This is a real estate website where agents can advertise their properties. Two years ago we've started as a FREE service to gain customers and visits. Now after a lot of investment we need to start charging for the service at least a part of the customers.
The problem is that they have very few leads per month so if we ask them for a fixed monthly fee most of them would probably decide to cancel their account and we will lose them.
The website produces leads but not enough to give enough value for every customer.
We are currently trying to increase our organic traffic from search engines that will mean an increase in our leads but this takes a lot of time until it will be enough.
In the meanwhile we don't know wich would be the best way to treat our customers so they can have results and be happy while we are happy for charging something for the service.
Our current policy for the old customers is: From September everyone must pay a monthly fee based on the quantity of properties published.
For the new customers: They get 3 months for free and then they will be in the same situation as the old ones.
But with this policy I think nobody, or very few will actually accept to continue.
I was thinking in allocating 50% of the income from the monthly fee of every customer to advertise only their content on PPC like Adwords and so. That way, if they pay they will get more results. But how do I convince them that they will get more if they pay if until now they have got very few results?
Most of our competitors use the model: first you pay, then you can use the service. I have also seen other models like:
- Publish as many properties as you want for free but pay a PRO account if you want more leads
- Publish everything free and we make money from other ads (basic classifieds website)
Our current product/services is/are:
- Register and advertise all of your properties
- Import them all from a XML file
- Auto advertising on our main website and also on our secondary websites (5 more with low level of visits)
Our competition also offer this paid products:
- Highlighted ads
- Highlighted profesional in your area
- A website if you don't have
Here we are having trouble deciding on what kind of business model we should follow and in what activities we should invest to bring more value for our customers. I am now about to cancel a few old paid accounts, lose them as customers and lose the content they have published.
If anyone with experience in this kind of business can give me some advices to make this work, I will remain grateful forever.
PS: We have no marketing guy on the phone right now until we have a clear vision of our business, and because we want to try to do most of the sales online trough the website.