Just leave it to millennials to ruin everything, right? (Discloser, millennial here).
Alright, we don’t ruin everything, but we definitely change things. From clothing retailers to restaurants, the beverage industry to the healthcare industry — how people make decisions has evolved. The real estate space isn’t immune from this.
For many, real estate marketing is all about getting a property in front of as many people as possible, with the hope that some of those people have an interest in buying. It’s more of a shotgun approach (‘spray and pray’) than it is a rifle approach (targetted and steady), and it’s broken.
The millennial audience has changed the game; traditional, outbound marketing efforts go largely unnoticed, and the ROI shows it. Digital, inbound-focused campaigns require more time and effort to set up, but the difference in ROI can be astronomical.
It isn’t just millennials, either. How everyone uses technology has evolved, so regardless of your target audience, going digital is key.
10 Stats About Real Estate Marketing (and what to do about them)
1) Millennials comprise 32% of the home buying market, officially the largest market segment (Source)
The real estate market is in the middle of a massive transition — traditional families and buyers grow less common by the day, and the younger audience owns the majority of buying power. This change needs to be met by a shift in how real estate agents and companies market themselves and communicate with potential buyers and sellers.
What does that look like? For many real estate agents, it looks drastically different than what they’ve been doing for years (traditional marketing, as it were). Modern real estate marketing is all about engaging your audience digitally and positioning yourself as a long-term partner through incredible content (more on all of this later).
2) 44% of homebuyers purchased a home that they found by using the internet (Source)
Our culture is based on on-demand, I-want-it-now, interactive experiences — hence the popularity of real estate apps like Redfin and Zillow. These tools allow users to quickly find, filter, explore, and save for-sale properties in a way they couldn’t have a decade ago.
Homebuyers (and sellers, for that matter) rely on the internet for every stage of their purchase decision, from awareness to the actual decision at the end of the journey.
How do real estate agents account for this online usage? Simple — you need to be present. Develop a beautiful, content-rich website that ranks well in search engines; create an engaging social media presence that includes blog posts, images, video tours, and Q&A posts; build an email list of potential buyers to market to in the future.
Whatever digital marketing tactic you choose, the key is to know your audience and play on their playground, i.e. engage with them wherever they are. In this case, wherever there are means the internet.
3) 72% of real estate agents said they were unsatisfied with the number of leads their website generates (Source)
Your website can be a lead generation machine if you know how to use it, but the majority of real estate agents are disappointed with the quantity/quality of leads coming in. There’s a disconnect here.
For a real estate agent’s website to become a hub for lead generation, it has to be more than the all-too-expected headshot of the agent plus a handful of images and bedroom counts; most of these details can be found via Redfin or Zillow, among others, anyway, so you need to provide something different.
In general, using your website for lead generation includes optimizing it for search, developing unique and helpful content, and strategically placing forms throughout the site. These forms can be used to capture lead data and serve as the starting point of marketing communications. You can read all about the process here.
4) 54% of REALTOR agents stated they invest no more than 5 hours per month on their own website (Source)
As I noted, there is a disconnect here. Agents are often unhappy with the leads their website generates but they don’t prioritize their website on a consistent basis. The hard truth for some: great digital marketing requires time and effort.
In 2017, effective real estate marketing emphasizes the website. Successful agents use their blog as an opportunity to connect with potential buyers, both those who are currently in the market as well as those who aren’t yet, but one day will be. The best companies spend resources on unique video content and experiential content, not just newspaper placings.
5) 70% of people prefer to get to know a company through online content over paid advertisements (Source)
While this stat isn’t’ specific to the real estate market, it carries a lot of potential opportunity for today’s agent. While paying for advertising or premium listings still play a key role in real estate marketing, the importance of online content as never been greater.
Specifically, as mentioned above, agents need to speak to both in-the-market people as well as not-in-the-market-yet people, all in one place. My professional recommendation? Create an engaging blog that is keyword-optimized and covers topics spanning across topics, from home buying tips to cool DIY projects for your new home. The idea is to consistently offer your audience content that meets them where they are at.
If someone isn’t ready to buy a home yet but can be introduced to your brand through a helpful article or eBook on DIY home projects, the financial breakdown of buying VS renting, or even a ‘listicle’ of local contractors for common needs, your brand is more likely to be recalled and valued over another who only did advertising.
6) 83% of all home buyers want to see pictures of the property online (Source)
Another indicator of why apps like Redfin and Zillow have exploded in growth, the demand for images is never going away. This isn’t anything new, either, as most real estate agents have been including photos of properties on their websites and in newspapers for years. The important takeaway here isn’t that you include photos, it’s how you include photos.
When you list a property on your website, consider both the types of images you include and how you display them. Is this a slideshow? Photogrid? Are the images optimized to look beautiful on any/all devices? Are these images easy to share on social media? Email?
For real estate agents and companies, testing how your audience reacts to and engages with your photos is important. One of the ways you can do this is by implementing a conversion rate optimization strategy.
7) Only 9% of realtors use social media to market their listings (Source)
9%? I almost didn’t believe this one, but after doing a bunch of my own research into Milwaukee-area agents, I’m sold.
The audience for home buying wants, craves, images of potential homes for them, as well as immediate answers to their questions — so why haven’t agents delivered on a consistent basis?
Social media is an ideal platform for B2C institutions like real estate agents because it opens the door for real-time conversation. For example, say an agent posts an album of a newly-listed home. They can also include a quick description of the property and maybe even a video walkthrough. As they share this content on Facebook, the audience can review it all on their own time and devices, and ask questions directly to the listing agent (comments or direct messages, in this example).
The agent could then respond directly to the user, opening the door for personal communication, and inviting them to stop by the property.
In short — get on social media. Share your listings, promote blog posts, and engage your audience.
8) The real estate industry ranks lowest in social media engagements at an average of .45 interactions per week (Source)
We’ll keep this one short and sweet: currently, most real estate marketing efforts fall short in terms of social media. Either agents/companies post a lot and no one is listening, or they don’t post at all. And, either way, it’s a bad look.
9) 73% of homeowners say they’d be more willing to list with a realtor who offers video services, but only 12% of the current real estate industry has YouTube accounts (Source)
This makes sense: homeowners want to work with an agent who will do everything they can to find the right buyer. These sellers realize that the buyer wants as much info as possible on the property, which now includes video walkthroughs (and even Facebook Live tours).
Unfortunately, the data suggests that most realtors haven’t caught on to this yet, as video isn’t a core piece of their real estate marketing strategy, with only 12% reporting active YouTube accounts. The demand for video doesn’t stop with YouTube, though, as agents can now use various ‘live’ services on multiple social platforms, as well as include video on their website.
10) 70% of homebuyers forget their real estate agent after one year (Source)
As a real estate agent, what’s your plan after the sale? Are you developing long-lasting relationships with both buyers and sellers that you can revisit with down the road? Or, are you saying ‘Thanks!’ and moving on?
The old adage of ‘it costs more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one’ is true across nearly ever industry, real estate notwithstanding. Consider how a comprehensive real estate marketing plan, with the inclusion of digital, can help you develop long-term, loyal relationships — it’s a huge opportunity.
This is going to look different for every agent, but the common theme will be developing a platform for your message and communications: a beautiful website tailored to your audience, a robust content marketing plan meeting the needs of various audience segments in different stages of the buying/selling process, and a systematic approach digital media, from social to video.
Combined, you will be able to set yourself apart in a hyper-competitive space. Sounds good, right?