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Visual marketing strategies for successful property listings.
A cheat sheet to the most successful images and media to market property.
Real stats, from real home buyers - built on detailed questionnairs and interviews.
Is less really more when it comes to property marketing?
Our research with Lancaster University and MMU reveals what sources of property information are most important for new-build home buyers, and here’s what’s interesting – long-form content comes out on top.
This has big implications for how developers use their marketing channels, from brochures to social media. This article explores the key statistics, and what these mean for developers who want to sell their properties more effectively.
As we share some of our results below, we’ll take a look at how their preferences impact the best ways to use different marketing channels – from social media to property portals.
In this article:
1 What sources are most important to new-build buyers?
2. Why is there a preference for in-depth information sources?
3. Directing people to in-depth content through your marketing channels
A) Property Developer websites
B) Property portals
C) Social media
4. A guide to the best in-depth, visual content
What sources of information matter most?
Our survey of 78 new-build home buyers, conducted with Lancaster University, revealed an order of several preferences:
Let’s take a look at these sources and examine the impact.
The preference for online information
With developer websites coming top, and online brochures (usually hosted on the site) coming second, we can see that even when looking for in-depth property information, new-build buyers are looking online.
The preference for depth
Brochures and websites have a large advantage over property portals and social media because of the amount of information that can be displayed there – in an accessible way. It’s equally instructive to look where they first found new-build advertising. While the above information is incredibly useful, it is also good to know the first points of contact for eventual buyers. See below:
Once again, property websites (including property portals) are top of the list for an initial encounter.
Given the preference for these online sources of information, how should developers adapt their marketing channels to reach new-build home buyers best? Taking a look at various online marketing channels will help us to understand where the gaps are and what kind of content may provide the depth that new-build buyers are looking for.
The big question: why?
Why is there such a strong preference for long-form, in-depth sources of information? This is suprising in an online environment where short form video, viral memes and minimal text dominate the environment. However, there are robust reasons why property searchers want more information:
-New-builds have a bad rep.
It’s no secret that new-build’s have a sorry reputation. The myriad stories of faulty builds, unresponsive developers and absent aftercare ensure that people have a healthy level of anxiety about making a new-build purchase. This means that they want (and need) a solid amount of information so they know exactly what they’re getting in to.
-New-builds aren’t very viewable
Some developments are large and organised enough to have a virtual (or real) showhome before the bulk of their properties have been built. Many do not, and many sell off-plan entirely. With this being the case, buyers are starving for information. They want to lap up virtual tours, 3D site plans and floorplans, streen scenes, extensive development views, local amenities and house dimensions.
Visual and textual information gives buyers the guts to buy off-plan when they otherwise wouldn’t.
Getting buyers to in-depth information
From our survey above, we can see that developer websites (with online brochures) are cherished sources of information alongside property portals. This means that property developers should use these channels to give new-build home searchers exactly what they want. These sources are explored below, alongside the somewhat absent presence of social media.
1. Utilising your website
Our research shows that this is the primary source new-build buyers access when they are serious about buying a home. As a result, what they want to see changes. They need to see detailed information which tells them exactly what they are getting and re-assures them that they are choosing a good home or development.
Websites are critical for this task. They can show off a level of detail that can’t easily be shown on social media or property portals. The incorporation of in-depth media, such as property tours, full length animations, detailed brochures are at home on your website. A lot can be displayed in one place with an exclusive focus on your property services, rather than the sporadic nature of social media
However, in one of our research projects with MMU, it was easy to see just how much more property developers could be doing with imagery. See, for example, this image dispersion:
Seasonal imagery is another opportunity to engage with potential buyers in a particular season, however, many developers only opted for standard summer shots. Altering the season once the property has been modelled is a straightforward task for experienced CGI artists, and is a great way to easily generate more content.
Perhaps more suprising is the lack of video content used by developers for their listings. Video is shown to get better engagement than imagery and is a brilliant way to show off properties in depth. This is another way for developers to fine tune their online web content to fit with consumer preference more.
Finally, it emerged that there were very few property images that showed people. This is a great way to give your development depth because it shows it in a real life setting. People buy into homes, not just empty developments, so carefully propped images with people, cars and real life activity are critical.
These graphs demonstrate new ways that developers could attract buyers through capitalising on imagery that is less common. Additionally, since we’re aiming for depth, there’s a great need to expand the type of imagery used so that people get a sense of entire properties and developments.
2. Leveraging property portals
These are a central point of first contact for new-build home buyers and determine whether people will bother searching further and coming to see your website. If you can’t capture people’s attention on here, your website can easily miss out on traffic and your developments get lost amiongst a sea of images.
Thankfully, we have detailed information about people’s preferences when it comes to property portals and the kind of media you choose to show there. The disadvantage of property portals is the sheer amount of properties people sift through on there, it is a challenge to stand out amidst the hundreds that people browse. These portals lack the ability to show as much about you as a developer beyond the individual listings. The chances are people will follow the link to your website to see that information in greater depth.
A) Premium listings get more attention We tested this with eye-tracking software, these properties got significantly more attention.
B) Image fatigue People got bored looking through lots of pictures and listings. The average amount of images explored before people moved on was 8 images, furthermore, only 11% of people looked through all the available images on a listing – more than this tended to put people off. Thus the best and most relevant photos need to come first.
C) More images correlates to more ad clicks People commonly looked at the number of available property images before exploring a listing further. If there were less than 5, people commonly moved on to the next property and did not look at it. Further interviews confirmed this, with “did not have enough image” being a common thing that put people off.
3. Social media and new-build property marketing
Social media is the elephant in the room.
In this day and age, you’d expect an large amount of people to list this as an important source of property information, or similarly, as a place to encounter initial new-build adverts However, social media needn’t be written off, rather, one should consider how these sources can successfully point people to the in-depth sources they want to see later. Equally, if social media points people onwards to developer websites, the content on these social channels should give people a good reason to explore further.
Our research with new-build buyers shows how far it comes down the list during the active property search:
How to use social media to build trust with buyers
Social media should be seen as a medium which enables, encourages and empowers people to move on to your website to explore further.
Think about it, social media is not the best place for organised and in-depth property information. Not every post is property focused, timelines aren’t easily navigated and perhaps most of all – people are not looking for in-depth property information on these channels.
What does in-depth information look like in this space?
Often it involves endless listings, essay-length property descriptions and relentless sales heckling. It’s not practical, and it does not engage people.
The solution: point people to your in depth content
Given what we know about buyer preferences, social media should be used as a vehicle that convinces people that you are a trustworthy developer whom they can buy a new-build from. Here are some key ways you can build trust through your social media presence across different platforms.
1. Public responsiveness
If someone makes a complaint on your page as a public post (oof), then responding to it well (and fast) shows people that you are willing to engage as a developer. Radio silence leads people to think that when it comes to fixing property faults, they’re going to be ghosted and never hear from you again. A positive online presence means that people will trust you enough to explore your brand in depth.
2. Offer followers ‘proof posts’
People want to know if you’re properties live up to your brochure images and online visuals. Using video slideshows, stories and before and after images can show the visuals used to market your property and how it now looks in reality. If you can prove that these match up, you can convince people that you deliver effectively.
You can take this to the next level with a mini-case study. For example, imagine that a real buyer has found an important fault after they’ve bought one of your homes. Instead of brushing it under the carpet or ghosting them, use your quick response and fix to showcase how you deal with (inevitable) build issues. Air this to customers, they will appreciate that you understand the anxiety behind new-build buying.
3. Jargon bust with digestible wisdom
You probably know just how much small print new-build buyers have to wade through. It tops the average buyer and often includes a lot of clauses to watch out for. You can capitalise on this as an expert in your field. Explain key terms in short videos or infographics. Tell people what to watch out for when buying a new build. Offer a live video feed where you answer people’s new-build questions. Provide a pinned FAQ Insta or Facebook story which answers common questions about your builds.
4. Justify your place in the community
If you work in a small locale, or have sub-brands for different regions – then take interest in them. People want to see that you care about the environment, the community and the businesses in the local area where you will be building your homes.
For example, join a local Facebook neighbourhood group and see what people are saying about your development and their area. What are the concerns? What local events are prized in the community? What amenities are missing? What will you give people that they need? Especially if you have a large following, use your social media presence to re-share or promote local business interests or events. It doesn’t matter if they are connected to property, it shows a knowledge of the area where you are building and a willingness to be involved in it.
Another great way to show this is through any local trade partnerships you might have. This is a win for you, the local community and the small business in question. For example, if you are employing a local joinery firm during the building process, then why not @ them, let them show off their quality work on your channel or promote final products that they have produiced in the past. This is powerful in so many ways – it shows concern for your locale, an interest in local business and the advantage of being able to draw from a completed pool of past work to show off quality.
5. Use personal accounts for credibility and personal interaction
Business accounts are all well and good, but personal accounts are better. People want to see the people whom they may be buying a home from in the future. Posting from a personal account in community groups or advertising on the newsfeed gives people the opportunity to talk. You risk your own exposure so that they can feel comfortable talking to you.
They don’t need to know the legal minutiae of your property aftercare, but many would appreciate seeing a few key USPs that make your sales process stand out. If you have better aftercare, an extended warrantee, or a 24/7 customer helpline – then show it off.
Live video is another brilliant way to do this. An added bonus is that platforms like Insta and FB prioritise this content so it is highly visible in people’s feeds. This could be a development manager answering key FAQs, interviews with actual buyers, on-site updates and showcasing.
6. Remarket new-builds with fresh property images
It almost deserves its own section. Remarketing allows you to display adverts to users on social media after they have left your website and accessed social media – simple to do with a tracking pixel set up.
This is a brilliant tool for driving people back to your site with engaging content that catches their eye. This is not the place for detailed property information, but aspirational, evocative images that draw their minds back to the developments they had seen on your website. Many property ads fall flat because they fail to visually engage buyers or capture their imagination on social media. People look for entertainment on Facebook and Instagram through memes, short articles and funny videos. Can your property ads slot into this niche?
The biggest advantage of using social media is that you can use it to remarket properties to potential buyers after they have left your website. Advertising across the Meta platfroms means that you can reach exactly the customers you want with a great deal of effectiveness. Social media showcases this is a way that is harder through property portals or even your website. It is much more authentic to communicate with people via social media chat functions via a personal account than it is through an online avataar or bot on your website. Personal interaction is what lets your brand stand apart when it comes to marketing new-builds on social media.
Additionally, if your brand has good social proof via it’s large following, then this is good to show off as well.
Advantages and disadvanatages of social media
The beauty of social media is that it provides snippets of condensed, useful, visual information for buyers. It’s not detailed, but it’s easily digested and accessed. These stories go straight to the top of followers feeds and give you the opportunity to get in front of them and show off your integrity and value as a property developer. For example, a slideshow with a property CGI, property testimonial and actual build to show how it all lined up.
The disadvantage of social media, from Twitter to Instagram to Tiktok is that these platforms offer piecemeal information that isn’t well organised. However good your posts, it’s not an accessible repository of information. Instead, information is spread out in a variety of posts, for a variety of purposes, over a long period of time. Ultimately, what you post should encourage buyers to actually visit your website.
In line with this, another disadvantage is that you often can’t show off all the media you want to, in the way you want. For example, Virtual Reality site tours are not always supported, as well as full length animations. You’re also restricted by the image dimensions and quality you can show off.
What kind of content markets your properties in-depth?
After exploring how you can maximise how you use your property marketing channels, it’s worth exploring the exact kind of content which can show off your properties in-depth
A) Variety can equate to depth – if you use a mixture of visual assets, you can show people the property from different angles in different ways, helping them to imagine it better. See examples of varied property imagery here: https://www.imagefoundry.co.uk/industry/property/
B) Virtual Tours – these have massive potential for in-depth viewing – and then some. They can be adapted with information points or real-time rendering which allows you to change the colour of appliances (e.g.). It can show you different room layouts, with or without furniture. It puts the power in the customers hands both to imagine the property and see it in the state it will be when finished. It is the next best thing to actually walking through a property.
There can also be virtual site tours which enable people to explore the development’s outside area as a whole, enabling them to get a feel for parking space, play areas for kids or local amenities. This adds further credibility by setting the house in the context of the community. See examples here: https://www.imagefoundry.co.uk/service/property-interactive-and-vr-content/
C) Animations – if you really want to show a whole development in the highest detail, then animations open up every possibility. Flythroughs can virtually display the whole development, amenities and local area and then take a closer look at actual properties. These complement virtual tours because they allow for a smoother and speedier insight into properties (where it would be more clunky with a virtual tour). See examples here: https://www.imagefoundry.co.uk/service/property-animation/
D) Cameos – I could have said ‘images’, but this doesn’t do justice to the diversity that can be created in CGI. The fact is, a roomset or exterior image can be easily repurposed to produce ‘cameos’. The virtual assets – i.e. the digital peices of the house and associated texturing – have already been fully modelled in the CGI programme. This means by cleverly moving the camera or adjusting the liughting, CGI artists can take new virtual ‘photographs’ of different parts of the house. Perhaps blurring out the background to focus on shower detailing. Perhaps altering the time of day to show a cosy evening shot. Even propping the image carefully with real life imagfery of people, cars and the activity of normal life. See examples here: https://www.imagefoundry.co.uk/case-study/living-room-and-kitchen-cgi-for-vivid/
E) Cutaways, 3D site and floor plans – One way to add 3D effects while giving depth to your properties is by using 3D site and floor plans. These are better than simply giving room dimensions or architectural drawings because they can be proppedand you can view all angles of the room from an overhead view. The same priciple applies to a 3D site plan which shows the architecture of a whole development in a visually accessible way. See examples here: https://www.imagefoundry.co.uk/industry/property/
Cutaways can combine these two concepts as well as standard images. For example, showing off a house as a normal exterior view with sections cut off and an inside view of the property means that people can imagine the property much better and get a sense of the inside and outside.
It’s good to know that people have a higher attention span when it comes to making an important property purchase. For this reason property marketers should use the right content, on the right channels, to deliver a depth of content to house-hunters so that they are more likely to make a purchase.