20 years ago, the internet was in its infancy. A little-known company called Google had just been founded, and getting online to begin with took ages thanks to a dial-up connection.
Property marketing was a relatively simple affair as well. Print was the order of the day; basic information got people on the phone or into the office, where the estate agents would work their magic to make the sale. Online property marketing wasn’t even on the horizon.
Fast forward to 2019, when an online presence is mandatory in most industries, including property marketing. Online portals, microsites, virtual tours, 360-degree videos, chatbots, and social media were once disruptions to the space that many wanted to ignore. Today, they are all essentials pieces of the puzzle. And with so many new technologies emerging to enhance the online experience, it can be hard to know where to spend your marketing budget.
In 2018, the buzz in the property sector is all around VR and smart home technology. How will this disrupt the industry again, and how can property developers utilise it to enhance the buyer experience and win more business across various demographics?
With a decade of experience in property marketing, Make Studio has seen the impact of digital marketing on not just tech savvy millennials but on the market as a whole. While it’s no surprise that younger buyers are looking for more robust digital experiences, a surprising number of baby boomer buyers say that their first stop when property shopping is online.
The difference lies in the information these generations look to find online. Older generations see the internet as a digital extension of a print brochure. They’re happy to browse through the basics of the property and click through a couple of pictures before contacting an agent to learn more.
Younger generations, on the other hand, are looking for as much information as possible right at their fingertips. They don’t just want to know the basics or scroll through some photos. They want information about the neighbourhood. They want to know if their furniture would fit. They want to know what that one wall would look like if they painted it a different colour. They want to know about schools, extension possibilities, and finance options. And they want all of this before they contact the agent.
The promise of emerging technology becomes very enticing when you consider all of this. VR offers the ability to create a digital experience of something yet to be created in real life, with the future potential to customise things in real time to the preferences of the buyer. Smart home technology and artificial intelligence allow for unprecedented personalisation and the ability to create a sense of home right away.
Buying a home is an emotional experience. It’s not B2C marketing, it’s H2H marketing: Human to Human. Creating that emotional experience is the key to making connections. Compelling someone to make such a big decision requires making as many connections as possible. And as more and more buyers look to establish those connections online, emerging tech becomes they key to creating experiences that establish and enhance those connections.
However, it would be a mistake to think that the best way to attract customers would be to start implementing every shiny new technology that becomes available. It’s important to be sure you’re making the best possible use of budget, time and other resources, especially in today’s highly competitive property market. Instead of starting with the tech, you should start with the customer. In what ways does technology enter their day to day lives? For older generations, it may be primarily through their children and grandchildren. For first time buyers, it probably plays more of a role in their daily lives.
When used in the right context, immersive and intuitive technology is incredibly motivating, especially for more digitally inclined buyers. It taps into the power of H2H marketing in an unprecedented way. Whether you’re giving a new lease on life to a character property or creating walkthroughs of a new build before a spade even touches the ground, VR opens up a whole new world of visualisation and customisation. The possibilities are endless. But if your target market doesn’t even own a mobile, much less a device that would support VR, or if they feel that smart home technology is intrusive, it would be a mistake to prioritise the tech over an elevated print experience.
New technologies may not be commonplace yet, just as the internet was still being adopted twenty years ago. But with more and more new ways to customise the home-buying experience, developers and estate agents are thinking about how they can embrace technology in their marketing. The important thing is to keep the customer in mind, being sure to choose technologies and contexts that make sense for them. That is the key to successful, compelling property marketing.