Editor’s note: This item is republished with permission from Global Edge Marketing Ltd. The original post can be viewed here.

International real estate agents and developers are not making the most of the best-performing marketing channels.

This is the conclusion of the latest Global edge survey into the habits and preferences of more than 200 agents and developers.

Customer referral programs and search-engine optimization are rated as the two most effective channels in terms of lead generation but are only used by 37.8 percent and 55 percent of agents, respectively.

The most used marketing channel, property portals (78.4 percent), ranks third in terms of effectiveness but the average rating hides a huge variance in opinion, with almost as many agents marking the top portals as "poor performers" as those rating them as "good" or "excellent."

Magazines and newspapers still used despite performance doubts

Magazine and newspapers prop up the performance table with the lowest scores but these media are still prevalent in the industry’s marketing plans, with 40.5 percent and 30.5 percent of respondents using them regularly.

This result partly reflects the fact that measuring the "performance" of magazine and newspaper advertising is notoriously difficult, especially if your objective is to raise awareness and brand profile. 

However, it is also likely that there is a minority who continue to allocate money into these areas out of habit rather than judgment.

The best channels build competitive advantage

The most interesting insight from the survey is that three of the top four best-performing channels are also the ones that are most difficult for your competitors to copy.   

Whatever your thoughts on overseas property company MRI, founder Darragh MacAnthony knew a thing or two about customer referral programs. Over 30 percent of MRI’s sales came from this source and at a fraction of the cost of most other marketing activities. 

Once you come up with a good system — and the right set of products — for getting your customers to refer business, it’s a source of long-term sustainable advantage. 

To a lesser extent, the same can be said of search-engine optimization (SEO), which ranks as the second most effective channel. 

High rankings on keywords with intent to purchase in your niche are difficult to replicate. It requires time and expertise that many of your competitors don’t have. And even if they do, Google gives a ranking benefit to older, more established sites.

Selling through agent and independent financial adviser networks, which rank fourth in terms of performance, have similar characteristics. It takes time to source and develop relationships, with the best referrers, but these are difficult to copy once established. …CONTINUED

Other people’s media is like heroin

In most cases, given enough budget and a reasonable product, generating leads through portals, at exhibitions and in magazines and newspapers will always result in sales. They all have a valuable role to play, but for the ambitious — those of you who want more than just a lifestyle business — they are not enough.

When compared to the long-term benefits of building your own proprietary media channels — customer referral programs, SEO, agent networks — using other people’s media is just a quick hit; an addictive high that feels good at the time but does very little for your long-term prospects.

Most effective marketing channels for lead generation


  Effectiveness Rating* % of respondents who use media regularly
Customer referral programs



Search engine optimization



Listing properties with portals



Agent & IFA networks



Email Marketing



Telephone qualified leads



Google Adwords



Exhibiting at shows



Television advertising



Online banner advertising



Magazine advertising



Newspaper advertising



*Highest score possible is 4, lowest is 1

Copyright © 2010 Global Edge Marketing Ltd.


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