As a judge of the Real Estate Business Awards in Australia, I find the process a fascinating and educational experience. One of the best things about the REB Awards is that every real estate agent can learn from the experiences of the winners and nominees.
One of the submissions that really impressed me this year came from Kay & Burton, who have grown a premium real estate business using clever digital and social media marketing. This is their story.
How a real estate business bucked the market trend
Like much of Australia, the real estate market in and around Melbourne has experienced tough conditions for the first time in almost 20 years. Kay & Burton wanted to protect itself against the changing market and further position their brand as an innovative leader in the luxury real estate market.
Recognising that the digital world was the future of real estate marketing, Kay & Burton took some serious steps to develop its digital presence with the recruitment of a new GM of Marketing, Justin Hodgson, and Senior Marketing Manager, Rosemary Shisler.
Being bold with your marketing budget
These new hires, who came with significant traditional and digital marketing experience with major brands across a variety of industries, and complemented the business continuity and wealth of real estate knowledge Stephanie Biggs (Marketing Manager – Brand and Communications) brought to the team.
Kay & Burton had the foresight to carefully invest in the right resources, creative, media spend and technology to successfully execute their strategy.
Employing highly qualified resources and taking such a pragmatic and strategic approach could be a risky strategy in an uncertain climate, but the business believed these people would be a worthwhile move and bring value to the brand, which they certainly did.
Short-term ROI and sales results
The short-term results have been incredibly positive. Kay & Burton achieved market share growth in a declining market across all market segments and significant growth in all its marketing KPIs, despite its market being down 23% year on year.
Growing the Kay & Burton brand, digitally
Kay & Burton took several important steps to grow digitally as a brand and these investments will be increasingly significant for real estate agents competing for the best sales agent talent.
1. Hire smart marketers
Hiring marketers who were highly qualified and experienced in digital marketing enabled Kay & Burton to position itself as the market leader in this space and generate results that will have long term business value.
2. Audit your business
The Kay & Burton digital marketing program was rebuilt from the ground up. The process began with a thorough audit of all elements of the current marketing campaign.
It was clear from the audit that Kay & Burton was in an enviable position in terms of brand awareness, brand perception and client satisfaction. However, the audit highlighted that the brand had an issue in terms of its digital footprint and the utilisation of digital channels to grow bottom line revenue.
3. Devise a brand campaign
Kay & Burton made the decision to position themselves at the top end of the market. This didn’t mean they would not sell lower-end properties; they simply wanted their brand to be highly sought-after and associated with class and experience.
To achieve this perception, the business developed the ‘Your Home, Our Art’ corporate brand campaign. This campaign focused on how Kay & Burton has turned marketing homes into an art form since 1938, bringing the perfect balance of service and expertise to every property in its care.
The pinnacle of the campaign creative was an evocative 30-second cinematic film, the content of which was a major departure from traditional agent-centric real estate branding videos. A range of digital and film-related platforms brought ‘Your Home, Our Art’ to life, along with the support of hand-picked outdoor sites, traditional and non-traditional print media to drive awareness, and strategic event marketing to drive deeper engagement and conversion to listings.
The campaign was hugely successful, achieving a 91 per cent increase in sales appraisal page views, 300K film views, 91K social media engagements and over 1.7m in PR reach.
4. Luxury property campaigns
The business developed a range of digital marketing packages for vendors properties. They produced a high-end digital product with luxury film and full geo-targeting based on the history of enquiries they had received in each suburb.
This offering enabled Kay & Burton to implement bespoke local and international targeting, with digital distribution across the full range of Facebook and Google Display Network channels. This initiative was one of the major reasons why their website traffic grew by 160 per cent year-on-year.
5. Email campaigns for different market segments
Kay & Burton already ran “for sale” email campaigns successfully but wanted to expand into new market segments. To achieve this, they enhanced their current campaigns from six to twelve EDMs per month, covering all regions. They also extended their reach to include property investors and new off-the-plan developments.
This initiative grew their email marketing database by 25 per cent.
Using technology to underpin digital marketing success
With so many technological tools now available to boost real estate agency engagement and marketing success, Kay & Burton took full advantage of the products at their disposal.
They used business analytics technology to enhance their customer segmentation, AI-powered technology for enhanced targeting to reduce their CPA, media monitoring tools to better understand their social and PR performance and technology to drive Google Review volume.
Overcoming key hurdles
Kay & Burton faced several obstacles in implementing the changes to their digital marketing techniques.
Gaining the confidence of the Board to invest in all aspects of the plan was the initial hurdle to overcome. A successful implementation required a holistic approach and a ‘stay on the journey’ mindset.
Gaining buy-in from agents was the next hurdle. The agents and vendors needed to understand digital marketing and buy into it too. This would make it easier to convince them that the campaigns would connect with the ultra-high net worth clients with luxury properties. Kay & Burton educated these parties using data from Facebook and Google, which increased their confidence that the target market was indeed found on these channels.
The importance of backing your brand
This goes to show that you can buck the real estate market downturn if you are willing to back your brand. Kay & Burton’s story demonstrates that you can have great success against the odds by committing to your strategy and staying the course through changing market conditions, as well as leveraging digital technology to grow your market presence.