With the rise of the Internet, changes in ‘digital savvy’ buyer behaviour, and advancements in digital marketing technology – developers, agents and their marketing agencies have the opportunity to build property sales ‘pipelines’ and direct marketing channels like never before.
In this post, we will look at the changing relationship between property developers and house-buyers, and how you can harness new digital marketing technologies to forge valuable connections with buyers, build significant competitive advantage, and ultimately, sell more homes.
There are 3 key trends that you as a property developer (or indeed agent), need to build into your property marketing strategy:
1. The Changing Relationship Between Key Players
If we look at the players in the house-buying process, we can see that there are new challenges and opportunities being created as technology, economies and markets continue to disrupt everything that was for many decades considered ‘set in stone’.
- Developers are becoming more actively involved in the marketing of their new homes
- Agents are using data and technology to deliver personalised marketing communications
- Buyers are finding new channels to research and buy homes that never existed before
- Agencies must craft campaigns that engage buyers on many devices & platforms
This presents the tip of the iceberg in what is a huge shift in how property will be marketed and sold in the next 5-10 years.
“Home builder related searches on tablets grew 362% year-over-year.”
NAR/Google ‘Digital House Hunt’ Survey, 2014
2. ‘Buyer direct’ is already happening
From the buyer side, we are already seeing a trend towards direct-to-seller – where homeowners are posting ads on social media sites and forums to reach buyers, and between themselves, are handling the administration of their sale.
The trend is real, and although we are still in the early stages – it will continue to grow and solidify as technology savvy buyers and sellers opt to use the free tools and platforms available to take more control over their property transactions – and save money in the process.
The relationship between the key players in the buying and selling of property is changing – and will continue to change rapidly in the coming years.
3. The Changing Face of Advertising
It’s now clear that digital channels play an increasingly important role in influencing homebuyer decisions, but should be used in tandem with traditional property marketing and advertising tactics such as brochures and signage.
Agents are still a vital part of the marketing and sales drive, and as valuable as their service is for the sale of property, developers cannot afford to ignore the opportunity to develop, alongside the agents, their own digital strategy.
Your strategy can in fact run in parallel and in perfect harmony to the agents, with all leads being passed over to allow the agents to do what they do best, which is sell. Developers should be involved and take control at a strategic level of their marketing to ensure all marketing channels and digital activities are working together effectively.
“TV, outdoor, and print channels play a minimal role in the research and decision-making process for home buyers”
NAR/Google ‘Digital House Hunt’ Survey, 2014
The Digital Opportunity for Property Developers
The shift is undeniable, and the opportunities presented to developers who invest in their own platforms and forge connections with buyers will create significant competitive advantages in the future.
Building a sustainable competitive advantage
Fast-forward 5 years, and think about your nearest competitor. Imagine they have spent the past 5 years building their own marketing channels (email database, social media, search engine rankings) – capturing buyer information, and engaging with buyers on a range of platforms.
Owning the parts of your marketing that can be owned and developed has never been more important.
Imagine they now reach a highly targeted network of several thousand, or even tens of thousands of people, and have geographic, purchase & demographic information on them to use to inform future marketing and business decision making. Now imagine that your only marketing channels are still the traditional channels of agents and advertising.
Who has the competitive advantage? Who can stoke up interest quicker and earlier when it comes to building awareness of new developments? Who can offer their agents direct marketing channels that help reduce advertising costs?
Today’s homebuyers are the best-informed homebuyers in history.
The NEW Home Buyers Journey
The way your customers buy homes has changed. Search engines, YouTube, social networks, forums, mobile apps, maps – these are the new tools of house buying.
Not only is the range of channels used to conduct research becoming more complex, buyers hop around like crazy between channels, using multiple devices simultaneously to piece together their knowledge of potential areas, agents, developers, prices and financing options. In part 2 we look at how to build a property marketing content strategy that engages buyers at each key stage of their buyer journey.
5 stages of the homebuyer journey:
- Stage 1: Consideration
- Stage 2: Online research (90% of buyers start here*)
- Stage 3: Active search
- Stage 4: Transaction
- Stage 5: Post-sale
Like any new paradigm in business, this new shift brings with it some challenges, and many opportunities for both residential and commercial property marketing, including:
- Owning your marketing channels and buyer data as an asset
- Building a scalable, repeatable Inbound marketing framework to drive demand
- Long term savings on traditional advertising
- Asset creation in the form of content that supports sales
There are challenges certainly, but once you have a framework in place, it then stays in place, and becomes an increasingly valuable asset that you own.