Pinterest is one the rise. According to research recently done by Pew, roughly “31% of Internet users have an account with the service”, which although that may not sound like a lot- that’s 31% of all internet users you may not be reaching with your current internet marketing.
If you’re not familiar with the platform, Pinterest provides users with the ability to create “Boards”, which are places they can pin photos that they group together based off common themes. Most commonly you’ll hear about how Pinterest is great for wedding planning, since you can create boards about “My Dress”, “Dream Venue”, “Wedding Designs”, etc. So how can you use this for real estate?
In short, yes.
It’s a common thinking these days that millennials aren’t buying. They’re much more free spirited than past generations- so we assume they aren’t trying to settle down and buy homes. While I’m sure this can be true of some young people, generalizations like this can be dangerous. It can be the difference between having future clients and not. The facts behind whether or not millennials are buying doesn’t support the trope that “millennials don’t want to buy homes”.
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.
For more information on REAL Trends and membership options, visit their website at www.realtrends.com.
One of the more mobile activities a person will undertake is to look at real estate. No matter how much research you do at a computer behind a desk, eventually, you always go to physically inspect the property and area you are interested in. I am sure that all of us can recollect those times when we have driven by a property wondering what the price is, or wondered what properties are for sale in the area you love. These days, the chances of getting information from a flyer box, if there even is one, is very slim, and without a computer how do I search the area? Here is where our mobile phone can come to the rescue to provide on the go search.
For this mobile site review, I took a look at six sites that a person might pull-up to get real estate information: Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, Yahoo! Real Estate, Coldwell Banker and Century 21. I wanted to see how easy the sites were to use, how quickly they loaded, how fast I could get information on properties and areas, and how the site looked in the mobile environment. I put the sites through a tough test using the BlackBerry Pearl, one of the more popular handsets on the market. The Pearl is very demanding given its small screen and rudimentary user interface.
Here is how the sites stacked up. I have rated them top to bottom in terms of overall performance.
1. Coldwell Banker (www.coldwellbanker.com)
Coldwell Banker does an excellent job with the interface on their mobilesite. It has autodetection for the mobile environment, and the user interface is very intuitive. The pages load very fast and makes performing searches a breeze. It was disappointed that the listings were limited primarily to Coldwell Banker (somewhat expected) and that the pictures for the listings do not display well. Given the performance of the other sites, these were minor issues.
2. Century 21 (www.century21.com)
Clearly, Century 21 and Coldwell Banker have decided to invest in making their websites mobile. Century 21 also employs auto detection for mobile and provides a streamlined interface for property searches. It is not as clean as Coldwell Banker, but still usable. They employ some color schemes that make the site hard to use, and like the Coldwell Banker site, it’s listings are pretty limited, displaying mostly Century 21 properties.
3. Zillow (www.zillow.com)
If you are looking to get property price estimates, then Zillow is the site to use. They feature their Zestimate tool on their mobile site, at the expense of property search. The Zestimate is very easy to use, just type in the address and the details come right up. I also like the fact you can toggle between their mobile site and actual website, a nice feature. In general, the site is hard to use and does not do search well. I wouldn’t recommend it for search, but at least they are making an attempt to give mobile users a way to access their site.
4. Yahoo! Real Estate (realestate.yahoo.com)
Well, the site works, but the first thing I noticed is that it is not optimized for mobile. Inherently, this makes the user interface very difficult to navigate and the page load speeds very slow. If you can get by that part, it offers a lot of the same search capabilities as the website, because it IS the website, just rendered on the phone. For my taste it’s too slow, but it gives reasonable results. If the site was optimized for the mobile environment, it would be a definite contender for the top spot.
5. Trulia (www.trulia.com)
6. Realtor.com (www.realtor.com)
Overall, I was less than impressed with mobile websites for real estate. I recognize that many of these same companies have also launched smartphone applications that are targeted for searching. However, not all people have a phone that supports applications, and not all people want to download applications to their mobile device. Given that searching for real estate always turns into a mobile experience at some point, I would have expected that these sites would have performed much beter in the mobile environment. The good news is that there is a lot of room for improvement, and I am sure that more sites will be become mobile friendly throughout the remainder of the year.
What has your mobile experience been searching real estate in the mobile environment? What features do you think would be most useful for search, and are there any sites (or apps) that you would recommend?