Yes, it’s true. You cannot ignore the power of digital marketing, especially if you are a real estate developer. With potential home owners using the Internet to research their future purchase, a strong and powerful digital marketing strategy is what will help real estate developers beat the competition. If you are looking to step up your real estate digital marketing game, here is your ultimate guide.
A couple of decades ago, properties were considered a luxury investment. Only the richest of rich could afford the exorbitant prices stamped on the various housing projects. Even the process of purchasing a property was a long and tedious one. Home seekers had to collect and sign an endless flow of documents while also searching for a broker who could strike them a good deal for the desired property.
However, this trend has changed drastically. A large portion of home buyers research online and find it convenient to check and shortlist apartments virtually before physically going to see it. In fact, data suggests that 92% of home buyers search online to find their dream home. Additionally, 82% of real estate investors trust online agents as a reliable source of information, and 42% have resorted to the Internet as their first search medium.
Today, there are 450 million active users on the Internet, in India alone, and going by current trends, 635.8 million Indians will be online by 2021. These developments offer both a unique opportunity and a challenge for real estate developers. They need to make full use of the growing digital audience to engage with the next billion Internet users in India.
How can real estate developers engage with India’s next billion internet users?
Indians are a sizeable presence across almost every major digital platform. Facebook is, by far, the most popular social media platform, with 240 million Indian users who are mostly accessing the platform through their phones. These numbers prove that the online space is a goldmine for developers to engage with their audience in the most impactful way. By effectively utilising the Top Tools For Social Media Analytics, property developers can understand their consumers better and create more targeted campaigns.
What has sparked this growth?
While Internet usage in India has been steadily growing over the years, there was a definite tipping point where the number of Internet users in India exploded. There are two main catalysts for this development: the availability of low cost smartphones and most significant of all, the launch of Reliance Jio. Jio started its services in September 2016 with a bang, offering its users free data. Even once the offer ended, the data plans for Jio remained much lower in comparison to other network providers. This sudden easy access to the Internet led to India having the highest amount of data consumption in the world. Of the 150 crore GB consumed by Indians, 100 crore GB was consumed through the Jio network alone. What is perhaps the most exciting part is that Internet penetration in the country currently stands at only 27 percent. This means that the number of Indians online is only going to grow from here, offering a huge advantage for real estate developers.
How can property developers engage with these consumers?
With India’s Internet audience growing by the minute, the stage is set for property developers to tap into this huge market and leverage digital marketing for real estate. Consumer engagement requires developers to realign their priorities from solely revenue-generation to actually creating value for their consumers. In India, property developers can do this in a number of ways:
Understand audiences to personalise marketing strategies
In order to create content that home owners will actually find valuable, real estate developers need to know who they’re speaking to. By 2020, almost 40 percent of all Internet users in India will be women. This points towards the growing importance of creating content that women will find relevant. Doing so will also involve challenging long-held assumptions with regards to gender and interest areas. For example, 60 percent of those who shopped for sporting goods and viewed related videos on YouTube were not men, but women. Additionally, 60% of those who searched for car-related information online were also women. Having an intimate understanding of audiences can help developers Generate Content That Their Users Will Actually Find Valuable. This is a crucial step in building a relationship with audiences.
Create campaigns specifically for mobile
One of the most interesting characteristics of India’s Internet usage is that most Indians haven’t followed the general pattern of Internet adoption. While globally, most people first used a computer and then migrated to mobile phones, Indians seem to have skipped the computer stage completely. According to a survey by Statcounter, Indians use their phones to access the Internet almost 80 percent of the time. This means that property developers should be producing content specifically designed for mobile phones if they want to engage with the next billion Internet consumers.
Use regional languages to reach a wider audience
While the number of English-speaking Internet users in India is largely static, the number of regional language users is growing at a breakneck pace. One of the key reasons for this growth is Internet penetration in tier II and III cities, along with villages. In fact, Google estimates that about 30% of users in India are from rural areas. If property builders want to develop a personal relationship with potential home owners, then a strong regional language strategy is crucial. Tamil is the leading regional language used among Internet users in India at a whopping 42 percent, while 39 percent of users are Hindi-speaking.
Optimise brands for voice search
Voice search in India might be in the nascent stage at the moment, but it is growing at a steady rate. Google estimates that 28 percent of all searches are voice searches. Even more promising is the fact that there has been a 400 percent growth in Hindi voice search. Voice search has vast implications for SEO because traditional keywords aren’t used when speaking naturally. For real estate developers, this means that they have to find new ways to become discoverable through voice search results to stay visible on digital platforms.
Utilise the adwords ‘missed call’ extension
Adding call extensions to your ads can significantly increase click-through rates as well as conversion rates. But with a sizeable number of mobile users in India, especially in smaller cities and towns, using prepaid connections, the cost of making a call might stop them from contacting your business. This is why AdWords has recently rolled out a ‘Missed Call’ feature which can help address this concern. When a user selects the Missed Call option on an ad, a call is placed and then immediately cut. After this, the user will receive an automated call telling them to stay on the line while their call is connected to the business. During the same time, the business will also receive a call from Google. Once both the user and the business are on the call, they will be connected to each other. This feature can help real estate developers engage with potential home owners in a better way and track conversions more effectively.
Encourage a two-way conversation
Digital marketing for real estate allows developers to not just speak to their consumers, but also to listen to them in return. This unique opportunity for a two-way conversation is crucial for building consumer engagement. To be able to have a meaningful conversation, developers need to understand exactly who their audience is, where their interests lie and sub their concerns are. In the context of the current Indian audience trends, real estate developers can only reach out to the next billion Internet users once they look beyond the urban metros.
While a complete shift from traditional marketing to digital marketing for real estate is not going to happen anytime soon, real estate developers have notably increased their digital marketing budget over the past year. In 2015, statistics showed a 25 percent increase in marketing spends across the property sector, with an estimate of over 600 crores spent on digital marketing for real estate alone. One of the factors that influenced the budget increase is consumer behaviour, and with new improved numbers showing up for the forthcoming year, this scale in marketing budget will only go up.