How to avoid an internal comms failure

Like all industries the property sector is facing a rapidly changing marketing environment where the traditional methods of encouraging a consumer response are losing their impact. The competition for attention is increasing and the need to keep innovating is paramount if you want to stay ahead.

In this new environment Facebook plays an important part of your property marketing mix – here’s why.

As an individual it’s frightening how much social platforms know about us. But as a brand and agency it’s this very information that allows us to build detailed advertising audiences that can zero in on any target market.

There is a wealth of user information within Facebook alone, which allows targeting by predefined audience groups, personas and a range of demographic data such as lifestyle interests, shopping habits, geography, income, occupation, gender, number of children etc.

What’s more Facebook also partners with external sources including Acxiom and Experian. These Facebook partners provide detailed data insights, which enable us to further refine and target accurately and specifically to different audiences.

What does this mean for you?

Using this wealth of information, campaigns can be highly focused on your target audience, not just for a particular project, but also for specific releases, products or incentive offers (i.e. First Home Owners Grant, downsizer incentives, family size lots, etc.)

The pressure is always on, particularly in property, to get a solid lead and make a sale. That’s understandable, however we need to realise that buying property is not a quick retail decision. The price point, financial commitment and lifestyle considerations mean the journey from interest, through consideration to purchase may be a very lengthy and considered process, often taking up to 12 months.

As buyers move through the funnel their purpose and inclination to engage will vary dramatically, so it is important to set the desired campaign objectives carefully.

Keep in mind:

What stage the project is at in its development (a launch campaign will be different to a stage release)
Where the target buyer may be in their purchase journey
What the campaign intent or offer is
These points will determine whether it’s appropriate to run an awareness campaign to build the brand further and reach new audiences; engage with consumers through comments, competitions, video views; convert via a lead generation; or drive foot traffic to the sales office.

The key to a successful campaign is being realistic with the objective. It’s fine to have a registration goal, but just don’t expect the sales team to be able to call these registrations and get an immediate result. The social medium is changeable, fluid and dynamic. Viewers may receive an ad, view with curiosity, click through and register, without really being serious in their consideration. Thus a phone call from an eager sales agent the following day is likely to at best, surprise and at worst, annoy the consumer and potentially tarnish your brand and project reputation.

Companies should ideally be running a lead nurturing strategy that supports any campaign regardless of the medium. So once engaged with an ad the consumer is nurtured. They are provided with additional ways to interact, they’re informed and research is encouraged. All this is facilitated by the brand. This may take the form of web content, EDMs, Facebook, Instagram and blog content, physical events and workshops. This allows for consumers to progress through their purchasing journey while getting to know and trust your brand. Once a customer has engaged with the brand through different means on several occasions (tracked through pixels and analytics) they will be more likely to be responsive to stronger retail approaches and contact.

Of course there is nothing wrong with a bit of encouragement along the way, and remarketing to those that have engaged through any channel should form an integral part of the Facebook campaign strategy. This has its own range of options and strategies and is another topic in itself.

Purchasing property is a lifestyle decision. Like holiday destination marketing, it’s aspirational – we want to be inspired, to feel good about the location and admire the style. We want to know where we are going, what it’s like to live there, who else lives there, and what they’re doing. Above all else, to feel good about the choice we’re making.

This makes it a very visual product and suited to campaigns that maximise the emotive elements of imagery. Facebook (and Instagram) provide a great visual medium for demonstrating brand and product attributes easily and quickly through a range of great tools utilising stills, video and even live streams.

Keep in mind:

Social media is based on human interaction so using imagery that shows a human face is also critical. A nice location aerial or home render is great, but people really want to be able to visualise their kids running out of the kitchen into the safe, green spacious backyard, or the likeminded young couple strolling down the tree-lined paths. This is what gives them the feeling of living there and is more likely to encourage engagement with the campaign.

Facebook enforces strict image restrictions in all their advertising to ensure it remains a dynamic and visual experience. They continue to introduce great advertising tools like Canvas, and encourage the use of video content. Keep in mind that their aim is to provide for rich and engaging opportunities for consumers. The challenge is to ensure that you maximise the opportunity by investing in appropriate imagery – video, regular photo shoots, and brand assets to maximise your presence in the social environment.

Social media is opening up the way we communicate to audiences in all segments providing enormous benefits in audience reach, targeting, action and engagement. The companies that are willing to constantly adapt, change the way they see themselves, and modify their marketing campaigns (and sales techniques) in line with their audiences changing habits will realise the benefits of all these social marketing advancements and opportunities.