This is an ongoing series of articles that cover the topics and insights shared during the three-day Real Conf 2021 hosted by Adfenix. The following article summarizes the session held on Day 3 Session 3 of the conference.
Munyaradzi Hoto is Chief Customer and Marketing Officer at Adfenix, and in this session he shares industry insight on Prioritising the Digital Experience, looking at how the digital landscape is changing from a consumer and business point of view, what trends we are seeing and how we can predict that those will actually begin to have an impact on real estate going forward.
Buyers and sellers expect a rich, tailored digital experience
One of the prevalent points of view in real estate today is that buyers and sellers are now more self-educating and self-directing, largely through content and largely online. On top of that, buyers and sellers are expectant of much richer digital experiences.
Two-thirds of today’s buyers and sellers :
- want custom content;
- value an experience, above just the actual product on its own,
- actively buy from the most innovative companies.
This is evidenced by individual lives where the likes of brands like Uber, Netflix and Deliveroo have facilitated real-time responses to customer needs and wants, and now that movement has shifted to these larger transactions, in this case, property. Not only that, but even when conducting transactions that’s worth half a million pounds to buy a property, what customers are really expecting is the same type of personalization, rich digital experiences, and the same content nurturing that comes with other applications and platforms as well.
The Digital Disconnect
Real estate is one of the sectors in which there has been a shift towards more digital maturity and better digital experiences, but there still exists a disconnect on digital experience when it comes to certain assets. We already know that what customers really want is:
- A personalized experience;
- Simple and intuitive interfaces,
- And a tailored experience based on their needs.
But often times, when customers come to transact property, they’re actually being captured by:
- Broad targeting, (unless of course they’re using Adfenix)
- Static filters on some of the web assets,
- A quite generic experience, which is actually counter-intuitive.
The more money being spent, the more of a tailored experience people expect, but in real-estate it’s been quite the opposite for some time. However, it’s important for the industry to realize that the marketplace is embracing more innovation and more technology.
The Price of the Status Quo
Another key factor in better understanding digital transformation and maturity going forward, is that there are a number of events that have happened over the course of the maturity of the industry itself, that have helped us actually realize the need for change and that that need is permanent.
- Well before the world wide web, certain individuals would be recognized as the person who sells properties, and eventually there were enough properties on the market that they would be placed in newspapers as classified ads.
- Over time, the property discovery’s journey moved from just classified ads and agent office window sills, to actually being on portals, and in the dominance of portals we’ve seen happen over time, they actually started to invest in owning the ‘search’ features of discovering properties.
- With the emergence of the internet, this escalated largely through digital investment partnerships, and the adoption of internet tools and facilities.
What we’re seeing is that if you’re going to be a successful agency and brand, you have to own the next part of the wave of innovation and property.
Agencies that adapt today will be the leaders of tomorrow
What this really entails is not just thinking about the transaction part of the property but also in fact:
- The discovery process
- The nurturing process
- The buying process
- The after-purchase process (nurturing)
The most successful brands and agents are the ones that are going to take this mindset, and shift to digital permanently, as part of the core infrastructure of how they’re going to market, as this is what has been evidenced in other sectors. It’s the natural evolution of the industry, from classified ads, to portals and now to digital enabled agencies and brands.
A Growing Trend
The industry has consolidated itself around some very singular owners of the discovery process of properties. In the UK, there are massive players like RightMove and Zoopla; in Sweden, there are Hemnet and challenger portals like Beneo. But actually, the way brands are going to be successful in the future, and going forward, is to actually start thinking about how they can have direct relationships with their customers, even at the discovery point of view. Why? Because it means they:
- can know their customers better,
- can have first-party data on their customers,
- and they can begin to leverage that first-party data set, to be able to query it for not only personalized ongoing experiences, but also customer loyalty.
Case Studies of These Trends
We see these trends happen with brands like Nike in the retail space; Nike decided to move all of their inventory from Amazon and put their own infrastructure on their website. This enabled them to have direct relationships with their customers and, although it meant having to get better at getting discovered by customers, it allowed Nike to offer customers excellent digital experiences and nurture them in the post customer experience. This also enabled customers to come back and buy more services, through cross sell and upsell, and even later in the future.
Disney is another example. Their decision to remove all their content off of Netflix was considered a huge risk, because Netflix had become the marketplace for all media and content for all movies and TV. However, today we know Disney+ is one of the largest distributors of entertainment content, and they have won direct relationships with their customers. People now go to Disney to watch Disney, and Disney has managed to foster long-term, tailored, rich experiences for their customers to enjoy.
These case studies foreshadow what, fundamentally, real estate has as an opportunity to own and have rich, direct relationships with their customers, largely through digital. The whole theme of Real Conf, after all, is about digital enablement and digital transformation for brands.
To sum up:
- Today’s buyers and sellers are now more self-educating and self-directing, largely through content and largely online.
- Buyers and sellers are expectant of much richer digital experiences.
- There is a shift towards more digital maturity in real estate, but there is still a disconnect on digital experience
- Becoming a successful agency and brand means you have to own the next part of the wave of innovation and property.
- If you combine the leveraging of key data, together with creating an infrastructure that is game-changing, online websites, marketing automation tools, channels, and customer centricity at the center of it, you can really have a transformational experience for customers, that will help you: Grow your market share, Retain your customers, Sell more from them, through cross sell and upsell, Actually have long-term longevity as a supplier in that market.
- Fundamentally, the time for digital is now, the time to adopt digital is now, and the time to have game-changing digital experiences for customers is now.
About Real Conf.
Real Conf 2021 is a three-day virtual event exploring ways that agencies and brokerages can leverage the power of digital to increase business opportunities, elevate the brand, and empower agents to deliver success. The conference features hundreds of invaluable insight from keynote speakers, panel discussions and case studies from experts in the field.
All 15 sessions with 25 speakers are now available to stream on-demand.
Gain full access to the stream and watch the sessions in their entirety by signing up here: https://www.adfenix.com/real-conf