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2007-09-04 07:04:00

Print Real Estate Advertising 2.0

If you’ve done much Internet browsing lately you have undoubtedly been bombarded by the term “Web 2.0." This term refers to the revolution that is taking place all across the Web towards increased capability, participation, interactivity, usability, and standardization.

While we could spend the next year discussing the value and impact this Web 2.0 convergence will have on your real estate business, it’s important that we learn to crawl before we run. One of the easiest ways to start realizing the benefits of Web 2.0 has very little to do with your web site: It starts with your print advertising.

Assuming that you have a web site currently, you’re already well on your way to being able to use your current tools to greatly enhance your print advertising efforts. All web site packages, regardless of who your service provider is or how much you pay, come with some basic statistical information. If you’ve never taken a look at your web stats I recommend that you start there.

We’re going to need some “base line” information before we start tweaking your print ads. You don’t need a Ph.D. in Calculus to handle this information -- it’s quite straightforward. What we really want to know is how many unique visitors your site receives on a daily and weekly basis.

Just seeing this information for the very first time can have a tremendous benefit in your future business: The higher these figures get, the more web based leads you are likely to get. So what does all of this have to do with your print advertising? Many of you are running some form of print advertising, be it in the Sunday paper, postcards, recipe cards, or your local homes magazine. Traditional wisdom would tell you that you should be running your domain name in your print advertising, along with your phone number and e-mail address.

Well, get ready for the bombshell… This is the last thing you should be doing!

DO NOT RUN YOUR PRIMARY WEB SITE ADDRESS IN YOUR ADVERTSING!

We’re not interested in traditional or “old school” techniques. What we’re talking about here is modern advertising. We’re talking about Print Real Estate Advertising 2.0. With an investment of as little as $8 you’ll be able leverage your existing web site technology to cost justify all of your advertising, especially anything in print. Here’s how it works: Let’s pretend that your web site address is BestChicagoHomes.com.

For between $6 and $10, depending on your web hosting service, your can purchase an additional domain name. You’re still going to have the same web site, you’re just going to add another domain name. You could now buy GreatChicagoHomes.com, which would simply point to your already existing site. This redirection would be completely transparent to your web site visitors, they would see both of these different domain names as being the exact same site. Your traffic statistics package, however, will see these two different domains as totally separate sites and give you specific details about how many visitors come to each domain.

Instead of running your primary domain name in your advertising, you should run one of your secondary domain names. You should have a separate domain name for every major medium that you advertise in: a domain for your postcard marketing, a domain for your local Sunday paper ads, a domain for your signage, and so on. These separate domains allow you to track the effectiveness of any given advertisement, which allows you to cost justify all your advertising expenditures. Take a look at the following example to see exactly how this works (all of these figures and dollar amounts are for demonstration purposes only).

Step One:  You purchase a full-page ad in your local homes magazine for $150 to show off nine of your listings.

Step Two:  You include one of your secondary (i.e. GreatChicagoHomes.com) domain names on the top and bottom of this ad.

Step Three:  One week after this ad runs you check your traffic statistics and find out that 318 people visited GreatChicagoHomes.com.

Since we know that virtually no one will be visiting your secondary domain name except those who say your homes magazine ad (assuming you haven’t advertised this domain elsewhere) then we know that this ad drove a reasonable amount of traffic at an average cost of just over 47 cents per visitor.

If you know what your web site conversion rate is then you can figure out the exact cost per lead through this particular ad and this particular advertising medium – If your site converts roughly 1% of all visitors into leads, then this ad should have generated three leads at a cost of approximately $50 each.

You now have a way to track, down to the penny, the cost per acquisition of leads through every advertising medium. This assumes that we know what our web site conversion rate is – few business and even fewer REALTORS actually take the time to figure this out and track it. Figuring out your conversion rate is very simple – simply divide the number of leads (people who e-mail you, request additional listing information, download a free real estate report, etc.) by your total unique web site visitors.

If you take all this advertising tracking a step further, you can narrow your focus all the way down to a specific ad in a specific publication. You can also use a separate domain name with every single piece of marketing material in your arsenal. This does not mean that you you’ll need to purchase dozens of different domain names. You can recycle your domain names over time. For example, you could advertise a domain for two weeks within a Sunday paper ad and then a month later you could use this same domain on a postcard campaign. So long as you have no overlap and you’re only running a domain in one place at a time you’ll always know that your traffic stats are accurate.

This most important thing with all of this is cost justification of your advertising. If you find that a particular publication is not performing or that the costs per lead are too high you can simply eliminate that publication from your overall marketing efforts. With very little cost, and almost no increased workload, you now have a surefire way to maximize your ad spending. Many agents will find that their print advertising is simply isn’t bringing in the necessary traffic and leads, or that the costs are just too high. This should not discourage you; it’s better to know that a medium or publication is a dead end. The more ineffective advertising you eliminate from your budget the better your ad dollars will be spent in the future. By plugging your print and traditional advertising in to your web technology you’ll take the first step towards getting your real estate business in line with Web 2.0.

(Patrick Gallagher is a real estate marketing and technology expert. He has helped hundreds of agents sell over $1 billion dollars of real estate. For more information on real estate marketing, visit the author's web site at www.HomeMarketingTech.com.)

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