There are two types of markets in recent memory for Australian property developers. Before June 2017, there was easy access to credit and high buyer urgency. Properties were appreciating $10,000 a month. In more recent times, prices are declining and property developers need to fight harder to gain warm and efficient leads. The days of simply handing over a chunk of money to RealEstate.com.au and Domain.com.au and sitting back are over. Injecting high performing channels like Google Search Ads, Facebook Ads and Display Retargeting are critical to success.
Here are some of the most common mistakes in this new era of property development marketing.
1) Not Improving the Property Developer Reputation
In recent times, more and more the developer reputation has become an important consideration for people buying “off the plan”. Those flames have been stoked by recently highly publicised events, including the Notorious OPEL development evacuation over Christmas in Homebush, NSW.
Realestate.com.au has released data showing that developer reputation remains the third highest factor buyers consider when buying off the plan apartments, trailing only to price and location.
“Developer reputation” has climbed dramatically as a buying factor over the last few years.
Many developers over the last few decades have had the approach of simply having a skeleton holding company, with no branding or link between and it’s past and current projects. The most impactful ways to increase property developer reputation are:
Have a strong corporate site that lists all past and future developments, and strongly calls out the history of your organisation. It should look forward as well with adequate News and resource sections. Regularly updated fresh content is key to building trust.
This property developer has not posted a news article in 6 months, despite having lots of developments to write about - a missed opportunity.
Maintain one Facebook page for all your developments, rather than having a gamut of Facebook pages that stay live for a short period of time, only to have their lights go out once they become dormant.
If budget is there, adequate above the line advertising can also assist with developer reputation, especially sponsorship in the local community.
Aqualand Sponsors the Australian Ballet
Even if the budget is just not there for expensive sponsorships, buying some minimal Digital Out Of Home Advertising such as a digital billboard in the local Westfield shopping centre can really help here.
2) Short Lived Microsites Are Hurting Your Conversions & SEO
Many property developers choose to have one specific microsite for every single property. This is a common approach, and has many pros and cons. The obvious benefit is that you can completely control the look and feel of the entire site and match it with the properties image and brand. This approach can only be effective if you find ways of communicating the longevity of your property development company, and not leave the buyer feeling like this is a one off project where the property developer could disappear with their money.
This property developer below has many properties but has cleverly chosen to keep their sold out “Discovery Point” property hosted on their corporate site and not a microsite. Further, they have redirected www.discoverypoint.com.au to their corporate site.
Many property developers find it almost impossible to rank on the first three pages of Google in organic search results. This is primarily due to the dominance of companies like Domain.com.au, RealEstate.com.au and AllHomes.com.au who dominate and saturate the first three pages. Splitting your battling back link profile across 17 microsites is not going to help either (every back link to your website is a vote of confidence in Google’s eyes). Once a development is sold out, activate 301 redirects from its microsite to your main corporate site. Deep linking them to the appropriate URL in the completed projects section of your site. This will pass on any link benefit to your corporate site, giving you a real chance of ranking, and getting that all important FREE SEO traffic.
3) Having 50 “Low Like” Facebook Pages
Besides being a logistical nightmare that will take countless staff hours to manage, there are very good reasons not to have specific Facebook pages for every single one of your property developments.
This property developer has over 15 properties but is savvy enough to promote them all on one Facebook page
We’ve observed a strong trend towards property developers combining Facebook pages lately, a tedious and risky exercise. Firstly, volume of Facebook likes is a strong measure of your credibility to a prospective buyer. Having under 500 likes is sure to cause trust issues. Why would a buyer who has heard all the horror stories of property developers going bust trust an organisation that can’t even drum up the interest of a few hundred people? What’s more, those first 500 likes can be extremely difficult to obtain, when all you have is a large hole in the ground and a promise of an “live in” date two years from now. A well built granular Facebook Ads likes campaign can be very useful here, often achieving “cost per likes” of under a dollar.
4) Not Using Promotions
As a traditionally high margin business, property developers can often afford to offer some killer promotions to help drive buzz, interest and get people over the line. This could be something like entering a competition to win a household item for just registering your interest for a property. It could also be a high value incentive at the time of purchase e.g. paying government fees, deposits, and offering discounts of tens of thousands of dollars for a limited time. Such promotions are particularly important in saturated markets like capital cities where there are a tonne of options for buyers.
A property developer offers to pay 5% of your deposit
Turbo charge your online click through rates and conversion rate through the use of strong offers & promotions.
5) Not Frequent Enough Sales Agent Feedback
Almost all property developers will use sales agents on the ground to chase down leads, walk people through display suites and close the deal. Regardless of whether these are employees of the property developer or external agents, frequent feedback on the quality of leads you are generating is key to portfolio managing your digital marketing channels.
Sales Agents should provide weekly feedback of the quality of leads from your digital marketing activities.
Start with a good CRM, and make sure you are pushing as much data to it as possible. This should not only include using UTM parameters on your digital marketing channels that drive traffic to your website, but even pushing Facebook Lead Form Ad leads frequently to your CRM and Sales Agent’s email address using tools like Zapier.
Common complaints sales agents have about lead quality include:
Too many “tire kickers”
people living too far from the development area
people not understanding exactly where the development is located
6) Ignoring “Post Lead” Marketing
So you’ve done a great job of bringing a visitor to your website and getting their details for an agent to call them. Don’t stop there! There’s no guarantee that they will make the time to walk through a display suite, and even if they do, it could take weeks or months for them to decide to buy.
In fact, Domain.com.au has released data which shows the average time taken to complete the purchase of a new home is 14.5 months.
This is where “retargeting” is pivotal to keep up the excitement around your property and stay top of mind where your buyers work and play.
Retargeting captured leads with inspirational images like high quality kitchen finishes can keep your property top of mind.
Stay in their Instagram and Facebook News feeds with video and image ads. Video testimonials from current residents of communities can be really powerful here. Retarget them on news websites like Sydney Morning Herald by sending them to original blog articles hosted on your website about the property development. This is achieved using content seeding platforms like Outbrain. If you haven’t got the time to write these articles internally, hire an agency with expert property copywriters to assist you. Finally, reach buyers on YouTube with pre-roll video ads - you can even do 6 second unskippable ones, perfect for staying top of mind.
7) Thinking Realeastate.com.au Will Take Care Of Everything
Many property developers have not moved on from the peak of the recent property cycle in June 2017 when a spending a decent chunk of change on REA and Domain was sufficient to sell out all stages of a property before construction even began.
The credit crunch has resulted in a shrinking pie, forcing property developers to greatly diversify their digital marketing channels including: Paid Search, SEO, Social Media, Display Ads, Video Ads, Email Marketing, Content, Local Marketing and more.
Property Developers need a range of digital channels to seriously compete in recent market conditions
Custom property industry publishers like DOMAIN are great from a branding point of view, so some money can be wisely spent there. But don’t fall in the trap of giving them a free pass when it comes to delivering efficient leads. Ultimately, the speed at which you will sell out each stage of a property is directly tied to the volume and efficiency of quality leads you can generate. Running a cost per lead three times as high on Realestate.com.au vs Facebook Lead Form Ads just because it’s Realestate.com.au is pointless and expensive. Be particularly careful of email blasts by these publishers as they can often generate only a handful of leads for thousands of dollars of investment.
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