Purplebricks are relentless when it comes to marketing. Their huge budget see’s them promoting their services on TV, radio and big sponsorship deals. But how well is this marketing doing when it comes to getting people to visit their site (and then convert to actual business)?
This isn’t another Purplebricks bashing article talking about missed targets, declining share price and reviews etc! Whether you like to admit it, their marketing is on point. Their quirky ads and slogans get the attention that’s made them a house-hold name.
In this article we’ll explore the outcome of some of the Purplebricks marketing efforts, including
- Are more people visiting Purplebricks’ website?
- Are fewer people searching for ‘Purplebricks’ on Google?
- What keywords are Purplebricks going after to get site traffic?
- Does sponsoring Team GB help site traffic and by how much?
- Where else are Purplebricks getting site traffic from?
- How are Purplebricks approaching pay per click ads?
Purplebricks organic traffic
Organic traffic means how many people are visiting Purplebricks’ site either by entering their website directly (i.e. typing in purplebricks.co.uk) or by clicking on their site via a search engine placement (unpaid).
Prior to this year, Purplebricks got their highest organic site traffic back in 2018, with 503k monthly visits.
This year Purplebricks have broken that previous peak 4 times, with the highest monthly site traffic being obtained in July with 554k visitors.
How did Purplebricks achieve this?
Purplebricks sponsored Team GB in the delayed olympics that took place in 2021 which no doubt brought a massive amount of exposure for the brand.
The olympics schedule coincided with Purplebricks obtaining it’s highest ever number of site visitors in July.
The cost of sponsoring Team GB would have been in the millions based on Aldi sponsoring the team for £10m. While the sales news is yet to be announced it’s not clear if the sponsorship has provided a healthy return.
However, for the latest quarter the site traffic since the Olympics took place has been 41% higher compared to the average number of monthly visitors since 2019.
Purplebricks also launched a big budget TV campaign in September 2021. While this is still relatively new, October has seen a spike in traffic off the back of decreased periods in August & September. On YouTube alone one of it’s adverts has got 2 million views!
November will provide further indication in regards to if the TV campaign drives more people to the Purplebricks platform.
How does Purplebricks site traffic compare to its competitors?
If you add YOPA to the list, their organic visits have broken it’s peak and the last 4 month average has been the best yet for the company.
YOPA achieved these peaks in the absence of any major sponsorships or TV campaigns.
YOPA’s site traffic is only 31% (161k) of what Purplebricks achieve. However they have increased their average number of visitors by 61% compared to the previous 2 years.
If YOPA maintains their massive upward trend, using what seems ‘low key’ methods, it could pose a longer term problem for Purplebricks as they lose positioning in the agency digital marketing battlefield.
This brings into question has Purplebricks’ marketing paid off?
Sort of… They’ve broken their previous site visitor records and it’s yet to be determined if this translates into market share and sales.
Furthermore Purplebricks have done an amazing job at becoming a brand name.
This ‘upfront’ marketing spending is likely to yield many benefits in the years to come which at this stage is difficult to quantify.
But YOPA’s growth in terms of site visits is massive, in the absence of major TV ads and sponsorship deals (well, on the scale of Purplebrick). If their growth continues it could eat more into Purplebricks’ market share.
Are people searching for Purplebricks on Google?
Google search statistics are great for analysing trends and what sellers and landlords are looking for.
How often people are searching for a brand name helps show how popular the services of a company are in demand and if there’s an upward/downward trend.
If we take a look at the last 3 months’ search term traffic, we can see that the term ‘purplebricks’ has remained static in regards to the amount it’s being searched for.
Note, this is different to organic traffic which is actual site clicks, whereas Google search traffic is how many people searched for a term, not necessarily clicked on the Purplebricks site.
However if we take a look further back, ‘Purplebricks’ is for sure being searched for fewer times than previous periods on Google.
Never has there been a 3 month consecutive period where the term has been searched for at the current low volume.
If you removed April 2020 which saw the first lockdown and December months, the term has never had a single month being searched for this infrequently.
Adding to this decline, the next 3 out of 4 highest searched terms related to Purplebricks have also massively declined.
‘Purplebricks estate agents’, ‘purple bricks reviews’ and ‘purple bricks for sale’ have declined by 45%, 19% and 19% respectively.
Notably, searches for ‘purplebricks complaints’ have increased by 27% over the last 3 months.
Could this decline be a wider trend across the industry?
There is an argument that the slow down in Google searches could be down to wider industry trends.
Let’s take a look at the term ‘online estate agents’ which of course is a term Purplebricks is massively related to. The term did see a decline in September, reducing by 17% vs the previous month.
However June, July and August 2021 search volume wasn’t particularly low compared to previous years. This indicates that it’s not a wider trend issue impacting the search volume for Purplebricks.
The below graph shows the Google traffic for the terms ‘estate agent’ and ‘letting agent’, which are extremely healthy.
There isn’t a trend across the property industry in terms of a Google search decline, this looks like a Purplebricks problem.
What about YOPA’s Google search volume?
The amount of times ‘YOPA’ was searched for on Google declined in September, matching the decline in the same month for the term ‘online estate agent’
However, overall (sorry to annoy anyone from Purplebricks reading this) YOPA is doing far better than previous years, omitting the peak seen as the 1st UK lockdown was lifted.
In summary, less people are searching for Purplebricks related terms on Google, while a big competitor’s Google traffic (YOPA) seems to be stable in the absence of a wider industry decline in Google traffic.
Purplebricks Google Ad spend analysis
Google Ad’s are Google search result’s ugly cousin. You can pay for your company to be placed high on Google search results to get clicks.
It’s great to get more traffic, especially if you aren’t ranking well organically.
So what is Purplebricks’ behaviour towards paying for Google Ads?
They for sure are spending a lot but nowhere near what they used to.
In the last 30 days, they spent appx £176,000 on Google Ads.
This pales in comparison vs their previous Google Ad spend of £500,000 a month. To be fair this figure probably included launches into other global territories.
Purplebricks paid click spend shouldn’t be interpreted as they are taking things lightly.
They are by far one of, if not THE biggest spenders in their market on Google Ads.
A comparison against YOPA indicates they shouldn’t really be on the same graph
On the subject of paid ads, the Purplebricks approach seems to be different to that of competitors.
The most paid for key terms are “how much is my house worth” and “estate agent” (if you exclude bidding for their brand name).
These search terms and the way Purplebricks have their ads set up, could have potential problems.
For instance, people are nosey and just want to see how much their house is worth, regardless of if there is an intent to sell. The term “how much is my house worth” will for sure attract these people.
Furthermore their ‘estate agent’ visitors are sent to a generic page, not a region specific page.
People may prefer the local touch when it comes to selling property.
YOPA seem to be jumping on that approach.
They’ve targeted each location separately and rather than sending site visitors to a generic valuation or estate agent page.
Instead they’ve created a page for the targeting locations, with images and details of their ‘man/woman’ on the ground.
Other sites talking about Purplebricks
A great way to place high on Google rankings is to get other sites talking about you and provide you with a backlink (link from another site to yours).
When a site starts getting more backlinks, it indicates a push to rank higher on Google to try to get more organic site traffic.
To get other sites to link to you, you’re either producing research, paying for sponsored posts or there’s news about your business.
The below graph shows new backlinks Purplebricks are obtaining.
While there is an increase in the new backlinks, it’s a far slower incline than a handful of other estate agents and other online estate or letting agents.
While the focus for Purplebricks is clearly television and paid clicks, there isn’t as much of an organic search growth push vs what others in the industry are doing.
The biggest places Purplebricks are featured
We talked previously about how backlinks help a company rise in Google rankings.
But it’s not just the volume of backlinks that’s important. The amount of clicks that page gets and the manner in which a company is talked about is vital. A company doesn’t want to be talked poorly about on a page that gets thousands of visitors.
For Purplebricks, there are a few bad apples in it’s backlink profile.
One such case is from the news site WIRED. They have a page investigating reviews of Purplebricks.
The article comments on “cherry picked” and “manipulated” reviews.
So what? All companies get some bad posts about them.
The bad news for Purplebricks is that this page gets over 5,000 views a month.
To create even a more grave picture, this article ranks high on Google for key terms related to Purplebricks:
- 6th for the term ‘purplebricks’
- 4th for the term ‘purple bricks reviews’
- 1st for the term ‘are purple bricks any good’
- 2nd for the term ‘purplebricks trustpilot’
The below table shows the extent that this article ranks for Purplebricks related terms
Another prominent article on Purplebricks written by Money Saving Expert calls out Purplebricks for being “Most well known – but most expensive” in the context of online estate agents.
This is not something you want to be known for if you’re targeting people who want to sell a house cheaply or looking for low letting agent fees.
This article gets 2,800 visitors a month and ranks in the 1st position on Google for “selling a house”, “costs of selling a house” and “how to sell your house quickly”.
If you add up all the ‘negative’ articles on popular Purplebricks related search terms, they get 14,000 visitors a month.
The consequences, although difficult to measure precisely, for sure account for a loss of some sales, especially considering the number of challenger brands entering the space.
Purplebricks’ keyword ranking
Estate agents can get traffic on Google through various key terms that are being searched for.
The holy grail is an estate agents site showing on Google for the key term “estate agent”. The term is searched for 110,000 times a month.
This term is very difficult to rank high on Google for, plus there will be an element of Google selecting agent sites based on the locality of where the person searching is based.
For Purplebricks specifically, a huge keyword to rank for would be ‘online estate agent’. Although this key term has far fewer search volume on a monthly basis (6,000), the quality of the audience is far better. This key term is likely to be searched for people looking to sell their property via an online agent.
As this is exactly what Purplebricks are, it’s achievable to rank 1st for this term.
So are Purplebricks capitalising on the search traffic for both these words?
Purpbricks’ vast digital marketing effort is getting less than 1% of the traffic for both ‘estate agent’ and ‘online estate agent’.
The traffic for the term ‘estate agent’ is being captured by other big players in the industry*, Foxtons, Your-Move and Savills.
The traffic for ‘online estate agent’ is being picked up by SOLD, My Online Estate Agent and Doorsteps.
* based on a London locality
Purplebricks is however taking advantage of other key terms that have less traffic, but have a higher likelihood of obtaining property sellers for the estate agency.
Variations of the search term “sell my house” get appx 10,000 searches a month.
As the term indicates, most people using this term will be looking for someone to help them sell their house!
Purplebricks gets 50% of the traffic for these search terms organically – a massive achievement!
This is likely supplying the firm with a solid base of organic (free) traffic and seller leads
Purplebricks – a marketing genius with a few issues
Purplebricks have done an amazing job in getting people to know who they are and what their brand is about.
However a lot of money has been spent and continues to do so, with organic search improvements seemingly being put on the backburner.
Whether or not Purplebricks organically ranks well or gets the right traffic, if the company converts well and sells more properties, it may all not matter. They’d rather be a site with declining site traffic and higher sales than vice versa.
The influx of new online agents is for sure eating into the amount of features/backlinks, search ranking improvements and potential market share the company gets.
But money talks if spent in the right places. Through mega spend on TV ads, sponsoring Team GB and an amazing platform, the platform is there for Purplebricks to win the online estate agent war and reep the rewards.