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Don’t Let the Client Get Away

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New technology helps advertising programs work hard

By Marilyn Wilson

RISMEDIA, April 2, 2008–Wherever I go these days I am asked the all-important question by agents and brokers: “What can I do to make the limited marketing dollars I have available much more effective?”

In order to thrive, Realtors® need to find breakthrough ways to unleash the power of the localized marketing tools available to them, beyond using the Internet. The WAV Group has recently released a White Paper called “Mobile Search for the Real Estate Industry – Property Buyers go Mobile” which discusses a new concept called Mobile Search. The report asserts that Mobile Search will greatly enhance a Realtor’s ability to grow their business using traditional, “offline” marketing vehicles. Mobile Search provides real estate professionals with an affordable method to dramatically improve lead capture and conversion rates from print media to significantly improve the return on investment.

Mobile search works for all forms of print media: newspaper and magazine ads, yard signs and even real estate television shows.

How do you know which advertising programs are working?

Tracking the response rates of off-line media has always been more of an art than a science. Both “impressions” in the off-line world and “hits” in the on-line world suffer from the same problem of anonymity. An agent may know the circulation of a real estate magazine, or the click through rates of a banner ad, but they have no idea who may be interested in the property because of the ad.

Agents have choices of different publications but little way of measuring conversion rates. Knowing stated circulation and number of distribution locations is not necessarily an accurate measure for tracking response. Often racks don’t get refilled or they are in mass market locations that are not very targeted. Mobile Search is a method to track actual responses (with name & phone number) from offline marketing channels to help real estate professionals execute more effective marketing campaigns, build their brand wisely, and invest in marketing that works to sell more real estate.

In a down market, every agent needs to critically evaluate every marketing dollar they spend. Many agents are interested in trying new technologies, but they are unsure about what current marketing programs to eliminate to fund the new initiative. How do they know how effective a print ad is in generating lead traffic? How do they evaluate which print ad company to work with? Currently there is no method to quantitatively measure the effectiveness of most real estate marketing tools.

Clients are looking for information immediately.

Consumers are looking to learn as much as they can about a property while they are in front of the house, looking at a print ad, reading a flyer, looking at a billboard, or watching a television show. The listing agent has a split-second opportunity to take advantage of the consumer’s interest in the home. Unfortunately, the methods used traditionally to support a consumer at the time of initial interest are many times inadequate. The listing agent has a terrific chance to secure a new client and yet, they let them get away!

Rather than invite the consumer to call the office or to go to the Internet to look up additional property information, the new concept of Mobile Search allows the consumer to use their telephone to get detailed listing information. If the consumer wants to engage the listing agent for more information, Mobile Search connects the potential homebuyer in seconds.

Track the effectiveness of your advertising tools.

By employing Mobile Search, an agent can track the leads being generated by each of the marketing tools they use. They can see that they received five calls from the yard sign, two calls from the real estate magazine ad and no calls from the newspaper, for example. If they see a consistent pattern for where their leads are coming from, they can eliminate one type of marketing tool and reallocate the funds to another marketing tool. In fact, an agent can track up to 11 different media sources to measure which tools are the most effective for promoting a property.

What is Mobile Search?

Mobile Search is based on a technology which allows a consumer to do an IDX search using audio commands instead of a website. It allows a consumer to search the entire MLS property database from any cell phone. All they need to know is the street number or MLS number of a property.

VoicePad® MobileIDXTM Audio Search, for example, takes active, updated listing information available now to consumers at real estate websites and converts the information to professional-grade speech and allows property searching from virtually any telephone. Consumers can simply call a phone number and gain access to listing information for one or more properties at a time. Through a set of voice prompts and touch-tone entries, they can perform a search by street number or MLS number and gain instant access to basic listing information. They can also request more detailed information via email or text message.

While the consumer is listening to property information on their phone in either English or Spanish, the system is contacting the listing agent (via text and email), providing them with the contact information of the inquiring party and letting them know that the consumer is on the line and is interested in learning more about the property. The real estate professional can then call the potential client immediately, answer questions and schedule a showing appointment. In addition the real estate agent will receive an email with the interested party’s contact information for follow-up at a later date.

It is time for the marketing efforts of real estate professionals to become more measurable so that precious marketing dollars can be spent wisely. Mobile Search is one tool that can help you accomplish this important task.

The WAV Group is a leader in providing consulting services to the real estate industry and is comprised of corporate executives with a depth of expertise in both the real estate market as well as the consumer market.

For more information, contact Marilyn Wilson at marilyn@wavgroup.com.

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