Be honest, when it comes to deciding if a Property Portal is the right fit for your Estate Agency, do you tend to focus solely on the price, or do you actually take a minute to assess it, and look at the other factors in play?
I'd like to be proven wrong, but in my experience most agents will focus on the price point, because firstly this tends to be what portals themselves will focus on when trying to sell it to you, and secondly because it's potentially an additional spend which has to be accounted for.
If you remove the question of the price though (which of course, is important, but it's not the only factor) then what are your next steps, and how else can you decide whether that portal is the right platform for you or not, and whether it should be part of your property marketing strategy?
Well – lucky for you, based on our experience we've put together this handy guide for you, which gives you a few hints, tips and questions you can ask – with the reasons why! Enjoy…
SEO & Exposure - Where do They Rank?
The main aim of any Property Portal whether it's free or paid for is to generate you leads and enquiries, and in order to do that they have to either rank highly on the search engines or they have to be spending a huge amount of money in other online marketing & advertising to reach a sufficient number of people to generate leads.
You'll know yourself that just because you have 1000 hits on your website per month, it doesn't mean you're going to generate 1000 enquiries (if it did, we'd all be millionaires), so they need to have a large online presence, to be able to generate enough enquiries to justify you being with them.
There are literally hundreds of property portals that you could advertise your listings on, and you know this already considering the amount of emails & phone calls you get from portals almost on a weekly basis, so which ones should you be interested in?
Well, this firstly depends on who you are trying to target as an agency, for example, if you are interested in only UK Buyers, do you want to be advertising on a portal which targets Scandinavia?
Secondly, do you have the capability as a company to deal with the leads that come through from the portal? i.e. can your staff take on more leads right now and work those leads in the right way or do your staff have the language skills for the leads that will come through?
Lastly, is it justified to be on another portal targeting the same country that your existing portals are targeting, or could you spend that money more effectively on other marketing avenues?
Number of Listings in your area?
It's a little more complex with this one, as there are two scenarios/answers, both of which have pros and cons.
If the portal has lots of properties in your area it's good because generally it means the portal as a whole is successful, has good presence & offers a good choice of properties (which is what consumers want from a portal), however, it can also be bad because of saturation i.e. will your properties get found amongst all the others, and will it mean there are more duplications, i.e. more than one agent listing the same property.
If the portal doesn't have many listings in your area it's good because your listings will get found easily by potential buyers, so you'll stand more chance of getting the leads over your competitors however, it's also bad because the portal may struggle from a presence perspective, and may also therefore struggle to generate you good numbers of leads.
What Else Do They Bring?
Sometimes, unless you know already, it's worth looking at what else the portal offers, as a way of being able to increase your/their brand presence, and generate more leads for you. Prime examples of these could be:
A good Social Media presence where they can promote agents directly on the page or continually build up a good number of followers who will visit the website.
Exhibitions/Magazines which will attract a different type of audience in large numbers & even if you don't choose to exhibit or advertise in the magazine directly, is still good for your own listings/brand (as after the exhibition or after reading the magazine, people will generally tend to go online and have a look around).
Upload Process & Back Office
Most portals nowadays will accept an XML feed to upload your listings, but what if they don't? Then it's a manual process, so you need to ask how easy is it to upload the properties, and you also need to consider the time it will take to do this, especially if you have 50 plus listings. Don't forget as well, it's not just the initial upload, it's also the editing & deleting.
If they do take an XML feed, then which format do they take it in, and how often does the feed get updated, plus, are they going to tell you when there are issues, or do you need to manually check this yourself? Also consider that if they do take a feed, but it's different to a format you already have, then what, if any, is the additional cost from your end to build it, and what's the time it's going to take.
What is their back office system like, and is it friendly to use? It's highly unlikely that any portal will let you see the back office before you start using them, but it's good to know in advance, especially important is whether you can see your leads in the back office, and how you can download them. Why? Because when it comes to you analysing your portal activity, and deciding whether to renew or not you need to see how successful that portal has been for you.
In summary, don't be swayed by just price, take a minute and assess the portal in full to make sure it's right for you and your marketing strategy. Ask all the important questions you need to ask, and then make your decision – you don't have to give them an answer straight away.
Of course, you don't have to follow these guidelines, but we feel it's better to do the analysis upfront, than be left with an expensive mess at the end!
If you've done all your analysis, and you are still unsure then you can always come and talk it over with us, Property Portal Marketing – we are experts in this field, and we will happily carry out research and talk with the portal on your behalf before discussing the opportunity further with you in more detail.
Just like buying a house, the world of portal advertising is a journey, so make it a successful one!