The way agents operate has changed significantly over the last five years: you are no longer solely reliant on the portals for marketing homes.
This is as it should be.
Digital marketing has empowered agents to take matters into their own hands to a far greater extent.
Different audiences will also respond in varying ways to the myriad of communications channels now out there and often a message needs to be seen or heard across multiple platforms to resonate.
There is a whole range of digital marketing strategies agents are increasingly exploring and deploying to their benefit, from paid Instagram promotion to reaching out to local bloggers to leverage the clout of a key influencer, to simply making sure their website is seamless to use and ranked highly by Google’s algorithm.
The role of portals, with agents as their core clients, should be to offer a service that complements and amplifies agents’ marketing strategies, with a strong focus on always seeking out and driving forward the most innovative digital marketing techniques.
In May, Zoopla surveyed 2,000 people who have either sold their property in the last 18 months or who were currently looking to move or sell over the next year and a half.
An overwhelming proportion of these house-hunters (70%) told us that they use a combination of estate agency websites and property portals when searching for their next home.
This reflects the savviness of the general consumer in the digital age. Incidentally, it also shows the great work many agencies are doing to build brand loyalty, with certain agency websites becoming a real ‘go-to’.
Ultimately consumers have a range of information sources right at their fingertips and they aren’t afraid to use this to get the best outcome for them. Pushing your message out across multiple channels can be a strong method of reinforcement.
Just 20% of home-hunters surveyed revealed they only used property portals to search for their next home and 7% browse estate agent websites alone.
Just being on a portal does not cut it – and I expect you thought you would never see those words attributed to me.
This research demonstrates that a hybrid strategy when marketing a home is key to maximising eyeballs to ensure it is sold or let out as quickly as possible and for the best possible price.
The mix of channels agents can use to market a home is in flux with innovative social platforms, and changes to Google’s algorithm are emerging all the time. The strategies that are successful will depend on the demographics moving into, and within, an agent’s stomping ground.
The most innovative agents will have their fingers on the pulse of their key local target demographics, what motivates them and the communications channels they are using.
And they will be willing to test marketing strategies and take risks. In this ever-changing environment, the best possible property portal imaginable is not really a pure portal, instead it is a collaborative partner that helps agents reach the widest possible, relevant, audience and complements their own marketing strategies.
As mentioned earlier this week on EYE, I firmly take the view that portals should no longer have a stranglehold over agents.
Instead, I believe portals should rather work as a valued business and marketing partner with agents, enabling them to service their clients across the full range of marketing channels rather than simply digital property listings alone.
From a Zoopla perspective, we are increasingly seeking to provide agents with the freshest insights and services to help them start and develop their digital marketing journey, and there’s more to come soon on this front.
Being just a portal risks being dispensable; as a true partner to agents, traditional portals can become so much more.
* Charlie Bryant heads up Zoopla and will now be a regular columnist for EYE