Measuring Online Success in Real Estate Marketing

Real Estate Marketing

It’s time to re-define online campaign success. When it comes to advertising, the homebuilding industry is known for being a bit old school. For decades, the Sunday paper was loaded with advertising for new home communities and would-be buyers waited for the week’s end to discover what was new. But those days are long gone. It’s a well known fact that most consumers (more than 90%) begin their new home search online. Buyers want floor-plans, pricing, incentives and availability within a few keystrokes. Even with an abundance of information at their fingertips, buyers can take up to two years to move from consideration to purchase on a home! For home builders, that means filling your sales funnel with prospects is crucial to real estate marketing and your sales success.

Facts:

  • 90% of new home searches start online
  • Time to Purchase = 3+ Months

Real Estate Marketing Points:

  • Not every action happens online
  • Follow-up time for registrations is crucial to successful appointment setting
  • Mobile search queries for new homes increased more than 51% in 2015

Implications for Real Estate Marketing:

  • Open up attribution windows and be able to define exact latency & decay models for digital media buying and optimizations
  • Segment creative messaging to match where a buyer is in the purchase cycle
  • Website must be mobile-friendly

The Buyer Path

Buying a home is a big deal. People want to look around and learn all they can about a community before actually walking through models or talking to a sales counselor. In fact, Millennials spend more time researching home purchases than any other generation. According to Google, 83% of this age group planned to begin research six months prior to purchase. That leaves plenty of time to continue to message those who were highly engaged when visiting your site. It typically takes seven touches (e-mail, ad exposure, etc.) before a potential buyer reaches out.

Like every other product, there is a buying cycle for homes. After someone has spent weeks or months looking at properties and is close to the decision phase, it’s unrealistic to think that seeing your ad a couple of times will alter their path and win you the sale. Before making a decision buyers first need to discover the possibilities. Capturing people while they are in the discovery phase not only introduces them to your offerings, but also creates an opportunity to re-target them later, perhaps when they are more open to receiving your message and closer to purchase.

Measuring Success

While the new home industry has embraced the importance of an online marketing effort, how to define campaign success is still up for debate. Currently, the measure of online success for home builders is, most often, form conversions: visitors who join a VIP list, or trade their email for floor plans or other information. But if a potential buyer visits your site via an ad and doesn’t register, does that mean they aren’t interested? Not necessarily. They could just be “browsing,” learning what options are out there. Many shoppers are hesitant to submit any personal information and risk being deluged with emails or phone calls from various sales people. Instead, they visit multiple home community websites, see what they like, and if they are interested, probably just go take a look.

Reaching Goals

So what results constitute campaign success? As usual, it varies. But a good place to start is by  looking at what other kinds of site engagement might indicate higher interest. Visitor actions such as multiple floor plan views, overall time on site, or video view completions are often good indicators of qualified traffic. So what can you do? Start by digging into analytics:

  • Define a high value visit
  • Look for traffic patterns that lead to registrations or online chats
  • Set benchmarks and create a measurement roadmap
  • Find correlations between website traffic and foot traffic
  • Align metrics to each stage of the buying cycle

Collecting that highly coveted contact information is valuable for your real estate marketing, but using that alone as the benchmark for success could be a misleading proposition.