A friend recently stated, “I’m only looking for flats in this postcode, because you can get Deliveroo.” This tongue-in-cheek comment holds more than a grain of truth. The pandemic has fundamentally changed people’s attitude towards their homes and technology is fuelling the transformation. The result? Adaptability, multifunctional space and lifestyle choice are replacing kitchens and driveways as priorities for purchasers who are ‘moving with the times’ rather than seeking ‘a home for life’.
As a result, a full-scale re-evaluation of the selling and aftercare journey for digital marketers is in full swing. To succeed in this new world, you need to have one eye on evolving customer behaviour and the other on new market entrants eager to consume any gaps you leave unfilled. Key drivers in your strategic plan should include four key tactics.
Customer-led search Search has started to flex. Hybrid working has meant the desire for more space and all-round experience, has shot up the list of requirements, whilst commuting times and transport links have become secondary considerations. There’s a shift to city dwellers moving to peri-urban zones, slightly further from work but with more space and closer proximity to family and friends. Others have moved further out to find a place by the sea or with space for a home office.
The broadening of the ‘search circle’ means search criteria need to become more nuanced. Plan beyond the single data point of a postcode or location to keep sight of people as they move in and out of the boundaries of their local area. As a response to these behaviour shifts, disruptor, Twindig, now enables buyers to search for and track the property of their dreams before a house even comes onto the market. By exploiting the power of data their customers can ‘find and follow any home’ whether currently for sale or not. This extends their presale pipeline and gives them earlier engagement with future buyers than their competitors. It also breeds loyalty at the wide end of funnel.
Similarly, PropertyHeads is a new intel-led platform tracks the status of properties, enables wider search and encourages users to find out more about a location by ‘asking the neighbours’. All before someone has even decided they want to move.
Embrace the hybrid viewing experience Lockdown accelerated the buyer’s appetite for virtual tours. They swiftly adapted to using the digital journey for research and initial selection. This hasn’t however replaced their desire to step inside a property before buying it. At this stage the digital opportunity shifts to the potential of up and cross selling associated products - using 3D configurators to visualise product inside the space. When designing the user journey for your brand, therefore, think about houses as repositories with multi-functional assets. New player, Boomin’s, ‘playground’ has capitalised by adding e-commerce to their site; so buyers can add new sofas, beds and designer furnishing options to their purchases.
Focus on lifetime customer value The ‘pre-search to after sales’ journey is cyclical and can happen multiple times in one person’s lifetime. Platforms like Zoopla are offering your keys to digitise the sales process and manage the sale of new build properties, streamlining the journey from reservation through to exchange and completion. Other new entrants are looking to put the power squarely in the hands of the consumer by delving into NFTs, like Propy.com, developing blockchain mortgages, BlockFi and, in the case of ApartmentOcean, introducing AI-powered customer service representatives.
Strengthen your foundations With this relentless drive to meet new customer expectations and ‘fill the gaps’ with digital, how can you keep up? It would be naïve to suggest staying ahead of the curve is simple. In reality, many real estate brands are sizeable organisations with centralised HQs and large teams in the field. The technical changes required to deliver more joined up experiences can be a blocker. But existing platforms, whether off-the-shelf property specific or not, can become a piece of a broader solution, like that offered by one of our Gold platform partners, Kentico Xperience .This robust and secure digital experience platform (DXP) combines content management, digital marketing, and commerce under one roof.
Joining up the data points to improve the customer journey can still remain a logistical challenge for digital marketers. There’s a growing movement to digitise much of this journey and maintain a connection point with a buyer via branded portals or partner solutions.
But the gaps are still wide open. By pulling data from every source into a single aggregator and aligning your architecture and data via a customer data platform (CDP), you’ll start to gain a true end to end understanding of your customers’ pain points – and so have a clearer focus on how to solve them.