By Paige Tepping
As mobile technology continues to infiltrate the real estate industry, real estate professionals across the board are faced with a challenging dilemma: Cut back on print advertising and allocate more of their budget toward mobile marketing tools? Or continue to spend the same amount of money on each? Mobile Real Estate and The Real Estate Book recently joined forces to provide real estate professionals with the perfect combination—both print and mobile. In this interview, we spoke with top agents who are using mobile marketing along with print to obtain insight on best tips and practices to help you in your quest for balance.
A Well-Rounded Approach
With 32 years of real estate experience under his belt, Howard Smith, broker/owner of Howard Smith Co., REALTORS® in Amarillo, Texas, places text codes in print ads in The Real Estate Book and also on sign riders in front of his listings. “I get text messages quite frequently from prospective buyers who have either seen the codes in The Real Estate Book or have driven by one of my listings,” says Smith, who has also incorporated the text codes into brochures. “While these brochures provide some basic information and a few photos, the text codes are a great way for prospective buyers to access even more information about the home.” The immediacy of the activity—while standing in front of the home—offers an opportunity to engage the buyer while their interest is high. If they take the brochure from the open house with them, they can easily text later to remind them of the other features of the home.
Deborah Hall, broker in charge with US Properties – SC, Ltd. in Columbia, S.C., has also seen firsthand the benefits that come with incorporating both QR and text codes into her marketing. “By incorporating mobile tools into the flyers that I place in front of each of my listings, anyone can simply access the information via their smartphone,” says Hall. “Providing a way to access information via mobile devices keeps consumers from having to search for information on their own, which can be time consuming,” she adds. In addition, prospective buyers have information at their fingertips via their smartphone. They can access information, bookmark it and go back to it whenever they have time, helping to keep specific properties in which they have the most interest—literally, close at hand.
By incorporating mobile marketing tools such as QR and text codes into print advertisements, real estate professionals are also further extending the lines of communication when it comes to reaching potential customers.
Extending the Lines of Communication
The mobile marketing tools have also provided real estate professionals the ability to tie all of their advertising together. “No matter where we advertise—whether it is on a property sign, in print or on TV—we make sure to include a text code,” says Jan Smith, broker/owner at Legacy at the Lake Real Estate, Osage Beach, Mo., “so that we are reaching out to consumers via a variety of channels, providing better visibility for each of our listings.” When consumers text the unique code assigned to a specific property, it will pull up listing information, photos, virtual tours and additional listings the company has, providing extensive information.
The combination of offline and mobile advertising is so powerful, that the two leading providers have united to create a single package offering agents a way to simply and economically, fully capitalize on the mobile trend.
Mobile Real Estate and The Real Estate Book provide an offer that includes print advertising, text codes, GPS-enabled QR codes, single property mobile websites and basic agent mobile websites in a single package. This package is known as the Mobile Starter Kit provided by Mobile Real Estate. The program includes the ability to capture a phone lead, notify the agent immediately via text and store the consumer information in a database that makes tracking and follow-up simple. All of this is now included in The Real Estate Book’s print advertising pricing—at no additional fee. For an additional fee, agents can purchase mobile-enabled sign riders through the same system and mobilize their agent website by upgrading the basic account, for optimal mobile Web viewing, on all mobile devices.
“The use of mobile marketing tools is only going to increase within the next few years as consumers continue to turn to their mobile devices for their real estate needs,” says Hall. “We are an immediate gratification society that has been conditioned to not want to wait for information, and via mobile marketing tools, we can get information immediately.
“As technology continues to change and evolve, it’s important that real estate professionals maintain a presence in print not only to drive traffic to the mobile sites, but also to brand locally. It is crucial so that everyone can see your product,” adds Hall, “even those without a smartphone.”
Howard Smith agrees. “While mobile devices like the smartphone are all the rage right now, they may not necessarily be the answer to getting a property sold, so the more exposure we can get our listings, the more attention they’ll get.”
As QR and text codes continue to find their way into newspapers, magazines and TV ads, the benefits to using these tools is becoming increasingly apparent. Prospective buyers can tell very quickly whether or not the property will suit their needs. “You can’t always tell what the inside of a home will look like from the outside,” Smith adds, “but by texting a short code on your mobile phone, you’ll instantly have access to 20-25 photos of the inside of the home.”
Maintaining a Competitive Edge
“Technology is where today’s buyers are, so that’s where real estate professionals need to be,” says Jan Smith, who points to the integration of print advertising and mobile marketing tools as a distinct competitive advantage for her not only when it comes to generating interest among buyers, but also as a listing tool.
Incorporating mobile tools into all marketing efforts amplifies the effectiveness of each medium and of the entire campaign. Agents who include QR codes and text codes on property brochures, direct mail collateral, personal brochures, business cards, billboards, print advertisements, etc., allow consumers to access the information at the exact time and place when they are ready and can interact with real estate professionals at their own pace. “If you don’t have the capability of providing your sellers with tools such as QR and text codes, you’re missing an entire market,” says Hall.
Hall explains to potential sellers, “Mobile marketing tools allow consumers to see the homes I have listed and know immediately if they want to pursue the home. When they contact me, I know they are interested because they already have a tremendous amount of information versus just a picture and the price.”
Immediate Response Wins Business
National Association of REALTORS® stats from 2011 indicate that homebuyers and sellers often work with one of the first agents with whom they come in contact. That makes the immediacy of response and the ability to capture and track mobile leads extremely valuable.
Jan Smith cites one of the main benefits to using The Real Estate Book/Mobile Real Estate package text codes comes from the ability to track where leads are coming from. “Not only do the text codes tell me where the person is calling from and where they saw the code, it also provides me with an immediate opportunity to respond to leads,” she says. “Using technology efficiently within your marketing is a tremendous advantage with buyers and sellers right now. In fact, anything you can do to excite the seller—rather than just telling them to lower the price of their home—is a huge competitive advantage in today’s market.”
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