There are an estimated of 67 million people looking to buy, sell, rent or finance a home on the Internet, and real estate professionals who want to land their business are making a huge mistake, they are treating them all the same way. They are treating them as someone who is ready, willing and able; instead, we should look at them as four distinct audience segments.
A white paper commissioned by Yahoo Real Estate, "Embracing the Online Real Estate Market," offers loads of practical advice about marketing to each group.
Passionates. Are the smallest group, an estimated 6% of the audience but the most attractive target as well. The study found 79% are in the market to buy, 82% to finance, and 45% to sell real estate in the next six months; their average income is $202,000.
Passionates are "advanced" Internet users, early adopters who visit multiple real estate sites early in the buying process with specific goals in mind, the study found.
"Since Passionates spend a lot of time online on multiple Web sites, it is important to reach them where they are online," the study recommended. "Authoring your own blog, being present on mainstream social networks and industry-targeted communities, and participating in other consumer focused (question-and-answer) sites are great ways to reach Passionates."
Conventionals. Because they tend to use offline sources such as printed advertising as a first step in the real estate research process, real estate agents are the most important source of information for "Conventionals." This segment represents about 14 % of in-market real estate consumers. Average income for the segment is $69,000, with 82 percent owning property with an average value of $349,000; 53 percent are male. Although Conventionals may begin the research process offline, 83 percent eventually get online when buying a home, and 40 percent turn to MLS sites as the first place they do research.
Because they may start the process offline, it's important to think of reaching Conventionals online "as an extension of your offline marketing efforts," the study said. Offline marketing copy "should reinforce your presence online, including your Web site URL, your blog URL, your e-mail address, or your social network profile names. Keep in mind that even though their name implies that they are offline, Conventionals spend time researching online to supplement their offline activities."
Actives. Actives are the second-largest group of real estate consumers, at 19% of the audience. Most Actives, 71% are financing properties, while just over half are buyers and about one in four are sellers. The typical Active is a highly educated 44-year-old married male with an income of $87,000, and 82% own property with an average value of $410,000.
Actives seek out information in a thorough way, often using online sources as a first step. Most use multiple sites and many tools, with no single source considered a "one-stop shop," the study found.
Because Actives use multiple sites, "you should have a presence on many real estate Web sites," comScore recommends. "In particular, real estate professionals should distribute their listings to as many real estate search and portal sites as appropriate. Actives are also busy financing, so partnering with mortgage brokers, both online and offline, is a great way to reach them by sharing referrals."
Online real estate agent directories are also used by Actives, an important consideration since repeated "impressions" in front of this group "is critical, as Actives are still contemplating what service providers to collaborate with."
Future Prospects. Future Prospects who are "just looking" are the largest group of active real estate consumers, comprising 61% of the category. They mostly go online to view listings and follow the market, and less than 10% are working with or even looking for a real estate agent. But that doesn't mean they should be ignored.
"Once this segment becomes more serious about home shopping and buying they will rely on a real estate agent to assist them, so investments that get you in front of their selection process are important," the study recommended. "For this group, awareness is the most important marketing objective, and marketing investments should be geared toward consistently putting your brand front-and-center. Graphic media campaigns on newspapers sites and real estate sites that enable local targeting, search-engine marketing in your local market, and listing your profile in the emerging category of online real agent directories should be considered in the marketing mix for this segment."
The typical future prospect is a 45-year-old married female with an average income of $69,000, with two-thirds owning property worth an average of $324,000.
"Since they are the least knowledgeable about real estate compared to the other segments, Future Prospects are more likely to enlist outside help," the study advised.
Treat them all different, create different approaches and most importantly don’t stop marketing.