Calculating ROI on Syndication to Publishers

by Victor Lund on April 9, 2014

Real estate concept.WAV Group provides enterprise brokers with a monitoring service to measure their listing syndication strategy. It is a thorny and emotional topic where risks and rewards are balanced delicately. Undoubtedly, this week brokers who do syndicate to publisher websites are reviewing their reports from last month. Here are a few things you should look at.

Listing Views

Obviously you want to know the number of times that your listing was viewed on each publisher website. The easiest way to view listings by publisher is to look at reports from your listing distributer – like Listhub, Point2, reDataVault, etc. If you are sending the data from your broker website provider, you may not be getting this information in a consolidated report. Rather, you will need to combine the listing reports from each publisher.

Here are a few things to be aware of. About 30% of the listing views are robots, not consumers. With the exception of Realtor.com, few publishers have strong anti-scraping technologies. This also explains why publishers report so many millions of visits when there are so few homes sold per year. They are counting machine traffic (so are reporting tools like ComScore).

Visits

It is always a good idea to look at the visits to your website as a result of syndication. Driving website traffic is a key benefit of syndication. Most firms see about four visits per listing per month for premium brokers (premium means you pay). There are techniques to improve this that include modifying photos and modifying description text.

It is always a good principle to check your website analytics to see if the numbers are equal. They never are. The goal is to track how close they are. If you see 1000 visits for the month coming from a publisher in their report, you may see a number that is lower or higher in your “referrer” report on your broker site. While you are looking at the referrers, also track the bounce rate. They vary significantly by publisher. You will find that some sites have higher bounce rates than others – like 75% of the traffic will view one page then bounce, or leave the site. That is the measure of quality of traffic. Higher bounce rates can mean a few things. Remember that a lot of this traffic is machine traffic, so that impacts bounce rate. Also, remember that if your site is not consumer friendly, consumers leave. Lastly, be aware that some franchises send the traffic to their site rather than the broker site, so you are not getting the traffic unless they go to the brand website then down to your site.

If your broker website provider is good, you can track lead conversion by lead source on your site. Sometimes you can find that a smaller site sending fewer visits will send higher quality of visits. This means lower bounce rate, more time on your site, more page views and more conversions to leads. Our favorite report for this is provided to brokers on the Delta Media broker website solution.

Another key strategy to optimize visits from publishers is to have a solution for retargeting. Put a cookie on the consumer’s browser and keep advertising to them as they surf the web.

Overall, we find that firms pay about $0.25 per click to drive visits to their website – which is a great price. Most normalized online ad buys cost more like $0.50 to $1.00 per click, depending on the market.

WAV Group supports enterprise firms in selecting vendors for search engine marketing, which includes purchasing traffic and retargeting services.

Most enterprise firms only get about 5%-15% of their overall traffic from all syndication sources. It is not a significant source of traffic and the quality of traffic is poor due to the low bounce rates. This is why some firms choose to drop syndication.

Leads

WAV Group has been tracking the lead volume per listing as a key measurement of listing syndication effectiveness. Brokers should get about ½ of a lead per listing on the top 4 publisher sites where they enhance their listings. If you do not enhance, the effectiveness is even lower. When normalized for all of syndication sites, most firms attract 1-2 listings from all listing syndication.

Lead Conversion by lead source has been difficult for many firms to manage with confidence. The methodology for calculating lead conversion by lead source would be to have a solution for extracting a customer record when the first lead is created and indexing that lead as the first lead (initial lead capture source). Step two is to run that index against the firm’s accounting software. WAV Group will run the past 12 months of leads against transactions each quarter to create the best possible indicator. We find this process to work most effectively when the firm has a well-developed and well adopted lead management solution.

Listing Count

It is always a good idea to pay close attention to the number of listings being syndicated by publisher source. You will always find variance by publisher as a result of the reports being pulled at different times, especially with large firms that have lots of listings entering and exiting the market on a daily basis. By checking lead counts across top publishers each week, you can begin to sharp shoot problems with listing feeds. This is very important because agents and sellers have little tolerance when their listing is not being advertised as proposed in the listing presentation. We have witnessed firms losing agents and customers because of a failure to manage online advertising effectively.

WAV Group can provide these services to your firm, or support your firm with setting up a routine for staff to monitor effectiveness and generate monthly or quarterly reports. This tracking is vital for recruiting, agent retention and listing presentations. Contact Victor Lund if you need information about this service.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Victor Lund April 10, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Speaking in averages

Agent Sites get 1 lead per 100 visitors
MLS Consumer sites generate 1 lead per 1000 visitors

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John De Souza April 20, 2014 at 8:55 am

Victor, who is a good vendor for this type of service? I am using AdWords, but not connecting it back to our visitors. “Another key strategy to optimize visits from publishers is to have a solution for retargeting. Put a cookie on the consumer’s browser and keep advertising to them as they surf the web.”

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Victor Lund April 30, 2014 at 6:50 pm

John – DoubleClick works if you know how to serve yourself and you have the technical acumen for this type of strategy. If not, you may want to contact Prem Luthra at Cerulean – send me an email if you want his number. Cerulean is a spin out of Real Estate Digital. Prem was one of the four horseman that gave rise to Realtor.com’s success (Prem, Marty Frame, Errol Samuelson, Ben Grabowski). Cerulean is a digital online marketing agency – they handle the entire program for you and they have some customers that are peers of yours.

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