Archive for September, 2008

Web performance of business listings

The great benefit of this blog as with blogs in general is the ability to respond to a question and in so doing share the information with a much wider audience. So it was today when I was asked about the ability of the site to provide a valuable marketing platform for business listings.

As you will see I have posted a piece on the Unconditional blog about the comprehensive content of business listings on the website at this time – close on twice the content of any other NZ business broking website, which is interestingly not one of the “usual suspects”.

When it comes to visitors the business listings section has been consistently growing in audience terms over the past 2 years since we relaunched the whole website back in 2006. This is clearly demonstrated in the graph opposite that shows quarterly average unique browser traffic to the site over the past 2 years – we are receiving on average around 12,000 unique visitors per month. Just a year ago we made further modifications to the site designed to better reflect the specific needs of the differing segments of the overall industry. We consulted widely with the Business Broking community as well as Commercial Agents to ensure their needs were adequately met.

The outcome of this work were the following changes to the Businesses section of the site:

  • Distinct and personalised look and feel to remove references to homes
  • Creation of a “confidential location” allowing listings to feature with no physical location requirement under a confidential location category
  • Reclassification of the categories of listings
  • Re-establishment of the photos for all listing, previously there was a category icon for each listing on the search results

Whilst in absolute terms the traffic to these business listings is relatively small; representing as it does some 5% of all visitors, it is traffic to just 3,500+ listings from the total of 105,000+ that are currently featured on the site which actually means that traffic per listing for business is pro-rata higher than residential!

Another very important point worth highlighting is the value that this section of the site delivers – the subscription to realestate.co.nz – just $200 per office per month brings all business listings, and residential, rural, commercial and rental. I could not help but draw comparison to the much talked about site of nzbizbuysell – their published listing costs is $98 for a basic single listing and $176 for a featured listing – and that is for 2 months! (it might be interesting for someone to share an indicative costs per month for an office subscribing for unlimited listings – which I presume they do??)

I also notice that there is no differentiation of licensed business broker listings from private advertisers! – as you well know realestate.co.nz does not feature any private listings.

So to get a clear view of the whole picture:

  • Realestate.co.nz is the most comprehensive source of business listings
  • Realestate.co.nz has designed and adapted the site to meet the needs of the industry
  • Realestate.co.nz recognises the professional integrity of business brokers and only features their listings
  • Realestate.co.nz provides the greatest value for money for a business broking office

In some ways the only issue left unanswered is the comparable level of monthly traffic – NZbizbuysell does not get monitored by Neilsen Online, whereas realestate.co.nz and realcommercial.co.nz do – I have used the services of Alexa to estimate the traffic for nzbizbuysell. The NZ ranking on Alexa for nzbizbuysell is 4,462 (that is to say according to Alexa nzbizbuysell is the 4,462nd most popular website in NZ, by comparison realcommercial.co.nz is the 10,474th most popular website in NZ, and the total realestate.co.nz website is the  96th most popular website in NZ.

Anyway I found by chance that the Century21 website was actually the 4,562nd most popular website in NZ and it has a web traffic of 14,604 unique browsers in August, I have therefore deduced that nzbizbuysell has a traffic of around 15,000 unique browsers – ahead of the business section of realestate.co.nz as shown in this graph.

September 18 2008 | Market stats and Web facts | 2 Comments »

Letter to the real estate industry

For this month’s email I have chosen to write what I see as an “open-letter” to this industry. I would urge you to read it and share it with your colleagues.

All of us in this industry face a very challenging period over the next 12 months, just as we have done over the past 9 months. The smart professional operators in real estate will be here in 12 months time, stronger and more successful – we want to be a part of your success. For that to occur needs for us to work together – your support of realestate.co.nz is more important now than ever before – I would urge you to read on, and take the opportunity to comment on this letter through the comments section.

The competing web market place for real estate listings

It is just 2 years since the website of realestate.co.nz was launched – such an anniversary provides an opportunity to look back and reflect upon this period.

At that time this industry was being wooed by new competing online marketing options of Trade Me and Allrealestate; both owned by international media empires and both equally keen to carve out a share of the estimated $150 million this industry spends each year on advertising. Into this arena we launched realestate.co.nz – a website that had on day-one a key advantage – rich content. We had then, and we still have today over 90% of all licensed real estate offices in NZ subscribing and thereby delivering the most comprehensive real estate website in NZ.

Just look at the figures either in total or by category – whichever way you look at it realestate.co.nz is the most comprehensive and relevant website for your listings in NZ.

This advantage of comprehensive content has been our advantage over these past 2 years – for whilst we started just holding onto the #2 spot in terms of web traffic website, we have never lost sight of that #1 position, and as a result we have widened the gap between ourselves and the #3 and #4 players in the market.

The goal of #1 is still firmly in or sights, but the goalposts set by Trade Me have meant that we have been significantly handicapped; or put it another way, they have been significantly advantaged as they have the equivalent of a grunty V8 as compared to our wonderfully environmentally friendly hybrid car, as everybody else in this online marketing game is driving now!

Trade Me is the largest website in NZ and its stellar success is proving a windfall for Fairfax to the tune of $70 million of profit in the most recent 12 months. The property classified section benefits directly from its exposure to the massive 2.8 million audience the site gets every month – of which just 22% of NZ visitors check out properties whilst on the auction site. Additionally within their total audience of property visitors there is a huge overlap with visitors to realestate.co.nz

It is really important to remember that serious buyers of property of all types in NZ are smart – firstly they get the web – they use it daily, they are smart enough to recognise the efficiency of a single website which provides the most comprehensive portfolio in one place (realestate.co.nz) – however they are not 200,000 or 400,000 or 600,000 in number – there are in fact barely 30,000 of them. Bear this in mind so as not to be seduced by huge audience numbers – biggest is not always best when what you really want is a defined target audience.

State of the market

I know how challenging it is to run a real estate business in today’s market. We are a business owned by this industry which gives us an innate connection with the industry – our role is to work to help you build a better business, whatever your chosen field of real estate.

Further I know that in these times the costs of operating your business will come under closer scrutiny. I encourage all offices to do this – it is good business practice. However I would urge you to make a distinction between operating costs and marketing investment especially when it comes to the web. The web is proven in research study after research study to be the most efficient, relevant and popular means of searching for properties.

When it comes to costs effectiveness you should not have to question the value of the web – and in particular the subscription to realestate.co.nz. The charge of $200 per office per month is the same as that charged 2 years ago. The competitive websites and the newspapers have done nothing to help this industry over the past year or two, quite the opposite – in some cases increasing costs by well over 200%!

I would also urge you to be careful when evaluating your marketing budgets not to believe that all website are the same or to get caught up in evaluating website purely on the response rates of email enquiries for example. Should you judge a website by how many emails you receive? – it may turn out to be the case that email enquiries may have declined because consumer sentiment and interest in general has declined – but don’t assume that this is because a website is not delivering results, remember a website is not just a means of generating leads, it provides a showcase for your listings 24hrs a day to a worldwide audience. The motivation of prospective buyers to send an email has often little to do with the website and more to do with the state of the market.

I am pleased to say that in this regard realestate.co.nz in total is actually delivering 20% more email enquiries over the past 3 months than a year ago – the question is – are you getting your fair share of enquiries or are they going to competitor agents ?

I make these comments because more than ever this industry needs to recognise and support the website of realestate.co.nz. The site is owned by the industry and its role is to protect the interests of the industry and safeguard them from the competitive threats of competing media owned websites so as to secure a cost effective marketing platform for the long term. Our income is directly related to the success of this industry; as we derive the vast majority of our revenue from office subscriptions. With office closures we, like yourselves face challenges in managing costs to ensure we maintain a balanced budget to the satisfaction of our shareholders.

Media coverage

You may have noticed that over the past 6 months realestate.co.nz has been receiving a greater degree of coverage in radio, TV and newspapers. This is part of a strategic plan to raise awareness of the brand name and to create a competitive position for the website.  I am always seeking to find ways to cost effectively promote the website – advertising in traditional forms of radio, press and TV is not justified for our scale of operation from a cost perspective and with a greater fragmentation of media it is a challenge to create awareness. It is for this reason that I have leveraged the media appeal of property to build our profile.

I have used the statistics of the website to highlight trends and information which has captured media headlines. Naturally with the association of the real estate industry in name and ownership the media always want someone to be a “crystal ball” gazer to predict the trend. I tend to steer clear of this and stick to facts of the website. However as we all know the media want to create stories from a mix of opinions and this can at time lead to a different interpretation being presented from that originally envisaged.

Please be aware that I hold a deep respect for this industry and would not in any way defame or talk disrespectfully of this industry or those professionals who hold this as their career. With the benefit of the Unconditional blog I have the ability to make public any statement I make in the form of an article or press release. So I would urge you if you have a question regarding any quote I have made in the media to check out the latest blog post as it will include the relevant press release in the context of how I made it to the press.

Leadership

I just wanted to highlight how the website has been a leader in technology and support for this industry over the past years – consider these initiatives we have implemented:

  • the 1st to add maps
  • the 1st to add embedded videos
  • the 1st to partner with Open2view for rich imagery
  • the 1st to provide a private forum for the industry
  • the 1st to offer property-on-maps searching
  • the 1st to write a blog for the industry
  • the 1st to offer free-of-charge agent blogs
  • the 1st to detail web traffic stats on all listings
  • the 1st to offer a confidential location on business listings
  • the 1st to offer RSS feeds of listing searches

We intend to continue innovating because we focus on one thing – running the best real estate website in NZ.

I would encourage you, your colleagues and your teams to gain a greater understanding of this critical component of real estate today – the power and influence of the web. We are undertaking presentations around the country at many local venues. We started in Otago and Southland this week and for those that came along for the 90 minutes of information, education and insight in the presentation we believe we delivered on the principle of supporting this industry – we know because we have received some great feedback – so don’t get left behind by the web – the presentations are free (we even give you coffee or tea!). Full details are to be found here.

Summary

To close I want to thank you for your support for the website – we are working  to help you to sell real estate everyday; but without your support in the form of subscription, promotion of the site or use of the great services such as free blogs or featured listings we would not be able to provide you with this industry-owned website which is the envy of many global real estate industries. We trust you will remain loyal and continue to support us in the coming year; ready for us to celebrate our 3rd birthday with you this time next year!

Regards,

Alistair Helm

CEO

realestate.co.nz

alistair@realestate.co.nz

021 610 510

September 15 2008 | Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Unbeatable Spring offer

This has got to be the best offer we have ever brought to this market. now you know I am not one to exaggerate so trust me – this offer cannot be beaten!

Add one of our popular featured listings together with  professionally made and voice over crafted video and send your listing into hyperspace! – Just $395 (inc GST) – this cannot be beaten.

Let the sales leaflet do the selling – print it off discuss it with your vendor and get in quick, spaces are limited so book ahead, this offer is valid until Christmas.

Remember when some website say featured listing check is truly featured or just highlighted!!! -our tend to deliver 10 times the traffic and the statistics tell you how it is helping other agents in this industry so don’t miss out – book now!

September 01 2008 | Special offers and Uncategorized | No Comments »

Come along to one of the free seminars – South Island

The realestate.co.nz team are back … on the road

We are bringing the world to you – and for one simple reason – to help you sell me more property.

Come and listen to the latest ideas from here in NZ and around the world. We have captured the latest learning from Stefan Swanepoel and his recent visit to NZ in July; as well as the Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco.

Learn how we are apply these ideas in New Zealand and implementing them on your behalf on “your” website – the official website of the real estate industry: realestate.co.nz.

This is not only about the future but more importantly the present. It is not just a presentation on the web and a website – this is a presentation on major changes affecting this industry which go well beyond just how to list a property on the web.

We will also have a group of people there to answer and help with any questions you have afterwards on any topic.

So we just need an hour of your time for what we hope will help generate a lifetime of benefits

realestate.co.nz – continuing to support and protect your industry

Still not sure? – have a look at this amusing quote from a “would be cynic” who attended a recent presentation:

“I went to a conference yesterday in Palmerston North… (one of the speakers)  was the head honcho from Realestate.co.nz Mr Alistair Helm. I thought to myself ‘oh god, this is going to be sooo boring’ I’m very rarely if ever wrong so it was with mild astonishment that I found myself rapidly riveted to my seat with some fascinating knowledge which frankly amazed me. Did you know that the Internet can predict the future?”

Pearse Kinchella – Harcourts (Wanganui)

Fancy coming along – great!

We have organised the first 6 venues starting in the deep south

– Dunedin on the 9th September

– Invercargill on the 10th

– Queenstown on the 11th

– Oamaru 23rd

– Timaru also on the 23rd

– Christchurch, 2 sessions on the 24th.

If you are in one of these venues then go to our special “On the Road” website to registerOn the  and get all the information.

If you are not in one of these towns then please be patient, we will be communicating future dates very shortly – the best thing to do to be kept informed is to check the On the Road website regularly, or better still set up an RSS feed (don’t know what an RSS feed is?, one of the many things to learn at the presentation) – we will also be sending out emails very shortly by region, so hopefully you will not missed out, we would really encourage you all to attend. We are a part of this industry and want to share the experiences and knowledge we have developed over the past 2 years here in NZ and from overseas.

Looking forward to meeting you soon

September 01 2008 | Events | No Comments »