge with your share of profit.
Celeste Starchild is the vice president of broker sales for ListHub
(Threewide’s Broker Division).
For more information, please visit www.listhub.net.
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