Has Online Marketing Peaked?

by Victor Lund on April 1, 2015

newspapersIn one of my favorite articles from 2008, WAV Group suggested that newspapers are like nursing homes. At that time, newspaper advertising was in a steep decline as a result of the emergence of more affordable online options that promised better reach. My argument was, “This obsolete technology sucks millions of dollars away from more cost-effective marketing tools while delivering less every year. There are better uses for your budget, especially if you market goods and services to people who don’t remember the Truman Administration.”

Job seekers go online to Craigslist, Monster.com, or Careers.com to find employment. Consumers go to Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, Homes.com, and HomeFinder. Want a date? There is a website for that too!

Unfortunately, the economics of the online sphere are catching up with the economics of the newspaper economy. Affordability is becoming an issue for online marketers. The price of online marketing is going up, and the number of publishers is increasing. The effectiveness is also going down as more listings are advertised.

Remember the good ol’ days when you just had to get your few lines of text in by Thursday at noon? In some ways, I am pretty sure that marketers pine away for that process again. Just one high-res photo and a few lines of text for your Homes & Land ad. The goal was “make the phone ring,” and ring it did!

In truth, online marketing is far more complex. But print marketing was not easy either. It took administrative and marketing staff hours to do ad copy collection. It still is hard. Online marketing is hard, too! Listing syndication is complicated and feed trumping often has unsettling outcomes for how your listings are displayed. Moreover, you need to be concerned about who else is advertising on top of your advertisement.

There is some good news. Once you have listing syndication configured correctly it will work for your business. Sure, the price is going up but even if it doubles, it is a relatively efficient marketing strategy. More importantly, it is much easier to get sellers to “buy into” your online marketing strategy than it ever was with print.

There will be endless discussions about the volume and quality of leads. Since more than 50% of leads go unanswered, I have resigned myself to the fact that a lead is only as good as the person who gets it. To me, all marketing has a chief objective of convincing a seller to list with you.

Lest we forget, the number one marketing tool in all of real estate is the yard sign.

WAV Group has lots of customers who still kill it with print and others that have long abandoned it. Some clients are having outstanding results with radio and television and others have never tried it. A few who have found that the movie theatre does a specular job. We have customers who crush it with portal marketing and others that do not syndicate at all. Many factors influence a marketing plan including the power of your brand, competition, seasonality and, most of all, location. Just never forget that the chief goal of marketing is to drive your overall corporate strategic plan. It is all part of a concert.

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