The coronavirus (COVID-19) has had a severe effect on many economic activities all across the globe. The rampancy with which the virus has spread has forced many countries to put themselves under lockdown, fracturing the very backbones of most industries.
Real estate is one of the hardest-hit industries, and uncertainty remains about when there will be an opportunity to make up lost ground. There are obvious reasons why the sector will struggle in the near future; people are locked in, and most will be apprehensive about any big-ticket investment, even if the lockdown is lifted in the coming months.
But all this is not to say that the real estate sellers should sit still and wait for the spirit of the market to revive organically. Real estate agents can continue marketing their inventory properties by making use of the right channels and reaching out to the right investors.
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Here are five lead-generating strategies that people in the real estate industry can use to market their properties:
1. Create informative videos
Buyers are found to be drawn towards videos when looking to buy or rent a property. In fact, real estate ads that included a video resulted in 403 percent more inquiries than those without. The efficacy of the medium was validated somewhat by Century Real Estate, which recorded a 20 percent increase in sales after it included videos in its marketing campaign.
Now, with people forced to stay inside their homes, real estate agents can supplement their advertising mix with videos of the property, and let prospective buyers and renters know exactly what they have to offer.
And thankfully, with the advent of digital technology, making high-resolution videos is not as expensive as it used to be just a few years back. A smartphone and a tripod are pretty much all you need to produce a decent video, as free video editing tools are available by the dozens. For better traction, you should ensure that these videos are not very long and try to keep them under two minutes. These videos can then be uploaded to your real estate business’s social media and used for lead generation.
2. Leverage social media
The pervasiveness of social media platforms is hard to ignore in these times, with its ability to connect with people, no matter where they are.
Social media marketing plays a vital role for a modern real estate business. According to this report published in 2018, 44 percent of people look for properties online first. When we say, “online,” we’re talking about your real estate website, but also your listings and just as importantly, your social media. The real estate professionals surveyed in the report revealed Facebook to be their most favored choice for social media marketing (97 percent), followed by LinkedIn (59 percent) and Instagram (39 percent).
Real estate agents can make social media marketing work for them by providing relevant information and interacting with their followers regularly. Remember, just having a page with a massive following may not always result in good leads and you need to ensure that you interact with your followers and engage them to ease out their apprehensions.
You can also supplement your own content with testimonials from previous buyers. And make sure you’re providing information on completed projects, as well as future sightseeing and open house events.
Furthermore, you can list the benefits of a certain neighborhood, town, or commercial estate to lure potential future buyers. Think of everything you usually pitch to buyers, and the most frequent questions that come up, and start social conversations around that.
3. Use QR codes and direct mails effectively
Direct mailing potential buyers still results in good ROI for real estate professionals.
Direct mail not only delivers a tangible communication material but also inculcates a sense of personalization. It has been found that bigger envelopes, with personalized brochures, receive a better response rate than the smaller ones.
And the “offline” strategy of sending a brochure and postcard can easily be brought online, through the use of QR codes. QR or Quick Response codes can be printed on the material, which recipients can scan and be taken to the property’s website or social media channels.
The code can be linked with any media, be it video or an image gallery of the property or the location of the property. Considering how easy it is to create QR codes online, they have been already deployed extensively in out-of-home advertisements, like on the display boards outside a property, where interested buyers can scan them for information on the real estate agent, image galleries, or virtual tours (more on that later). Thus, a combination of printed and digital strategies can be harnessed in a cohesive way, despite the limitations we are put under in the current season.
4. Tap into influencer networks
The use of influencers, like actors and local celebrities, to promote a business has been done for a long time, and social media has exponentially increased the efficacy of this strategy. These influencers tend to have a massive or a dedicated niche following, and their followers look up to them for advice and suggestions.
Forbes magazine did a detailed report last year detailing how Instagram influencers are changing the real estate market and generating leads that would not be possible with print media alone. Another encouraging example of the use of Instagram-influencers is from Ekta World, a real estate firm in Mumbai, which uploads six posts every month and testifies that the exercise has led to a better recall value for their brand.
There are various ways through which these influencers can market a brand without making it seem like a hard sell — something that the younger generation tends to be skeptical of. Promoting lifestyle videos that give the followers a taste of what the locality or a specific town is like, or making Instagram stories about their favorite food joints, are a more oblique way of marketing popular real estate properties, without putting off more skeptical buyers.
5. Organize virtual home tours
Nothing works like taking the buyers inside the heart of the property and letting them have a realistic experience of what it feels to be inside it. While the lockdown has killed the prospects of a real property visit in many areas, virtual house tours are the next best thing to help prospective buyers check out a property.
But why do a virtual tour when one can simply make a video and upload it on the website or social media? The answer lies in the simple reason that these tours are not just videos of the properties but are an extension of a live visit. Virtual tours allow target customers to visit the property and see them in a way that is hard to imagine in a video. With the help of new interactive tools, a real estate business can make a house fully furnished complete with art décor, furniture, and appliances and give the buyers a sense of space and flow of the property. In the case of an already furnished apartment, the businesses can change the setting inside and give the house a modern, posher look, according to the taste of the customers.
Another virtual edge tours have over physical tours is their cost-effective nature. The former dispenses away with the heavy duties of lugging around furniture, removing wallpapers, or repainting a house. All of this can be done, almost literally, with the click of a button.
The coronavirus lockdown has severely impacted the real estate market, and it may take some time to recover from the disruption. It cannot be predicted just yet how the market will respond when the lockdown is lifted. However, according to some experts, the post-lockdown phase will be the best time for people to invest in properties, for they can be had at a price lower than usual. To this end, real estate marketers must engage their customer base continually with news of market prospects using the digital media, instead of losing them in the general gloom that the virus has brought on.
The lead generation strategies discussed above are not exclusive and can be employed in combination, for they only complement one another. Keeping up with consumers in a humane way and tapping into their sense of we-are-all-in-it-togetherness can work for a business in the long term. Such trying times surely present unprecedented challenges, but also offer a rare opportunity to try out the innovative and untested business strategies.