Going into 2014, one thing is perfectly clear: You've got to go mobile or go home. Last year, scores of consumers took to their smartphones in search of everything from kids' toys to sports apparel to real estate. And real estate got some major mobile action.
‘[Zillow] saw record usage with its array of mobile apps in 2013, as more than 60 percent of Zillow's visits came from a mobile device, with weekend traffic topping more than 70 percent,’ Geekwire.com recently reported. ‘Home shoppers spent more than five billion minutes on Zillow's 27 apps and viewed homes more than 2.5 billion times, up 150 percent from 2012.’
Obviously, more real estate brokers are getting with the program and getting online per handheld devices. However, this means more than just a responsive website. To get in the game, you must also be developing a proactive marketing strategy that stands out from other competitors on the mobile highway.
Yet the numbers of major brands jumping on the handheld bandwagon are still surprisingly low. According to Uberflip, a content marketing provider, only 25% of companies have a defined mobile strategy.
‘The numbers are startling – the majority of companies admit to not having a mobile strategy – and my guess is that those who think that they have a mobile strategy are misinformed. They think that simply having an app or a mobile-friendly website suffices for a strategy,’ says Neil Bhapkar, vice president of marketing for Uberflip. ‘Fortunately brands are starting to get wise with things like responsive design and HTML5 Web apps vs. native apps, and marketers are allocating more and more budget to mobile advertising.’
Forbes echoes this finding, stating that the problem may lie in navigating this current technological terrain. ‘Consumers are spending more than half their time online on the mobile web, and smartphone conversion rates prove how lucrative that habit is for marketers: 79 percent of smartphone users are 'smartphone buyers,'’ Forbes reports. ‘A lot of marketers know they should be accommodating our new, more mobile online habits, but haven't been given straightforward advice on just how to do that.’
Apparently, this crosses over into the real estate auction field as well. Last year, our annual survey found that only 41% of our respondents offered a mobile version of their company website in 2012. We expect to see a rise in those numbers for the upcoming year. Again though, many are unsure of where to begin.
Having a mobile website is an essential place to start. The benefits are plentiful: mobile websites are cross-platform accessible to users of various devices, such as Android, iPhone, etc. These websites are easily updated so viewers can access up-to-the-minute information on listings, prices, and inspection dates among other details. Having a mobile website also means that you can plant your link in a plethora of highly-trafficked areas, such as Facebook, Twitter, blog sites, PR links, all which will increase your online presence across a host of devices. Getting your listings on top sites like Zillow and Trulia will also direct viewers to your mobile website during their searches.
Mobile marketing can be incorporated into print and direct mail ads as well. By now everyone is on board with adding QR codes to postcard listings to link to a mobile website for a specific listing by simply scanning the code on their Smartphone. There's also the nearly effortless and highly effective text message marketing – this serves as a time saver for both the client and the realtor, where potential buyers can text in an SMS keyword to an assigned number and get the information they are seeking without having to call or email the broker. In turn, the broker receives the inquirer's contact information from the text message and can follow up at a later time. This exchange results in a valuable potential client base for brokers by collecting data from interested real estate seekers.
To add a more aggressive facet to your mobile marketing plan, include a pay-per-click strategy. Since web browsers are compatible with all the major search engines such as Google and Yahoo, it can be quite profitable to implement a Pay-Per-Click campaign on these high-profile search engines, where your ads are practically guaranteed to be seen by countless viewers.
Bottom line: technology is advancing at warp speed so whether you love it or are fighting the current, you've got to dive into the mobile marketing pool with both feet if you want to not only keep your head above water, but be swimming ahead of the pack.
Ori Klein is founder and president of PropertyAuction.com, a niche marketing website dedicated exclusively to real estate auctions. Klein has more than 20 years experience in real estate marketing and technology, focusing on the auction sector of the real estate industry.