64% of commercial real estate experts predict increased search traffic in 2014
One of the areas of CRE that’s most changed over the past couple of years is marketing. From business cards and handshakes, we’ve gone to bounce rates and HTML. Real-world marketing is still of vital importance, but it’s becoming harder for businesses to ignore the ever-increasing presence of online marketing as a channel for generating business.
The beginning of the year is all about setting resolutions and strategies, and to help you do so in an informed manner we’ve collected responses from an élite focus group of CRE experts to find out where they expect online marketing to be headed over the next year.
Where will CRE marketing take us next year?
Search engine traffic in 2014
An overwhelming majority of CRE experts believe in the increased power of the search engine to attract interest in their services:
- 64% believed that their site would receive a greater amount of visits from Google searches in 2014.
- 27% believed that their site would receive an equal amount of visits from Google searches in 2014.
- 9% believed that their site would receive fewer visits from Google searches in 2014.
Mobile traffic in 2014
Last year, we reported that mobile traffic to CRE websites had risen by 61% in just one year. And the importance of the smartphone is clearly not faltering on its upward trend:
- 41% believed that the proportion of mobile visits to their site would significantly increase in 2014.
- 50% believed that the proportion of mobile visits to their site would increase in 2014.
- 9% believed that the proportion of mobile visits to their site would not increase in 2014.
Web traffic and lead generation
What are these extra visits worth, if they don’t translate into paying customers? Our CRE experts were a little more cautious about the ability of web traffic to bring in business, but the majority conclusion was still positive:
- 41% stated that they had generated many leads from their website.
- 18% stated that they had generated some leads from their website.
- 22% stated that they had generated no leads from their website.
- 18% remained unsure.
Various opinions spring from these statistics:
1. Dynamic content
For one thing, it seems as though the increased importance of Google searches will require CRE websites to feature more varied types of content on their sites. Taidgh McClory (CBRE New England) is not alone in predicting “more video marketing”, and another expert suggests that “Real estate companies will be leaning more towards an all-encompassing portfolio of digital marketing pieces”.
Online CRE community platform the Broker List go one step further, envisaging continuously-evolving “high quality satellite imagery and mapping tools” as well as “animated or conceptual imagery of renovations”. And Chris Clothier (Memphis Invest) cites “the recent trend of education marketing” as a new way to engage leads.
2. Website design
Correspondingly, an evolution in design and development was another strong prediction for 2014. User experience has always been of vital importance, and with an increasingly competitive internet, the state of your online shop floor is now a crucial factor in making new deals. As Christopher Rising (President and COO, Rising Realty Partners) concisely states, “the requirement to have a simple and quick customer experience will only become more important”.
3. Analytical tools
Analytics was also deemed to be an important area for potential CRE growth – as Greg Shenk (The Shenk Company) states, “Having a strategic plan is key!”, and increasing demand for tools which help real estate professionals plan for the future has lead to rapid developments in this field.
Indeed, inMotion’s own founder Bob Samii believes that “in 2014 we will see more CRE firms making data-driven decisions for their marketing activity stemming from better access to data, better reporting, and better analytics embedded into the organization.” Janine Wuschke (Avison Young) illustrates this statement with some examples: “more firms will be looking for an all-encompassing marketing tool that can not only track digital, social media, public relations campaigns but also track the actual broker marketing and give a great deal dashboard”.
In particular, analytics solutions provider View the Space was mentioned several times as a website-to-watch in the real estate sector.
4. Hiring techniques
Various members of the focus group also pointed to changing focuses in human resources. To keep up with pace of the fast-changing digital channel, marketing professionals in the real estate space are now expected to have a strong technology and online background as well as dominating the offline field.
5. Traditional values
Our professionals agreed, however, that despite the number of advertisers flocking from off- to online, real estate marketing over the coming year must make sure it retains traditional marketing values. Our focus group feels that real estate marketing always “has been and will be relationship (networking) based”, and agree that “taking a more personal approach to networking and strong company branding are two very important factors in real estate marketing”.
One final comment leaves us feeling positive about the future of CRE. As one expert states, “as we head into an era when most information can, and probably should, be open source, real estate professionals are going to be more necessary than ever as advocates and experts for their clients’ interests.”