What are the best media channels to reach homeowners?
An estate agents’ success is ultimately judged on how many instructions they win. Finding buyers and tenants is important too, but without stock there is, of course, nothing to sell.
We aren’t breaking any ground with those statements, but agents are all too aware of the struggle involved when it comes to convincing clients to instruct with them. Especially in an oversaturated market where everybody is doing and saying the same things.
To get an insight into your marketing and gain efficiency for ROI, estate agents need to use the right channels to market their agency. Whether through traditional platforms or by using newer methods, making sure your advertising reaches the right audience is crucial.
With that in mind, we have listed the different channels for estate agents to promote their brand, as well as the benefits they offer.
Print advertising in newspapers
Print is dead, long live print! You have probably heard by now that the printing business is going the way of the dodo and the dinosaur. While digital and online are playing a more prominent role in the way people advertise (more on that later), we don’t think print advertising has become jurassic just yet – especially if you are focusing on your local market.
Think about the age range of your clients: if the majority of them are over 40, they are still likely to invest time in reading print publications. Research the different types of magazines and newspapers in your area and then advertise in the ones you think your target audience are most to likely read. There will be a couple of local newspapers and usually a free locally distributed information guide which depends on advertising to be able to print, but there may also be one-off prints for local events and seasonal publications.
While the reach for print advertising can go quite far, there are downsides. It isn’t cheap to advertise, at least if you’re taking out a significant amount of advertising space. Despite being far from finished, newspaper circulations are in decline and advertising costs continue to rise. It probably isn’t a long-term investment strategy, however, this method is still many estate agents’ bread and butter for specific markets.
If you are on a budget, it’s worth testing the effect of running a half-page advert as opposed to a full-page one. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, think about rotating your stock in the paper bi-weekly, instead of once a week, to make your budget stretch further.
By running promotions with a ‘just quote XXX’ code, you can measure how each title is performing, and you may find that you get a low response from widely distributed publications and high results from a small niche circulation – which would help your budget.
The key is to measure results and judge the impact that your advertising is having. Too many estate agents think they have to copy others without actually focusing on the data and results of their own advertising.
Outdoor and window displays
There are many different mediums to advertise your agency outdoors, including billboards, public transport, phone booths (yes, they still exist), in shopping centres or at even roundabouts. By advertising out in the open, you are subconsciously putting yourself in the mind of potential clients. This is particularly true if they are passing by your advert at the train station or bus stop every day on the way to and from work.
Billboard advertising isn’t as expensive as people are led to believe. We once worked with a client in Exeter who purchased a 96 sheet (double standard billboard size) so they could communicate a message at a busy junction. The overall cost for two weeks was just £500!
Advertising on buses, especially at the back of the bus, is also relatively cost friendly. It also streamlines, allowing you to make your advertising more efficient by selecting specific routes that go through target market areas. There is also the possibility that your ad may run longer than the allocated time, especially if they have no scheduled adverts to replace it.
You can tailor messages to reflect your surroundings, including placing adverts at train stations with a headline about ‘moving property to reduce commute times’. This is a way of getting into the buyer’s mindset and better relating to them.
If your agency has a high street branch, advertising in your window can be a useful tool that is completely free to utilise. The front window is mainly a space to show off your stock but can also be used to communicate sales messages to passing trade.
Radio and TV
Along with print, advertising through television and radio is probably the most traditional method for promoting a business. When a company has a large budget they normally build a campaign around a TV ad, along with other supporting media.
Despite the high costs, estate agents have the best chance to reach a huge audience through TV advertising. The visual elements of TV allow for the most creative type of media, offering the chance for the advertiser to sell relatable moving stories to its audience. You can make TV commercials on a tight budget such as using photos and overlays of text on plain backgrounds.
Although, we only suggest advertising on TV if your agency covers a large area and
had an opportunity to really define the target market, for example regional television shows.
Radio advertising is the cheaper method of the two because of its relatively quick turnaround time and the fact it negates the need for expensive TV equipment. The visual element is removed, but there are more local radio stations compared to TV, meaning you may be able to better connect with locals in your area. Local radio stations often allow you to sponsor competitions and sections of a show so you can link it to related content.
Think of banner ads as an entry level for online advertising. Entry level but effective. It may be true that ad blocking software has slightly limited their reach in recent years, but the relatively low price point, coupled with the fact you can either have static or moving banners, means there will always be a place for them online. They offer agents a good source to promote through targeted websites.
For banner ads to be successful they need to receive a large amount of impressions, with visitors clicking through to your specified web page. It’s also worth thinking about how you will capture visitor information once they have clicked through to your website.
PPC (pay per click)
Pay per click, otherwise known as PPC, is moving towards becoming the go-to method for estate agents to promote their agency online. A well constructed PPC ad used through Google or social media sites such as LinkedIn can be a powerful tool to drive traffic to your website and gain instructions.
The fact that you only pay when an interested person clicks through to your advert is a major draw. It means that you are getting value for money and generating hard leads, rather than uninterested parties seeing your content.
PPC’s also have location targeting which means you can advertise at specific times and places, narrowing down your audience. You can even cater your ad to devices, including mobile.
Below is an example of a PPC Google search for estate agents in Stafford:
The rise to prominence for video websites such as YouTube and Vimeo has made it much easier for companies to do video marketing. While there is a need to build your own audience, once you have a following, platforms like YouTube can be a key way to promote your message.
You can have your own channel, offering video tutorials, market commentaries, virtual tours of your stock, neighbourhood walkthroughs or even offer vital tips for buyers and sellers about the property market.
Online video is seen as a growth area, especially when connecting to a time-poor demographic. People would prefer to see a video than have to find the content themselves.
We have covered why estate agents should try content marketing, along with how they can implement it. There is no doubt that content marketing is becoming an essential tool for promoting businesses by engaging with your audience on a more human level.
Web users have become savvy to traditional marketing methods and somewhat adverse to banner adverts. Content market finds a different way to engage with them, whether by posting regular blog content, social media updates, email marketing or other online methods. Rather than having a sales message (direct marketing), it provides information that the target market will find useful. When they do require an estate agents’ services, they remember your brand as a trusted source of high quality information.
Content marketing can cover both online and offline media. Depending on the budget, you can use it for articles in the press, direct mail or for lower cost media such as blog posts, social media and even video.
Direct mail is still one of the most effective ways to advertise – and estate agents have taken a particular liking to it. According to recent study by the Royal Mail, there is a link between direct mail and online marketing, with 92% of recipients driven to take action online after receiving direct mail.
There can be many forms of direct mail including posting leaflets and comp cards through potential vendors doors, often with information regarding types of property in the area. This method can be especially helpful if you are using data-led information to inform locals on important aspects in the housing market.
If done correctly, direct mail can be a great way of generating more interest in your agency. Adding QR codes to your marketing collateral is a clever way to combine direct mail with online marketing – they can scan the code with their mobile and instantly be taken to your website and stock.
You can also argue that there will be no ‘inbox overload’ with a hard copy posted directly through someone’s door. This is opposed to email marketing, where there is a small chance it could end up in a spam folder. After all, according to dma.org.uk, 94 billion spam emails are sent across the globe every day. Most of those are not even read.
Find what works for you
Whether you choose to use one method, several, or all of them, the key aspect is to find out what works for your agency. Research is key; if you are selling bungalows to retirees they probably won’t be looking on Twitter, but if you’re promoting new-build developments in a young, up-and-coming area, social media will be key platform to your marketing.
We recommend using a multi-channel approach to reach homeowners, as they use several different channels themselves. Normally the big questions revolve around the balance you have for each media: what combination of messaging is needed; is it all direct advertising or is it a mix with more subtle content marketing?
If you measure ROI and test different methods for your marketing, eventually you will start to see results and attain more instructions through clever, targeted marketing.