Buyers Want Emotional Bonds—Even Online
April 20, 2018
(From left) Julie Morris, John Peyton, Cammy Keiler Bjorklund, and Suzanne Zinn Mueller discuss consumer trends at the REALTOR® Broker Summit in Nashville.
Despite beginning their search online—where one would assume home shoppers prefer an impassive browsing experience—many buyers are looking for some emotional connection in where they live and who they work with when buying a home. That’s why it’s crucial for real estate professionals to think about what their voice is online.
“As important as it is for a big brand to have a story to tell and core values, it’s also important for each agent to have their own brand story,” John Peyton, CEO of Realogy, said during a panel discussion on consumer trends at the REALTOR® Broker Summit in Nashville this month.
In learning how to distinguish yourself in your online presence, start by doing your own research. Fellow panelist Cammy Keiler Bjorklund suggests if you’re strapped for resources, get into the mind of clients and how they’ve started their journey. “The one place where they go besides Facebook is Google. Think about the words and phrases they’d use. Do a scan of what media properties Google thinks are best for those searches,” Bjorklund says. Should you be advertising there? Or can you do something better?
It’s also key to prioritize your marketing, says Julie Morris, vice president of brand research and strategy at Scripps Networks Interactive, who has focused on HGTV. “If you promote everything you promote nothing. Find your goal, because if there are too many messages it just gets lost,” she says.
While Morris does look at Nielsen, MRI, and other consumer data sources, she also works on HGTV’s own audience surveys to find out what viewers love. The biggest thing they’re hearing is the desire for an emotional connection. “If you can connect with the consumer you have a higher likelihood of pulling them in in some way,” she says. “The journey of a home, fixing up a home, that storytelling and unfolding of that is important now in a crowded marketplace.”
In recent study, HGTV found that its focus on renovation experts, agents, and flippers on air sometimes caused it to lose the homeowner along the way, which was eye-opening, Morris says. “It’s not just a renovation; it’s the home and how it fits the family,” she says.
Suzanne Zinn Mueller, senior vice president of industry relations at realtor.com®, who moderated the panel, says that becoming approachable online and creating an emotional bond can also be accomplished by hammering home the value of a real estate professional. Talk to your website visitors about what you bring the table, your expertise, and how you can help them reach their goals.
“Go beyond likes and followers to actual conversions,” says Peyton. Keep a close eye on the data coming out of your marketing campaigns and understand how you’re converting online leads into real life conversations.
—Erica Christoffer, REALTOR® Magazine
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Updated: February 27, 2020