When I worked “agent side”, I was once asked the question: ‘where does Rightmove sit in your marketing strategy?’
It took me a few seconds, but the simple answer was: “it doesn’t”.
Because there is nothing strategic about an Estate Agent appearing on Rightmove. It is one of those things that they just have to do, and no sensible person would cut Rightmove from their budget without a ground-breaking plan B.
However, I reserve my comments exclusively for the property listings. I have absolutely no time for their frequently touted “additional products”, which are so complex that I am quite convinced many agents don’t even know what they are buying. Whether it is a Featured Property, a Premium Listing or a Featured Agent, the response that they generate is so far below industry standard, it’s laughable. The big sell, of course, is the assertion that your brand will be seen by the 3,000 people who visit Rightmove every minute to look for property.
Of course, that is not strictly accurate. The majority of Rightmove users are not looking for property, they are looking at property, and that is quite an important difference. I know that it may be hard to believe or indeed comprehend that people sit online for hours, browsing at property they can’t afford, but it happens. A lot. Does anyone actually believe that all 3,000 visits per minute are by people on the verge of instructing an estate agent?
In reality, if agents were able to correctly identify their brand’s values, USP, and target audience, then Rightmove should be sophisticated enough to display to each user the best agent for them – i.e. because you shop at Tesco, live in Wokingham, and read the Guardian online, you should use Agent Y.
I recently had lunch with a well-respected digital expert from one of the big agents, who challenged me on these views: ‘what is it with you marketers? You think all of this technology is out there – it isn’t!’ – he said.
Heart breaking as this wake-up call was, I still believe that the solution cannot be far away. But arguably, the availability of such tech is one thing, the attraction for service providers to implement them for the benefit of the consumer is another. Even if portals were able to do this, why would they?
It’s a bit like dating sites. If dating sites made algorithms sophisticated enough to really connect you with your perfect mate, then no-one would reasonably expect to pay for more than one month’s membership. Similarly, if Rightmove introduced any kind of genuine sophistication into their platform, its users wouldn’t be forced to spend hours wading through the details of every single agent and property before choosing who to contact.
Furthermore, if they were even half as obsessed with customer experience as they were with ARPA (annual revenue per agent) they would have ditched that crazy holding page, where you are asked to refine your search, years ago. We all know that you can refine your search on the property results page – the holding page simply exists to create space on which to sell Local Homepage banners.
However, I firmly believe that we are hurtling towards a situation where the brevity of time on a site will count for more than the dwell time. If, as a prospective consumer, a site was sufficiently intelligent that it instantly served you with the exact thing that you were looking for and moved you through to purchase or booking, then surely that can only be a good thing.
I know that it may sound like a crazy idea to some of you, but it has worked before. The first example that springs to mind is Google. You don’t hear them bragging about dwell time on their site… and they’ve not done too badly…!
Rachel’s views are her own, and not the views of OneDome.