Updated referral statistics

The updated pie chart below shows the relative click-thru traffic from major real estate portals; i.e. consumer destination sites where RealBird listings are syndicated to (automatically or manually). It is based on the web analytics data of the last 200,000 click-throughs to RealBird single property websites:


Some notes and assumptions:

  • Craigslist is a manual distribution option for which we provide all the instructions and code. However, – due to the fact that it requires agents to manually post their listings after entering them in RealBird – the number of RealBird listings published on Craigslist is much less than the number of listings automatically syndicated to portals (Trulia, Zillow etc.). The traffic ratio of Craigslist would be way higher if all RealBird listings were published there as well by our members.
  • Trulia and Zillow consumer traffic is comparable (see Compete.com) but the click-through traffic from Trulia is almost three times as much. I suspect, that this is due to the fact, that Trulia has a big, prominent button “See more photos and details” linking to the RealBird property sites, while Zillow has a smaller, regular link on their property pages. In other words, Trulia’s property page is more click-through friendly, hence more consumers actually end-up on the RealBird listing websites.
  • Since our number of syndicated listings is relatively small compared to the whole for-sale, active, US listing dataset, this chart does not implies in any ways the importance of those sites in terms of consumer traffic or the level of exposure your listing will receive. Statistically speaking, this chart can not be used as a base for making projections on traffic of the included portals. Our dataset is not a representation of such information. It only shows the distribution of traffic sources to the RealBird dataset. Use Compete.com or Quantcast.com for more accurate info on this.

    Update: Based on the conversation with Sara from Zillow (see comments below), I’d like to emphasize it again, that the chart shows the ratio of referral traffic only, which does not have direct relationship with other metrics, like lead conversion etc. For example: one may receive more leads directly on the sites we syndicate to, without the user ever clicking-thru to the RealBird listing website (hence no referral traffic is tracked).

  • It is interesting to see that the click-throu traffic from Overstock.com is higher than the traffic from Vast.com, even though OverStock.com’s real estate classifieds are powered by Vast.com. It is probably due to the fact, that Overstock has way higher traffic than Vast.com (See Compete.com for details)
  • We decided to include ActiveRain traffic that is not click-through referral, but impressions of RealBird widgets embedded on ActiveRain. It may artificially improved the relative rank though. We did so, because we wanted to emphasize the importance of posting listing widgets on ActiveRain, and because we could not find an easy way to separate the two types of web analytics data

Other notable sources of traffic are: Geebo.com,Walmart Classifieds and recently, StumbleUpon

Thank you for Juliet Johnson for making us create an updated chart 🙂

— Zoltan

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  1. To comment on your second bullet on why Trulia is driving more clicks than Zillow, I don’t think button design has nearly as much to do with it as the amount of content available to the user on each site. On Zillow we provide the user with all listing detail information and all photos available, Trulia provides much less information and one photo requiring the user to click over to see additional photos. Forcing the user to do this to see additional photos is obviously going to drive more clicks, the question becomes then, what is the quality of these clicks? Are they actually turning into leads?
    Two weeks ago another popular syndication service sought to answer this question by commissioning an in depth study ( http://www.listhub.net/08-ListHub-NNRMLS-CASE-STUDY.pdf ). They too looked at clicks, but then took it a step further and measured lead conversion. They found that 21% of Zillow’s referrals turned into leads while 8% of Trulia’s traffic did so. Basically their numbers said that Trulia would have to drive approximately 5 times the amount of traffic that Zillow does, in order to generate the same amount of leads. I think a lot of this has to do with how much information is presented to the user upfront before it is necessary to click off. Similar ratios could be found if you compared Google Base with Yahoo, two different content strategies again.
    I think it is a great service that you offer listing syndication, and I think it is great that you are helping your clients understand the various traffic portals better by measuring and tracking the results.

  2. Sara – Thanks for commenting and elaborating on the post’s assumptions. Very good points. I am going to update the post to emphasize what I already stated in Point 3, i.e., the chart is in no way a representation of the exposure (lead conversion rate etc) a listing gets on different sites we syndicate to. I agree, that the ultimate metrics is not the click-through, but the lead capturing but for our own value proposition (syndication in this case) it is equally good if the lead is captured on the 3rd party sites, such as Zillow and Trulia, or on the RealBird single property sites after a click-through. We do not have data to make educated conclusion on the lead conversion rates, so I can not comment on that, but an emphasize of your points and the fact that click-through rate does not directly relate to lead conversion rate are something which deserve to be emphasized.
    — Zoltan Szendro

  3. Hi Zoltan!
    Very interesting post.
    We’re happy to see these numbers about our traffic. Trulia has around 5 million unique users per month – 72% of them are looking to buy or sell in the next 12 months. It’s one of the largest home buying audiences in the US and we continue to grow rapidly. We are extremely focused on delivering great marketing services to our agent and broker partners.
    Note – the case study that Sarah mentioned was from a single listing provider in a single geographic region. That region is Nevada which is a very unique market right now. Everyone knows that real estate is local and every market is different and you can’t suggest that one market is representative of the entire US.
    Social Media Guru at Trulia

  4. Hello Rudy,
    Thanks for commenting and adding to the discussion. I probably should extend the post stating what the chart does not mean. Seriously. You have a great point as well. Geographic distribution does matter. Some consumer RE sites may outperform the other in certain geographic areas, while the other one is more effective in other markets. Our listing dataset is in no way homogeneous nationwide either. Unfortunately, we do not have such detailed level of information, so the chart does not represent such metrics.
    In summary, our chart shows the referral traffic distribution of the last 200,000 referrals to the RealBird single property websites. I agree, that there are two reasons why some may click-through to the original listing websites: 1) how much content there is to stay on the destination site and contact the listing agent directly from there 2) how intuitive it is to identify what to click on, if one wants more information. Link and button placement do matter, just like in case of online ads: the ad placement on the page, contrast vs blend-in etc.
    The ultimate conversion point is probably when a visitor become an actual client. Unfortunately, there are no way to track this, as most of these final closing actions happen offline, over the phone, personal meetings, at open houses etc. The last trackable conversation point is when a casual visitor actually contacts the listing agent, which we refer to as leads. Even though averaging leads is misleading as some might be warm, while the others are cold. I wish there is a way to track conversion from online listing promotion to actual closing, following the workflow form online through offline activities.
    Once again, in my personal opinion, both Trulia and Zillow (plus as many more places as possible) is a must have destination for every online listing advertisement.
    Thanks Sara and Rudy for participating in this discussion.
    — Zoltan

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