November 16, 2016 –

How property professionals can improve their digital marketing strategy

Author: Leah Benzie
Leah Benzie
Digital Account Manager
Photo by: Carlos Muza
When it comes to property, and the process of selling or purchasing a home, there is a tendency to think in traditional terms. Of advertising in the windows of high street estate agent, or taking out a listing in the local newspaper.

But over the last few years, the UK property market has begun to embrace the digital world, migrating from the high street to the internet as prospective purchasers become ever more tech-savvy.

In short, the conventional way of marketing properties has come to an end. Traditional advertising channels that were once so effective – TV, radio and print – are diminishing in impact, no longer connecting as they once did. The platform for marketing properties has changed, and it is essential that homebuilders, construction companies and estate agents keep pace with current digital trends.

Today, buyers are more proactive in the purchasing process. And, like with most things these days, more and more people are going online to find what they’re looking for. In most cases, prospective purchasers will conduct their own research before deciding to view a property, most likely visiting several sites and comparing options before making contact to book a viewing.

Property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla have an extensive reach. Last year, Rightmove reported that it had surpassed 1.7 billion page views in a month for the first time. It’s an incredible statistic, and one that highlights why property professionals are determined to increase their online presence.

The advantages of digital marketing are numerous and well documented, but it’s primary benefit is affordable access to the mass market. This has increased its importance in the property market, especially amongst small and independent homebuilders. Aside from being cost-effective, detailed measurement metrics, database building and personalised marketing has led to improved purchase rates.

So, how can developers and homebuilders improve their online marketing campaigns in 2017 and increase sales?

Improve your SEO strategy

Search engine optimisation, or SEO as it is more commonly known, is a strategy used to increase website traffic by ensuring that the site can be easily found in search engines. This is done through the use of key words and phrases that are relevant to both what the site is offering and what the consumer is searching for.

As an example, let’s say that you’re a developer that specialises in converting and modernising properties, renovating residential buildings, period properties etc. When a person searches for “specialist property renovators”, engines such as Google will rank your site (determine where it is placed on their list) based on whether your site provides content relevant to the user’s search.

The aim for property professionals is to improve their website’s ranking, to get it closer to the top of Google’s list.

There are several ways to achieve this. The first is to ensure that your website contains the key search words and phrases, in the case, words such as: “specialist”, “property”, “modernisations”, “renovators”, “renovations” etc. The second, and most important, is to obtain links from other reputable sites. Search engines will take into consideration links from authoritative sites as proof of credibility. Simply put, the more links your site has, the more key words it uses, the better chance it has of ranking highly in search results and the more traffic it is likely to attract.

An incoming feature that Google will soon be implementing is to check whether your site runs over a secure connection with an SSL certificate. This is an important feature for property developers completing sales online, as potential homeowners are required to input a volume of sensitive data. A secure website and SSL certificate will not only boost SEO rankings, but will help build trust between property developers and potential purchasers, as homebuilders will be able to prove that they’re taking the highest level of care when it comes to protecting consumer data.

Of course, these aren’t the only steps you’ll need to take to improve your website’s ranking, but they’re a good platform upon which to start. Given the vast amount of content on the internet, it’s not enough to simply have a website and hope that search engines will connect the dots and rank your site accordingly.

A comprehensive and well planned SEO strategy is a must for homebuilders.

Establish a social media presence

As mentioned previously, the shift in the property market has been towards proactive direct-to-seller transactions. Social media has played a significant part in this shift. There are many homebuilders posting ads online, using various social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, as part of their wider marketing strategy.

As prospective purchasers become more proactive, tech-savvy homebuilders and developers are recognising that social media is a great way to be in direct contact with potential buyers.

A well-established social media presence allows developers to establish connections with potential buyers, offer exclusive listings, drive demand and increase sales. This will help them standout in a crowded marketplace and gain a competitive advantage.

Escapism is a big draw on the internet, and, as homebuilders, you’re tapping into people’s central desires. The concept of a ‘dream home’ is a powerful tool at your disposable, and something that social media is excellent at exploiting.

Invest in interactive mapping

Interactive mapping technology is fast becoming a must-have feature for property developers, especially those specialising in new housing and development projects.

Interactive maps allow prospective purchasers to select a property based on location and size, both of which have a huge influence on price and desirability. They provide consumers with all of a property’s relevant details (purchase price, number of reception rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, garages etc). They also allow for searches to be conducted on various plots, for plots to be matched against house types, and provide information regarding the length of the warranty a property has received from the National House Building Council (NHBC).

In short, they’re making the process of buying a “new build” easier.

The issue for smaller developers has been the cost of implementing an interactive maps feature. But as the technology becomes more cost-effective and accessible, it’s becoming an ever more worthwhile investment.

The biggest benefit of this feature is that it allows buyers to purchase a property prior to completion and for developers to start recouping on their investment immediately.

It’s never too late for homebuilders and developers to improve upon their digital marketing strategy. As with any new business strategy, digital marketing presents more than a few challenges. However, once a well-established plan is in place, it stays in place.

In some instances, property professionals have been resistant to the move towards digital. The larger development companies, in particular, continue to favour more traditional marketing channels and have been reluctant to increase their marketing budgets to include digital. But it’s important that the industry acknowledges the change in the marketing landscape, that developers – especially small and independent developers – invest in both their website, their online presence and their own platforms. By investing in your business’ online capabilities – developing interactive user platforms, owning your own marketing channels and having access to a diverse buyer database – you will ensure you create for yourself a valuable asset, and one that you can expect to profit from in the long-term.

A strong SEO strategy, polished social media presence and a willingness to invest in new digital technologies will give property professionals a strong platform from which to boost their housing stock.