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While more and more consumers are turning to their smartphones for information, brokers and REALTORS® everywhere are adapting in order to properly serve their mobile, forward-thinking clientele. The latest trend in the world of mobile marketing is not only dominating the mobile world, but also changing the way agents are promoting their listings and printing their signage.

Over the last couple of years, QR codes, short for quick response codes, have been popping up almost everywhere you look. Advertisements in magazines and newspapers, posters, billboards, and even real estate for-sale signs have all been sporting these small, square codes. When scanned with a smartphone, these quirky and efficient little codes have proven to be powerhouses for marketing strategies, driving users to any type of content a company desires, from a robust, mobile-enabled website to a page with a single, simple message. The possibilities are endless with QR codes, however, for REALTORS®, to be without them could be a fatal (and costly) mistake in judgment.

“I feel the biggest advantage QR codes have provided to the real estate industry is the ability to distinguish one REALTOR® from another. They are also opening a new conversation point for people to talk to sellers,” says John Lim, president and CEO of Mobile Real Estate ID, a company dedicated to increasing real estate business through the implementation of cutting-edge mobile technology and interactive marketing. “There is a real wow-factor to QR codes when utilized properly, with delivery to a mobile-enabled website.”

There is quite possibly no technology more efficient than a QR code for transmitting property information to a passerby or potential homebuyer. Scanning the code saves the consumer precious time. With just one or two clicks (or touches), a mobile user can arrive at a website, saving him or her dozens of keystrokes and mobile Web searches.

Since the industry’s inception of QR code technology, REALTORS® managed separate QR codes for each property listed, making sure the right code landed on the appropriate signage. With each home needing a unique code, all riders required a custom design costing approximately $20 per rider, and REALTORS® were responsible for appropriately managing each code/property combination. Except now, the industry is getting a step ahead of the mobile movement thanks to a new system put in place by Lim and his company.

Mobile Real Estate ID’s OneCode™ system provides REALTORS® with one single QR code to use for every property they have listed for sale. Potential buyers scanning the code can then access the accurate property information, including the agent’s contact information, instantly with zero management or technical skills necessary, saving agents the time and need to swap or reprint signs. In addition, Mobile Real Estate ID’s printing saved agents more than half in signage costs in 2011, with free sticker printing for already-existing signs. According to Lim, REALTORS® saved $477,750 via his company’s cost-conscious services in 2011. With 31,580 signs mobilized, the company saw a total of 104,560 scans with 213,112 page views, proving that those who did scan the codes clicked on more than one property while there.

Not only is the OneCode™ system easy and efficient for REALTORS®, but it continues to facilitate an easy method of information generation for the buyers and sellers it serves. As QR codes continue to place information directly in the palms of their hands, only this time faster, buyers have more time to spend with the information presented, which increases the chances of the seller getting a bite on the home. As Lim suggests, QR codes can be a success even if the code isn’t scanned. “If you see a QR code on a sign, you might take 30 seconds or more to look. They catch your eye. If the code makes you stop and look for 10-15 seconds more, then it worked.”

The trick is not necessarily surrounding the QR code itself, but rather, how one uses it. The big push, according to Lim, is the fact that mobile technology has not been used correctly since its injection into the real estate industry. Once a code is scanned, the user should be brought to a mobile-optimized website. If there is no optimization for the mobile user, it has the potential to hurt the industry at large.

All forms of technology must be reigned in and employed properly in order to have a significantly positive impact on business. This year, as Lim suggests, ask yourself, “How am I using this technology?” and “How do I monetize it?” “It is one thing to have a mobile solution. It is another to make money off it and, today, saving money is making money,” says Lim.

One fact that has certainly been proven throughout the course of 2011: QR codes aren’t a fad; they are the “here and now” of mobile marketing, says Lim. However, if they fail to work properly, it may deter people from scanning them, and precious credibility could be lost in the process. “If you can’t search properties correctly, you could lose trust in the REALTOR®. There are too many potential losses right now for the real estate industry if they don’t step up and fix the problem of making sure that everything that works online, including all forms of digital marketing, also works on the mobile device,” advises Lim. “Looking at 2011 in review, QR codes have increased penetration, increased sales and, when done correctly, will make you more money.”

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