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What Questions You're Marketing Manager Should Be Asking Comparison Websites
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What Questions You’re Marketing Manager Should Be Asking Comparison Websites

Written by Sam | November 20, 2020

I want to write this email from a comparison website point of view. This will help you spot the ones making the right movements and making sure they are going in the right direction if they are a relatively new start up.

Conversions

In todays world we are obsessed with impressions, views etc, however, what REALLY matters is how long someone viewed the video, how many people clicked through to your website and how many people stayed on your website and inquired on the student accommodation.

What doesn’t matter is how many views they get to their website, how many people see their video because although it may float the ego, the only thing that pays the bills is bookings and that requires actions.

You should be asking, how many inquiries they are getting in a certain period, what is their strongest location and seller. These questions will help you determine whether your product will fit in with their current demographic.

Finally, I can make a great advert, tell you that it got 1 million impressions, but no one clicked through to the site.

How Do They Reach Different Students To You?

What is their marketing strategy? Are they putting all their eggs into one basket of social media ads or are they mixing online and offline marketing. If they mention that they are just a digital marketing company then that’s a red flag for me, all marketers know that online X offline has a greater compound effect than online X online. Mark Ritson has written extensively about this.

Even online companies branch out into different marketing campaigns because there are more ways to reach students than FB & Google Ads.

With smaller companies, they have to be more creative to reach students because if they don’t they will end up in a price war with accommodation providers who have a lot of money to spend on ad spend and other marketing.

As they are nimble and smaller they can be creative and react faster to events compared to a big company.

How Do They Engage Students

Focus on how they attract students and engage students, because ultimately, those who do this will have a bigger following and are likely to increase that over the following years.

Many companies now will rely on ads and ads are a great way to bring people into your space, however, it is what happens next. Many talks of funnels, pipelines, and all these other bits and it is entirely what works for you, however, focus on how they engage students and what they are doing.

Do they bring people in and then engage with them through IGTV, Reels, Facebook Lives, Email Campaigns, YouTube or WhatsApp Broadcasts.

If you can, sign up for some of these services, they might not be much use to you, but you can then see what is being sent. This will help you to understand how they engage students and get them to take action of booking properties.

Brands

This can be both business and personal, either way one of the most important parts of a company is the brand. As a student accommodation provider you might position yourself in the market to be affordable, luxurious, sustainable, design led, or anything else, so when you partner with a company you really want to look at what their brand is and what they want to be.

I don’t mean, the all time leading student booking agent, many will have a goal like that, here they need a purpose of some kind. For example, ours is that we only list good quality student accommodation and letting agents. This includes their service and not just the quality of the house.

This means that we position ourselves away from the baseline student accommodation because usually it doesn’t offer what we want to promote. We want to make sure students have a good experience and they are more likely to stay there another year and have positive experiences.

If you partner with the wrong brand or referral agent then it can become a bit of a nightmare, because you don’t want your brand to be dragged down.

How can you potentially spot one of these:

  • No regards for students or accommodation providers
  • Will happily list a lot of student accommodation, even if it is unsafe
  • Cut Corners to make easy wins

There will be many others but this is what I have found.

Bots, Bots & More Bots

In the online world bots can be very useful, they can crawl your website and list it in google, however, on the flip side it can have a negative effect, if you are running ads, bots can hit the site, creating website views to go up and bounce rate to increase and conversions to go down. This is because the interaction isn’t human, it’s an instantaneous one.

If they are running ads, I would just check to see if they have done anything to prevent this because your referrals will be lower from the agent and they will be spending more. This way you won’t be asked to increase referral prices and the agent can refer humans for student accommodation!

Summary

To round it all up, there is plenty more I could talk about and will add it all in as I go along.

Don’t focus just on website hits and views, these are ego boosters. Ask what booking rate they have, how do they get them to take action because this is ultimately what is going to make you, the accommodation provider, money. Website views do not make you money, so please do not judge everything on website views.

By focusing on the key metrics you can start to understand where they are at.

Look at how they engage students and what do they offer, make sure that their brand aligns with yours and see if you can partner in ways to make it work for both of you. You don’t want to end up with a bad agent due to something that could of been avoided!

By engaging students, they are likely to grow their following in the future because of the engagement. The best example of this so far this year (2020) is TikTok. Engagement and comments trumps all!

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