Property has increasingly moved online in the past few years, forcing estate agents to become more and more like content marketers.
[Image credit: iStock/pearleye]
Selling a house used to be a relatively straightforward process from the point of view of estate agents. The traditional property market typically involved sticking a picture of a house and a price in the window of a high-street agent office, or for those feeling a little more exotic, the same style of advertisement in the local newspaper.
Over the last few years, however, the property sector in the UK has changed, as the tech-savvy homebuyer has migrated from the high street to the internet. The traditional way of marketing properties has gone, with estate agents recognising the sheer reach that portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla give their housing stock. And with Rightmove reporting earlier this year that it had broken the 1.7 billion page views a month barrier for the first time, it’s not hard to see why property professionals are taking their campaigns into the online world.
But it’s not just the platform for advertising properties that has changed in the past decade or so; as the number of people searching for homes online has increased, so has the volume of houses, flats, garages and other stock for sale. This means it’s easier than ever for someone to browse through hundreds of properties in a short period of time, so estate agents have to adapt their strategies to become more competitive.
Property listings need to make buyers aware of the home they’re selling in an instant, and pique their interest within just a few seconds to ensure they stick around and don’t make the simple choice of clicking through to another listing before paying that one attention. So what are estate agents doing in the age of online property that content marketers should be taking note of?
Be more visual
One of the major changes that have been brought about by the change in the property world is the ability to both be able to, and need to be, more visual.
A website allows for the space to upload more photos than a traditional property listing could ever dream of, and estate agents need to take advantage of this, with a range of high-quality photos that really make the property stand out, and show in its best light an absolute essential.
This is a lesson we can carry over into the world of content marketing, where visual content has become more important than ever.
Sure, the editorial work you have on site may well be perfectly targeted and excellently written, but grabbing the attention of the reader to entice them to stick around can come down to appealing to their visual needs. Use of custom graphics, for example, can make statistics pop, much like they can for a stunning bathroom, garden or kitchen, making your audience want to stick around to learn a little more.
Photographs aside, the ability users have to quickly scan and peruse a number of property listings in seconds means that estate agents often have to fight their natural gift of the gab to give the audience a reason to check out their property over any other within a snappy summary.
It’s easy to overlook the short descriptive opportunity they give in favour of a longer description further down the page, but highlighting key reasons to buy such as the transport links, modernity of a property or its location in just a few words can lead someone to want to read more, which is another lesson that content marketers can learn from.
Meta descriptions, much like the property summary, are your opportunity to grab the attention of a reader and entice them to click through to your website. You may only have 156 characters to play with in Google searches, but make the most of them and give your content that extra chance of achieving higher clickthrough rates simply by showing users that you have the ability to provide the content they want to consume, and they’re more likely to click and stick around as a result.
Perhaps the most prominent parallel between estate agents and content marketing agencies is the way both have to understand not only the wants and needs of their audience, but also who they are trying to target in each and every listing or piece of content to maximise its potential impact.
In property, it’s easy to know that young professionals want to know about the local area and transport links, and that families want to know about schools, room size and layout, but knowing which properties are likely to appeal to each demographic takes time and effort that’s easy to overlook.
But estate agents who fail to do this do so at their peril, and in the world of content, it’s no different. Fail to research who it is you are targeting, and you risk seriously missing the mark with the content itself. Appealing to the wrong people in either industry means you simply won’t reap the rewards of your efforts and won’t see the progress towards your goals that you hope for.