A recent Inman special report, “Which Digital Marketing Tactics Provide Bang For Your Buck — And Which Are A Bust,” provides a tremendous amount of data about how the industry views the efficacy of online marketing. I was surprised by some of the numbers.

  • Branded apps have little to no role in the current landscape of digital real estate marketing.
  • Agents who begin to leverage video now will hold a distinct advantage over those who don't, according to this survey's figures.
  • Facebook and email remain the top forms of digital marketing, most likely because they are affordable and easy.

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A recent Inman special report, “Which Digital Marketing Tactics Provide Bang For Your Buck — And Which Are A Bust,” provides a tremendous amount of data about how the industry views the efficacy of online marketing.

I was surprised by some of the numbers. To wit: 47.4 percent of respondents have never hired a consultant or contractors to assist with digital marketing activities.

Wow.

I find it surprising, coming from a line of business that prides itself on the importance of industry experience to execute its services.

Are agents rolling out digital marketing plans on their own? If so, why? If you’re not convinced of a particular tactic’s reach, was it the product, your audience or your execution?

I wonder how that number — just below half — overlaps with the number of real estate agents who have tried but ultimately passed on many of the digital marketing tactics outlined in the report?

I am also very surprised to see how low the effectiveness of video/YouTube was graded, on page 11 of the report. Questions this raises include:

  • Is it generally not widely used by agents, and thus low reports on effectiveness?
  • When used, is it in the context of prospecting or branding?
  • Or, are home buyers and sellers not using YouTube?

Given that YouTube is the second-largest search engine and that portal advertising was cited as the most overrated digital marketing tactic, I can’t help but think that if they’re smart, portals are busy hatching video advertising products to compensate for their primary products’ dwindling reputation.

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It was also good to see blogging get its day, even if it’s considered the most underrated digital marketing tactic — which it is.

Consistent, authentic website content is key to ensuring an active, in-touch online presence.

I admit to being worried about third-party Web design and marketing services companies targeting real estate agents that provide highly similar — often the exact same — blog content to the same clients around the country. I think that will catch up with them.

Consistent, authentic website content is key to ensuring an active, in-touch online presence.

Granted, much of it is well-done and cognizant of industry trends.

I maintain that localized, custom content will ultimately appeal more to prospects and current customers than another listicle about “8 Landscaping Tips That Will Sell Your House Today! You Won’t Believe No. 4!”

Facebook remains a highly respected digital marketing tactic — also good to see. I would argue that agents need to do more than “maintain” their online persona, however.

Supporting an engaged Facebook profile with ads is sound marketing. I have found that it works. I encourage agents to go deep in their advertising.

Facebook allows for incredibly targeted messaging for very little money. Agents should look for local groups to target.

Where I live, for example, the I Love Lake Tahoe Facebook group is always active in discussing issues around the pond, both lifestyle and business-oriented. I’m sure there are similar groups all over the country. (Probably not with as many cool bear pictures, though.)

A particularly exciting reveal of the survey is that the largest majority of respondents boasted between 10 and 20 years of experience. That’s an excellent demo in terms of judging digital marketing tactics against more traditional marketing methods, like postcards, coaching, cold calling and bus benches.

That the majority of respondents were agents, not brokers, is also a good stat when considering the quality of insight behind the responses. It also bodes well for the industry’s long-term understanding of marketing.

If I may be so bold, brokers are not always as in-tune with what works for buyers and sellers on the marketing front. Said another way, brokers aren’t always on the front lines.

The survey showed that 78.7 percent of agents paid for their digital marketing efforts. I’m sure this contributes to their participation in the survey.

Between 1 percent and 25 percent of leads were ascertained through digital marketing tactics, according to 56 percent of respondents. That’s okay. Think about how early we are in the game of digital marketing.

There are some agents who still don’t believe prospecting should be more advanced than cold calling and wearing a name tag at the school open house. By 2020, I doubt you’ll count those agents on one hand.

Between 1 and 25% of leads were ascertained through digital marketing tactics, according to 56% of respondents.

Email marketing remains the most effective digital outreach tactic. I attribute this to its low barrier to entry, financially and technically. Most email software is easy to use and conceptually straight-forward. It’s also easy to measure, probably most important.

In a year, I believe video will be recorded as a much more effective digital marketing tool. Still, it will be behind email.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe.

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