The landscape by which we purchase property is changing. I was at a property event recently, which featured Ian Mayhew, Managing Director of Barings Real Estate, as a guest speaker. He spoke of the influence of technology on the fast-paced property environment.
That got me thinking about the digital technologies available to property professionals today, and how much of it is going unused. So, in this blog, I’m going to share some of the most valuable and underused digital techniques you should be using today, as well as how they’re shaping the property market.
Let’s start with an obvious one…
We are more connected than ever before. Trending Twitter hashtags, advanced machine learning algorithms and audience targeted advertising are all having a real-world impact on the success of property businesses across the globe.
Of course, it’s likely that you already have company pages on the main social media platforms but how are they aiding your business? If you don’t know the answer then don’t worry, that is a common response. In fact, many of the businesses I pose that question to don’t even remember their login information.
Let’s look at it this way. You only buy a car to drive it. You certainly don’t buy one just to lose the key.
Social media is exactly the same. Your company page is only the vehicle you use to deliver your brand. That means you need to do more than just post the occasional #FridayFeeling post.
In property, social media has become a very powerful tool. Platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn allow developers to maintain client relationships easily by regularly sharing build updates, completion information and case studies.
Home buyers and investors receive a lot of value on social media by having access to the inside scoop, while you get to build a loyal following.
This makes the process of delighting potential and existing buyers far easier and reduces the one-on-one face time you need to have with each of them.
The Power of Search
Businesses have become used to the idea that they have to pay to sell their properties. Whether it’s developers using agents on commission or estate agents posting on websites like Rightmove, Zoopla or OnTheMarket, seemingly everything comes with a price tag.
Slowly but surely, though, the property market is realising that they can cut costs by investing in their own marketing, instead of paying for someone else’s.
Through the strategic targeting of keywords on search engines like Google, you can generate traffic for your own website by ranking #1 for search terms like “Manchester property for sale”. In this way, you can cut out the middleman by generating website traffic yourself.
This takes time but is far more cost effective in the long run. The key here is to fill your website (and associated digital presences) with loads of valuable content. That way, visitors can develop trust in your brand and buy from you directly.
24 Hour Availability
If technology has made us one thing, it’s impatient. Internet shopping makes the idea of waiting for stores to open at 9am seem stone age. Property is no different.
Gone are the days of waiting until opening time to pick up the phone and inquire. Overseas investors and new trends in purchasing have introduced new working hours that mean your business always needs to be open and approachable.
Your market expects to have access to property information on your website no matter what time-zone. So, while you may not be able to answer the phone 24/7, you still need a system for easy communication.
Online enquiry forms are a good start and allow you to capture lead information effectively, but you can now easily go one step further.
Live chat grants on-the-go engagement, while automated chatbots mean you don’t have to worry about stepping away from your desk. Even better, this technology is easily available to every type and size of business.
Video & Virtual Reality
Technology is making a massive impact on how buyers engage with sellers and developers, but some elements of human nature are hard to shake. That means, for the most part, buyers still want a tour of the property. However, that doesn’t mean you need to lead them by the hand around a home.
Virtual showhomes and apartments are becoming increasingly popular, allowing consumers to vet more properties and driving demand. This digital experience can now be created using virtual reality and via 3d virtual tours.
The most advanced of these virtual tours can include interactive fixtures and fittings that showcase multiple colours and materials, allowing users to tailor their viewing.
We’ve all heard an estate agent say you need to imagine a property’s potential. Well, with new digital technologies, imagination can become reality.
Of course, this comes at a price, so for businesses that aren’t ready to invest in such a high level of tech, other options are available.
360-degree cameras are cost-effective, easy to use and great for making your properties stand out in a crowded marketplace. Finally, photos are commonplace when selling a property, but now video content can be easily published alongside photographs or CGIs.
Conclusion: Are the Machines Taking Over?
With all this talk of the digital effect on property, you could be forgiven for worrying that technology is taking the place of human interaction and investor relations.
Unfortunately, it is this fear that results in many businesses being slow to adopt the new digital practices that give them the edge over their competition.
At his talk, Ian Mayhew spoke that the art of investor relations is not in decline, and I agree.
Technology is designed to enhance meaningful engagement with potential buyers, not limit it. Easier access to high-quality property specs, updates and tours online helps move potential customers to a buying decision without consuming your team’s time.
That means, by the time your phone rings for a viewing, you can be confident you’re dealing with a qualified lead that is primed to purchase.
So, there’s no doubt that digital technology is changing the way property businesses attract customers. The only question is, how are you going to benefit?
Answering that question is easier said than done, which is why we’re offering a free Digital Workshop to businesses in the property sector. As part of your workshop, we’ll help you understand how effective your existing digital marketing strategy is and how you can improve it.
Get in touch to book yours now.