4 Digital Marketing sins in the Real Estate

According to an ASSOCHAM survey:

Real estate firms throughout India spend about Rs 2,500 crore annually on publicity across different media and digital marketing accounts for about 25 per cent with a share of about Rs 625 crore.

According to www.emarketer.com, overall online ad spend is projected to steadily increase year over year:

  • 2013- $42.5B
  • 2014- $47.8B
  • 2015- $51.9B
  • 2016- $55.2B

If the real estate industry simply maintains its current share of overall online spending, using www.emarketer.com data as a baseline, the relative yearly spends would equate to:

  • 2013- $15B  +9.7% Year over Year (YoY) growth
  • 2014- $16.7B  +19.2% YoY
  • 2015- $18.1B  +8.3% YoY
  • 2016- $19.3B  +6.6% YoY


With a series of new startup companies like Housing.com and Commonfloor entering the space, real estate has suddenly made a grand comeback to the digital marketing. Naturally, with the kind of VC cash at their disposal, these startups are all set to disrupt the space pretty fast. It could well be a comeback for the Real Estate vertical to the digital marketing mainstream.

Frankly speaking, real estate is a funny space in India. As a digital marketer, you can only do so much and there are much bigger factors at play throughout customer’s purchase funnel. It would be fair to say that property guys never really got a complete hang of the digital space.

For a long period of time, most of the real estate people thought that Google is only way they could generate leads and hence, they splurged thousands of rupees in getting their website’s SEO. Even today, getting your real estate project’s website with strong SEO is considered to be a huge priority item for every builder.

As quoted by Indian origin Pritesh Patel, a real estate marketing consultant in UK:

There used to be a time when Google would release a major update to it’s algorithm twice a year. Now it’s like almost every month. There used to be a time when you could pay someone, or an agency, who would build you 50 links per month, regardless of where those links are placed and there are thousands of such SEO and web design companies across the country.

After their recent algorithm changes, Google released a Google Webmaster Quality Guidelines against poor SEO practices. All those marketers who were earlier using link building strategies through paid sources lost their page rank significantly.

The REAL Trends 2013 Online Performance Study reveals some shocking statistics around how the greater real estate industry effectively throws its online advertising budgets to the wind.

Considering that:

  • 90% of consumers did online research before they bought their last home
  • 45% of consumers expect an initial response from an online inquiry within 15 minutes
  • 56% of consumers expect a response from their agent within 30 minutes
  • 89% of consumers said response time was very important when choosing their agent
  • 45% of inquiries on real estate websites never receive a response.

Billions of dollars of real estate marketing money is getting wasted on digital marketing products and services.

Here are some of the most commonly committed sins by real estate companies in digital marketing:

1 Million Facebook Likes Syndrome

Concept of generating likes for your Facebook page has become the latest fad for all real estate marketing teams. Almost as if it is a Bollywood box office release which is aiming for a 100 cr box office collections on the opening weekend. Feeding property updates to your thousands of ‘friends’ on Facebook, even those that live thousands of miles away is clearly a waste of precious marketing dollars. ( Also read : Why you should not worry about Facebook page likes )

Email Nuisance

I can already foresee a time when people would stop using emails because of so much spam hitting their inboxes. Unfortunately, Real Estate industry does not understand the meaning of data segmentation or personalisation. All they know is to blast emailing your entire database just to stay ‘top of mind’ or Tweeting incessantly because, you know, the first place people go to when they think of buying a house is Twitter.

Making 100 project websites

Often I’ve seen real estate companies creating 100’s of domains and sub domains (often one for each project), in order to generate visibility for these projects and garner more number of eyeballs for their brand. I believe it is a poor strategy as you are spending money every time you launch a project. Instead focus on building a strong brand name and keep adding success stories under your belt.

Lead generation is Dead!

A lot of you might be thinking that I am going mad. But trust me, you’ve read the heading correctly.

But how can I even think of doing marketing without lead generation? You can’t, but read the above heading again, what I am saying is that Lead Generation is dead, but Demand Generation is now in.

I’ve seen how madly real estate companies are generating leads to sell their properties. Incidentally, generating hundreds of leads is no good enough. The decision to buy a house takes much longer than what it used to 5 years ago. You are not just supposed to generate a lead but actively see it through till the end. Generating hundreds of leads which are not followed or not managed is a waste of precious money.

Piyush Aggarwal

Piyush Aggarwal is Head of Programmatic Platforms Strategy (APAC) @ Brightcom Singapore | Marketing Technologist | Analytics Specialist | Digital Trainer | Startup Consultant | Kindler | iPhone Photographer...So far So Good!