Are you marketing your listings with just one picture or are you marketing with 20 or more? Is it possible that too many pictures online is preventing buyers from looking at your property?

The research is clear that having only a single photo of your listings online causes Web visitors to search elsewhere. The challenge is how much is enough and how much is too much? A new study from Point2 Agent suggests that the more pictures you have the better it is.

Are you marketing your listings with just one picture or are you marketing with 20 or more? Is it possible that too many pictures online is preventing buyers from looking at your property?

The research is clear that having only a single photo of your listings online causes Web visitors to search elsewhere. The challenge is how much is enough and how much is too much? A new study from Point2 Agent suggests that the more pictures you have the better it is. Jeff Turner, the CEO of RealEstateShows.com, argues that based upon attention-span research, five to nine pictures is about all the brain can handle in 30 to 60 seconds.

Point2Agent has just released a new study that measures the impact of photos in terms of marketing listings online. This study replicates the results of a study the company conducted in 2007. The current study examined three variables and plotted them against the number of pictures on each site:

1. Detailed views

2. Interest in terms of interaction with the listing on a Web site (i.e. how many times visitors viewed a virtual tour, viewed the listing on a partner site, completed a mortgage calculation for the property, etc.)

3. Leads generated

The study evaluated all Point2 listings entered into their system during the first quarter of 2008. The sample consisted of more than 100,000 listings and included listings from all 50 states, every Canadian province, plus other countries worldwide. All price ranges were represented.

Results

1. Listings that lacked photos performed poorly in the study, generating little consumer response and business. Those that had one picture performed better, but not nearly as well as the sites that had 21 to 36 photos. In fact, those listings that had no picture generated 0.02 percent of the number of listing views as compared to those with 21 or more photos.

2. Compared to listings with only one photo, those with 21 or more photos generated more than triple the number of Detailed Views, more than double the amount of interest, and double the number of Leads.

3. Compared to listings with no photos, those with 21 or more photos generated more than 55 times the number of Detailed Views and nearly 27 times the amount of Interest.

4. Comparable results were obtained when plotting these three key variables against varying numbers of photographs per listing.

5. Views, Interest and Leads jumped 20 percent or more as the number of photos increased from 15 to 16.

The study seems to confirm that having additional photos on an agent or broker Web site affects the stickiness of the site, which leads to substantially higher lead conversion.

RealEstateShows.com’s Turner makes a fascinating counterargument. According to Turner, "We’ve spent a lot of time researching how the brain works when viewing property online. A key point to consider is attention span. There’s a reason that television commercials are 30 or 60 seconds. Rather than doing a three- or four-minute movie or virtual tour, we have found that that the brain can absorb about five photos in 30 seconds or nine photos in 60 seconds. If you create a video that is longer than 30 to 60 seconds and that is packed full of pictures, you will exceed the amount that the brain can absorb."

Turner uses himself as an example. When he and his wife were looking for house, his agent showed several properties they did not like. Even though they were adamant about purchasing a single-family residence, the agent encouraged them to look at a duplex. After continued requests, they looked at the duplex and fell in love with it.

Turner goes on to say, "This sale would never have happened if my wife and I had been looking online. We would have never looked at the property because we would have ruled it out when we set up our search criteria. This is exactly the problem with giving Web visitors more and more information. The more information you give them, the easier you are making it for them to exclude your listing from the ones they want to see. Your role in Web marketing is to get them to come out and see the house — not to give them so much information that they decide not to look at your listing."

The Point2 study clearly indicates that having multiple pictures is a smart idea. Increasing them from 15 to 16 generates 20 percent more leads. On the other hand, we have no way of knowing how many buyers ruled out a specific property because they viewed it online.

What should you do? You can track your page views using Point2’s system, Google Analytics or one of the many other tracking tools on the Web. Change the number of pictures and watch your results to determine what works best in your market.

Bernice Ross, national speaker and CEO of Realestatecoach.com, is the author of "Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters" and "Who’s the Best Person to Sell My House?" Both are available online. She can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com or visit her blog at www.LuxuryClues.com.

Ross will speak at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, July 23-25, 2008. Register today.

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