We have or should have become used to the dynamics of emerging technology by now. It has, after all, been thrilling us for over 13 years now. You know how it goes. It starts with a few scattered references, an early adopter or two and a faint buzz. It builds quickly as more information floods into the marketplace and the hum becomes a moan and a sigh as the pain of adoption becomes more intense. Finally, it bursts onto the scene in full bloom spreading joy and good fortune as the moan becomes a roar and a new reality is created.
What has been changing over the past few years is that the interval between the roars has been lessening and the requirement that the brokerage responding to each such emergence has been increasing. Failure to comply with the changing technology is becoming increasingly fatal.
So, it has been with mobile computing and, by way of reference point, if you have been at a technology conference in the past 60 days you know that it is now a mainstream discussion impacting virtually every industry including real estate.
Just in case you missed the roar lets catch you up. Mobile voice communication is widely established throughout the world and has had a very rapid increase in the number of subscribers to the various cellular networks over the last few years. An extension of this technology is the ability to send and receive data across these cellular networks. This of course is the foundation of mobile computing. Mobile data communication has become a very important and rapidly evolving technology as it allows users to transmit data from remote locations to other remote or fixed locations. This, as it turns out, proves to be the solution to the biggest problem of business people on the move – mobility.
The last link in this story and one of the most important trends for 2010 is the portability of technology. Today’s smart phones have more computing power than the desktops from just a few years ago. Who would have thought that your cell phone could take photos, shoot videos, read bar codes, find your exact location anywhere in the world, play video games, or do 10,000 other things?
While you have been hiding in the weeds hoping to miss this particular trend adoption has been swirling all around you. Today, your customers under the age of 42 would rather receive a text than a phone call. Today, the average American sends twice as many texts as phone calls. 91% of Americans keep a phone within three feet of them 24 hours each day and most American’s would rather lose their wallet than their cell phone.
Today, 38% of all phones are smart phones and smart phones are utilizing 90% of cell phone network capacity. Now, that is a level of adoption that your brokerage cannot afford to miss.
Perhaps most importantly consumers are using smart phones differently than computers. Instead of using browsers to search for information they are using their smart phones to go directly to recognized and favorite sources of information. Moreover, when it comes to seeking out information regarding real estate, consumers are walking away from generalized information to information regarding the real estate they are standing in front of.
If you are a brokerage whose Web site is supposed to be playing a key role in your current marketing effort, that Web site must be optimized for mobile technology or you will miss out on the latest of emerging technological realities. Just when you thought you had it all together.
If your reaction as a real estate broker at this point is to ask “what do I do?” the answer is simple, you must offer consumers a specific mobile solution. Putting your Web address on your signs, the solution just eighteen months ago is not longer sufficient.
The current research indicates that Web site addresses on signs have the lowest call-to-action ratio of any solutions. The focus on delivery should be speed and relevancy not richness of content, consider where the homebuyer is located,
not ten miles away but often right in front of the target property. They already have the picture.
These solutions must be easy for agents to maintain for they will be changed frequently, and in many unique ways. This is not a task to be assigned to your Webmaster. The next decision point will be whether your Web solutions should be an application or mobile Web. Just a year into
the fight mobile applications have become the throwaway container of mobile computing. Almost everything that can be done with an app can be done in a browser and 2/3 of apps are deleted within 60 days. Just how happy are you with those 75% application solutions you have been downloading on your iPhone? They are so close and yet so far away.
Look at your mobile marketing plan and solution as a long-term solution. Major Brands are expected to spend 10-12% of their budget on mobile solutions. Consider that 18% of Homebuyers found their home from a yard sign meaning they were already in front of the property (NAR 2008).
Think about mobile like a consumer. When would a homebuyer need real estate info on their cell phone? Answer, it is more and more likely when they are in front of your listing. Spend your time thinking about what kind of information the consumer is going to want about your listings and what is the fastest way to get them that information? This is a classic case of adding to your value proposition.
Sharpen your proposition even more by proposing the same action on every sign. Give the consumer a choice to text or open Web page. Own the space, take charge of the interaction, and provide info on all listings in immediate area.
More and more agents are also joining the movement. Make sure your mobile solution talks to them. Ensure that the response that an agent receives provides showing instructions, property status, lock box location and occupant information. Take charge of the interaction. Generate action, not more questions.
Is that line of consumers and agents in front of your listings scratching their heads or keyboarding satisfaction and discovering the next step towards touring your perfect property.
You can do this one easy and get ready for the next roar.