To introduce myself, my name is Sean Wyld and I work for Google as the Industry Manager in their Local & Classifieds team in Australia. I’ve been reading Business2 for the past couple of months and am excited about sharing some insights into the role ‘search’ plays in the real estate industry. For my first post, as you probably gathered from the title, I thought I’d start with something seasonal.
During this time of year, most people are more focused on Christmas shopping then visiting open for inspections and with the last weekend of auctions for the year only days away, most real estate agents are preparing to put their cues back in the rack for the seasonal slow-down over the Christmas period.
However as we all know the Internet never sleeps, being available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. So with 87% of Australian home buyers/sellers now using the Internet as part of their research process (Nielsen Australian Property Report 2008), the question of how Christmas affects their usage of the Internet is something which all real estate agents should be considering.
With search being the number one upstream provider of traffic to real estate websites, along with being a tool used by 69% of active home buyers/sellers throughout all stages of the home buying/selling process (Nielsen Australian Property Report 2008), examining search trends over the Holiday period is a good indicator of the affect Christmas has on potential buyers’ and sellers’ browsing habits.
As you can see from the above graph, while there is definitely a lull in people searching for real estate agents in the days immediately preceding Christmas, the drop isn’t as dramatic as one might have thought, with a lot of people still researching buying or selling a house. Perhaps more interesting however is the spike in searches for real estate agents between Boxing Day and New Years.
So with real estate agents offices closed but buyers and sellers still active over Christmas and New Years, it poses the question… how can real estate agents continue to engage with existing and potential clients during this period?
The answer to this question is to remember that your website is an extension to your physical office and that just as the Internet is open for business 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, so is your website! I was surprised this morning that when I visited a number of local real estate agent websites, I couldn’t find one which had their opening hours over Christmas displayed clearly.
It’s important to remember that with your office closed but potential clients still active, that it’s more vital than ever that your website contains all the information which you would normally have given to clients in person or over the phone if your office was open. See below for some of the ways you can ensure your website is ready for the Christmas period.
- Ensure your opening hours for the Christmas period are prominently displayed on the front page of your website
- Ensure you set expectations with existing and potential clients about realistic response times for phone & email enquiries over the Christmas period. This includes ensuring that you have an out of office message activated on your email.
- Include content on your website about what people should expect from the real estate market in 2009, along with tips for buying and selling etc
- Email Christmas Greetings along with your opening hours etc to your email list.
- If you are using Google AdWords or Yahoo Search Marketing etc to drive traffic to your website, try using Christmas & New Years specific ad text.
I’d love to hear from anyone who has any other tips to add to this list. Lastly, for anyone who’s interested, the above graph was generated using Google Insights for Search, a great free tool which at the risk of blatant self promotion you can try at www.google.com/insights/search
I hope everyone has a great Christmas and a happy New Year. Cheers, Sean