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As smartphones have transitioned from luxury to necessity, a proactive mobile marketing plan—from SEO to QR codes—is no longer merely a business boon. It’s critical to your company’s success. Now that adopting a mobile strategy is dire for staying relevant, we are forced to look at the alternative; those who fail to adopt an effective mobile presence and cater to the highly mobile consumer may be shooting themselves in the foot. And real estate, more than nearly any other industry, needs to embrace the mobile consumer not to stay ahead, but to avoid falling behind.

Today’s consumers want information quickly—before they have even left the curb of the property they are interested in. The Real Estate Book’s March 2012 survey found that an impressive 98 percent of buyers use a mobile device for their searches, with 68 percent contacting an agent to view a property as a direct result of their mobile search.

“From the perspective of the consumer, if you’re not mobile capable, then you’re not current,” says Michael Williamson, executive vice president of the John Aaroe Group in Los Angeles, Calif.

At the core of mobile capability is a mobile-enabled website—one that is formatted specifically for use on a mobile device with features that cater directly to the mobile user on their particular handset, making them easy to read and navigate on a mobile device and also providing interactive features, such as neighborhood searches, click-to-call options, and GPS search.

“Today, 15 percent of traffic to our website comes from a mobile device. If we had no mobile solution, we would be losing a vast majority of that 15 percent,” says Dale Sorenson Jr., a managing partner of Dale Sorensen Real Estate, Inc., a luxury boutique brokerage firm in seaside Vero Beach, Fla.

Not convinced? Check with Google. The company’s research has shown that more than half of consumers wouldn’t recommend a business with a bad mobile site.

“If you don’t have a mobile strategy, you don’t have a future strategy,” says Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman.

Google themselves have already started making some weighty changes. Starting now, the search engine has changed the way it serves results to mobile users, which include giving SEO preference to mobile sites, and tagging them so users don’t waste time clicking on a website that isn’t compatible. That’s a scary change for any business without a mobile-enabled site.

Mobile is also critical for keeping abreast with competition. “All of those third party companies that offer info to consumers—Zillow, Redfin, Trulia—they all have mobile technology. In order to compete, we have to be able to offer that,” says Williamson.

In order to keep his company relevant, and his mobile strategy sharp, Williamson began working with Mobile Real Estate ID (MRE ID) in November 2010.

The company synergizes traditional point-of-purchase marketing and mobile technology, providing a platform that enables real estate firms to leverage all the capabilities of today’s advanced mobile devices in order to promote their brand, agents and listings to the ever mobile consumer. They provide brokerages with interactive mobile-enabled websites featuring lead capture technology, which notifies agents when a potential client is looking at his or her listing, as well as GPS and SmartGPS™ searches to direct consumers to listings near them or those they’ve looked at recently. In addition, they integrate other popular mobile tools such as text message lead generation and QR code creation and management, which allows brokers to enhance all of their traditional advertisement to better engage mobile users, drive traffic to their mobile-enabled website and win leads at the local level without any competition from the online national portals.

A working mobile website should be the core of your mobile platform, but your strategy shouldn’t end there. “Having a robust mobile platform as a whole is what is most useful” says Sorensen. “That said, little things like click-to-call and agent technology cannot be overlooked.”

“Having a complete mobile package is proactive. If you don’t offer this, you’re almost dead in the water,” says Williamson.

MRE ID provides a text code for every listing an agent has, which interested buyers can use to get instant access to additional property information, and agents can use to gain the contact information of interested parties in real time.

“Having the text inquiry option has improved my reach,” says Reuben Pacheco, an agent with John Aaroe Group who uses the codes on all his open house riders. “It allows me to capture leads the moment the inquiry is made.”

And when it comes to expanding your reach, mobile is your strongest ally. “Mobile allows us to introduce our brand to a larger number of consumers, allowing this new consumer to engage our firm on their terms,” says LP Finn, operating officer at Coach REALTORS® in Long Island.

Finn finds his strongest mobile tool to be tablet listing presentations.

“Having our company’s entire value proposition on an iPad is allowing agents to do things we never thought of, such as making grand presentations with an iPad attached to the seller’s 60-inch television,” explains Finn, who connected with MRE ID earlier this year to create their iPad presentation and an entirely revamped mobile solution, which includes a state of the art mobile-enabled website and Apps along with integrated text message lead generation and QR codes for all signage and traditional marketing.

Finn says his agents are capturing more listing appointments at open houses by having the iPad for buyers to swipe-through while waiting to preview the home. “This saves time, money and effort while supplying the seller with an impressive and innovative presentation.”

With the market creeping toward a recovery, there is no better time than now to bolster your mobile marketing strategy, because when it comes to connecting with today’s mobile-centric consumer, having a website that doesn’t work on a mobile device is like jumping in the deep end of the pool wearing weighted shoes—there is absolutely no way to rise to the top.

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