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The ‘Scientific Method’ for Marketing Success

July 23 2012

brain technology smallReading an article on brought me back to my high school science class with a jolt. All it took were two words: "scientific method." Now you're back there with me, right? Perhaps your memory of the scientific method isn't going to be as sharp as the memories of your bad perm or your crush-worthy lab partner, so we're going to give you a quick refresher that just might improve the effectiveness of your real estate marketing!

Scientific Method: The Basics

Essentially, the scientific method requires measurable proof in order to validate a theory. This proof is obtained systematically, through experimentation, observation, and measurement. So what does this have to do with your real estate business? Well, you can follow some of these same steps in order to determine which channels are most effective for marketing your listings.

1) Ask the right question.

The questions you'll want to ask should sound like, "Is [marketing channel, i.e. PPC advertising] a good place to spend my advertising dollars?"

This approach will also work for assessing the effectiveness of listing syndication. If you're looking at your syndication strategy, you'll want to ask a question like, "Is [syndication site, i.e. Zillow or Trulia] delivering leads for me?"

2) Understand the "conventional wisdom" and customer preferences about the marketing channel, but keep an open mind.

As we've discussed before, some home sellers blindly believe that advertising in the newspaper is an absolute must. Similarly, you may hear people say, "Zillow is so popular, they must be delivering the most leads." In instances like this, people may be right and they may be wrong, but until you know for sure, you need a healthy dose of skepticism. By testing and measuring results, you're arming yourself with valuable ammo to have a productive discussion with your home sellers because you'll be able to offer clear evidence for what does and does not work.

3) Test, test, test.

The key to testing your marketing channels is to track results. This can be done in a variety of ways, depending on what you're attempting to test. We talked to a few of the companies that are leading the charge in this area.

Onboard Informatics
In terms of tracking the effectiveness of listing syndication, Onboard Informatics is definitely on the leading edge. Their Listings 360°insight Advisor is available in select MLSs (MRED, MRIS, and CTMLS currently; expanding into many more markets soon) and offers agents and brokers valuable data about how their individual listings are performing online. "The old adage is definitely true – if you're not measuring, you're not marketing," explains Jacqueline Berg, Marketing Manager at Onboard Informatics. "With Listings 360°insight Advisor, real estate professionals can measure how their listings are doing across all the sites they syndicate to. You can look at trends for specific sites (like Trulia, for example), or watch for overall trends over time across channels. The data that's available will support pricing and marketing decisions while helping brokers and agents determine which marketing sources are providing the best return on investment."

ListHub also analyzes listing performance across real estate websites, with a special emphasis on standardizing results for accurate evaluation. Celeste Starchild, V.P. of Sales and Marketing for ListHub explains, "Our piece of the puzzle is tracking traffic and leads across websites (such as MLS consumer-facing websites,, Zillow, Trulia, etc.). We then craft reports to help agents and brokers interpret the information. We also have reports that can be distributed to seller clients to help them understand how their own property is performing online."

Celeste continues, "One of the things that is really important to keep in mind when agents are evaluating results from different publishers is this: because our industry has never decided on standard definitions for a lot of the terminology we use to track views, clicks and leads online, each publisher uses a different definition, so it can be difficult to compare different sites. Brokers and agents need to be sure they're comparing sites apples-to-apples, which is what Listhub set out to accomplish. We standardized the information in our reports so that agents can evaluate and compare sites more accurately."



Point2 provides tracking for listing syndication and other marketing efforts. Saul Klein, Senior VP of Point2, explains, "At Point2, we understand how important it is for REALTORS® to track their marketing efforts, so we've built a number of tools to help. On the data distribution side, we track views and clicks from each of our 50 partners, allowing the real estate professional to determine which destinations are working best for them. We also haven't forgotten about our customers' personal websites. We offer Google Analytics integration to track referral sources, bounce rates, and time spent on site.

"Finally, we certainly don't discount conventional marketing methods. We provide customers with the ability to use multiple domain names for their account; by using a different domain name for each marketing channel (i.e. newspaper, business cards, bus stop), they can use Google Analytics to track traffic that is generated from each source."

As Mr. Klein mentioned above, we shouldn't forget about other marketing channels (separate from listing syndication). What other tools are available to help you there? One of the foremost companies in this category is Ifbyphone. They help REALTORS® manage voice communications – with the added benefit of tracking which online and offline marketing channels are delivering the leads.

What tools do you use to track the results of your marketing efforts? Who did we miss? Please share your experiences in the comments section so we can learn from our community!

4) Readjust your strategy based on results.

There's no point in evaluating your marketing strategy if you're not going to take any action based on your results. After you've tested and analyzed your results, you need to apply what you're learned. This doesn't necessarily mean eliminating a marketing channel altogether or pouring all your resources into that channel – it might just be a very slight adjustment. As I mentioned above, you may also decide to share what you've learned with your seller clients.