Chad Jones sent me a quote from one of his best clients:
I want you to honestly tell me if virtual tours are in the way out of fashion because I have been on the phone with realtor.com complaining that no one is looking at the tours from their website on most all of my listings got the past 90 days and they say nothing is wrong with their system of capturing hits and it is just that people are in a hurry now a days and the just look at the 25 Photos and don't care about that any more and I should quit wasting money producing them. I have gone up the line all the way to a VP of marketing and he confirmed what customer service said. I doesn't seem possible that I can get Thousands of page views per week on many of my listings on Realtor.com which is still the main go to for Real Estate listings and not have anyone click to view the tour. We are getting some tour views from the other search engines based on the reports you send me.
Chad wanted my opinion on the subject. Here's what I told Chad:
- I can believe that tour links on big national sites and brokers sites don't get many clicks compared to what the listing pages on those sites get. Tour links are hard to find, don't standout and there are so few tours on these sites that users are not used to clicking on tour links. But this is not a reason to give up tours.
- These sites want users to stay on their site, and not go clicking off to a tour and maybe never come back. So they are not inclined to highlight tour links or make them easy to find or be tour friendly.
- I believe the main benefit of a tour is to have a link where you (the agent)
- controls the contents and has a place to use outstanding media that presents the home much stronger way than Realtor.com, Zillow.com or a broker's site. Outstanding media can be, 360 images, large photos, music, narration track and video.
- You can use the tour to use on the home flyer and the for sale sign rider.
- Which way would you rather have your home presented 1) Realtor.com listing page or 2) a custom tour. To me there is no contest, I'll take the custom tour! This listing is my home I currently have on the market. I have a link to the custom tour on the for sale sign and flyer. I really don't expect to have thousands of visits per week to this tour, but I want those that see the sign and the flyer (those that are physically close to the property) to have access to a knockout presentation of the home.
- I seriously doubt there has been any big recent change in tour usage. I did several studies of the North West MLS in 2006 and 2007 and tour usage was very low (around 8% of listings). I think this low percentage just shows that only the top agents are using tours.
- I kept track of the effectiveness of various forms marketing we did for our real estate business for 10 years and concluded that custom tours are effective and worth the cost and effort and make both the agent and the property standout. I believe that is still true.
Tours have always been about going above and beyond in your marketing and doing more than your competition is. As with everything else it's only the top 5 to 10 percent that are going to be willing to go above and beyond. It's always been like that and probably always will.
Chad and I would be interested in hearing others experiences on this subject. Do you think that tours are old fashion.