share

BLOG

How COVID-19 Is Changing The Property Research Process

Background

As we move deeper into the social distancing regime due to the spread of COVID-19 we are slowly (and I do mean slowly) starting to see the emergence of a ‘new normal’ when it comes to the property research process.

We have been looking at the key metrics and performance data across three different levels of our product suite to start to assess how consumers are reacting and what this means for the strategy we recommend to our clients. This included:

  • Lead generation
  • Call concierge
  • Email marketing

We wanted to share some of these findings with you in order to:

  • Help drive your messaging strategies and approach to testing
  • Identify where you should increase your focus
  • Demonstrate some potential product opportunities

Lead Generation

High Volume & Industry Specific Message Testing

Social Garden works actively across three key sectors of the property market:

  • Masterplanned communities
  • Volume home builders
  • Over 50s living

As part of our performance marketing methodology, we are conducting a high volume of channel and ad messaging/imagery testing over 60+ campaigns spanning all of the above sectors.

This level of engagement allows us to identify emerging market trends as they occur in real time. These insights help us drive recommendations to our clients and adjustments to campaign messaging.

Let’s dive into some of the changing behaviours we are seeing across each market segment.

Social Media Usage Is Increasing

As anticipated in my previous article, we are already seeing a clear increase in social media usage due to social distancing measures in Australia, particularly amongst the typical first home buyer segments.

Recent data from YouGov Australia highlights a:

  • 16% increase in Instagram browsing in Australia (25% amongst Millennials)
  • 12% increase in Facebook browsing in Australia (22% amongst Millennials)

What Has Been Working?

With market conditions improving over the past 6 months, variations on product and price messaging (backed by project or community key benefits) have consistently been the strongest performing advertising for both the masterplanned communities and over 50s living sectors.

Like the above, volume home builder advertising has been driven heavily by product and price based activity, underpinned by the ongoing cyclical promotional calendar that most builders employ.

What Changes Have We Seen?

Masterplanned Communities & Over 50s Living

Over the past 3 weeks on Facebook some key changes in ad click through rates we have seen are:

  • 42% increase on an ad promoting a community ‘minutes away from everything’
  • 36% increase on a video ad promoting beachfront location benefits
  • 42% decrease on an ad promoting price-driven corner lots
  • 21% decrease on an ad promoting a generic land from price point message

Volume Home Builders

Over the past 3 weeks on Facebook some key changes in ad click through rates we have seen are:

  • 95% increase on an ad promoting peace of mind from a structural guarantee
  • 88% increase on an Instagram Stories animated banner
  • 159% decrease on an ad promoting a generic product & price offering
  • 148% decrease on an ad promoting larger family homes at a from price

What Does This Mean For Me?

There’s a few factors at play here:

  • Overall social media browsing is increasing
  • Competitor activity could potentially decline
  • Consumer sentiment and considerations are shifting
  • Specific messages are resonating more due these sentiment shifts

Bringing this all together, the key to strong performance here is context—making sure your messaging strategy aligns with the mindset and behaviour of your potential audience.

The market is there—you just need to move with them!

Concierge Service

High Volume Phone-Based Lead Qualification

Social Garden’s on-premise concierge service manages inbound and outbound calling for a range of volume home builder and masterplanned communities clients. This includes both initial qualification calling with newly generated leads and re-engagement calling with prospects as they move through a structured sales process.

Built on Salesforce Service Cloud, our concierge function affords us the ability to track early indicators of prospect intent and aggregate those lead indicators to provide our clients with an overall sense of their prospect’s engagement in the sales process.

What we’ve seen in the past few weeks is that the reduction in overall social engagement due to COVID-19 restrictions is having an interesting effect on call connection rates.

What Changes Have We Seen?

In order to assess the overall impact we had a look at connection rates across three engagement types:

  • Volume home builder new lead qualification
  • Masterplanned community new lead qualification
  • Volume home builder existing lead re-engagement

The data showed a clear trend emerging as social distancing commenced. Looking at the numbers:

 

What Does This Mean For Me?

This data points to a simple human truth—we all crave interaction.

Given that your prospects have both potentially more time on their hands at home and are seeking out more human engagement where possible, it stands to reason that phone-based engagement has the potential to increase.

As you pivot your strategies toward remote sales, be mindful to ensure you have a structured phone-based engagement strategy in place with the ability to track engagements and clear SLAs in place regarding call back times, scheduling of calls and data pushing into your CRM.

Setting up your normally face-to-face sales team to pivot toward this approach in a more structured fashion will help keep your sales process rolling as we all adjust to the ‘new normal’ of the next few months.

Email Marketing

Email-Based Lead Nurturing

Automated lead nurturing via marketing automation platforms like Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Pardot or Marketo are an increasingly critical part of any property sales and marketing strategy.

According to a recent study by Google, the average length of time of the property sales cycle from the commencement of research to purchase is 9.1 months. Making sure you have a customer-led education and engagement solution in place when prospects are not ready to speak to your sales team is a key tool for moving purchasers efficiently through the sales funnel.

Social Garden supports a wide variety of our clients in personalising their customer experience and building out their lead nurture strategies to ensure their prospects receive the right information at the right time.

In order to report on the success of these campaigns, we are continuously tracking email open rates and click through rates to understand prospect engagement levels with marketing content.

As with the concierge service, we are starting to see some consistent trends.

What Changes Have We Seen?

Looking specifically at activity for volume home builder clients we have seen:

  • An overall increase in open rates from 12.2% to 22.2% over the past 4 weeks
  • An 88% increase in open rates week on week for one client’s nurture campaign

What Does This Mean For Me?

Obviously we are still in the early stages of the social distancing regime, however – as with both social media usage and our concierge service – we are seeing the impact of people having more time on their hands to engage with content and research.

The key thing to be mindful of here is that if this trend of higher database engagement with content continues, there is a critical opportunity here to:

  • Keep your pipeline of marketing qualified leads engaged and ready to transition to being sales qualified when conditions change
  • Listen for signs of engagement and pivot your strategy toward where the audience is engaging with your brand
  • Test different content when open rates are increasing to fast track learnings on the type of content that drives interest and intent to sharpen your overall marketing strategy

The Key Takeaways

If you take one thing out of reading this article it’s this – the way your potential prospects are engaging with marketing is changing rapidly.

If you have the lead indicators in place to identify these trends (beyond what you already know from the mandated social distancing policies) you can adjust your approach to meet their needs.

The reality is, we are all operating in a world where the mobile phone and the internet have completely democratised the brand-consumer relationship; with the consumer now in charge of the process.

If we provide them the content they want – when they want it and how they want it – we have the best chance of building the trust and rapport that underpins sales.

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

newsletter

Videos, Podcasts And Articles. Delivered Fortnightly