Zoopla is shifting its media strategy, making its above-the-line and brand communications investment more focused and “pulsey” as it looks to create more integrated marketing campaigns with a greater focus on content as it shifts attention from raising awareness to improving consideration.
Speaking to Marketing Week, Zoopla’s new CMO Gary Bramall has identified changing the marketing mix as a key area of opportunity for the brand as it doubles down on growing the property division of the business after private equity firm Silver Lake Partners acquired it for £2.2bn last year.
That doesn’t mean the hermit crabs campaign, which launched in 2017, will end. But he wants to elevate the role of product in its advertising and get more people to the point of purchase. That can be seen in the latest TV spots, which aired last month and focus on its AgentFinder tool.
“[The campaign] has really improved the utility of the brand,” he says. “We’ll be using above-the-line advertising and more traditional brand communications but they’ll probably be a little more focused and more pulsey than what we’ve done in the past.
“There’s a time and place for that type of activity but we need the mix of channels to work and that’s something I’m going to be focused on – changing the mix of our marketing output rather than going gung-ho with single channel activity, whether that be PR, above-the-line or whatever. We need more integrated marketing.”
He adds: “We’ve got 92% brand awareness, that isn’t a problem. The challenge is around that point of purchase and consideration.”
To do that, Zoopla will be focusing much more on content and the company is currently recruiting for its first head of content role. The hope is that by bringing more of a content focus in-house, Zoopla can make better use of its data and improve its search engine ranking, with search engine optimisation increasingly important given that 90% of property searches start online.
He cites the example of its Hometrack brand, which provides property information and data to the BBC but he believes offers more opportunities. By bringing content in-house, Zoopla hopes search will also become more cost effective because it will reduce pay-per-click (PPC) spend.
We’ve got 92% brand awareness, that isn’t a problem. The challenge is around that point of purchase and consideration.
Gary Bramall, Zoopla
“We know that SEO drives a significant portion of our search volumes and we believe that improving our ranking and SEO is fundamental. Our content strategy and the way we disseminate our content, connect our content to other parties and vendors, is fundamental to driving our organic search,” he explains.
That focus on data informs how Zoopla hires across the business and in marketing. He describes the marketers at the company as “more science than art”. “The data team is everyone at Zoopla; we hire people who are inquisitive, analytical and use data and insights to make decisions,” he adds.
Bramall’s role at Zoopla is new and comes after the previous CMO, Gareth Helm, left the group having reorganised it into two separate divisions focused on property and comparison. Bramall says while there are still opportunities for the two to work together, especially in areas like mortgages and utilities, separating the two has allowed for more focus on the individual sectors.
“Zoopla’s founder had a big vision of how this all connects and that vision is still true. But what we’ve acknowledged is there is probably a bigger opportunity and ability to move faster if we are more focused on individual sectors and then look to bridge as and when needed,” he explains.
“We’ve both got an opportunity to accelerate and get a lead position, and we can do that better individually.”
For the property side of the business, there are two areas of focus. The first is on estate agents, getting as many signed up to use the site and its CRM tool as it can.
The second is the consumer portal, with Bramall seeing more potential to educate and help customers so they come back to the site more often. He hopes the company can use its data to build trust – whether with estate agents around valuations or with consumers around property value, and where and when to move.
“If people feel more confident and comfortable in making smarter property decisions then we should be a catalyst for change and get more people to do more things more often in terms of moving and making property decisions,” he says.
“We are a nation of property obsessives. Having lived and worked in Germany for the last three years, they’re just not. Ownership isn’t really the institutional bastion it is here. It’s rare from a marketer’s perspective that you get to have such a key role to play in people’s lives, that’s an incredible opportunity and something I feel very privileged and optimistic about.”