In all states around Australia competition for off-the-plan buyers is increasing, as Australia sees more new residential apartment developments under construction than ever before. In markets such as Sydney, supply of new apartments is headed for record levels however, enquiry levels for new projects may not follow the trends they have over the last 12-18 months. As the competition for new buyers intensifies, the ability to generate leads in the shortest possible timeframe and at the lowest possible cost will have a dramatic effect on the overall profitability of a project.
Lead generation for off–the-plan projects is a delicate science and it requires a lot more than a signboard with a few newspaper ads and listings on real estate websites to achieve outstanding enquiry levels. Below are 5 essentials we believe developers must consider to ensure buyers are coming consistently to your door.
The most important essential for lead generation is teamwork. There are many stakeholders in a project and in order to make the best possible representation of your project to market, your architect, interior designer, landscape architect, sales team, marketing team, CGI company, brand agency, digital agency and media agency must work together in what is almost always a tight timeframe. Ensuring that everyone is aware of their role in the process and is accountable for their outputs and deadlines ultimately contributes to the effectiveness of your campaign. Most project campaigns run over relatively short timeframes so the creation and delivery of materials such as architectural detail, floorplates and floorplans, CGIs, sales suites, websites, collateral etc. in line with a detailed campaign strategy and timeline is critical to ensuring your campaign has maximum impact.
In the case of a project, a great brand is one that is impactful, consistent and flexible across multiple media. Most importantly, the brand and message should be true to the product and location it represents. Great brands are not created in a vacuum and require the input of key project stakeholders to ensure every marketable aspect of the project can be represented in your campaign. In many cases, the branding process undertaken by good creative agencies can help to inform the design process, align the project stakeholders and overcome issues you may face in market (not least of which is how to appear different to your competition) so its wise to think about branding and positioning prior to lodging your development application.
Considering that project websites are now the main conduit for capturing sales enquiry, it is amazing how little developers are willing to invest into developing top quality project websites. The digital customer experience is a delicate balance between making a project look completely desirable and holding back enough information that they will actually enquire to find out more about it. You must also take into account that the majority of enquiries will now come from a mobile device so sites should be responsively designed (meaning they adapt to different devices such as mobile, tablet, desktop etc.) and ideally designed for mobile as a priority. Video is an excellent way to communicate different aspects of a project via a mobile device but, again, we see a lot of poor quality video that is too long in duration to be truly effective.
In our current market, a media strategy must be multi-channel and multi-cultural in order to achieve maximum ROI. The traditional mediums of signboards, print, direct mail and listings on property portals such as realestate.com.au play an important role in any campaign but spend must be considered carefully against other new media opportunities entering the market. New media such as Search, Social, Re-targeting and Programmatic Buying present some of the best opportunities for delivering low cost enquiry for your project. These mediums are very easy to measure and highly adaptable, meaning your budget can be optimised quickly to maximise spend in the best performing placements.
One of the areas often misunderstood by developers is how to measure the effectiveness of a marketing campaign. No. of sales, rate of sale and yield per sqm are most commonly used to determine the overall success of a project but these analytics do not necessarily translate when measuring the effectiveness of a campaign. As an agency, our task is to generate enquiry for your project and to ensure that a buyer’s experience of each and every touch-point is perfectly procured. Spending time at the outset of a campaign to map your customer touch-points and applying a matrix of measurement against it is the only way to establish a reliable set of campaign KPIs.
In the next two years, we believe that off-the-plan projects will take longer to sell than they have in the last two. Whilst Australia’s appetite for apartment living and buying off-the-plan is increasing, so too are the number of projects and therefore the competition for buyers. Developing a deeper understanding of lead generation practices and techniques is critical intellectual property for developers to build into their businesses and will only result in more efficient and effective campaigns. Navigating the new media landscape is not easy but understanding the new ways in which buyers are shopping for projects will provide a strong competitive advantage over those who do not.
James Cooper is managing director of Metropolis, a Lead Generation Agency creating brands, campaigns, technology and environments that enable customers to engage and transact. Again and again.