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What More Might Mean: Real Estate Video And YouTube

March 6, 2007

Are we confusing the success metrics used for general videos on YouTube with the time proven success metrics of real estate lead generation and sales?

There is a lot of buzz around real estate video these days.  Real estate professionals are talking about YouTube, making how-to guides for making viral real estate videos for YouTube, and hoping for the massive video views that are often possible on YouTube. Data shows that YouTube is replacing television in many sectors so it is fair to assume that people are flocking to You Tube for much the same reason as TV: entertainment. Since, the value of videos on YouTube boils down to entertainment, videos on YouTube are rightfully judged and valued by the one metric common to TV and online video – popularity. 

Many of the same types of products that lend themselves well to TV  also are natural to selling on YouTube.  The company that sells blenders capable of blending cell phones, various household objects, etc. has a perfect approach.  Much like their TV conterparts at Ronco, they demonstrate the “unbelievable”.  The class of unbelievable that they are selling works in almost any video resolution and generates 250,000+ video views each.  Heck, I want to buy one of those blenders after seeing what they can blend.

But building an audience of people with the spare cash to buy several hundred dollar blenders is a bit different from building an audience that want to buy properties. Experience tells us that internet real estate buyers are anything but impulsive. Cash customers can be rather impulsive but others have a process to deal with.  Even TV based real estate marketing recognizes that a property purchase generally isn’t a fly-by or impulsive decision. Most US based real estate TV is divided into one camp or the other – either geared towards entertainment and popularity (think “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”, “MTV Cribs”, “Location Location”, etc.) or generating sales leads on a much less watched cable channel.  My guess is that trying to do both would be an endeavor with a low percentage of success.

Real estate video has a much higher success rate when viewed as a tool with the objective of driving sales or generating leads. Poularity does not always produce leads or sales especially if the site where the video is being watched is not generally focused on buyers or generating leads.  If people are taking the time to watch property videos, they’ll also want a decent user experience that gives them some sort of value-add during the selection phase of the buying process. This anecdotally may play a role in the actions that a lead or buyer after watching said video (called “engagement”). Will less-than-optimal video resolution designed for general online use ultimately contribute to that real estate buyer’s user experience? How would YouTube video drive your own decision making or engagement as a buyer?

Now, I’ll agree that there isn’t anything wrong with free marketing…and there are likely sellers on YouTube doing well. However, any effort made in the name of free marketing that doesn’t tangibly convert into sales is a waste of time/effort and ultimately has a cost. Success for any sustained marketing/sales should be verifiable – if you cant measure it – maybe it isnt getting the results that you expect.

Direct sales professionals have the metrics approach down pat.  They measure everything that they do around marketing and sales. If marketing doesn’t lead to sales after experimentation, they stop investing time/effort/money in that activity. Direct sales people not only prefer to find small veins of highly active and interested customers but work pretty darn hard to find them.  To direct sales experts, a group of 1000 active, loyal, and interested customers has far more value in terms of lead generation (and ultimately sales) than a group of 100,000 inactive customers every day.

Direct sales people would likely ask a simple question, “how many leads or sales are the real estate videos on YouTube videos generating?”  (applies equally to iTunes or any other sites)

In short, if you are getting the desired results from YouTube…keep doing it. If leads or sales from real estate videos don’t initially meet expectations,  direct sale people would experiment with various factors within YouTube (channels, tags, etc.) and likely experiment  with placement on different sites that provide different levels of quality, video size, languages, etc.  Our real estate video site, for instance, offers large video up to 16×9 widescreen viewing, online & downloadable formats, much higher video quality than found on YouTube, no waiting for videos to start, video transcripts with any paid offering, and the option to add video narratives in different languages. 

They’d also ensure that the process to capture leads driven from the real estate video is clear and easy. Is that process so clear on YouTube or iTunes? If not, what are you doing to supplement the process that exists on the site?

Interestingly, if none of the tinkering worked over some set of experiments, they’d move to another method.  Huh? Did a proponent of real estate video actually say that they’d move on?  Yes…and i think that would be the right thing in a case where video just doesn’t work. 

We don’t worry too much about real estate videos on http://vidlisting.com (English) or http://bienesraicesvideo.com (Spanish) not generating leads or sales. Our clients tell us that the 350+ real estate videos on these sites are generating the desired leads. We continue to focus on building an active, engaged, and growing audience around these sites.

 Active: We get emails almost every day regarding specific interest in videos on our site or opportunities that we have run across.  Right now, we are in contact with various US based investment groups looking for specific opportunities in Latin America (development properties, ocean-view hotels with more than 100 rooms, etc.)  All of this alternative activity is directly attributable to visits to our web site.

Engaged: Companies that work with us has told us that they are generating leads, getting calls/emails from all types of new potential customers, and, in several cases, actually sold properties. 

Growing:  At 4000 page views per and 1650 video views per day, we dont have the mass appeal of YouTube, but we also dont have people just looking to entertained.  We have an audience of people that are looking to buy properties.

What is more important to you? Would you prefer a large audience for the cost of your time only or access to a small focused and action oriented group of potential customers with some fee attached?  How are you measuring the engagement of the audience for your real estate videos?

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