In case you haven’t already heard, we've released a benchmark report on estate agencies. Traditional vs. Online Estate Agents: The Truth about Their Digital Service has been designed to add a little more evidence and understanding to the on-going debate between online and traditional estate agents. There’s a question which has gone unanswered for a long time - whether traditional estate agents and online estate agents provide the same level of service to the customer.
We’re also publishing a range of blog posts which delve a little deeper into the digital service issues of estate agents and which encourage you to download the report and take a look at the data for yourself.
One of the first aspects of estate agents’ digital service which we researched was Brand Awareness in Digital. If traditional and/or online estate agents are unable to attract visitors to their site (and keep them there) then it suggests that the digital service which they offer is not up to scratch and home buyers and sellers are choosing not to use them. Or that many individuals are not aware of some of these brands’ existence and the services which they are offering.
Based on the data which we obtained regarding traffic figures, it was clear that traditional agents generally had higher brand awareness. In our sample, Foxtons had the highest traffic figures of all estate agents with 970,000 visits per month; comparing that to the highest ranked online estate agent (Purplebricks with 90,000 monthly visits) makes for a startling discovery. With the market place requiring a strong flow of both buyers and sellers in order to maximise sale prices, the traditional agents appear to have a strong and defensible foothold. To take a look at the full dataset and analysis, download a copy of the report here.
Traditional estate agents’ strong brand awareness, even in digital, may well be due to the fact that they have been around much longer than online agents.
You may think that digital should be online estate agents’ playground but clearly with the individuals currently buying and selling, traditional agents either offer a far better digital service or are simply better known.
Perhaps for online estate agents the real issue lies in their target audience. Many online agents have earmarked millennials as their key target audience, due to the fact that they are more tech savvy and trust user-generated content 50% more than other media (making self-listed properties particularly attractive).
Millennials however were hit hardest by economic crises and only 35% of this generation own property. Online estate agents’ brand awareness in digital may therefore actually be higher than traditional agents, amongst its target market, but this isn’t translating into site visits due to their reluctance or inability to buy.
Whilst traffic data demonstrates that online has some way to go in digital market share, time on site may well be an indicator of a longer term advantage that the online agents have - they’re digital first. Is the online experience better?
The average time on site for traditional estate agents is 4 minutes and 18 seconds, whereas for online agents it is 5 minutes and 28 seconds. This would suggest that home owners and buyers do prefer the digital service of online agents and are therefore happy to browse properties for longer.
What happens when millennials inevitably form the largest home buyer group then, should a preference for online prevail?
Foxtons is a traditional brand which clearly understands the benefit of digital channels and is willing to invest time and money into maintaining their award winning website. But they refuse to be engaging in social media channels, therefore not fully showcasing how they work or the abilities that they have. As online agents and millennials mature, there will become an even truer test of who leads in these high level brand awareness categories.
Enjoyed this blog post? Take a look at some of our other top posts discussing the debate between traditional and online estate agents:
- What Digital Disruption Means For Estate Agents And Their Customers
- The Effect Of Digital On Estate Agent Transparency And Trust
- Real Estate Lead Generation: Why You Should Be Using Live Chat
Download a copy of the report here and join the debate on Twitter with #TvsO. Do you believe that, in terms of brand awareness in digital, online agents will prevail in the long run? What are your thoughts on the traditional vs. online estate agents digital service debate as a whole? Let us know in the comments below.