“Real estate is an inherently mobile industry which drives our mobile-first approach.”
That’s Jeremy Wacksman, Chief Marketing Officer of Zillow Group, explaining the one-for-one overlap between real-estate marketing and mobile marketing. Like any good buzzword, “mobile-first” is applied to everything these days: e-commerce, retail, software, entrepreneurship and even finding lost pets (seriously).
So why should you listen to Wacksman? Because if you’re in real estate, there simply isn't a bigger player than Zillow -- period. And not just in terms of market share and online traffic. As Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff recently told Jim Cramer, “More people now type the word ‘Zillow’ into Google than the words ‘real estate.’ ”
As Wacksman explains: "More than two-thirds of our traffic comes from a mobile device and on weekends it's more than 77 percent. In July, more than a half-billion homes were viewed on Zillow Mobile. That's 270 homes per second." In short, Jeremy concludes, "If you aren't advertising on a platform that consumers are using to shop for real estate, you are missing a huge opportunity."
Strong words. And that’s why I connected with Wacksman, along with six other real-estate and mobile marketing experts, to find out the real "mobile musts" for real estate.
1. Mobile design.
For the uninitiated, mobile design -- also known as responsive design -- means building web pages that automatically “respond” to the size of the device being used to view them. Commonly, this means resizing elements like text, images, buttons and navigation. However, it also can mean eliminating onsite content itself that can’t easily be viewed on mobile.
John Doherty, founder of GetCredo and a former senior growth manager at Zillow:
“As a current, older-millennial renter who is also considering a home purchase in the next year or so, if a site is not mobile optimized, I don't go back and use it. I spend the majority of my time on my phone and often use it as a second screen while watching TV."
"Give me a big tap target, an easy inquiry form, and remember my information. If your site isn't prepared for mobile users, you'll lose them to sites that are.”
2. Mobile ads.
Unless you’re Zillow, pay-per-click ads are the bread and butter of driving traffic to your real-estate site. These ads come in many forms: Google AdWords, Facebook Ads or display networks on other sites. Why should you go mobile-first with your ads?
Johnathan Dane, founder of KlientBoost:
“In today’s world, mobile marketing should be the number-one focus not only of traffic but also of predictable conversions. If real-estate buyers and sellers aren’t getting localized ads with images and calls-to-action designed specifically for mobile -- like an easily clickable phone number -- then you’re left with a broken marketing engine."
“What you see now are savvy agents embracing the Facebook Live video movement for home-tour promotion and grabbing potential leads en masse with ‘ads in apps’ campaigns."
Sujan Patel, co-founder of Web Profits:
“Buying a home is not the same as buying a laptop, but the trend holds: People explore on smartphones, convert at their desktops and then cross back over. With your ads -- and especially with your leads and sales funnels -- you have to make crossing that divide easy. If you’ve invested in a mobile app like Zillow, onsite tools like LinkTexting.com can get visitors to download it, and then the transition is seamless.”
3. Mobile landing pages.
Landing pages are standalone web properties that exist for a single reason: to drive action. The goal of your real-estate landing page has to be glaringly obvious and ruthlessly singular. Pick one goal and one goal only. After that comes mobility.
Trevor Mauch, CEO of InvestorCarrot:
“With both our company and our clients, nearly 60 percent of our leads are from mobile devices. Through optimization, we’ve learned to follow four rules. One, make your main CTA button no more than one 'swipe' down down the page so it pops up almost immediately. Two, add another CTA button at the bottom of your mobile landing pages too. People don't want to scroll back up to find your opt-in form or phone number. Three, use big buttons. Thumbs are fat, so make them span the width of the device screen. Four, don’t wrap your phone number in an image. Ensure it’s clear, text based, and easy to ‘tap to call.’ ”
4. Mobile chat.
Messaging, or mobile chat, is the new email of real-estate marketing. Whether you use old-school text messages, Facebook Messenger or real-estate specific apps, mobile chat can sync up listings, manage customer relations and make communication native.
Aaron Kardell, CEO of Homespotter:
“It’s all about the human touch. Real-estate agents that are accessible via a messaging app help their buyers feel more comfortable and less overwhelmed by using the same channel they prefer to communicate with family and friends."
“Messaging also allows you as an agent to appear more responsive. Even if you can't break away from another meeting for a phone call, you can often provide quick responses to your clients by text. Finally, real-estate specific messaging apps can now save agents substantial time in performing their job on the go."
5. Mobile amenities.
Going mobile with your marketing is non-negotiable. But if you’re in real estate, you can’t stop there. Millennials and nearly every other demographic demand a mobile experience that's carried across your services and accessible in their homes and rentals.
Nathan Miller, founder and CEO of Rentec Direct:
“For properties, keyless entry, mobile-connected thermostats and USB chargers in outlets are musts. Likewise for landlords, setting up mobile payment options as well as being ready to deal with maintenance requests digitally and immediately are par for the course."
“Perhaps the biggest ‘small’ thing you can do is to bring WiFi into all your properties to ensure new buyers or tenants have one less thing to worry about during the moving process. It’s staggering how much this tiny touch means to today’s always-connected crowds.”
Musts ... or die.
Zillow’s CMO Jeremy Wacksman might sound like an alarmist. But he’s right: “If you aren’t advertising on a platform that consumers are using to shop for real estate, you are missing a huge opportunity.”
And the other six experts are right, too. Real-estate marketing is about mobile design, mobile ads, mobile landing pages, mobile chat and even mobile amenities. The alternative isn't very pretty. But the upside is staggering.