By Peyman Aleagha
For decades print marketing has been one of the primary ways real estate professionals have marketed their brand, advertised their listings, and reached out to buyers and sellers in their market areas. My company, WebsiteBox, conducted a customer survey in November of 369 US and Canadian real estate professionals to ask about their attitudes toward print marketing, where they spend their print dollars, and where they would spend more money if they could.
Agents who answered our survey indicated that they get most of their leads from referrals (60.8%), fewer from online marketing (21.7%) and fewest from print (13.2%).
However, we wondered: How accurate is the mix between online and print?
It’s an important question when making decisions about ad spending.
There is no easy answer. Almost all (98.8%) respondents told us that they list their website domain on their print-marketing pieces, including business cards, flyers, postcards and yard signs. It’s not clear that real estate professionals have a way to track a prospect coming from all of that print marketing. What is the online lead split between SEO, Pay-Per-Click marketing, and one of those thousands of print pieces distributed every year?
Just what are they spending on print now? Here’s what we found:
- 7% spend less than $500 per year.
- 0% spend between $500 and $1,000 yearly.
- 7% spend between $1,000 and $5,000 annually.
Considering the number of real estate professionals, this is a lot of money spent on print every year. Millions of URLs are on print pieces, especially postcards. (Postcard mailing was third on the list below business cards and flyers, and 52% of the agents tell us that they would spend more on postcards if they had the money.) It’s rare to find an advertiser who can provide any meaningful tracking to show traffic to the website from these print pieces. Are they attributing website leads from calls-to-action and forms as online leads, while they actually came from a postcard, business card, flyer, or other print marketing?
Spending for Results
We may ultimately discover that print is far more effective than we suspect, but we need to prove it with hard numbers. We must figure out how to count the number of website leads coming from print-marketing recipients.
When prospects receive that postcard and decide to go to a website to learn, they are officially a print lead, not an online lead. Surveys and studies have shown conclusively that more than 80% of buyers and sellers go to real estate websites to learn more about the company or agent after they find out about them. We need the website, forms, and calls-to-action, but we also need to know the number of leads that originated from print marketing.
URLs and Landing Pages for Tracking
Most savvy real estate pros with websites have developed lead-generation strategies to capture the names and email addresses of visitors to convert them to prospects.
Here’s how to take it further: Consider the purpose of a mail campaign, then create a landing page that answers questions or addresses the specific mailer. Here are examples:
- Have print pieces take prospects to a landing page with an easy-to-type special URL, not to your home page. You can buy a custom domain just for this marketing campaign.
- You could send out a mailer about your services and offer a special report of recently sold properties in that neighborhood. Create a landing page and forward that domain to it, but only to that page. It can have much or even all of the information you have on other pages on your site, but it’s not in the navigation structure, so the only way they will get there is by typing in that URL, and they only get that from the print piece.
By checking your landing page stats or analytics, you can see just how many visitors arrived at this page, and you can be pretty sure they all came from that mailing. Using a call-to-action and form on the page, you can get a conversion rate for the page and know just how many real leads you got from that mail campaign.
Information is Money
Is print dead and should more money be spent online and less on print? In our survey, there weren’t strong sentiments either way, but respondents generally told us print is still viable, and they won’t be moving completely to online advertising.
With some simple changes in data collection from print marketing pieces, however, real estate agents can make better decisions about how to apply their marketing dollars.