They Build Huge Houses But Can't Build Their Marketing
Internet marketing efforts of real estate developers are painful to watch. These people
know how to construct goddamn skyscrapers , but they are so ridiculously lame at selling them it makes me wanna cry.
In order to prove this point, we took a deep look at the internet marketing strategy of 10 major Russian developers. Ignoring Moscow, we directed our righteous wrath at Siberia and the Urals.
Our approach was very serious: we developed a methodology, came up with a rating system, drank a lot of coffee. Then the pleasant part was over. What happened next was only pain, horror and suffering.
Our tears and sorrow as well as endless mistakes developers make and tips to fix them are now all packaged in a cute report. But we’ll talk about it later.
My eyes! MY EYEEEESSS!
To be honest, even calling this report “The Analysis of Internet Marketing” was something I had a hard time bringing myself to do. Three out of ten companies seem to have no idea about the basics of internet marketing.
Here is exhibit 1. The website of Magnitostroy Trust is designed in my favourite style “Hello from the 90s”. Just look at this gem. I am genuinely surprised these people don’t use pagers any more.
By the way, let’s enjoy their Contact Us page. It will blow your mind, guys.
Do you know what else I love? Links that lead nowhere. Can’t get enough of them.
Take our Magnitostroy Trust as an example. Click on the banner for the Interstellar Cottage Estate. Sound promising, right? However, in a second you will understand that this estate is not something you will be over the moon about. To begin with, it’s not even about houses.
Buying a flat out of spite
Some readers might say, “Lena, you are a fault finder. They just made a mistake with the link, it can happen to anyone”. Believe me guys, the Apache cottage estate is just the tip of the iceberg.
It seems like developers deliberately mess up their websites to make it impossible to buy anything from them. So I had no choice but to buy a flat out of spite.
For starters, I decided to take a look at pictures of buildings and window views, read about infrastructure and ecology, and study planning. Usually it’s a helpful way to compare the property with others and make a decision.
Here is the Ugra Star apartment complex developed by the company Northern Construction Technologies.
There are some pictures, yeah, but they are the size of my scary ID photo. On the bright side, the quality is okayish, not every company offers such luxury.
But we should thank Northern Construction Technologies for at least showing me something. Here is another developer called the Siberian and it does not give a damn.
The block of flats has already been built and commissioned, but who cares? Photos, let alone plans, are for losers. Real Siberians get by with nothing but text descriptions.
You can’t picture how this building look like? It’s not our website, it’s your imagination that sucks.
The Siberian gets a C- from me. At least they tried. I managed to see their descriptions. And their apartments are quite cheap: they range from 0 to 0 million rubles. Looks like a bargain.
Speaking of seeing. Take a look at the plans offered by the construction company Dom (“home” in Russian). The font is smaller than in the lowest line of the eyesight test chart. Either they think that their customers have an eagle eye, or they couldn’t care less about customers and their eyes, as well as their own reputation.
You can’t enlarge this plan to take a look at a separate apartment. Use a magnifying glass, ladies and gentlemen.
And now let’s sink to the lowest low. Ah, Magnitostroy Trust, I adore these guys. Their descriptions are on flick.
- Hey, friends! I have bought an apartment! The building is so cool!
- Great! How does it look like?
- Description of the building.
We tested the usability of these websites on real people. Nobody lasted longer than half an hour, poor folks ran away swearing and popping their eyes. So the next step is a challenge. We are going to try and submit a request or a question through the web forms.
Think about it. It’s 2017, and half of the websites use captcha in their forms. CAPTCHA, CARL!
The worst usability award goes to the Tomsk House-Building Company. They require you to specify your email address in every web form, even for services that don’t need your email at all, like Call Me Back or Live Help.
- Hello, is it Live Help? Let’s talk about my new apartment!
- Not so fast, we don’t know each other that well! First give me your email address and phone number!
- But I just wanted to talk!
- Oh, you are all the same!
Natural born sales managers
As Aristotle said, “the website of a Siberian developer doesn’t matter as long as they are good people”. He meant salespeople, of course, as they are the final hurdle between the buyer and the apartment, and some sales managers can fuck up any potential deal in no time.
So, I used my acting talent to transform from Lena the marketer to Katya the apartment-seeker. Three companies decided that I was not even worth a “hello”. Only four managers asked my name. These severe Siberian men had no interest whatsoever in getting acquainted. Again, only four sales reps managed to tell me about the advantages of the property. Six managers figured out it would be a good idea to ask me what I wanted. As many reps were able to respond to my objections. And I was very unhappy! At the end only four managers asked for my contact info. With other two I had to resort to not-so-subtle hints to make them unwillingly take my number. And after everything we’ve been through together only two people called me back.
Here is the final chart with scores in five main areas:
|Brusnika (eng. Cowberry) Stavropol, Yekaterinburg, Tyumen||17||19||8||2||24||70|
|The Strizhi Group (eng. swifts) Novosibirsk Region||13||11||8||3||16||51|
|The Dom Construction Company (eng. home) Tyumen||14||9||9||3||10||45|
|The Monolith Holding, Krasnoyarsk Territory||0||17||5||0||16||38|
|Northern Construction Technologies, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District||19||10||4||0||5||38|
|Domstroy-Barnaul, Altai Territory||7||17||5||0||4||33|
|The Tomsk House-building Company, Tomsk||0||9||3||4||13||29|
|Nord West, Irkutsk||0||8||5||0||4||17|
|The Siberian, Krasnoyarsk Territory||0||9||6||0||0||15|
|Magnitostroy Trust, Chelyabinsk||0||3||9||0||0||12|
The maximum score was 121 points. However, not a single company managed to get close to this level. The best result belongs to Brusnika, which scored slightly more than a half (58%) of total possible points. My favourite company from the 90s, of course, came first. From the end, though. Magnitostroy Trust got only 12 points out of 121.
Who is to blame and what is to be done?
You are now sitting there feeling all humiliated. Or maybe you are gloating. Anyway, you want to ask me, “Lena, it’s certainly very interesting, but what should be done?”. Specifically for the most curious of you we have prepared a huge tome, which I mentioned at the very beginning of this article. Look how nice it is!
This report will provide you with:
- the Leadmachine principles of marketing evaluation (to assess your own work, the work of contractors or competitors);
- mistakes, mistakes, and smart tricks we managed to find;
- sales departments audit results;
- tips on what to do, and how to be good at it;
- and a small bonus - a video with the best moments of usability testing and communication with sales managers.