20 Aug Property marketing – what’s the difference? Online-only vs the high street
Property marketing – what’s the difference?
There are two elements to estate agency marketing – here, we’ll look at property marketing.
When online-only agencies first emerged over a decade ago, their services were very much self-serve, more listing services than estate agencies, whereby they provided the online platform for vendors to advertise their properties – writing their own description, taking their own photographs, conducting their own viewings and negotiating their own sale.
However, in the name of customer service and in recognition that there is a necessary element of care when dealing with people’s most valuable assets, this listing service has had to evolve over the years, and so have the onliners’ fees, as more involvement inevitably comes at a higher price.
Property descriptions, photos and floor plans
There are still onliners out there which charge a minimal fee for a listing service. But the main players have introduced packages, most of which include property descriptions, photographs and floorplans, which are the very basics of property marketing and are of course implicit of the traditional agent’s service.
For Sale boards
Some of the cheap ‘listing service’ firms charge extra for this, so it is something else that potential vendors should check. As a general rule though, unless officially restricted or otherwise requested by vendors, most online and traditional agents include ‘For Sale’ boards in their marketing packages – a great tool for physically highlighting that a property is for sale to passers-by.
High Street premises
Most buyers will visit and have a look around the town they want to live in – why wouldn’t they?! High street premises provide property marketing exposure to passers-by, and make it easier for buyers to relate ‘For Sale’ boards they’ve seen to the actual agencies. Also of course, it’s the place to go to chat with real local property experts! By their very nature, online-only agencies operating from call centres do not have a high street presence.
Absolutely crucial – every traditional and of course online estate agency has a web site, where its properties feature, and most also include listings on the major portals, such as OnTheMarket, Zoopla and Rightmove, as part of their package. Almost all agencies also have a social media presence, at minimum facebook, usually twitter and sometimes Instagram too. An agency without an online presence will not generate anywhere near enough marketing exposure for properties, so steer clear!
Local press advertising has been on the decline in recent years due to the prevalence of the Internet, but local newspapers are still viewed by many buyers and sellers as a semi-important factor, despite the majority of people starting their search for property online. It is still an advertising medium for many traditional agencies, although on a reduced scale and the content somewhat evolved – now, these pages are not purely advertising homes for sale; they are also a channel for brand awareness and positioning, which we’ll cover in more detail next time.
Interestingly, around 43% of homes in our region are sold to people from within the region, so local and regional press advertising still makes sense to some degree.
Operating on a national scale and given that there are around 1,500 regional newspapers alone in the UK, it would be totally impractical for online-only agencies to take this route. Instead, onliners invest heavily in national branding campaigns.
Proactive vs reactive property marketing
Onliners have been described as ‘post and prey’ agencies because they list properties and wait for enquiries. Their service is somewhat reactive. It has been said though, that up to 20% of homes for sale with high street agencies sell pre-marketing, due to the agents’ proactive and focussed engagement with their buyer database, combining new strategies with old traditional ones in a way that is more intimate and tailored than can possibly be achieved purely digitally.
So, traditional agents are far more active and diverse when it comes to property marketing, but their marketing spend is only a fraction of the onliners. We’ll discover how in our next ponderings.
The Experts in Property network is made up of local, independent estate agency offices in villages, towns and cities across the Westcountry. To find your nearest, visit the Agent’s Directory at www.theexpertsinproperty.co.uk.
By Steve Moir, chairman of the Experts in Property