When the retail industry started to move heavily into the digital sphere, it had to learn some hard lessons before it could flourish. All the old tricks that had worked with brick-and-mortar stores had to be reviewed. But since then the budding field of ecommerce has gone from strength to strength, showing the fruits of all that effort and adaptation.
In recent years, the real estate business has started to move towards more of a focus on online activity, with buyers and sellers alike given more options and greater convenience — but there’s still some way to go. Because real estate requires that tangible in-person assessment, it will never be that similar to online retail. But the real estate world can definitely learn from the ecommerce industry in how it tailors its operations to online activity.
Let’s take a look at some actionable tips for overhauling a real estate brand, ecommerce-style.
Smart automation is a huge time saver
Years back, in their never-ending quest to scale up, top ecommerce retailers led the way in designing and implementing marketing automation tools. Today, there aren’t many parts of the typical ecommerce process that can’t be automated to a major extent: store building, email marketing, customer support, ad campaigns, and even (in some instances) copywriting.
This is extremely useful, not only for store owners but also for customers. They get to benefit from personalized recommendations in marketing copy, and from expedient and accurate support systems.
The applications in real estate are clear. Not only can you schedule emails to send out to certain interested parties when properties meeting their criteria are listed, but you can also provide booking forms to arrange viewings without needing to speak to anyone. You’ll save time you can better spend on other things, and leave your clients much happier.
Rich media drives conversions
Because getting ahead in the ecommerce world is often about being more visible than your competitors, retailers must prioritize the production of high-quality product content that provides more than just basic text — often encompassing images, videos and various interactive elements.
One of the few clear advantages brick-and-mortar retail has over ecommerce is that it allows people to tangibly interact with the products they’re considering. To address this, we’re seeing a rise in VR and AR content: someone is more likely to purchase a table online if they can preview it in 3D in the intended environment of their home.
Though many agents still haven’t moved past traditional property listings, the real estate industry stands to do amazing things with rich media in the long term. Real estate sites needs to be fully modern and mobile-optimized, with slick visuals and clear information. Furthermore, every online listing should have an adjustable 360-degree video (in the vein of Google’s Street View) at the very least.
In fact, an ambitious real estate brand could make VR content part of its core value proposition by keeping VR headsets at its office. Someone who steps in to have a brief chat about their interests would usually be far more likely to want to book a viewing if they had the chance to browse an environment in virtual reality first.
Local SEO blog content really matters
Because ecommerce stores can’t rely on their physical locations to get traffic, online retailers know very well how important it is to rank well online — and local SEO work to rank both in and for a selected area is a crucial part of that for any business that operates or wants to specialize in a set location.
While many real estate brands have done reasonable jobs of adapting to the keyword-centric requirements of online search, there’s a lot of general improvement to be made when it comes to local SEO, particularly regarding content marketing. After all, the basics of real estate business are fairly straightforward, and many brands figure that things like blogging just aren’t suited to their activities.
In truth, targeted blogging is not only powerful but vital for establishing an online presence for your area. If you’re an expert in property of a certain type in a certain place, you need to let people know by sharing that knowledge through a blog using the right keywords. Anticipate relevant questions that searchers will have, and answer them through your content. That’s how you’ll get a reputation that will keep people going to you for assistance.
The ecommerce world is the future of the real estate world as far as presentation and convenience go. Figure out how much of your sales process you can automate, make sure your content presentation is outstanding, and start demonstrating your knowledge to the online world. It’ll definitely help!
Patrick Foster writes about everything in the hectic world of online retail for Ecommerce Tips, a leading action-centric blog for helping ambitious entrepreneurs achieve their goals. Take a look, and remember to check out the latest news on Twitter @myecommercetips.