If you are an apartment developer in Australia, you must be dismayed by the amount of negative press that seems to surround the market. Most national papers are talking down new and off-the-plan properties, and most buyers could be excused for thinking that nothing is selling. The reality is that a lot of apartments are selling and most developments represent exceptional value.
Every day, Australian buyers look to new and off-the-plan apartments to get into the market or generally invest in areas and developments that meet their current requirements. But developers are struggling with a common conundrum; how do I generate great buyer enquiry and is it the right enquiry to support the sales requirements of our project?
For good reason, many developers engage a property marketing/sales company to provide advice on the best mix of apartment blends required by their identified buying audience. As the approvals from the council are in place, a marketing budget is allocated to promote the project through pre-release and then again through launch and beyond. The idea, of course, is to attract buyers and provide solid lead flow for sales teams to engage and sell the development. But isn’t it concerning that very few media or digital agencies commit or guarantee an agreed volume and quality of the leads that a developer can expect from their budget?
As you ponder that question, here are my thoughts on where your marketing budget should be spent? I would argue that property marketing budgets and media strategies have only changed marginally over the past 5 years. Print media has certainly reduced, but there’s still a lot of developers that get romanced into the idea of seeing their ads in print (or convinced to do so by selling agencies – see below). Every week, we monitor lead traffic from print ads and see very little evidence of buyers for new apartments coming from that channel. From what we see, people that read the real estate section of a newspaper tend to be one of the following:
- Dreamers – hoping that one day they will have enough to get their own place
- Validators – checking their house/apartment is worth what they think it is. So new apartments/townhouses are just making them ‘feel good’ about their property price.
- Sellers – that want to see who’s advertising a lot with a perception that certain sales agencies are well-known and could be good at selling their property. That does very little for the developer trying to sell their apartments but gives the real estate agency good coverage and profile to gain listings
- Buyers – a very small section of the reading audience that has always gone to newspapers for information on property and have a distrust of digital – this section is reducing massively and mainly consists of older Australians (see Facebook stats below)
So that brings us to digital and why we’re a massive advocate of using digital for apartment/house and land/townhouse buyer lead generation. To provide some perspective, put yourself in the mind of someone looking for a property. In this digital world, people of all ages are using digital channels in their daily interactions with life. Let’s look at a few channels regularly used:
- A smartphone (almost an inseparable tool in today’s society)
- Facebook (16 million Australian users, 3.9 million of which are over the age of 50)
- Instagram (5 million active Australian monthly users and owned by Facebook)
- YouTube (around 15 million unique views by Australians every month and owned by Google)
- Google (around 90% of all Australian Internet searching is completed on Google, half of which is on a mobile device) – incidentally, Australians spend around 600 million hours on Google every year.
- Email – think about your inbox; you get so many emails every day, many from trusted sources like accountants, financial planners or friends that know you are looking and send you something through for you to look at.
- Then you have news feeds, Realestate.com.au, Domain, Apartmentdevelopments.com.au, iBuyNew, and a raft of other property related websites that provide information on a property.
Through all of these channels, a person looking for new property goes to one or many of these mediums and often click on ads or fills in details on properties that are of interest. If interest isn’t immediately captured, clever ad retargeting will continue to present your ad to that person for several months, increasing the chance of a converted lead. Where they don’t put their details into a lead capture form, we see high volumes of ‘click-to-dial’ enquiries, which means you must always have a robust phone answering team in place to handle the incoming enquiry. In my opinion, it is critically important to pull all digital levers in your quest to attract great domestic
buyers; print may then support it but only if it can be tracked and monitored to deliver performance. If a digital agency has the right lead generation
experience and understands how to properly convert digital traffic, online questions can be asked of buyers to qualify them to a level where genuine interest is not only determined but correct email and contact details are willingly provided. Add to that mix a range of marketing automation and expert phone response to all enquiry and you have the formula for incredible lead and sales performance. Which leads me to my last point. As someone who runs a digital agency that specialises in new and off-the-plan property marketing in Australia and Asia, it seems incredible to me that most developers or project sales companies simply aren’t asking media agencies to guarantee lead performance or commit to minimum numbers of qualified enquiries for their budget. Before committing serious budgets to marketing and media buying, ask your agency how many qualified leads will be committed and guaranteed?
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