Since the rise of RightMove and Zoopla, many estate agents have become over-reliant on the power of the property portals and relinquished control of their own websites.
The entry of Agents’ Mutual into this market should serve to remind smaller estate agents that relying on a third party to market your portfolio of properties is a dangerous game that plays directly into the hands of the large property brands.
When GCHQ director Robert Hannigan accused internet firms of being “in denial” of the role their networks play in terrorism, his sabre-rattling served as a reminder of the value of keeping control of your own collection of powerful digital marketing tools.
Before the threat posed by Islamic State jihadists got the people running Britain’s electronic eavesdropping agency so hot under the collar, the pitch for having a business website often went along the lines of: “Your site communicates with prospects and customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It can be better than passing out your business card to thousands of people.”
But a website is not just a shop window. It is the foundation stone of your digital marketing strategy.
Nelly Berova, CEO of Art Division, says: “Your website is the engine that drives any brand’s customer acquisition, conversion and retention strategy.
It is more than a shop window. Your website – a living, breathing marketing ally – should be working for you while driving your social media strategy and other forms of digital communications, such as email newsletters. It can only do this if you take control of its power.”
Local search is the key to acquisition. You will not reach the top of the search ranking for terms such as Estate agents in London, but you can use Google’s power to rank for Estate agent in Wimbledon.
Once you have a potential vendor on your site, how do you convert them into a client? First, by delivering a user experience that exceeds their expectations and them by delivering content that gives them a reason to stay with you.
What makes one estate agent more valuable than another? The number of lettings they handle. Repeat business – or retention – is the final step to marketing success. Only by building trust through relevant content, social media campaigns and other forms of online PR will landlords and property investors consider you their agent of choice.
But we all need a little help when it comes to delivering our targets – even GCHQ. When Robert Hannigan wrote in the Financial Times saying that the Government Communications Headquarters and its sister agencies MI5 and the Secret Intelligence Service “cannot tackle these challenges at scale without greater support from the private sector, including the largest US technology companies which dominate the web”, he wasn’t advocating handing over responsibility for British security and intelligence to a third party.
So why have too many estate agents become over-reliant on RightMove and Zoopla? These third-party portals do a fantastic job of getting your portfolio of properties in front of prospective buyers, but they do nothing to promote your own customer acquisition, conversion and retention strategy. They also don’t help create your point of difference, the reason why a vendor or buyer will chose your agency and not that of a competitor. This job is all down to your own marketing, both off-line and on-line.
The new portal, OnTheMarket.com led by PrimeLocation founder Ian Springett and including property heavyweights Savills, Knight Frank, Strutt & Parker, Chesterton Humberts, Douglas & Gordon and Glentree Estates, is still trying to create shockwaves in the battle for online dominance among property portal owners.
This is not a task that should be attempted alone. Many agents who joined OnTheMarket have reported a reduction in leads and are now considering re-joining Zoopla or RightMove. This of course will weaken the new portal and defeat it’s objective.
Instead, agents should increase their market share through digital marketing, something they have full control over, which will compliment their presence on the portals they have chosen and not fuil the growth of 2 main portals who still dominate the market.
Just as GCHQ taps into the expertise of the UK’s allies in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to collect and store vast quantities of global email messages, Facebook posts, internet histories and phone calls (what did GCHQ do with the many thousands of Facebook posts in support of actress Sunetra Sarker following her exit from Strictly Come Dancing?), here at Art Division our team of web developers, marketing specialists and content writers have experience of working with estate agents to maximise the power of their websites and of course to generate more leads.
Tags: Estate and Letting Agents, Property Feed Integration