June 28, 2019

How Social Media and Personalized Messaging are Disrupting Real Estate Norms

Realtors who are able to use social media platforms to interact with consumers already have a leg up on the competition, who will continue on with many layers of time laborious processes.

All realtors know that successfully closing a deal depends a lot on how much they’ve invested in their relationship with a potential buyer. They have limited time in which to try and ‘suss out’ exactly what kind of customer they’re dealing with, and strive to serve as many best-match houses as they can. However, in the digital age we now live in, the dynamics of that realtor-customer relationship have not only changed rapidly, but they continue to change drastically by the day, as consumers become more and more tech-savvy and informed. This in turn spells out revolutionary shifts not only for the profession, but across many industries as well. 

A Changing Demographic 

Millennials today are afforded much more luxuries than previous generations, including more opportunities, more room to ‘find themselves’, create new job profiles that were non-existent previously, and demand a lot more from brands they choose to follow. No wonder then that millennials have become the highest consumers of luxury goods and are fast becoming the largest real estate buyers. Digitalised shopping experiences now mean that marketers have to work extra hard responding to modern consumers who are seeking incredibly personalized experiences while still being ‘on trend’. Social media and smart devices all contribute to the rise of an ever growing buying demographic that now has the loudest, strongest consumer voice - and real estate marketers will do well to shift their marketing strategies and sales funnels accordingly. 

Surveys have indicated that 61% of Americans are willing to share personal data for personalized marketing communications, which would eliminate as much irrelevant content as possible. On top of that, they also demand more when it comes to customer service - over 40% of consumers say they expect a reply to their query within one hour, while 52% are willing to pay a premium for greater speed and efficiency overall in their purchasing experience. 

Promising Beginnings

When it comes to buying a home, the first go-to point for most millennials (and increasingly, other age groups too) is now online. Websites that are making use of 3D and virtual tours are becoming a staple feature, because real estate brands are recognizing that first engagement with a property is now typically through photos, videos, floor plans etc - all online as opposed to having to go to the property itself. Consumers today are not only interested in making a purchase - they are keen and willing to learn on the way. 80% of consumers use the internet as a starting point for research on products and companies alike, so brands have a greater responsibility than ever before to be forthcoming, transparent and approachable all at the same time. While they have the means to communicate with clients on a 1:1 basis through social media and broadcast carefully crafted messaging unlike any time before, brands also realize the crucial importance of not only meeting higher consumer demands, but anticipating those needs in advance wherever possible. 

Realtors who are able to use social media platforms to interact with consumers already have a leg up on the competition, who will continue on with many layers of time laborious processes. After all, while one realtor could spend days arranging and carrying out in-person meetups with a potential client, another realtor could simply do a 10-minute Facebook Live on their smartphone, broadcasting to all their followers a quick tour of an available property and surrounding neighborhood. Viewers can ask any questions they like, pertaining to their exact concerns and needs, all of which the realtor can respond to instantly, in real-time. This is just the remotest of what personalization could look like. 

Personalization is Still Incredibly Under-Utilized

A VentureBeat study found that 80% of marketers are failing to personalize their efforts, and according to Econsultancy, a mere 19% use personalization in their marketing. However, a whopping 74% recognize that personalization does improve customer engagement. 

One looming reason is volume. Because there is so much content, so many marketing channels bombarding consumers and brands alike on the internet, there is intense pressure on brands to broadcast effective messaging that stands out and reaches its target audiences. Studies have shown that many marketers - including real estate agents - are still stuck with the basics of email and newsletters etc, but these shifting trends show that personalized messaging is a necessity. 

Dale Carnegie writes in How to Win Friends and Influence People: “Remember that a persona’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” And in fact, psychological studies back this up. A study revealed that when people hear their own first name (vs hearing other first names), there is a unique reaction in the brain, triggering greater brain activation. Consumers who are able to hear or see messaging that is truly catered to them, are simply more engaged, feel that they are receiving tailored information and offers, and, in a sense, have an immediate inner sense of control over their life outcomes, (ie. I am in control of this house-buying process, this home could be mine if I choose it to be, etc). As humans, we are just naturally more inclined to engage with information that we find relevant, and what could be more relevant than something that calls out your name and speaks to the exact stage of life you’re at and interests you have right now? Hence, the power of personalization. 

Best-in-class brands realize that the wealth of consumer information at hand is a gift to wield, not to bemoan. The opportunity to dive into the real data - all the data - means a better in-depth understanding of existing and new consumers. This means understanding their lifestyle, their purchasing history and buyer behavior, finding out what kinds of companies and brands they are following on social media, (even the everyday trials and tribulations they may have posted publicly on their social media). Sifting through this valuable data will then allow best-performing agents to segment their audiences - and segment further and further along until they are able to craft the most relevant messaging to each digitally-powered consumer. 

Munyaradzi Hoto
My role is to work with our customers to define what the future of real estate looks like and to equip our audiences with the latest thinking and research about the sector.