Propelling the Australian Market forward

One of the best things to come out of this period of radical uncertainty is a sense of shared purpose. We seem to have realised we all need each other – that the Australian economy and its’ people will only survive if we work together.

One of Australia’s most successful companies, the REA Group, has a real sense of common purpose with the real estate industry. It acutely understands the role it can play in helping agents connect to customers and stimulating the property market. They want the largest and most engaged real estate audience.

More than 10.7 million people perused the REA Group’s websites in March. Melina Cruickshank, the Chief Audience and Marketing Officer at REA Group, drives messaging, content, brand and product marketing for realestate.com.au, realcommercial.com.au and spacely.com.au. Milena says, “Once leads hit our platforms, there’s a whole lot of science around moving people through different areas of the site, taking them further down the funnel where they convert into a lead. We want to send as many leads, and the best quality leads, to our customers throughout their consumer lifecycle.”

With her team of around 80 data scientists, editors, consumer and customer marketers, Melinda also wants to maintain the most compelling and helpful conversation with the industry. A desire to propel the Australian real estate market and leverage one the most powerful channels of people who know what they want in Australia, she is committed to telling the Australian people the most compelling and engaging Australian real estate stories. No other team can help Australian real estate agents more to be relevant and current.

In the wake of COVID 19…

Melina says, “We had an incredible February, and that continued to the start of March. And then we saw this sharp drop off when the restrictions came in, anyone in marketing and anyone in product could see the numbers drop. There was a lot of noise in the media about COVID, and it feels like a long time ago now that we’re coming out of the restrictions, but it was quite daunting at the time. But what we saw towards the end of March was actually this intense rebound where people started to look at what was going on online. We started to see those audiences come back with a vengeance, which continued into April and May.”

For agents, who want to understand the mood of the Australian public, isolation has undoubtedly given the Australian people a new appreciation for the idea of home. Home has never mattered more. The quality of home and life itself suddenly matters too. Melina says, “Home’s becoming really important. People are thinking, maybe I need to be upgrading, or maybe I need to be getting into the market. Maybe, I need to be getting out of my unit and purchasing my first home. People are realising the value of their home and working remotely. Working from home has allowed so many more people more time in their life. People are thinking, why am I spending so much time sitting in a car when I could be getting so much more done in my life at home? People are thinking; I can move out further and afford a home with a backyard and space. And certainly, we see that on REA. Search activity is starting to broaden out much more, which is great for regional communities. For companies who want to attract the very best talent, this is going to be a huge retention point because people just don’t want to waste time in their lives anymore. They’ve realised that actually, this is working for us. So it’s interesting. And I don’t think this is going to be a negative on the property market. I think it’s going to be positive.”

REA are doing what they can to stimulate the market

In the post-COVID-19 world, the REA Group is committed to doing whatever it can to stimulate the market and help the property economy. Melina says, “We actually can tell the stories of what’s happening. We talk about issues which are major deterrents to people moving faster. Property is so important to the general economy. And we want to use our position to help put some conversations out there, particularly around things like stamp duty so that we can start to get a much more buoyant economy. We’ve put a new offering to the market to encourage people to list their property if they’re even remotely considering selling. For select key agents, there is a pay on sale offer. It’s gone well. And that’s a limited offer where we’re testing that, but the uptake has been encouraging.” 

REA wants to help agents connect with consumers

Be authentic, Take the time to make engaging videos; Tell the story of a property, Interview the homeowner; Show your abilities and knowledge and your authenticity; Think about what you are saying and how you say it; Use gestures; Think about the modulation of your voice and the tone; Be welcoming and professional; Shape how customers receive your service. Be consciously fantastic.

Think about how your behaviour and actions will be received by your intended audience. Melina says, “What people are wanting, or seeking, from their agents is authenticity. The last thing consumers want is to feel uncomfortable when they’re contemplating selling their house. And you can see that in the rise of our agent ratings and reviews. The rise of the review economy, for want of the better description, is extraordinary. People are trusting word of mouth, online word of mouth, more than ever. Work on your online profile. When you’re putting yourself on realestate.com, you’ve got 10.7 million people, as opposed to some of the smaller websites which are quite niche.”

Master digital inspections

Melina says, “Almost 50,000 buy and rent listings now have digital inspections. So agents have done an extraordinary job in responding to this. And on our platforms, we see over two million views each week, which is extraordinary. It certainly surpassed our modelling of what we thought it would be by now. By the time an individual turns up at an inspection, they will be pretty far down the funnel of conversion or purchasing. And I think that’s not a bad thing. You’re going to get a lot more active buyers who are turning up and a lot more open to making that final offer. I think it’s just something we have to continue to watch closely. We want auctions to continue to go back to normal. We all love the theatre of an auction. We love the intensity that an auction brings. And I don’t think that one will change. I think the inspections will modify, though, for sure.”

Know your numbers

Finally, Melina says, “Every good marketer should be sticking closely to understanding their numbers and where they’re spending money, what the return is, what the conversion is, how that’s operating with what’s going on in the market place, but being able to switch pretty quickly as well. I think that’s the beauty of the online environment that you can switch. You can shake it up. You can pivot when need be. And I don’t want to say to any agent that a particular channel is better. My preference, obviously working in an online environment, is that digital works because it’s so metric-driven, and you can understand where things are coming and going. At the same time, you’d be crazy not to have a big above the line presence if you can. And when I say above the line, that’s just keeping your brand out there.”

Have courage. We all need courage more than ever.

Melina says, “One of the most important things I think throughout this period is for people to have courage, to keep their brands strong. If there’s an opportunity for agents to take a share or be opportunistic when it comes to gaining new listings, they should be going for it, absolutely going for it. It is a competitive environment, and every opportunity allows opportunity.”