Selling houses isn’t easy. There are a myriad of variables that can derail a potential sale: the living room’s too small, the garden’s too big, the house is too close to the main road, it’s too far from the shops, the prospective buyer stubbed his big toe when getting out of bed and he’ll be in a bad mood for the rest of the day… You get the picture.
And with increased competition from online commission-free agents, it’s never been more important for property developers and estate agents to find other ways to stand out from the crowd and win the capricious hearts and minds of their ever-more-discerning and well-informed potential customers.
Fortunately, we’re here to help. As experienced property marketers, working with Hill Group, Embassy Gardens and Berkeley Group, we have identified five future property marketing trends developers must embrace in order to secure a competitive edge in this rapidly developing marketplace.
Act Now. By embracing and capitalising upon these emerging trends, savvy property developers and estate agents will improve their customer targeting, create more engaging content and make the house-buying process smoother and more enjoyable for their customers. Big win.
1. Virtual reality and augmented reality
Just in case you don’t know, virtual reality (VR) is the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment in which you immerse yourself via a headset. Whereas augmented reality (AR) overlays digital imagery onto real environments (think Pokemon Go). Got it?
Whilst still in their relative infancy, VR and AR are both significant game-changers for the property industry. And it’s not difficult to see why.
Imagine a future in which buyers can visit their future home without leaving their current one. Imagine the ease this would afford them, the time and the money saved by not having to visit twenty homes before finding the right one. Well, with VR, you don’t have to imagine, as your customers can experience a 3-D walkthrough, one that can feature a guided tour or simply allow the viewer to explore at their leisure.
Also, through mapping photography into the VR experience, property developers need never show a customer an empty house again. Instead, they can dress the property digitally, making it easier for potential homebuyers to picture the lifestyle that awaits them. That’s powerful, sale-closing stuff.
Similarly, augmented reality can help homebuyers visualise what their dream property will look like, removing the guesswork of how their furniture will fit in a new property and allowing them to play with different decorative styles and furnishings.
Over the next two years, VR and AR will become an integral part of every successful property developer’s marketing strategy. So, our advice: look into the possibilities today and get ahead of the virtual curve.
2. Social listening
Social listening is the process of monitoring online conversations to understand what your customers are saying about you and your industry. It’s the ultimate market research tool and, as of yet, widely underutilised.
With real-time insights gained from social listening, you can create marketing content that appeals to customers’ needs and wishes, as well as quickly respond to any positive or negative PR surrounding your brand. So, if a significant section of your target audience is talking about wanting more ecologically sustainable features in the home, you can create content that sells the triple-glazing windows or low-energy lighting that your properties offer.
It’s important to note that social listening isn’t just a passive digital eavesdropping exercise – you should use it proactively yourself. For example, you can find out what people are saying about your competitors and find ways to take advantage of any negative PR they might be experiencing. You can identify what people love about the local area and create content to tap into this popularity. And you can use it to discover who the key influencers are in your industry or within a certain area and then forge brand partnerships with them to strengthen your reputation.
Social listening acts as a direct line into the mindset of your potential customers. As such, it’s a hugely powerful property marketing tool that should be used to support every aspect of your existing marketing strategy.
If you want to know more, read our social listening blog.
3. Video content
Video content marketing is hardly a new phenomenon, but it makes our list because too many property developers and estate agents are failing to make of the most of it, preferring still imagery to online video tours or remote live home viewings. And if you’re reading this and still not sure, the following statistics should convince you.
If content is king, then video content is the king of kings. Video currently accounts for a huge 75% of consumer internet traffic – a figure that will rise to 82% by 2021.
Video isn’t just popular, it sticks in the mind, too. As our video content marketing blog states, 55% of users consume video content thoroughly as opposed to just skimming it, making it the most memorable medium going.
According to Eye View Digital, embedding video into your landing pages can increase conversion rates by 80%, whilst, Forbes reports that social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined.
And whilst video content might not be new, property developers still have an opportunity to steal a march on the competition by making their websites more video-centric and, thus, more engaging. At the same time, they should be taking advantage of developments made within the medium, such as 360-degree video:
4. SEO-optimised content
But video shouldn’t be the only string to your content marketing bow. Along with engaging website content, social media, newsletters and blogging, your online presence needs to be a trove of useful, interesting information that draws customers in and makes you memorable to your audience.
To help with this, it’s vital that your content is underpinned using search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques. SEO helps increase web traffic by ensuring your site can be found more easily via search engines. This is done by uncovering popular keywords and phrases that your target audience is searching for and that are relevant to your service offering.
You can further prove your credibility to search engines by having your work linked on other reputable websites. You might, for example, want to ask high-end interior designers who furnish apartments to link your blog on their website, which will help both parties from a content and SEO perspective. By fostering relationships with a number of related brands, you will be able to backlink your work on more websites and improve your SEO ranking in the process.
A friendly reminder: search engines don’t appreciate it when you gratuitously cram your content with keywords just for the sake of it. So, make sure your writing is relevant and interesting to your readers and not a vehicle for SEO spam.
5. Digital first strategy
In recent years, the property market has started to embrace the digital world to help customers facilitate property viewing and buying. The growth of Rightmove and Zoopla; the rise of online estate agents; the need for a social media presence – all signs that the industry recognises that the future is digital.
And if digital is the new playground for property marketing, it’s vital that brands focus their efforts on digital media and consider diverting money away from print and TV and putting it into pixels. (See here for an example of how TV budgets are being diverted into digital..)
This isn’t just about maintaining a Twitter-feed or firing out a monthly newsletter. Instead, a digital first approach demands the wholesale adoption of digital media across all your customer touchpoints. So that wherever they roam online, they have easy access to your engaging messaging via a responsive and enticing website, informative social media feed, educational blog content, 360-degree video and immersive VR experiences.
How Woven can help
Technological and digital innovations are disrupting the property development and real estate industries from top to bottom. From VR to social listening, 360-degree video to digital first strategies, marketers need to embrace the future trends that are already starting to mould the industry landscape.
Migrating budgets away from traditional print advertising into cross-platform digital advertising campaigns will be key to survival and success. In a bid to make the home-buying process as easy and enjoyable as possible, property marketers need to be early adopters of game-changing technology (VR, AR) and integrate existing strategies (SEO, video) in exciting new ways.
Here at Woven, our content marketers, video producers, digital marketing executives and VR /AR partners create immersive, educational content that resonates with home buyers on an emotional and practical level. And via social listening and analytics, we can work out what content works best for you and target it at your chosen demographics.
Whether through the written word or moving picture, via virtual or augmented reality, we will maximise your property marketing potential and deliver digital-first strategies that speak directly to your target audiences – both right now and for years to come.
Contact us today to find out more.