Four high-profile industry figures have sent an open letter urging agents to think about what they call “smarter marketing” in a bid to compete more effectively in a tougher marketplace.
Industry consultants Christopher Watkin and Iain White and web developer Mike Smithson have backed a letter written by Nat Daniels, chief executive of Angels Media, publisher of Estate Agent Today.
In the letter Daniels says a combination of factors - including the tenant fees ban, rising portal charges, increased compliance requirements and the uncertainties of Brexit - conspire to make the agency industry more challenging than ever.
“Because of these very real challenges, there is a compelling case to continuously change and evolve what you're doing, to ensure the future of your brand, your premises and your staff. It’s not the day-to-day processes such as viewings and negotiating offers that agents need help with, rather the steps you're taking to promote your brand in the first place” says Daniels.
He says marketing has to be directed at vendors and landlords with a mix of “calls to action” on websites, and the co-ordinated use of social media, pay-per-click campaigns and more traditional media and leaflet advertising.
“All of this activity needs to be aimed at driving traffic to your own website and attracting vendors and landlords that you can convert into leads” says Daniels in the open letter, which promotes Angels Media’s The ValPal Network.
“Our network now comprises over 800 agency brands with over 4,000 branches. Agents using ValPal are generating more vendor and landlord leads than some of the biggest portals and over a two-year period, 18% of our members’ online sales valuations went on to complete with HM Land Registry” he claims.
Chris Watkin - a former estate agent like Daniels, Smithson and White - says: “Getting your message, the story of what you, your team and your agency stands for is even more important in this 24/7 info overloaded world. The old school marketing techniques of ‘properties wanted’ doesn’t work anymore.”
Meanwhile Smithson, now managing director of specialist web developer The Property Jungle, says: “Adopting a path of continuous improvement reaps great rewards because if you can measure it, you can improve it. For example, in the last 12 months by measuring valuation leads and then continuously making small adjustments to text, colour, font and icon we succeeded in increasing the number of requests to value by 41 per cent for Putterills.”
And Iain White - the former Countrywide director who recently announced the new Innovative Collaboration Group consisting of many of the best known and established PropTech and other suppliers - says: “Marketing and lead generation are essential for estate agents. Standing still will eventually mean going backwards, so it’s essential to get your strategy right. Tools like ValPal are great for lead generation but they are useless unless you drive traffic to them. You then need the right people to pick up the leads and convert them into customers.”
The experts have framed 10 questions they say all agents should be asking themselves in 2019:
1. Is our marketing aimed at vendors and landlords or buyers and tenants?
2. Do we answer all enquiries and respond to all leads as quickly as possible?
3. Do we consciously drive traffic to our own website instead of the portals?
4. Do we have a way of converting website traffic into leads for our team?
5. Do we frequently contact our whole database to unearth new opportunities?
6. Do we record and digest our own stats to understand where our strengths are and where we need to improve?
7. What Return on Investment do we get from each of our marketing campaigns?
8. What are our conversion rates from lead to market appraisal, from market appraisal to instruction and instruction to completion?
9. Is our cashflow improved by partnering with conveyancing firms who pay us up front so we don’t have to wait for a sale to go through?
10. What percentage of our overall revenue is derived from third party referrals?