Let’s face it. If you’re not using mobile, you’re not growing your business. According to Google, mobile accounted for 50% of all real estate queries in 2015 and 56% of all real estate listing searches were done on mobile devices.
But utilizing mobile effectively can be a challenge. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors®, 46% of real estate firms have said that one of their biggest challenges is keeping up with changing technology. Apple’s App store currently has 2 MILLION apps and new ones are popping up every day. The struggle is real.
Lucky for you, relentless innovation is in our DNA and we constantly stay up to date and share the latest technology.
Branded Agent Apps
Is your site mobile responsive? If not, that should be your number 1 priority. 50% of past and current home buyers say they are more likely to use a competitor’s site if they visit a mobile site/app that isn’t easy to use. 30% said that they would stop using the brand altogether. If your site isn’t mobile responsive, not only are you losing all of the potential leads who are searching on mobile devices, Google is also actively reducing traffic to sites that are not optimized for mobile.
If your site is already mobile responsive, great! But don’t stop there. In 2015, 57% of home buyers used a mobile app during their home search compared to just 1% in 2007.
SEO and online marketing expert Jayson DeMers predicts, “A mobile-optimized site works wonders for appealing to the mobile crowd, but soon, apps will begin to replace them. Apps can do everything that websites can, except in more intuitive, convenient, accessible ways.”
There are hundreds of consumer home-buying search apps that your potential leads can select if they don’t want to search the web using their phone. That’s why a branded app is becoming a necessity. And we don’t just mean an app that takes a home buyer to a mobile responsive website. A branded app allows a complete search experience for your clients AND it ensures your contact information & picture will always be front and center. This helps you stay top of mind during their search. With the Houses.net App from CINC, home buyers can receive push notifications with personalized property recommendations, save properties they love and share them with family and friends, and schedule an appointment with you to view a home.
People still search for homes by simply driving around and looking for homes for sale. But don’t be fooled. Those people are using their phones and wearable devices to get real-time data. According to Google, searches related to home buying are highest over the weekend when people are likely touring neighborhoods and visiting open houses. You, as the agent, can provide the real-time data they demand by using beacon technology on your yard signs. Beacon technology has been around for a few years and has been mostly adopted in the retail space, but its popularity in real estate is starting to increase.
What exactly is beacon technology? Beacons use Bluetooth technology to allow our mobile devices to alert apps and websites when we approach or leave a location (if you have opted in). iBeacon by Apple is the most popular form of the technology used right now, but new ones are popping up quickly.
How can you use this to your advantage? Sensors near your property can detect people in the vicinity and then offer them your listing information, automate check-ins to the property, and give an electronic version of a guided property tour. If a buyer is interested, you can even send documents to sign via iBeacon.
If you aren’t useful in the moment, not only will consumers move on, they might not ever come back.
Video, video, video
According to the National Association of Realtors, YouTube is the most popular video medium home buyers use to research listings with 51% of them using the platform to search the market. Google reports that, in 2015, views of real estate videos were up 13% YoY on YouTube and one in five future home buyers indicate that they’d use a mobile device to watch a video. The bottom line is that home buyers. and especially millennials, love video. The recent introduction and popularity of Instagram Stories, Facebook Live, and Snapchats are further confirmation.
While we acknowledge that videos made with mobile phones aren’t the highest quality, they should definitely be part of your marketing mix. Videos are a powerful way to connect online and add authenticity to your brand. Snap or create an Insta story demonstrating your knowledge and expertise of the neighborhood or create a short “sneak peek” of a new listing on your social media channels before the official video tour is posted. Get creative, and if you’re the funny type, your videos may even go viral and give you new leads you wouldn’t otherwise reach.
Aerial photography using drones is another option to showcase neighborhoods and residential areas. Understand the laws before you try that one out, but despite some obstacles, there are still plenty of opportunities to give new perspectives and provide a differentiating home search experience.
Quick Response Time
88% of buyers expect a response from their agent within 1 hour. Only 30% of agents meet their expectation.
Executive Chairman of Zillow, Rich Barton, notes “mobile web gets the majority of mobile users (as high as 70 percent) but a small fraction of engagement (as low as 5 percent).” 77% of sellers expect a response from their agent within 30 minutes, but only 24% of agents meet their expectations. Fortunately for you (and home buyers), mobile apps offer customized experiences and increased connectivity. Apps allow agents to connect with clients throughout the home search process via email, private messages, push notifications, and personalized listings.
The CINC Agent App allows you to set up and manage automated follow-up while also providing quick access to all of your lead information whenever you need it. Communications become more efficient by having all of your emails, texts, and property recommendations stored and accessible in one place.
You’ll see who’s most likely to buy and take action based on real-time data. You can see which leads are logging in frequently and viewing the most properties, and connect with them through a variety of text and email templates immediately.
If you’re also using our Houses.net app, you can push personalized property recommendations instantly to home buyers so they can review your suggestions and quickly request an appointment via the app.
Considering less than 30% of agents meet the current response time expectations of home buyers and sellers, you can really stand out and differentiate yourself by utilizing these tools.
We already know that buyers and sellers want quicker responses, but did you know that 42% of buyers expect an INSTANT response from their agent? The increased popularity of messaging apps is partially to blame. According to the Pew Research Center, roughly three-in-ten online adults (29%) — and 36% of smartphone owners — use messaging apps. They can see if you’ve read their message, if you’re typing a response, and include multiple parties in the conversation. While these may seem trivial, they increase your client’s sense of connection and responsiveness from you. For those of you targeting millennial home-buyers, 49% of smartphone users ages 18 to 29 use messaging apps and they have come to expect this type of communication.
So how do you incorporate this into your day to day activities? You could download yet another app, or you can use real estate apps that have chat and messaging features already incorporated. Both the CINC Agent and Houses.net apps from CINC offer SMS and email options directly from the app and will soon offer threaded messaging and chat features.
The Rise of Voice-Based Search Queries
Do you remember the crazy responses you could get when Siri first came out and couldn’t understand what you were saying? Fortunately, technology is continuing to get better and the quantity of voice-based search queries (think Siri, Ok Google, and Amazon’s Alexa) is already skyrocketing. The dawn of wearable devices is adding fuel to the fire with smaller screens and increased demand for information on the go.
While pay-per-click and SEO are still popular ways to have your site seen by visitors, we are already starting to see the impact of voice-based search queries. The introduction of Google’s Knowledge Graph provides answers to questions at the top of your Google search page without forcing users to go to individual websites. This means reduced traffic to traditional websites and an increased demand for functional apps like those branded agent apps we mentioned above.
Further, search queries will be spoken rather than typed. That means search phrases will become longer and more conversational. To address this, the content on your websites will have to match the more conversational tone to get picked up by Google and traditional keywords and short phrases will be replaced by more long tail searches.
If this seems a bit overwhelming, know that you don’t have to make all of these changes immediately. If your current SEO strategy is working for you, don’t run out and change all of the content on your site immediately. Just be aware that this is coming. The good news is that these changes are just starting to occur and there will be a lot of trial and error to figure out the best strategies. By utilizing some of the tactics we mentioned above, such as the beacon technology and having a branded app, you’ll already be a step ahead of your competition.
Sources: “Real Estate Tech Trends,” Properties Online, Inc., retrieved 19 August 2016 from http://propertiesonline. com/reports/annual-real-estate-trends-report.pdf