Last year was an exciting time for real estate marketing and we saw real estate agents embrace the power of digital technology like never before. We watched as Realtors ditched the mentality that their website is a business card, and saw them conquer new frontiers as they transformed their small territories on the World Wide Web into full-blown marketing machines.
We expect that 2018 will be just as intriguing, and expect to see some pretty awesome changes to the digital landscape. And while we can't tell you exactly what the future holds, here are our top 6 real estate marketing predictions for this year:
6. Realtors will invest more into social media advertising
Social media is a rising star in online marketing and Realtors are beginning to take notice. Facebook and other platforms allow real estate agents to create highly effective, hyper-targeted ad campaigns that bring in buyers and sellers. Realtors will start to take advantage of the opportunities that have been right in front of them for the past couple years.
Crowding in many of the traditional PPC spaces, like Google AdWords, is making them very competitive. Higher ad costs and lower lead generation than in years past is likely to drive Realtors in high-density cities towards alternative advertising methods, including social media.
We also expect Realtors to stop the shotgun spray approach to social media. Instead of posting a little bit of info on several platforms, they'll choose one or two platforms to focus their efforts and really start to dominate. Facebook is an excellent candidate for this approach, but we're also seeing big potential in LinkedIn and Instagram.
In addition, this week's changes to Facebook's algorithm will also make it harder for even the best content to be seen organically, and Realtors may find an increased need to "pay to play" as Facebook prioritizes family, friends, and groups content. Real estate agents will need to carefully monitor what is and isn't working to ensure their social media efforts are paying off.
All in all, it looks like 2018 will be the year that many Realtors step up and start investing more into social media advertising.
5. Big data will improve user experiences
Real estate is catching up to other industries that have already discovered the power of data. Smart Realtors will be looking at ways to combine data from multiple sources to set themselves apart by providing a stronger user experience.
Until now, real estate websites have been hyperfocused on IDX listings--and that makes sense, because it's the core of what buyers and sellers care about. But with so much competition in the market, it's time for Realtors to find ways to differentiate themselves.
Data presents this opportunity, letting Realtors improve the consumer experience by providing more information. The key is finding the right sets of data to complement real estate info, and then using clever integration methods. The people who do this right will hit a gold mine and we expect it's only a matter of time before Realtors start looking at combining data from multiple sources in a big way.
4. Content creation will focus more on sellers
Low inventory levels across Canada and the United States are expected to continue through to 2018, as builders simply can't keep up with the demand. Entry-level homes are particularly challenging to find and the demand significantly outweighs supply. Simply put, it's a seller's market.
With that in mind, Realtors are going to come up with creative and inventive ways to convince people in their community that it's the right time to sell. Convincing buyers with lower equity homes that it's the right time to sell will be a smart way to find new clients and close deals.
Due to the same market constraints, Realtors will also start finding innovative methods of targeting mid- to high-income earners and convincing them it's time for an upgrade to a better home.
3. AI will start taking on repetitive admin work
Artificial intelligence presents a huge opportunity for real estate agents to improve their marketing with very little effort. We expect 2018 to be the year that AI helps Realtors personalize the user experience while alleviating some of their work.
One of the best things about AI is that it does what you teach it to. You give a bot your existing knowledge and it can complete tasks that were previously wasting your time. For example, real estate chat bots could help people sort through listings and find their dream home, naturally collecting lead contact information along the way.
We expect AI to start taking on more of this repetitious work, freeing Realtors up for other activities.
2. Immersive experiences will become more popular & help Realtors stand out
Buyers want to get as close to a potential property as they can, without actually being there. As a result, media that provides immersive experiences, including video, 360 photos and virtual reality, is about to become a whole lot more popular.
360 photos and virtual reality already exist for real estate listings and we think this is the year that people start to integrate those options into their sites in a big way. Allowing potential buyers to get a genuine feel for a property from afar is an efficient and cost-effective way to determine which homes are worth checking out. By eliminating the "no ways" right off the bat, everyone's time is better optimized.
Video is another immersive experience we expect to grow. Video has been around for quite some time but the vast majority of Realtors are still shy about using it to share with their communities. We suspect this is the year that changes. From live videos to simple recorded messages, there are a lot of ways we'll see Realtors using video this year.
The more success Realtors see from their digital marketing, the more efficient they need to become, while still creating strong, personal connections and proving their value to buyers and sellers. Immersive media is the simplest answer to this challenge, satisfying the need for better consumer experiences.
1. Mobile users will stop forgiving unfriendly websites
Up until now, real estate agents have managed to mostly get away with terrible website experiences on mobile devices because users were willing to accept a site that's a bit glitchy (or "janky" as the young kids say) on their smartphone. Those days are over.
First, Realtors have caught up with the rest of the web and have started to deliver phenomenal mobile experiences. From IDX apps to responsive designs, users now know that it is possible to find their dream home without switching to a desktop. They've seen sites that work flawlessly and they aren't going to want to settle for anything less.
Second, Google is going to talk more about dropping its mobile-first search index. We don't know exactly when this change is going to happen, but there will be a huge demand for better mobile experiences the moment a mobile-first announcement is made. That demand will result in better websites, once again showing users they don't have to compromise.
As more Realtors provide great mobile experiences, users are going to stop tolerating subpar experiences and will simply move on to the next real estate site instead.
There you have it! Those are our top 6 real estate technology predictions for 2018. If you have any predictions of your own, feel free to share them in the comments below!