This issue of iHOUSE Blueprint provides insight into real estate agents’ marketing interests with a summary of major findings from a marketing benchmarking survey completed just this month.
In order to better understand our target customers, iHOUSE sent an email to real estate agents who have completed test drives of iHOUSE products inviting them to complete a marketing benchmark survey. The survey asked a series of questions about their marketing investment plans, changes in their marketing focus, and best resources for lead generation.
From a pool of many thousands, 167 agents completed the survey. The survey respondents are located across the U.S., with the majority currently experiencing buyers’ markets with excess inventories. 90% of the respondents have been in real estate for at least two years, with 49% having 10 or more years of experience.
The survey began with questions about annual marketing planning and typical monthly expenditures on marketing activities. Over 75% of respondents do some type of marketing planning/budgeting, though most do not create a formal annual plan. Respondents’ typical monthly marketing investment varies widely – 61% of respondents fell within a broad range from $100/month to $550/month.
Another survey objective was to better understand agents’ investment in online marketing as compared to traditional offline activities. While offline marketing is still clearly important, more than half of the respondents invest 50% or more of their monthly marketing budget into online resources. In addition, investment in online marketing is more likely to increase compared to offline investment. Over 60% of respondents are planning to invest more into online marketing, compared to 40% who plan to invest more into offline marketing activities this year compared to last year. When asked more specifically into which online activity they plan to invest in more this year:
Another series of questions focused on the best sources of leads. Not surprisingly in this relationship-oriented business, former customer referrals and repeat customers overwhelmingly remain the best sources of leads with 74% and 70% of respondents respectively rating these two categories as good/major sources of leads. Their own website, professional referrals and IDX MLS search offered on own website were ranked as the #3, #4, #5 next best sources respectively with 20% to 30% of respondents rating these resources as good/major lead sources. While email marketing and single property websites are not “core activities” for marketing listings specifically today, over a third of the survey respondents are exploring adding these tools to their marketing arsenal this year.
The final set of questions focused on the respondents’ own websites. The majority of respondents already have their own web presence – mostly through real estate website companies (remember, the respondents are not current iHOUSE Website customers). While “My Own Website” was the #3 overall best source of leads, the majority of respondents receive less than 20% of their leads from their own website. 44% stated that they receive less than 10% of their leads from their website, and 20% of respondents either do not have a website or do not know the number of leads generated from their website.
When asked to rank lead generation vehicles used on their websites: Listing inquiries, contact me forms, market analysis offers and MLS search inquires were the four most common lead capture tools used. Only a third of respondents indicated that they offered some form of free information resource – for example, information guides, newsletters, or drip emails with helpful information. Adding these types of lead generation resources to a professional website has been proven to be winning strategy in real estate and other business categories.
In summary, online marketing appears to be increasing in its importance to real estate agents, though offline marketing still has its place. While referrals may remain the #1 source of leads, websites, IDX MLS search, email marketing and single property websites are all important and growing sources of finding additional prospects and marketing listings in increasingly competitive markets.
How is your average monthly marketing investment changing this year? And how does that compare to other real estate agents’ plans? (Poll is now closed.)
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Robert Warner started with iHOUSEWeb back in 2009 in the Customer Service Department helping over 10,000 clients with all of their Real Estate Website questions. After launching the YouTube training videos for iHOUSEWeb he moved up to the marketing department where he helps design and write marketing materials as well as managing the Social Media side of iHOUSEWeb.