Buffini & Company Blog

8 Marketing and Technology Trends for 2016

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In today’s tech-centric world where consumers are submerged in their smartphones an average of 4.7 hours per day, where 1.49 billion people are logging into Facebook monthly and the average person is exposed to 5,000 ads per day, it’s no wonder consumers are blinded by and highly numb to the barrage of marketing messages thrown at them. As a real estate professional, how then do you get and stay relevant? No single tactic or tool could ever take the place of face-to-face relationship selling. At the same time, people shouldn’t put all their eggs in one basket. Real estate agents need a plan to reach and connect with their clients and future clients. That plan should include a blend of marketing and technology.

If being visible is an important component of the success of a small business owner, what marketing tools, trends and technologies should real estate professionals be aware of?

Here’s a look at some of the top trends and tools (and a few shiny objects) in marketing that will impact an agent’s ability to be visible and make connections in 2016.

  1. Social media will be recognized as more of a tool than a strategy. While many real estate professionals are still scrambling to figure out how to deploy social media as a marketing strategy to generate tons of leads, other industries are embracing social media as a tool or channel to build community and support their overall marketing strategy. The secret? Don’t rush to every social site and tool available and try to master. Connect with people you know and have conversations with them. That is truly what social media is all about. Want some help? Click here to learn how.
  1. Ad blockers will dilute the results of online marketing. Online advertising will get more expensive at the same time advertisers will see a reduction in ROI. How is this possible? Consumers are tired of in-your-face marketing and are retreating like they have reacted to similar approaches (think “no solicitation” signs and “do not call” lists). Be selective in where you advertise and seek to drive engagement in your ad designs and calls to action.
  1. Client Relationship Management Systems (CRM) will become a necessity. Even though CRMs have been around for years, it seems that the real estate agent is finally recognizing the value of some electronic assistance in managing his or her contacts and connections. The challenge is every vendor that promotes his or her products in the real estate space says he or she has “the one.” Let’s just say this. In 2016, you cannot survive and be successful without the right one. Click here to learn what to look for in a CRM.
  1. Mobile will dominate. Like most trends, we begin to hear the beat of the new and the next years before many actually take action. Now that more consumers are using mobile than desktop for media consumption (Research Report from comScore) it is super important to make sure you are mobile savvy and mobile-centric. Real estate professionals should not only make sure that their website is mobile responsive, but they need to ensure that they are able to utilize the right apps to help them connect with their consumers on multiple channels via their smartphone. More tech-savvy agents should consider deploying an app to make connecting with their clients easier (app usage accounts for seven out of every eight minutes of media consumption according to comScore).
  1. Video – a picture’s worth a thousand words. With the emergence of easy-to-use tools, apps and smartphones, creating and sharing videos has become super easy and mainstream. Aside from face-to-face connections, video is often times the next best thing. Look for video to continue to be a highly useful and effective marketing tool in the coming year. Use video to have your clients tell your story, advertise the brand of “you” and demonstrate your knowledge of the real estate market. Here’s a bonus – this is a good time to start using video email to stay connected to your sphere of influence.
  1. Virtual Reality will help show homes. The virtual tour is nothing new for the real estate professional. Agents have been using 360 tours for years to help show off their listings without having to cart the consumer from home to home. What’s better than video? Now with the advancements in virtual reality technology (Samsung’s Gear VR and Facebook’s purchase of Oculus VR last year for $2 billion), virtual reality (the ability to experience near real-life visuals and sounds via software) is going to make its way further into real estate in the coming year, primarily in the high-end/luxury market. When prices for the technology become more affordable, VR will become commonplace within a few years. Your goal this year should be to become familiar with VR for future use.
  1. Big data (predictive analysis) will make some noise. Predictive data is becoming more and more prominent in marketing and advertising circles. Real estate presents a great arena for using a consumer’s buying and behavior tendencies to help predict when he or she might be ready to move or purchase a home. This is cool stuff – but a bit scary to know so much information is collected on what we do and who we are. Look for lead generation companies and the emergence of new hyper-custom search sites to use big data to attempt to improve the quality and conversion rates of online inquiries (also mistakenly referred to as leads). Don’t get too caught up in the wow factor here. Referrals convert at a significantly higher return for the time and money invested.
  1. Wearable devices will gain traction. With the tidal wave of people flocking to the Fitbit and the launch of the Apple Watch in 2015, we are just getting started in the arena of wearable devices. Look for companies to develop powerful apps for real estate agents to more easily stay connected with their customers and the homes they are selling. The combination of wearable and smart home devices looks to be an arena real estate professionals should keep an eye on over the coming years.

One final observation. With Zillow’s purchase of Dotloop and the National Association of Realtors’ recent membership benefit partnership with Ziplogix, look for a lot of focus and attention on streamlining and compressing the timeline of the transaction process in the coming year.

Believe it or not, this is just a shortlist of the shiny objects we will be confronted with in the coming years. The key here isn’t to feel the need to know it all and do it all. Rather, the key is to hone and improve your relationship skills so that you can learn to better connect with and serve your customers. While others are battling it out in the tech and online arena, one thing will never change – building strong relationships and providing high quality service will remain the dominant way real estate professionals can market their services and grow their business. The winners will be those who learn to bridge the gap between technology and the creation and management of strong relationships.

Want to learn more about technology trends and marketing strategies for your real estate business? Join me at MarTech Trends™ on January 27!


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