Digital revolution by Ram Jalan, VP, Digital Marketing, Wave Infratech
From a jazzed-up Facebook presence with videos, rendering, floor-plans to seeding conversation on Twitter, real estate marketers are taking digital full-on. The $180-billion real estate category is using latest digital technologies and marketing techniques to strengthen their sales. Through digital marketing, marketers are looking beyond presence based model to pure performance based models with complete ROI visibility. Lead generation has become the most common denominator to measure ROIs from marketing campaigns.
Consumers’ behaviour towards prospecting a real-estate investment is shifting online. Eight out of 10 buyers know the exact specification, offers, etc. before they reach out to a brand; they have started to time their investments to online offers and flash sales. After travel, products marketplace, it is now the time for real estate to sell online.
From booking a flat to a complete buyout, there are different options available. Recently concluded, real estate online shopping festivals and flash sales, helped companies generate hundreds of applications and bookings.
Brands offered to book a flat for as low as Rs 500 to Rs 50,000 depending on project location, amenities, and final price. Though, all these applications didn’t convert into sales, it definitely helped sales people build their audience pool and continue to work on them.
Search trends show online inquiries for properties are growing at 40 per cent annually and six million users are doing online research for new as well as existing properties. Realtors use technological innovations like a 360-degree view, live streaming, 3D model, isometric views, etc. to create experiential differentiators on their website.
With more than 40 per cent of the people searching for properties on mobile, brands have gone ahead with a mobile app strategy with built in features like Augmented and Virtual Reality. It helps marketers target users based on their location and engage them through notifications.
Real estate buy has a long gestation period and a buyer changes his mind several times before freezing on a final offer. Therefore, it is important for a brand to be visible, across the buyer journey. Marketers have several options between offline and digital mediums. Inbound marketing mediums on digital like blogs, emails, social media, webinars, etc. have proven to be less intrusive and expensive than offline marketing options.
Every connection, a brand has on Twitter or Facebook or any other social platform, is a potential lead. On social media, builders engage their consumers with questions, construction updates, home tips and other relevant information.
The real estate market is expected to increase at the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.2 per cent all across the country, says IBEF, 2015. While the category is growing, both investors and end-consumers are becoming more conscious about the reputation of the brand before they invest. Therefore, it is imperative for the brand to create a positive reputation online and move higher-up in consideration. Content marketing in the form of blogs, videos, photos, engages the potential homebuyer through sight and sound, giving them a sense of the real place.
Offline marketing mediums continue to remain important for brand building and recall in the new avatar. Offline communication will be integrated with a digital call to action for measurability and ROI.
Channel partners are an important source of brand reputation. In fact, a buyer doesn’t take a decision without checking with these real estate experts. Realtors have started including their channel partners in their customer acquisition journey across digital mediums.
Brands have also offered to create and maintain a digital presence for some of its premium channel partners. Soft skills and product training for their sales team, lead generation, and online customer care, is also included in this package.
The journey from here looks to be even more digital. Digital experience centers will soon replace the traditional sample apartments. Property registration will happen online, on digital stamp papers. Customers will get reminders on their mobile phones to pay their next installments and pay online.
Banks in partnership with companies offer customised financing solutions. Customers will have access to live camera feeds installed at the construction site to check the status of construction. Even after everything digital, the consumer will take the final decision to invest on the basis of personal interaction and relationship. It couldn’t be digitised yet.
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