The UK property industry’s first step in future-proofing itself should be to look outside of itself at how consumers are communicating with and purchasing from other verticals.
There has been a rapid and significant evolution in the sophistication of these interactions, driven largely by the rising importance of brand storytelling, targeted content delivery, customised channel experiences and – finally – the technology able to support these marketers’ ambitions.
So, what’s in store for 2018 and beyond? James Fenner, Founder of Silk Road, has highlighted 5 top strategic marketing trends that he believes will impact most property organisations in 2018.
- Rise of the robots – from mobile first to AI first.
For marketers, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning is creating a world where advertising and branding are becoming increasingly invisible, smart and automated. Smart off-the-shelf tools now include machine-learning algorithms which can churn vast quantities of data to identify which of your ads perform best on which audience at what stage of the buying process. Chatbots have also joined the fray – it allows you to provide a reliable, 24/7 service that is both mobile responsive and completely pressure-neutral.
AI is driving efficiency in marketing automation across industries and property should be no exception. Given that research indicates that 90% of estate agents’ time can be taken up in prospecting, (Real Estate Marketing Academy 2013) it is unsurprising that AI-powered property chat platforms are already amongst us as customer service tools. “Rebecca” from iProperty Group and “Zoombot” from Zoomsquare can initiate conversations with potential customers in the process of researching property.
- Marketing to Alexa
What does your brand sound like? A decade ago this would have been about a jingle or pneumonic, for 2018 it’s about your tone of voice in the Alexa era. Personal digital assistants are transforming consumer research, discovery and purchase behaviour. It is estimated that there will be 1.8bn users of voice-enabled digital assistants worldwide by 2021. (Tractica 2016). By 2020 30% of web browsing will be done without a screen. (Gartner 2016). It is clear that these invisible gatekeepers will force a shift in the way brands in every industry target and respond to consumers.
How can a development be described verbally? Take away the CGI and tell me why I should buy a home at your development. Often the messaging and verbal strategy is left to the end if it is tackled at all and this needs to change.
- Niche Engagement
There is no mainstream. The biggest opportunities for brands and marketers lie in engaging with niches. Brands from Citroen to All Saints have shifted focus towards online micro-influencers, who can now galvanise their fan bases more effectively than the big social media stars. As technology enables marketing to become ever more hyper- focused in 2018, brands targeting the niche will turn customers from loyal fans into powerful advocates.
- Take a stand
In the property industry, it means that you must stand for something. It could be local to where your development is. It could be a cause that means a lot to you and your team. Whatever it is be prepared for some negativity but that’s a good thing. It means you’re getting noticed. But you’ll get disciples and it’s always better to be loved than liked. Think Marmite.
With consumers struggling to make sense of an increasingly volatile world, there’s a big opportunity for brands to play a more meaningful role in their lives. But this is no time to sit on the fence – be prepared to take strong positions or risk irrelevancy. Savvy marketers are striving to reshape culture, rather than simply reflect it.
Much importance has been placed on storytelling in the past and this isn’t going away. It’s particularly relevant to property as it helps to create the emotional connection – something a floorplan and spec sheet can’t do.
Storytelling works because stories:
- Make people react to emotion
- Put a face to an issue (nobody cares about process; they care about people)
- Connect us
- Humanise brands (people want to see your personal side)
- Raise the stakes (appeal to universal, shared values)
- Are about “show/don’t tell.” It’s one of the best things stories do. Don’t just make claims. Tell the stories that substantiate them.
In the property industry, the story could be about the area, history of the building, the design. If there isn’t one, developers should create a story and develop the product around it.
For more information on the top property marketing trends for 2018, contact James at Silk Road by visiting www.wearesilkroad.com or calling +44 (0) 20 7024 8977.