As 2019 approaches, digital marketing in real estate is witnessing a dramatic shift.
There was a time when you could have got away with doing things the same old way you’ve always done them, but that time is long gone.
There are many new digital marketing trends and strategies that are evolving in the current high-tech, internet-connected era and businesses now need to use them to succeed in their efforts – because what worked for you last year may not work this year.
Here are 5 key digital marketing trends to watch in 2019.
1. The robots are
Much of the conversation in the prop-tech space recently has been around the use of artificial intelligence. And while there are many applications that robots might perform in a real estate business in the future, they are already performing many tasks that were unimaginable only a few short years ago.
Take Rita for example – Australasia’s first Digital Employee for real estate – a robot developed by Australian startup Aire.
One of the many skills that Rita can perform is to connect to a number of information sources including one of the most under-utilised data assets nearly every real estate business has – their CRM. Rita syncs with an agency’s CRM, analyses the data and provides guidance and insight to agents on what to do with that data.
Artificial intelligence and robots like Rita aren’t about replacing agents. The goal is to reduce the time agents spend in front of screens and instead empower them with the insight to build deeper relationships with buyers and sellers.
As API access with various software systems (more on that below) becomes more sophisticated, we’re going to see the list of ‘skills’ that a robot can perform in a real estate business increase significantly in 2019 – along with our industry’s adoption of these technologies.
2. More Focus On Agency Websites
From the major portals to ratings and reviews websites and social media, there are so many channels that you can have a presence today to market your brand and its services.
But you must understand that you don’t own any of these platforms and they can change the rules whenever they like.
Not only that, on every third-party platform you use, you’re competing for attention against so many different things – other agents, people’s family and friends, product advertising etc. But when a potential buyer or seller is on your website, you’re no longer competing for attention.
As the major property portals continue to put up their prices (and they will) and social media platforms continue to limit audience reach (and they will), digital marketing in real estate is getting harder and more expensive every day.
Instead of letting their digital presence ‘live’ on third-party websites, smart real estate businesses are now putting much more focus back on their own website as a core part of their digital marketing strategy and then leverage other platforms – social media, email, third-party websites etc – to draw buyers and sellers in to their own website.
In the olden days of digital marketing, you had to pay the ‘big media guys’ for access to their audience by advertising solely on their platform.
These platforms are still critical in the digital marketing mix of a real estate business but today you can now reach the same audience yourself, provided you know what you’re doing, with much less reliance on those third-party websites for buyer and seller leads.
This is a trend we know a fair bit about here at Stepps and the data shows that real estate businesses who adopt more love for their own website and use it as the final destination for buyers and sellers alike are spending less on acquiring buyer and seller leads from third-parties.
Combined this with many of the other trends in this article, and we’re going to see a number of new and creative real estate websites in 2019 that deliver unique experiences to buyers and sellers that cannot be obtained anywhere else on the internet while directing traffic to their website instead of someone else’s.
3. Google is betting big on local businesses
And they’ve made this clear by their investments in their Google My Business platform.
A major search ranking factor on Google for local businesses is proximity to the searcher. Meaning, if someone searches for the phrase ‘real estate agents’, Google is going to return the closest local real estate businesses to where that searcher is located.
Google knows (pretty much) where your prospects are when they perform a Google search – through the GPS coordinates of their WiFi network or their mobile service provider – and if your Google My Business profile, as well as your website, have been optimised correctly, Google will be more likely to display your business details ahead of your competitors – if your office location is in close proximity to that searcher.
Google also now puts more weight on Google Reviews than ever before – meaning, the more positive Google Reviews you generate, the more likely people will click through to your website, which helps push your business higher in Google search results.
We’re expecting to see a number of new business tools to be launched by Google in 2019 along with some changes to their existing tools that empower local businesses with the ability to optimise their digital presence to stay one step ahead of the competition.
3. VPA For Facebook Advertising On The Rise
The marketing mediums used in a property campaign have changed dramatically over the years – from full-page newspaper ads, signboards to priority placement on the major online portals.
Traditional mediums for promoting a property rely on a buyer to come looking for the property. But there’s one place where you, the real estate agent, can take the property to a buyer before they go looking for it: Facebook.
There are 15 million Australians (roughly 60% of the population) active on Facebook and through our daily interaction with the platform, we all tell Facebook what we like, don’t like, how we feel, what we buy, what websites we visit, where we travel, who we know, who they know, what they like and so on and so forth.
Furthermore, there are two critical pieces of information every Facebook user must give Facebook in order to use the platform: a verifiable email address and mobile phone number.
Combining Facebook’s data, the data your real estate business has in both your CRM – and your website – as well as the other tools mentioned in this article, you have all the tools you need to target property ads across Facebook’s various ad placements to people who, with a high degree of accuracy, are potential buyers for that property.
One of the major benefits of Facebook ads for your business, provided you are following best practice, is that all of the traffic from your ads comes to your website – giving you more opportunities to engage with potential buyers 1-on-1. And we all know potential buyers can be potential sellers as well.
Facebook ads go way beyond ‘boosting a post’ on Facebook (read about the difference here). Facebook’s ads platform is a sniper rifle approach to property advertising, as opposed to a machine gun – where you’re firing shots everywhere and hoping one shot will land.
Some third-party software platforms, built specifically for real estate, now provide listing tools to assist agents in selling Facebook ads to a vendor during a listing presentation.
More and more agents are adding Facebook ads to their marketing schedules and we’re seeing budgets of $300 – $500 on average for a property Facebook ad campaign. We’re predicting this to rise steadily in 2019 as more agencies continue to optimise their Facebook ad strategies and see higher conversion rates from this approach.
4. The Doors To Data Are Opening
An API (Application Program Interface) allows different software platforms to talk to each other.
More and more software and data providers are now providing real estate businesses with the insight and data that were traditionally only available to enterprise organisations.
In 2017, Domain Group announced the launch of their Developer Portal, which essentially provides access to their data via an API for real estate businesses to ‘tap into’ and use in their own applications.
Domain aren’t alone. Many CRM providers are also now providing API access for real estate businesses to push and pull rich (real-time) data from their CRM to other business applications – such as their company website.
We’re currently working on a number of website projects that utilise these various data sources to provide a unique experience only available on a real estate agency’s website. Watch this space!
Property data can be moved around the internet more easily than ever, and with the number of real estate businesses now using API enabled CRM platforms, we’re predicting more will explore new and creative ways to use API’s to optimise their sales, marketing and service offerings in 2019.
5. Data Tools Making Marketing More Effective
Much of the marketing and advertising we’ve done in real estate for a long time has gone like this… cast your net as far and wide as you can and reel in as many potential buyers or sellers as possible. For many businesses, they are still using this ‘batch and blast’ approach to their advertising.
With advances in technology, it is now easier than ever to make advertising more tailored to the consumer and achieve better results at a lower cost.
Take CoreLogic’s SmartMove product for example – a tool that helps real estate agents understand more about suburb migration and the characteristics of people moving into a suburb. So why is this valuable?
Imagine being able to target a Facebook ad to parents between the ages of 35-45 with a young family who currently live within a 3km radius of the property because you know, based on data, that 98% of people who have bought similar properties in that suburb in the past 12 months fit that criteria – well, you can.
Expect to see a number of new tools from various providers in 2019 that give you the insight to make your marketing more tailored to buyers and sellers.
As we enter a cooler market than what’s occurred in the past 5 years, it’s going to be interesting to watch what happens in 2019 and how businesses react. Many of these trends we’ve listed are about reducing costs – not adding more – and the cost of not innovating in these areas could be the difference between surviving and thriving in the coming years.
What are your thoughts? Is there anything we’ve missed? Are we way off in our predictions? Let us know in the comments below.