October 11, 2011

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Which Portal is Right for You?

The question of which portal to advertise on - and how many - is one that real estate companies will always struggle with. Trying to get the best return on your investment along with maximum coverage is tricky.

Adding to the issue is the fact that real estate portals have a tendency to appear like weeds in many markets. So how do you make the right choice and not waste your marketing dollars?

It goes without saying that you need to research your own market carefully to start with. 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, and you should have an awareness of some of the second tier portals as well. What you may not know are the actual success factors of those portals versus the marketing hype. It can be helpful to have a representative from a number of portals visit your office to present their case, and to ask them for specific, recent statistics.

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

- Look at where your competitors are advertising and decide whether you want to join them or try another tactic (and portal) to beat them.
- Listen to your customers. If they are continuously asking to have their properties advertised on particular sites, don’t ignore them.
- Consider the best value proposition from each portal in terms of cost of subscription versus the package you’re offered. This includes the 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 be expensive because it offers far more than the others, but it may not.
- Think about your market carefully and consider whether a niche portal might actually suit your business better, for example if you specialise in executive leasings or holiday properties. Smaller, niche portals can offer better customer targeting.
- 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.
- A good 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.

The next step is to evaluate all the other potential sites in the mix and probably choose one or two 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’re often better off as a premium subscriber on two or three sites than a standard subscriber, getting lost amongst the rabble, on four or five.

As with any form of advertising, it’s important to be where 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.

Once you are up and running on a portal, you should continuously monitor how you are tracking, 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, so use these tools to make good choices up front and continue to make good choices down the track.

Finally, 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! Better still, run trials with your own properties and let the results do the talking.


Related posts:

  1. Top 10 Tips for Choosing a Property Portal
  2. It’s More Than Just An Ad On A Portal
  3. Back to Basics: Property Portal Stats
  4. Vendor Reports: Why Are They Important?
  5. Maximising Leads from Portal Sites – Part 2
  6. Maximising Leads from Portal Sites – Part 1
  7. Effective Banner Advertising – Part 2
  8. Standing Out Amongst the Crowd
  9. Previously on Property Ad Guru: Niche Marketing

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