As anyone working in the property industry can attest, the last couple of years have been turbulent to put it mildly. Developers and buyers alike have lost significant amounts of money and confidence. The disincentive for developers of medium and high-density residential projects has been compounded by the overly cautious lending approach of many of the banks, often requesting 80% or more pre-sales before giving the green light on finance.
Some believe that the true effect of the market downturn will be felt in the next 12-24 months with a not-insignificant shortage of new medium and high-density residential projects available in the market. To this end logic would suggest that property prices will surge in the medium term until such time that supply gets a little closer to demand.
In the meantime, the industry is slowly showing signs of improvement as developers, investors and home buyers look for value-driven opportunities where risks are mitigated by creative deal-making on the back of stalled projects and stale stock.
This represents a challenge to marketers who have recently been forced to get more resourceful with their marketing budgets.
Gone are the days where an agent could comfortably obtain a reasonable marketing spend from the client based on a handful of Premier listings on Realestate.com, a couple of eBlasts to their database and some listings in the local property lift-out.
Today, the property buyer’s decision-making journey involves multiple channels and touch points outside of traditional property print, mailing list and showroom environments. In order to succeed in engaging and persuading the savvy, high value property buyer, it is critical that modern day real estate marketers adopt an omni-channel marketing approach that recognises the relationship between traditional and digital channels. We simply can’t ignore the behavioural shift towards digital channels and resources that empower buyers to make more informed decisions about their property purchase.
The digital age is allowing consumers across many sectors to essentially ‘self-sell’. Online Search (paid and organic), real estate verticals, news and investment verticals, electronic news letters and alerts, social forums and discussion boards are all highly utilised by property buyers. Investors and owner-occupiers are making more informed decisions. Recent analytics provided by Google indicate that 58% of real estate purchase & rental research was done online prior to purchase. Of these, 14% used a mobile phone to do their research.
Importantly, not only do these channels provide critical information at the right time during a buyer’s search for information, they have the ability to deliver rich interactive content that can showcase property in a highly personalised and immersive way.
Property marketers can now bring a development to life in the virtual world across a variety of digital platforms. Desktop, tablet and mobile now have the ability to further amplify traditional communication mediums such as print and signage in ways property marketers could only dream of ten years ago. Mobile image recognition and GPS technology allows a connected buyer to scan a physical location, print ad or outdoor signage and obtain additional information such as pricing or property evaluation reports. They can get access to rich, more engaging content such as virtual fly-throughs, interactive floorplans and more. Bringing an off the plan or ‘virtual’ display home to life is now more accessible than ever. Apps like the CBA’s Augmented Reality property app and Bauer’s viewa Augmented Reality app for property are perfect illustrations of the digital channels’ ability to deliver engagement through digital utility and add genuine usefulness to prospective buyers. The real value is added when the technology is imbedded in the path to purchase, or at the very least, generating an enquiry. What’s more, this enquiry is measurable taking the guesswork out of quantifying the effectiveness of the marketing budget.
All of this of information, content and utility can of course be delivered in a highly targeted fashion to selected target audience segments through the effective use of data. Marketers have the ability to leverage existing customer data, on-sight website behaviour or other first or third-party data sets to reach only those high value customers relevant to their project. No longer should an advertiser feel required to book a full-page print ad in a generic property magazine that isn’t relevant to 90% of readers.
Finally, communication in the digital world has the ability to be delivered in contextual environments with additional geographic, demographic or existing customer profile overlays.
In simple terms, property marketers today have access to a variety of on-line marketing tools that is changing the way they approach lead generation. By integrating digital content with traditional print, press and signage, property marketers today have greater control over who sees their marketing content, where, when and how it’s delivered.
The challenge for marketers, as always, is in convincing the client to spend the money where it counts. For the uninitiated, a good place to start might be with some good old-fashioned testing – an excellent opportunity to stop and think about how and where the next marketing dollar is spent.
Written by Manny Loupas – Director Zen Mojo
Contributor – Adrian Roeling – General Manager with Mitchells