First National Real Estate improves persona-based marketing with inbound martech investment

Member-owner real estate group's digital marketing manager see lift in onsite engagement and quality of leads following inbound marketing overhaul

First National Real Estate has seen a 38 per cent rise in website visitors and a marked improvement in the quality of leads to property agents following an overhaul of its inbound marketing strategy.

The not-for-profit, member-based group has more than 350 offices across Australia, and also operates in New Zealand, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. Digital marketing manager, Sue Goddard, said the first step towards better targeting prospects and customers digitally came with the relaunch of First national’s website in 2012.

“We a business, we couldn’t compete with the major players such as realestate.com.au or Domain, for property search. We wanted to differentiate in the market by being a one-stop shop for real estate property queries,” she told CMO.

The five-strong marketing team took charge of the website revamp, aimed at being more customer centric, using Kentico’s CMS platform as its foundation. But Goddard said it was missing insights into who was engaging with its growing blog and guide-based content and how it helped along the buyer journey.

An investigation of marketing automation then led First National to invest in HubSpot’s inbound marketing technology, rolled out over a period of two months from last July. The first step was migrating blog content across to the new platform, as well as identifying which pages were suitable to create landing pages for.

First National produces a range of content include buyer and seller guides, property guides, and regular blogs from internal and external sources.

To coincide with the technology rollout, First National’s marketing team also commenced research into determining personas based around the types of visitors coming to its website and for the purpose of campaign activities. These personas are: First-time buyers, investing, upsizing, buying, retiring and divorcing.

Across each, First National works to produce content and campaigns that cover the buying funnel, from awareness to consideration and decision making. Prior to implementation, Goddard said the brand had a Q&A section relating to each persona. Using its new platform, the team has been able to take this a step further, reviewing all blog content and mapping it to persona relevancy and a point in the buyer’s journey.

“It allows us to take a more holistic approach when it comes to our blog content and making sure it’s being delivered to the right people,” she said, adding the team is also able to see which types of content is garnering better engagement.

As a member-based organisation, Goddard’s team had to work to get buy-in for the technology, as well as from the executive team.

“Work was undertaken to explain where we thought investing in HubSpot would take our marketing efforts, and present a business case for that,” she said. “The good news is since implementation, we’ve seen an upwards trend in our visitor numbers, and more time on site, which suggests visitors are more engaged with the content we’re producing. It’s really allowed us to enhance the user experience and we are starting to see the benefits.”

First National has seen a 38 per cent increase in the number of visitors to its website in the last six months, as well as a lift in the number of property appraisals – the property group’s form of leads – for real estate agents. Since launching its national campaign in February, First National has received positive feedback on the quality of the leads being sent to agents in their offices, Goddard said.

“There is a three-step process on the forms, so those who complete a form are clearly quite interested in a property appraisal,” she said.

“Our objective is twofold: We want to attract visitors organically but also we want to deliver leads to our members. We’re also running a PPC [paid for click] campaign incorporating adwords and social pages, and we’re driving them to HubSpot pages. One of the questions we’re asking is persona related, so that allows us to better qualify who those people are when they submit a property appraisal form. That then triggers an automated workflow based around the persona they selected.”

Goddard said her full team is inbound marketing certified, and now working to leverage HubSpot to its maximum potential. First National also uses an inbound agency to assist with persona-driven campaigns.

“We’re continuing to run our national campaigns throughout the year, and we’ve integrated that with our HubSpot pages,” she added. “We’re also transferring more of our website content to the HubSpot platform.”

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