Real Estate Web Marketing vs. Everything Else

It’s interesting watching how business minds refocus web marketing strategies once they’ve really jumped into them. One of the more recent examples of this comes from Century 21 in the United States who’ve recently shifted significantly from offline advertising channels, including TV, to the web:

“We took a leadership position this year by moving the majority of our advertising online,” said Bev Thorne, senior vice president, marketing, Century 21 Real Estate LLC. “The market data and this award clearly indicate that our strategic shift to online advertising is providing enhanced value to the CENTURY 21 System. Through an increasingly efficient and robust online advertising strategy, we have managed to increase monthly average lead volume and the potential customer base by 40% since last year, while decreasing monthly cost-per-lead by 32%.”

That sounds like a phenomenal improvement in the return on investment for Century 21’s ad dollars. In fact, it’s so good that it makes me wonder why they wouldn’t move even more – if not all – of their ad dollars online.

That being said, one common reaction we hear when proposing radical concepts such as spending all of your ad dollars online (where they tend to provide high & measurable returns) is, “we need to keep our brand out there.” That most often comes from businesses with a history of large ad buys on TV or print media. We don’t dismiss the concern one bit. Instead, we try to create tests to measure TV’s impact on brands. Presumably, if TV is a driving force behind brand recognition today, turning off TV advertising would generate a measurable negative impact on branded searches.

To date, here is what we’re seeing:

1. Brands who’ve diverted significant ad dollars from TV to create a powerful web presence have seen an increase in branded web searches. I believe this is because certain brands have finally invested enough in their brand’s websites to create an experience consumers actively seek out (and revisit), which leads to more branded searches than TV ads generated.

2. In cases where certain brands have put significant dollars into TV to promote their website before creating a site worth promoting, the money seems to have trained consumers to expect a less than stellar online experience, thus hurting the brand.

3. Offline advertising doesn’t stop when you stop advertising on TV. You still have signs in yards all over the place. Agents continue to spend money on print materials. Word of mouth rolls on.

Among companies who’ve invested enough in their sites (not just money, but a dedication to success at the highest levels of the company) to see how powerful web marketing can be, a day is reached when the new bar for measuring the success of advertising becomes the website. When budgets are as tight as they are today, using a “cost per website visitor” or “cost per lead” metric to justify all ad dollars becomes the pragmatic choice.

Spend every dollar like it’s your own:

– Spend your marketing dollars where you’ll see the biggest return on investment.

– Spend them on measurable media.

– Spend them where agents see the most value.

– Spend them where consumers are interacting with your brand.

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