Which portals should I advertise on?

January 12, 2009 by Jo 

The question of which and how many portals to advertise on is one that real estate companies will always struggle with. Trying to get the best return on your investment but get maximum coverage is tricky. Not helping the issue is the fact that real estate portals tend to grow and appear like weeds in most markets. So how do you make the right choice and not waste your precious marketing dollars?

It goes without saying that you need to research your own market carefully. What’s right for one agency might not be right for yours - even if you do operate in a similar area or are part of the same franchise. You will most likely know who the biggest player is in your area/country and you should have an awareness of some of the second tier portals too. What you may not know though are the actual success factors of those sites versus the marketing hype. Have a representative from a number of sites come and visit your office to present their case and ask them for specific and recent statistics.

Here’s some points to consider when choosing a portal:

  1. Look at where your competitors are advertising and decide whether you want to join them or try another tactic (and portal) to beat them.
  2. Listen to your customers. If they are continuously asking to have their properties advertised on particular sites, don’t ignore them.
  3. Consider the best value proposition from each portal in terms of cost of subscription versus the package you’re offered: number of visitors to the site; the amount of consumer promotion the site does; the reports and analytics the site gives its subscribers; and the extra advertising options available to you on each site that could help you trump your competitors. The most expensive subscription might actually be that way because it offers far more than the others - but then again it might not.  
  4. Think about your market carefully and consider whether a niche portal might actually suit your business better ie. you specialise in executive leasings or holiday properties or premium listings. Smaller, more niche portals can often offer better targeting of potential customers to view your listings.
  5. Take a trial run on a number of portals over the same period of time, advertising the same properties, and compare the results. This will give you a real apples-with-apples comparison that could help make your decision easier.
Rule of thumb is that you advertise on the dominant player in your market, if only because you can’t afford NOT to be there. They’re usually dominant for a reason. You should, however, consider how you advertise on this site, possibly choosing a premium listing package to ensure you stand out from your competitors. 
Next step is to evaluate all the other potential sites in the mix and probably choose 1-2 others that suit your needs. It may be a niche site or a key second tier site that your customers keep asking for. Whilst breadth of coverage is important, it’s also necessary to consider depth of advertising; with only a limited amount of funds available you’d be better off being a premium subscriber on 2-3 sites than a standard subscriber, getting lost amongst the rabble, on 4-5 sites.
As with any form of advertising, it’s important to be where the people are looking and ensure your choices continue to make sense - what worked last year may not be as effective this year. So make sure you choose sites that are attracting the sort of buyers and sellers you want and can demonstrate success in your area with similar types of businesses to your own.
And once you are up and running on a portal you should continuously monitor how you are tracking on that site, reviewing your statistics on a weekly basis. You might be surprised at how well your properties are going on a small niche site versus the larger ones, or you may well be equally annoyed at how few results you are getting from a particular site that you invested a lot of money in. With market fluctuations and results from other forms of advertising in mind, you should be able to assess whether a site is working for you over a reasonable period of time. 
Don’t be content to just do what your competitors are doing and advertise where they are. Analyse your marketplace and the portals within it and consider the best match for your business and your customers. The beauty of online advertising is the statistics and monitoring that can be done around it, so use these tools to make good choices up front and continue to make good choices down the track. Don’t be afraid to ask for case studies and comparative statistics, but be mindful of how they’re presented - some portals are good at twisting the stats to suit their needs! Best of all, run some trials with your own properties and let the results do the talking.

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One Response to “Which portals should I advertise on?”

  1. Dan Waldron on January 12th, 2009 7:15 am

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

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