It may be time to re-evaluate your real estate blog and possibly even the measures you use to determine it’s success.
The Center for Real Estate & Social Technologies (CREST – because they sparkle!) ran a thought-provoking session at RE BarCamp where they released their findings from their June 2008 survey of the REnet.
This particular survey polled real estate bloggers on their blogging platform, posting frequency, comment activity, feeds, subscriptions, and more.
Full of more than a few interesting tid-bits, a few of the findings are not in line with conventional thinking. Let’s dig in to the results, shall we…?
Who’s blogging in real estate?
65% of the REnet bloggers are agents, 22% are brokers, and the rest are cool folks like me. The median start date is August 1, 2007.
49% use Wordpress as their publishing platform, 47% host the blogs themselves.
Of those blogging in or before 2005, 82% are using Wordpress. Proof that the more blogging services have risen in the marketplace.
How are bloggers promoting their content?
Full text rss feeds are available on 72% of the blogs, with 19% offering partial feeds.
Now, here’s one of those stats that defies conventional thinking:
Serving a full text RSS feed increases average unique visitors per post. Partial feed bloggers received 172 uniques per post in May 2008. Full feed bloggers took in 295 uniques per post. Pretty big difference.
Here’s my thinking on why this may be the case: full text RSS is more engaging. That being the case, I suspect readers are clicking through to read or join in on the comments.
(I’d love to hear why you think this is the case)
Hey CREST… what’s the correlation between full text RSS and number of comments per post?
How important are comments?
Now, about comments… the median number of comments received in May 2008 was 7 with comments per post averaging 1.85.
79% of the blogs received less than 50 total comments in May 2008.
Here’s the thing: consumers aren’t interested in leaving comments on your blog. Don’t get disappointed by lack of comments. Chances are, if you’re getting comments on your blog they’re most likely from other agents. Big whoop.
To better gauge whether you’re connecting with your consumers, take a look at the number of email subscribers you have.
Plug this blog marketing leak.. quickly!
Unfortunately, this is a major problem area for most real estate bloggers. Nearly 57% of bloggers do not give visitors the ability to sign up to receive email alerts.
Here’s my question to those 57%… if your blog exists to gather leads then why the hell aren’t you collecting email addresses? Email addresses are currency for business online.
This is a huge leak in the sales funnel. Luckily, it’s easy enough to remedy….
Head over to Aweber and sign up for an account. You’ll be able to broadcast email messages PLUS automatically broadcast your blog posts via email (this is what I use). If you want to roll with the cheap (free) option then use Feedburner. Options are pretty limited with Feedburner but it’ll work, too.
How often should I post?
What about posting frequency.. how does it affect comment activity? Most responders to the survey were at a median of 12 blog posts in May.
So, 1.85 comments for 12 blog posts? Sure, it doesn’t look like you’re building a responsive readership but… you’re not writing for comments, you’re writing for leads.
Consider making the call to action at the end of your blog posts a “subscribe via email” action or “sign-up for this shiny incentive” (besides, RSS is still so not mainstream).
Here’s another interesting stat: posting more than 10 posts a month diminishes the number of comments you’ll receive per post.
Makes sense since your readers are now having to be more selective about how much time they spend with your posts. Posting once per day? Your readers can’t possibly keep up and consume the vast amount of knowledge you’re pouring on them.
Want more interaction… keep it between 1-10 posts per month.
How many visitors should I receive?
Obviously, the longer your blog has been around the more visits you receive.
Started in 2005: 4195 uniques in May
Started in 2006: 1800 uniques
Started in 2007: 1300 uniques
Started in 2008: 270 uniques
Here’s another interesting tie-in regarding post frequency and reader activity: 30+ posts per month and the number of visits were less than if the author had posted 1-10 articles.
Again, very important that your readers actually be able to consume the information you’re putting out there. If they don’t get value from your writings, then YOU are not valuable.
Blogs offering full text RSS received more unique visits per month compared to half text feeds. 295 versus 172.
Subscriber counts… what’s a good number?
Again, the older the blog the higher the number. But, 64% of bloggers have less than 100 RSS subscribers.
Started in 2005: 200 subscribers
Started in 2006: 82 subscribers
Started in 2007: 30 subscribers
Started in 2008: 7 subscribers
Frankly, measuring RSS subscribers is not a good indicator for the effectiveness of a blog. The general public is still not very RSS savvy, and it’s difficult to directly market to an RSS subscriber… ahem, email!
Okay, so those are the stats that CREST was able to collect (go take their latest survey, by the way).
What should be in future surveys?
Now, I have a few questions for them that may provide more complete stats to better understand the impact and role of the blog in real estate marketing:
- Which markets have the higher proportion of real estate blogs to population, listings, sales, etc?
- How many email subscribers gained via blog?
- How many page views received per visitor?
- How many returning visitors?
- What types of content are agents using on their blogs – keyword stuffing, articles, market data, etc?
- Has public opinion shifted as a result of the growth of real estate blogging?
Answers to the above questions will help in planning the role a blog will play in your real estate marketing and help determine some baseline measures.
Now, here’s an ingenious tactic that I suggest you pay attention to:
One agent makes his posts to his ActiveRain blog and monitors the reaction and feedback it receives. He’s then able to take that info, tweak the post, then publish the modified version to his public Wordpress blog. Very smart.
All in all, some damn good stuff came out from the first survey. I had a really good time talking with Ben Martin and Jovan Hackley of CREST and I know their next survey will prove even more insightful.
EDIT: Here’s CRESTS’s write-up on the results.
I’m really hoping you jump on these results. There’s some gold in here and I’d love the opportunity to discuss them along with what would be good for future surveys. Have at it