Using data to optimise your property marketing [practice case study]

CHALLENGE: Advertising a property listing is often not a small cost, yet many agents aren’t achieving the return on investment they should be and they are working harder, rather than smarter, to bring in a buyer.

SOLUTION: Performance and engagement data allows agents to really refine advertising for a listing and get more out of every dollar spent.

Data is taking over the world

If you’re an avid news watcher or reader, you will know that in 2018, global giant, Facebook, was dragged across the coals as it tried to explain how the personal data of millions of its users was harvested by political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica.

For many of us, seeing this case in the media was the first time we really questioned just how much data online companies are storing about us and what they are doing with it.

The simple answer to the question is: a lot!

When we sign up to use everything from a supermarket online ordering system, to a social network, to an exercise app, the company that owns the platform is storing data they will use for various purposes, most often explained as ‘improving our performance’.

Of course, this area is controversial and privacy is something we should always be conscious of!

We should take the time to read the user terms and conditions, to actually look over privacy policies and to think about the little pops ups that alert us to a site within which our data will be collected.

But something we also need to be cognisant of, is these days, data is really what makes the world go around!

Data enables companies to target ads at users that are most relevant to the user (of course, like everything, this is still being perfected) as opposed to blanket spraying everyone with their marketing campaigns.

It helps companies make the most useful information available, so potential customers don’t waste their time with the wrong research.

It even assists customers in their investigation and comparison of the products they are seeking out.

In real estate, we use property data to inform our pitches, pricing and negotiation. We should also be using advertising performance and engagement data to inform our marketing.

Data and property marketing

For years, common portals we use for advertising properties have been providing us with regular reports containing performance data relating to each of our individual listings.

While these reports are absolutely invaluable to us, a quick survey tells us most agents either ignore them or simply pass them onto their vendors to show they are doing their job and the listing is engaging.

But we could be doing so much more — and with the basic data we need literally sent to our inboxes, the work it would take to sell faster and smarter would be minimal!

What real estate performance data is available?

How long is a piece of string? Data relating to the performance of your listing is almost endless, and the more digital channels you are using to promote the property, the more data you have access to.

To give you an idea, using data provided only by a major property portal, your own website and a Facebook ad, you can know:

  • How many individual people have viewed the listing
  • How many of those people viewed the listing more than once
  • How long, on average, people stayed on the listing page and read it
  • The gender of those people
  • The age ranges of those people
  • The location (right down to general longitude and latitude) of those people
  • Which marketing channels delivered those people to the listing page
  • What portion of people are making an enquiry
  • What time of day and day of the week is the best time to promote to them

With a few other simple and free tools, like heat maps, you can literally record (anonymously – you won’t know who is who) how people interact with the listing page. You can see overviews with heat signatures and scroll patterns to show you how much of the listing page people engaged with.

What can you do with this data?

If you have ‘cast the net wide’, that is, you have created an advertisement and ad campaigns that are not aimed at anyone in particular, but rather at ‘everyone’, you risk your actual ad not being relevant or engaging to the buyer groups most likely to purchase.

You can use this simple data to determine what characteristics define your most interested and engaged audience, where they most see your advertisements and respond to them, what appeals to them in the listing.

Knowing this information, you can then change your ad content so it is more relevant, select the channels that will give you the best result for the least spend, and really target your ad campaigns at the people most likely to buy the property. This will save you money and time!

Careful not to cross the line

As well as opening our eyes to the data available, the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica incident was also a blatant reminder to us to follow the rules — even if they are unspoken for the moment — when it comes to people’s privacy.

Since that incident, the rules relating to privacy and data security have become more stringent and the penalties for breaking them have become much more tough financially.

When collecting and using data, ensure you follow the rules, let people know what you are collecting if it’s your own site and how it is being used, secure the data and respect people’s privacy as required.

QUICK CASE: Finding your audience

Recently, an agency learned just how powerful data can be in reducing time on market and finding a buyer.

The agent had listed a multi-million dollar property in a regional area. As per the usual practice, he had constructed essentially a mass media campaign with no particular target buyer audience and equally untargeted advertising content.

After several weeks of receiving no enquiry, the agent worked with a consultant to access, read and interpret the data available from their own site and digital campaigns.

They learned that 85% of the people who visited their listing more than once (which was over 500 individual people) and for the longest time, shared the same location (hours away from the property), were in the same 10-year age group (retirees) and came from the same marketing channel. They also learned 70% of those people were of the same gender.

Using this information, they re-wrote their ad content, focusing on the features of most appeal to people of that age and that gender, and used targeted social media and retargeting to ensure only people with those demographics saw the ad. In just a few short days, the phone was ringing off the hook with enquiries!

VERDICT: Using data can be a quick and easy way to improve your marketing, reach buyers and speed up results — just make sure you follow the rules and always keep privacy and security in mind!

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