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From Newspapers to New Sites

By on Jun 21, 2011 in Property News

Published on The Nation dated 20 June 2011 by Aliwassa Pathnadabutr, Managing Director of CB Richard Ellis Thailand

Up until 2005, property marketing focused on offline channels such newspaper and magazine advertising as well as signage combined with public relations events and exhibitions.

Nowadays though, almost every industry incorporates an element of digital marketing into their sales campaigns, including the property sector, whether they are developers, agents or individual sellers.

There has undoubtedly been a strong shift towards online marketing as potential buyers are becoming more technologically savvy and the Internet has become an important source of information for buyers – this is usually the first source potential buyers go to when they are looking for property. Aside from marketing tools, even marketing materials have gone digital, with brochures becoming e-brochures, direct mails becoming e-mails and print ads becoming online banners.

So, what online marketing tools are available today and are they really effective in generating sales?

The Internet plays a significant role in property search, whether potential buyers use search engines or directly visit project websites.

Websites do not only serve as a “shop window” where potential buyers can collect information at their own leisure without having to engage in personal contact with sales staff, but also a channel to make enquiries. In terms of property marketing, websites are the most effective tools to generate qualified leads.

A more advanced development is property portals. In overseas markets, property portals are well established and used by property buyers. Portals such as Property Guru, Primelocation and Rightmove are just a few examples of well-known sites featuring both local and international properties. These can be effective in reaching a wider international audience and potential buyers at a minimal cost.

In addition, social media sites are becoming the latest marketing trends, and expanding in the property sector. Starting off as social-networking sites, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have grown to become online tools used by businesses. Networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are beneficial for creating a PR buzz, generate awareness or spread news about things like a project launch, as well as become a good forum to share and exchange viewpoints.

However, content on social media sites is not controlled or properly targeted and could easily backfire. Messages conveyed and discussed may not always be factually accurate so one needs to think carefully about its use. If correctly implemented, social media sites can generate widespread awareness at little or no cost, though they would be less effective in terms of generating qualified leads when compared to other online tools.

There are also tools other that integrate online and offline channels such as barcodes or QR codes (Quick Response Code). Barcodes are found in printed materials such as adverts, brochures and business cards, and direct users of online channels such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or other websites can scan in these barcodes using their smart phones. Online marketing is also spreading to mobile devices such as smart phones and iPads, where agents, developers and property portals are developing new applications to reach a wider audience.

Although we are in the era of online marketing, it does not mean that traditional marketing tools are obsolete. In fact, both need to complement each other to be effective. Online marketing will continue to develop and evolve, but at the end of the day, face-to-face meetings, direct sales and physical inspection will continue to be the most important aspect in the property business. The strength and reach of the customer database and the ways in which this data-base is growing over time are equally important.

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