I recently had the good fortune to spend some time with Travis Saxton, marketing and technology manager at REAL Trends. We discussed the current state of mobile in real estate, the challenges brokerages face in implementing mobile, and where mobile technology is heading.
Travis did an awesome job of summarizing our discussion and has been gracious enough to allow me to include the full text of the article here on our blog. So instead of trying to summarize it, I’ll let you go ahead and read the piece in its entirety. Enjoy!
Mobile Websites and the Future They Are Facing
By Travis Saxton, marketing and technology manager
Mobile is abuzz lately at our events and other industry related conferences. It certainly will continue to grow and get more innovative. Many are debating a native mobile app, one in which the clients download from the app store, versus a mobile website that the website visitor gets automatically when landing on your normal URL. The debate is a bit of a chicken and egg scenario. Many feel, including REAL Trends, that a mobile app can be an extremely effective part of a mobile marketing strategy, but not the end all. Essentially promoting the mobile app through your mobile website is a key ingredient in making your mobile app successful. A great example of this is visit Zillow.com or even our own site realtrends.com from your mobile phone. You are offered their/our mobile app when you land on the page.
Brokerage sites on average are getting 1 in every 4 visitors from a mobile device so you already have the eyeballs or the conduit necessary to market your mobile app and get widespread adoption. The problem lies in that most brokers that do both a mobile app and a mobile site do a poor job of cross promoting and relaying the value of the mobile app from the mobile site.
Recently REAL Trends interviewed Gregory Borodaty, CEO of Aumnia (www.aumnia.com). Aumnia is a mobile website development company that represents a few of REAL Trends technology consulting clients. Greg injected some fresh insights into this conversation and we really identified with his perspective of the mobile website strategy. He said “a mobile website plays two critical roles in a brokerage’s/agent’s value proposition to the consumer. The ability to portray consistency from a brand marketing perspective across multiple screens and most importantly the ability to deliver to the consumer what they want when they want it.”
The latter part of that admission will be the focus for a bit. As the consumer is in an “on demand” status this day and age. Many do not want to download or wait for a mobile app to install on their phone to get the bits of information they want now. Think of two very common scenarios in which a consumer either is at home during the evening (watching television, dinner, etc.) or they are out actively searching properties. A typical strategy is the agent will send a link to a property detail page and the first thing most consumers will do today is to check out the link on the phone. In many situations this link sent is either not mobile friendly or not action friendly. This is why the consumer is going to the site or visiting in the first place so we need to adapt to their needs. Examples of this are very simple click to action buttons to increase conversions. Like Click to Text, Click to Call, and Click to Email. The old adage of a contact form collecting a bunch of irrelevant information is now outdated and intrusive especially from a mobile device.
With mobile leads contributing to a significantly higher lead capture rate and conversion to action rate we need to put more attention into integrating our mobile strategy with the habits of consumers. One such way is geo-location based search so if your consumer is out and about they can instantly see the properties around them. I was surprised (as was Greg with Aumnia) with the breakdown of mobile search habits. He says “although its critical for long term success and you have to have geo-location to quickly display nearby properties contrary to popular belief this only accounted for 25% of mobile property searches. The other 75% came down to specific “advanced” methods like suburb, neighborhood and street address with the latter of those three accounting for 30% of all mobile property searches.”
You can see the “long tail” still prevails and consumers are using the mobile sites to find very fine tuned searches like actual street names, etc. So we as real estate professionals need to be cognizant of this and deliver a high quality mobile experience to the consumer regardless of whether they are on the home page of your mobile site or a property detail page. Ideally, the agents could deliver a property detail link to the consumer and the consumer could click to call/text or email back to their agents to stream line the process and increase interaction.
Tracking is currently a sensitive topic with mobile websites and because these consumers are more demanding we should be holding agents more account-able on swift response times. Greg mentions “that they typically like to establish separate phone numbers and emails to better understand the consumer and hold their systems more accountable.” Tracking these leads ensures a maximum ROI from a brokerage or agent perspective towards their mobile marketing strategies.
REAL Trends asked Aumnia’s CEO about what the future of mobile technology yields. He surprised us a bit by his second response but he stated:
1) Context/content is key: Mobile sites are becoming more intelligent and can better understand what the consumer’s intent is based on numerous data points like location, etc. Giving the consumer the proper content quickly to their mobile device on the go will only get stronger and more advanced so they can then get to the end result even faster. Are you prepared?
2) The move to truly wireless computing: Long term the ability to seamlessly adjust to a person’s habits on the fly will be a key in the future of mobile computing. Imagine getting a property link on your phone and you check it out quickly and it then beams right to your TV to instantly see it on a 60” HD TV and as you and your wife decide to get in the car to check it out a heads up display (HUD) navigates you directly there without any input just streaming information from your mobile phone. This type of technology is trickling into our market and home security/comfort automations are there just the seamless integration is quickly catching up. We will see an impact in the real estate industry long term.
In the debate of mobile app versus mobile website, our stance is pretty simple. Both can be highly effective and a clear mobile marketing strategy needs to be adopted in ALL areas of your business. It’s critical to engage the consumer not only during the search process but all the other areas like mid and post transaction. This mobile strategy if you choose to do both a mobile website and app need to be thoroughly evaluated based on the consumer and ask yourselves the following questions:
How will our mobile app differ from our mobile site?
Are these two products working in conjunction with each other or competing?
What are the key differences in how consumers will use each product?
What type and how are we delivering our content to the mobile consumer?
Do we have instant and accountable calls to action?
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, what type of engagement can we deliver to the consumer after they have finished their home search and are now a client for life. This aspect is the most overlooked as most real estate brokerages only deliver a quality search environment, but what happens when I am no longer actively searching? The answer is……..
REAL Trends is a communications and consulting company considered to be the leading source of analysis and information on the residential brokerage and housing industry. They provide newsletters and industry updates to their members as well as provide industry analysis such as the REAL Trends 500, a look at the top 500 brokerages in the US, and the REAL Trends Top Sales Professionals report. They also host a variety of events, including their Gathering of Eagles conference, generally recognized as the premiere learning and networking event for those within the top 500 North American real estate brokerages.