Premier/Signature Sotheby’s International Realty used call tracking to reinvest 30% of their budget in better performing ads
Premier/Signature Sotheby’s International Realty specializes in selling luxury properties along Florida’s Gulf Coast with 11 offices in Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Sarasota, Longboat Key and Venice, Florida. They are the 54th largest real estate firm in the U.S., according to REAL TRENDS 500. They are the third largest brokerage firm in Florida with an average transaction price over $1M.
Brad Nelson, VP of Marketing is focused daily on setting the ultimate standard of excellence within the luxury real estate market. To do this, Nelson ensures that their marketing aligns not only with their clientele, but that it also drives leads. It is this focus that helps make Premier/Signature Sotheby’s International Realty one of the top brokerages in the U.S.
Because their inventory is largely second-home property, Premier/Signature Sotheby’s International Realty spends much of their print marketing and advertising budget outside of their immediate Florida market, for example the Chicagoland edition of The Wall Street Journal. While print isn’t their only marketing vehicle, it is one of the most expensive. The firm spends over seven-figures on it’s annual advertising budget.
A key challenge Nelson and his team had to address was the lack of visibility into newspaper advertising effectiveness. Since the newspaper budget is large, understanding the ROI on that spend is critical to running the business. Were prospects calling based on the ads? Nelson couldn’t necessarily trust prospects to accurately self-report how they heard about a listing. For example, one prospect claimed he heard about an open house from a television commercial. Premier/Signature Sotheby’s International Realty has never run television commercials.
Their second challenge was retaining high-quality agents. Brokerages are constantly recruiting agents. “Real estate is competitive,” said Nelson. “Every one is recruiting everyone else. So, it is important to earn the trust and respect of your agents.” Premier/Signature Sotheby’s International Realty was looking to consistently prove value and help their agents close incremental business.
Nelson turned to Ifbyphone call tracking to address both challenges. Premier/Signature Sotheby’s International Realty directs every caller to a unique Ifbyphone tracking number that rings directly to the listing agent’s phone, most often a mobile phone. If the agent does not answer, Ifbyphone “finds” the listing agent by calling a progression of their desk phone, mobile phone, home phone – any phone the listing agents designates.
When the listing agent answers, Ifbyphone “whispers” the phone number and the newspaper in which the ad appeared. For example, a whisper from a Connecticut ad would say, “Call from The New York Times for 120 Peacock Rd.” If the listing agent is part of an agent team, the Ifbyphone number rings the entire team at once, the first agent to pick up the call is connected directly to the prospect.
“I realized Ifbyphone gave me all the characteristics I was looking for,” said Nelson. “Quality call tracking, an easy user interface with excellent reporting, and an affordable price.”
Initially, Premier/Signature Sotheby’s International Realty was expecting to gather data to convince agents, and more importantly clients, that newspaper ads were ineffective and help drive more informed marketing decisions. While Nelson did gather data to make more informed decisions, he also learned that lead quality and advertising effectiveness varied by paper.
Call tracking exposed just how much money was spent on advertising and how much return agents received on that spend. “We showed our team how much money was spent on newspaper advertising and the return on that advertising. Without call tracking, they would never have known that,” said Nelson.
Using Ifbyphone tracking, Premier/Signature Sotheby’s International Realty reduced their newspaper advertising spend by 30% without materially effecting lead flow. They were able to use the data to renegotiate advertising rates, in some cases. In other cases, the data told them “lifestyle advertising” was effective which led to new creative.
“We used Ifbyphone to get print ads in line with where they should be,” said Nelson. “We reinvested these dollars into other advertising mediums that increased our listing’s total exposure.”
Not only did Ifbyphone call tracking help to expose newspaper effectiveness, but it also helped the Premier/Signature Sotheby’s International Realty office in Sarasota increase year over year sales by 25 percent.
Call tracking also addressed Nelson’s second challenge – agent retention. Premier/Signature Sotheby’s International Realty offers increased value to agents in the form of marketing and call reports. Not only do these reports prove marketing effectiveness but they also give the agent a comprehensive list of the calls they received and missed.
“We realized our agents were missing calls because of poor cell reception – you really never know if you’ll have coverage out in the field,” said Nelson. “Ifbyphone call reports gave our agents the opportunity to see what calls they missed and call those leads back.”
“Our agents also get excited about the ‘whisper.’ When agents know where the call is coming from, they immediately know the quality of that lead,” said Nelson. “I believe these added benefits keep our agents happy and productive, which ultimately helps retention.”
Nelson sees Ifbyphone call tracking as an accountability system that proves the value and effectiveness of their marketing spend, and at the same time empowers the agent to be responsible for their business and client list.