Author: David Wolf, President of Development Marketing and Senior Vice President – Chicago, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
In today’s world of advertising inundation and advertising overload, it’s challenging to reach the right consumers, with the right message, at the right time. This is especially true in the real estate industry. Unlike a traditional B to C transaction where selling a product or service to a consumer has measurable and predictable competition, marketing real estate comes with additional competitive elements. Not only are we competing with other product (listings), we are grappling with various sources who are trying to capture leads and customers by using our product (listings) to attract them. Each of us is battling competitive agents and brokerages, as well as syndication portals like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com® for the attention of the consumer.
Historically, real estate casts a wide net when it comes to its marketing strategy. We set out to get as many eyeballs on our listing, by any means possible, and if it is priced and positioned correctly it will sell. This approach still works, most of the time. However, situations arise where we have to market with more precision. Marketing new developments, homes in up-and-coming locations and highly unique properties come with myriad nuances that can pose a challenge in reaching their true target market if only traditional methods are used.
Location, location, location-based marketing may become the newest adage in real estate marketing. Now, not only can we utilize predictive analytic technologies to pinpoint where buyers are in the traditional sales cycle, we can also pinpoint their physical location. Geolocation targeting/geofencing and Beacon technology are two highly effective ways to market based on a consumer’s location. These technologies have distinct differences, but their purpose is very much the same: to know when a mobile device is within a specific location, and to trigger something to happen on that device.
What Is Geolocation Targeting/Geofencing?
Geolocation targeting is basically personalizing customer communications based on their whereabouts in the world. Targeting can be done by country, state, city, ZIP code, or GPS location. An invisible electronic “fence” can be drawn around a property. Targeting moves in concentric circles, with GPS location being the most specific or granular—the center of the bull’s eye, if you will. Geolocation targeting technologies utilize smart phone GPS, Bluetooth and sometimes Wi-Fi to reach customers.
What is Beacon Technology?
Beacons are basically the in-room version of geofencing. Transmitters (beacons) are placed throughout a space to push alerts, information and highlights to a location-based app on a consumer’s device.
How can these technologies be used?
Most modern real estate websites have geolocation functionality. For example, by downloading Coldwell Banker’s search app, a consumer can have listings in their immediate location pushed to their mobile device. Realtor.com®’s mobile app collects consumers’ GPS locations to personalize the real estate search experience, with options such as “Nearby for Sale.” Instead of having to enter location data, consumers can choose one button in the mobile app that displays all homes for sale around their location. Additionally, there are many third party app companies who will license these technologies to real estate marketers.
Here are some other ways location-based marketing is used in real estate:
Price Change Announcement and Newly Released/Available Inventory: It’s important to repeatedly follow up with prospects throughout the sales cycle. If a customer is near your property, important info can be pushed to them. As you walk by a high-rise, every available unit in that building can be pushed to a consumer’s device.
Cross-Promotions with Local Businesses: You can partner with a local business to target their customers when they are nearby — think Uber pushing real estate listings when you get dropped off or plug in your destination. Another example is a new table waiting app sending an open house address of a nearby property, while you wait for your table.
For the innovative real estate marketer, the possibilities are endless. Admittedly, these technologies are probably most applicable for on-site development sales efforts and for brokerages to use on a company-wide scale. However, as things evolve, advancements in smart phone location technologies and location-based marketing undoubtedly will make these technologies more flexible, intuitive and financially feasible.