I struggled with how to approach this topic because there are so many great angles here that I want to share about this particular strategy. After reading Katie’s article last week about forwarding extra domains to specific pages on your website, I decided to build off that great information and show you how we are doing this for a Just Sold farming campaign in south Orange County, California.
If you haven’t read Katie’s article, go ahead and click on the link above. It will open a new window. Read that article first, then come back see how we applied that strategy to a recent print marketing campaign.
Breaking Into A Market You Don’t Already Dominate
Ok good, you’re back! Let’s dig into a real life experiment that we’re in the middle of right now. First, a little back story. Our goal here was to take advantage of rising home values to market for standard listings in this market. The typical approach here is Just Sold postcards, and we decided to add several additional layers of conversion opportunities and tracking mechanisms to the campaign.
The agent in this experiment is trying to get a foothold in this community and delivers 2,500 Just Sold postcards to his farm every month. I asked him how many responses he gets when he drops these postcards and the response was that he was unsure, to none.
Fact is, breaking into a market that you don’t already dominate can take a long time and sometimes it’s just a branding play, keeping your name and company in front of neighborhoods so that you have an opportunity at the business when it arises.
Increase Value Proposition
Since this is primarily a branding play, with the hopes of it turning into a listing appointment, we decided to change up the approach and instead of simply delivering a report of Just Solds, we took a different angle.
How about if we create a resource to allow homeowners to track the rising home values in their neighborhood? The goal was to drive people to a page on our website with an IDX search page that shows solds and pending sales in this neighborhood.
In a perfect world, we could get homeowners to sign up for IDX drips for just solds to “watch” home values in their neighborhood rise. Here’s what we tried, and how it worked out.
The Marketing Blueprint
We used a Just Sold postcard listing all of the recent sales in the community. We stripped out all of the REO and short sales and tried to show a range of standard sales with the shortest days on market covering the whole range of home values in this community.
The internal dialog we are trying to create for home owners with this formula is “wow, my neighbor sold their home (for a profit) in XX number of days….and my home is TWICE as nice as theirs!”
Next, we created a “Marketing URL” and used Katie’s method for forwarding URL’s to a specific landing page on our site. In this case, we used this recipe coming up with the name – www.(community/city name)HomeValuesWatchlist.com. This URL is long tail enough that you can vary it slightly, or rearrange the wording a bit and it’s almost certain to be available.
Here’s what the postcard looked like
The One-Two Punch with Co-Branded Marketing
The next thing we did was to put information about the HARP 2.0 Underwater Refinance program on the backside of the postcard. This side of the postcard also had a unique marketing URL and a unique phone number used to track calls. The logic here was that some folks might be pretty far underwater and they may want to try to exhaust all of their options before looking at a short sale.
If we were contacted by a homeowner in this situation, we would make every attempt to qualify them for a program that will make it more affordable for them to while waiting for values to increase enough that they can sell, or not feel trapped by the negative equity.
Here’s what this side of the postcard looked like
What Worked and What Could Work Better
What worked fantastically about this strategy was that for the first time for this agent, we were able to track at least one dimension of the level of interest in this postcard and specifically this approach.
Here are the Google Analytics numbers for this first attempt. This first graphic is visits to the IDX landing page.
This second graphic is the Google Analytics numbers for the HARP Underwater Refinance landing page.
What could have worked better is conversion. For the HARP side of the postcard we did get 2 phone calls. One was from a lender in the area trying to figure out what the heck we were doing, the other was from a homeowner that is upside down desperate for options.
We did ask the homeowner what other options they might be considering if the HARP refinance didn’t work, the answer was that they didn’t want to have to think about that. Sounds like a potential short sale listing to me?
Although we did have unique visitors to the page, there were no IDX registrations. I actually have a theory about this that we are testing in our second attempt coming up next week.
This is a diverse community made up of condominiums in the $400k and up range, all the way to single family homes that go up as high as $1.6MM and up. The landing page took visitors to a search results page sorted by price in descending order. That means that someone living in a condominium lands on the page and sees recent sales starting just under $2MM and probably figures this information is not relevant to them.
We did get some traffic, that was the good news, we didn’t get conversion – that was probably our fault, we did not welcome the visitor with content that was relevant to them.
Test, Tweak and Try Again
How many flyer drops or post cards do you typically have this kind of data on in the first 30 days? I would venture to say that it’s not very common. So we tested out a crazy idea, we tweaked it and we are going to try again.
This time, we created a landing page at the other end of this URL that gives the visitor options for finding the values most relevant to them. Here’s what the new landing page looks like.
Will this work? I think we’ll see different results, and yes, I think we’ll build on the success we saw with the first piece. I also think that by consistently dropping these postcards we will build trust as a valuable source of information about rising home values that stands out from what everyone else is doing.
Of course, this is all still a work in progress, and I’ll follow up if we make any major breakthroughs. I think the take-away here is to think outside the box, use your website to track results with offline marketing strategies, and fail as fast as you can so you can get up off the mat and try again.