All about Qr Codes and Real Estate
 

Lessons from Down Under: Australian Firm Shows How Mobile Marketing is Done

Real estate mobile marketing is a global phenomenon these days, and there’s nowhere where it’s more obvious than Australia. A recent article in The Australian shows us just how effectively some realtors (known as “estate agents” in that country) are adapting to the new technological landscape and using mobile marketing solutions to strengthen their business. Just take a look at Estate Agent Homes in on Gadgetry to get an idea of all the different ways Australian firm LJ Hooker is building mobile marketing campaigns into the way business is done every day.

LJ Hooker is a great example of a company that has been on the cutting edge of real estate mobile marketing for a good while now. According to the article, the agency had established its own mobile app for house-hunting four years ago before rolling out optimized sites for mobile customers. But its innovation hasn’t ended there: Mobile marketing companies could learn a lot from the way LJ Hooker’s team has worked to make sure that it’s always moving with the times!

From Quick Response to Photo Recognition Technology

When thinking about different ways to develop your mobile marketing strategy, especially when it comes to getting mobile marketing statistics you can really act on, we’ve talked a lot about Quick Response codes. Now, I still think Quick Response codes have a big place in real estate and will be around for a long time, but there’s no denying the fact that there are alternatives out there now — and LJ Hooker seems to be making great use of them!

LJ Hooker digital services manager Andy Antonini had this to say about Quick Response, which you can see in the article linked above. “Some of our agents are using [Quick Response], but QR codes have some inherent issues in terms of connectability; the scanning of the QR code is often difficult and the QR code itself looks pretty ugly.”

The solution? Photo recognition technology paired with the LJ Hooker custom smartphone app. This strategy allows the apps to recognize properties just by snapping a quick photo of an advertisement, wherever they might find it. That means there’s no need for an intermediary tag like a Quick Response code. Of course, this was a huge and intensive project for the company to undertake and roll out to its network of more than 700 offices throughout Australia! With the hard work done, however, LJ Hooker has become an innovator in its home country.

What’s Next After Photo Recognition?

Antonini is looking forward to a future in which every LJ Hooker agent’s entire catalog of properties is available on the photo recognition system. This will allow the company to do away with Quick Response entirely for a more seamless and integrated solution. The next step after that? A new Android app to join the company’s existing capabilities on the iPhone, along with a development cycle that will allow each app to benefit from innovations made in the other one.

Sounds exciting! How are YOU using mobile marketing to grow your business?

~ Amy


Branding and QR in Real Estate Mobile Marketing

Real estate mobile marketing is nothing new. In fact, it’s easy to make the case that realtors were among the first professionals to adopt a mobile marketing solution for their daily business! So, you would think most folks have their mobile marketing strategies down pat by now. When it comes to mobile marketing advertising, though, you’ll always find ways to improve what you’re doing – if you just look hard enough!

So, let’s start talking about the best ways to use Quick Response codes in real estate mobile marketing. More specifically, let’s talk about branding. Branding is all about what makes you unique and special. Realtors know all about this when it comes to staging properties, matching the right buyer with the right home, and addressing concerns that clients might have. That said, though, they might not always know how to “brand” their own work.

In some of our earlier posts, we covered the basics of using a Quick Response-based mobile marketing platform to get the word out about your properties. A lot has changed as QR is adopted by more and more of our potential clients, though, and with that change comes new and different ways to use the tools we have. If you really want to make the most of marketing mobile, you have to work hard to keep up!

What Does Using QR Say About Your Brand?

It’s well known by now that younger folks are more likely to understand what a QR code is before they lay eyes on yours. That said, cell phones are owned by more than half of American adults, and many of those are smartphones! So, don’t be discouraged by the fact that some of your clients might not be familiar with the technology at first. You can make it easier on them by explaining what they should do with the code – a little text nearby can clarify it.

When someone does decide to scan a code associated with your real estate business, it shows that they are just that little bit more serious about their house hunt than some might be. Perhaps they are further along in the process and want to compare several properties. That means it’s time for you to make a strong first impression if you’re not their realtor already. A good QR code can do that. Why? Well, think what it says about you when you use one.

You’re Technologically Savvy: Every industry has to change with the times, and the real estate industry is no exception. Clients may not know all the ins and outs of how you use technology to build your business, but they can feel confident that you will be up on the latest trends and go the extra mile to help them.

You Care About Your Clients: This goes hand-in-hand with the above, but it’s worth separating out. What your future clients see when they scan your code is critical. It should always be upbeat and positive, and should start by thanking them for taking the time to look at your message. Setting the tone is key!

You Understand the Value of Time: Everything in real estate is time-sensitive, whether you are buying or selling. Clients’ time is extremely valuable, and one thing that they worry about is being left in the dark by their realtor. By meeting them where they are and using “fast” technology, you build trust and respect.

Where should you use your Quick Response code? Most realtors are using them on their signage, of course, but that’s not the only option. We’ll look at other places and ways to use mobile marketing advertising in future posts. Some of these ideas might surprise you!

~ Amy


One Quick Way to Get People Off Your Mailing List … And What to Do Instead

In the last few posts we’ve talked about the importance of QR codes and real estate, especially how real estate mobile marketing can help you build your list. As your office has probably been telling you (at least if they’re up on these great 21st century techno-gadgets!) your list is one of your best assets. Unfortunately, getting people on the list is as far as many real estate agents go. How can you make your list valuable?

We discussed this a little bit last week, but I wanted to highlight the biggest mistake that I’ve seen realtors make after using QR codes in real estate to build their mailing list. We’re no dummies, so we know that each person on the list represents a prospect who may or may not come through. They may buy or sell within six months, a year, or never. Only a few at any given time will be ready to do it next week. So … what’s the worst thing you can do? You’ll cringe when you read it, but it really does happen!

The Worst Thing to Do With QR Codes in Real Estate

Marketers have known for a long time that the subject of the email is a big part of why people make the decision to read it or not. That’s why you can usually recognize a spam email before you even open it. Emails have a powerful advantage over regular snail mail, though. If you think you’re holding unsolicited snail mail, you’ll probably chuck it out. If you’re not sure about an email, you’ll maybe — gasp! — read it.

That “maybe” turns into “probably” if it’s from someone you have a relationship with, like your realtor. So what’s the worst thing you can do with that relationship? Well, just consider this subject line …

Subject: Hi! Let’s have a chat …

Nevermind that it’s not very specific. If it came from your realtor, you probably assume it’s for you, right? So you click it and what do you get? Nothing! Well, not “nothing.” You get automated information from your realtor, when what you were expecting was something personal and relevant to you. You’ve been duped! And you’ll probably unsubscribe, even if you are still looking for homes in the area.

After initial success with QR codes in real estate, a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that the close should be faster – in fact, that it should be as fast as building the list. But, no … the close is still going to be on the same old timeline, including many (many!) drop offs. If you use a trick like this to increase the read rate for one little email, unless it really is a personal message, you’ll probably see your numbers go down.

Instead, do things the old fashioned way and keep a roster of information that lets you know when the last time you heard from someone was. If someone is falling behind, send them a REAL personal note once a quarter or so. A lot of times, it’ll be ignored because it’s not the right time. But if it has a personal subject line, they’ll at least read it first!

~ Amy


Hey, Real Estate Mobile Marketing Buffs! Is Your Mailing List “Sticky?”

Don’t worry — when I say “sticky” I’m not talking about honey! What I mean here is: Does your mailing list generate real value for your prospects? And are you using QR codes and real estate in the right combination to make sure that people get to your list?

Remember, when we talk about QR codes and real estate, we’re usually talking about the kind of real estate QR codes that show up on a billboard. That’s a great way to hook people who are window shopping — through the car window, that is! But what goes on in their heads after they look at your mobile landing page?

Well, sometimes the answer is “not much.” Lots of people are realizing that home buying is much cheaper than renting right now, which means a lot fewer “Lookie Lous” and a lot more serious buyers. But if you’re missing the chance to build your relationship from that billboard and its neat little Quick Response Codes, you might lose the customer.

How to Make Customers Care About Your Real Estate Mobile Marketing

So, the first thing is to make sure that, when they get to that landing page of yours (it is a mobile optimized page, right?) you’re asking them for their email address. That’s the way that you create a relationship and make it a lasting one. It works so well because once you’ve gotten their permission, they won’t think of what they get as spam.

But that alone might not be enough! In real estate mobile marketing, we really need to learn that the canned information about properties doesn’t keep people reading. In so many other industries, the mailings that you get aren’t just functional, aiming for the sale. They include a whole bunch of other, different info, making them a resource for readers!

So, what kind of things are people thinking about when they’re considering buying a new home? Well, financial planning is a big one and one that you probably already know a lot about! But there are a lot of other ways we can help them get the balling rolling in their heads! For example, interior decorating advice will make them yearn just that little bit more for a house of their own! Can you think of any other good topics?

You Say You Can’t Blog on Everything? Reach Out

Okay, so maybe you’re not an interior design pro. That’s okay! For a reciprocal link on your site, plenty of talented people would be willing to contribute articles to your page. Having more articles on your site, above and beyond your listings and other agency stuff, will help you rank better in the search engines. And it all starts with your list!

And that starts with your Quick Response Codes … so, if you don’t have that part of your funnel all set up yet, be sure to do it soon! Real estate is all about relationships, so why not spend the time to get started on yours just as soon as you can?

~ Amy


Software Developers Are Competing For The “QR Codes in Real Estate” Market

Hi, everyone! Well, I think it’s safe to say — as if we haven’t been saying it already — that QR codes are here to stay when it comes to real estate mobile marketing. For over a year now, QR codes in real estate have been expanding so fast that I’ve wondered in earlier posts whether we really know what we’re going to do with them. Just a quick look over the latest headlines turns up a lot of this kind of stuff:

* Urbane Apartments Launches QR Code Campaign to Reach Out to Residents: I know, a life-long real estate agent cheering for something an apartment complex did? It seems too good to be true, right? But this is an example of how all of us in real estate should be thinking about generating QR codes.

Urbane is working together with a local pizza place to distribute their QR codes to residents when they order pizza. This is great user targeting, and finds the customer at a time when they’re much more likely to actually scan that code. Good work!

* Local QR Real Estate Usage Grows Slowly: From Memphis Daily News, there are a lot of pieces like this out there right now. Joe Spake, a local broker, has a lot of the same thoughts about QR codes in real estate that I do — they only work if they lead to an optimized, truly mobile experience! And that’s a fact.

The article up there makes a reference to a neat little piece of software that optimizes pages for mobile. I haven’t looked it up yet, but if that’s the case, it’s a great idea! It’s a WordPress widget, and WordPress is a real resource for people who aren’t veteran tech heads. With a little work, you can build a really beautiful site!

That brings me to another thought. Software companies are starting to work on QR codes for real estate, and putting together “platforms” so agents can get new sites fresh out of the box. The thing that worries me about this? That all of them will look like boxed sites! The nice thing about QR codes is that they’re sticky marketing and really creative.

For an example, check out this little release from a company called Clikbrix. It bills itself as a “mobile site and QR platform.” I have to admit, I can’t wait to look into a little more, but I’m wondering if the market is going to become saturated with “platforms” that are all the same. Are real estate agents being consulted for the features?

It’ll be interesting to see how many different companies jump into the process now that more and more people know how to generate a QR code. But I’m still on the fence about the idea and what these companies can do to help real estate folks. Maybe I’ll make a post next time sharing a few design thoughts for them!


Three Rules for Using QR Codes in Real Estate and … Just About Everywhere!

Wow! QR codes and Near Field Communication really have taken off since I blogged last! Nowadays, David and I are spotting those (sometimes pesky) QR codes just about everywhere. With QR code generator software more widely available and more folks generating QR codes than ever before, they’re on everything — QR codes for real estate have become QR codes for soft drinks, books, shoes, and a whole lot more.

So … about now, we should all be thinking about what makes QR codes work.

Here are three rules I hope will catch on for QR codes in real estate and all the other ways people are using them. It’s great to see the explosion of creativity … but pure, unbridled creativity doesn’t always view well on your mobile device! Here are a few ideas I’m kicking around — you can let me know in the comments section below if you think they’re good, bad, or indifferent!

1) QR Codes Should be Mobile Optimized

I love scanning codes. Scanning QR codes is part of the fun of using them at all. But in the last month, as I’ve gone hunting for codes to scan — or they’ve been hunting me, as seems to be the case lately — I’ve noticed an odd trend. Marketers know that QR codes are especially for your phone, but the sites they lead to aren’t mobile optimized.

If you’re leading visitors directly to your non-optimized website, you’re making it harder than heck for them to get through to your message. So first things first, unless you’re sending them directly to video or audio, you’ll need a totally optimized, mobile-friendly landing page. That could go a long way toward making QR fun for everyone.

2) Let Them Know What to Do With It

QR codes look a lot like barcodes, so they can easily blend in to whatever they’re riding. If someone doesn’t know what a QR code is all about, then seeing it on a Cheetos bag or a Pepsi Big Gulp isn’t going to help them get the picture. We’re especially bad at this in QR codes for real estate. We assume people will figure it out on their own.

But people aren’t motivated to understand or play with marketing messages that leave them hanging. A code should always be coupled with some idea of what it’s going to do. I’m much more likely to scan if I see “Scan this code for a discount” or to win a prize or something else like that. For real estate, “Scan to learn about this property” would do.

3) Give Them a Reason To Stay

Once they’ve scanned, they’re in — you have their attention. If they went to the trouble of picking up the phone and scanning the code, then in a weird way you’ve already gotten them to opt in, which is very important. For at least a few seconds they’re thinking about your offer. This is where too many ads drop the ball — with an end result that’s boring, like your home page. They could’ve gotten that at home!

This ties in with number one above, but it’s a more general principle. If you want your codes to work, they should do something great for the user. Maybe even something they can’t get through your site normally. And, of course, they should be properly segmented — meaning that you’re tracking your QR code results so you know what works and what doesn’t. That’s how you make your mobile campaign better over time.

What do you think? What other rules for the road would you like to see mobile advertisers adopt?


Using Near Field Communication as Electronic Payments

Well, the future is officially here. In the previous post, I was discussing Near Field Communication (NFC) which a type of communication between devices that uses short-range radio frequencies. There are all sorts of different type of potential uses for Near Field Communication, including using it as a way to make payments for purchases at retail stores. Well, I had heard and read about this before, but I had never seen it, until yesterday.

I was at the mall and stopped in to buy some clothes at American Eagle. After finding what I was looking for, I stood in line behind a young man who made his payment simply by typing his pin into his smartphone and then tapping the phone onto a small pad that was right near the register. I couldn’t believe it – I almost did a double take. It was so quick and easy – he didnt have to swipe anything, there was nothing to sign, there was no clerk checking signature or IDs. Bing, bang, boom – done.

I of course had to stop him before he left the store and ask him what type of payment system he was using. We had a pretty interesting conversation for close to 10 minutes; I made sure to tell him about my blog, and gave him my QR code business card in case he’s ever looking for a real estate agent. But mostly I just drooled over his smartphone, lol.

Turns out he was using Google Wallet, which is being rolled out at thousands of places that use MasterCard PayPass terminals. It works right now on the Nexus 4G, the phone he had, but there’s plans to roll it out soon to any smartphone running Android. He got the phone only a few weeks ago himself, and Google Wallet was one of the first apps he downloaded for the device. He had already used Google Wallet at a few other stores and admitted he was getting frustrated at the stores that didn’t have it set up for NFC payments. I guess once you pay that way, its hard to go back.

I’ve always been such an Apple fan, the type of person who waited outside Apple stores like a groupie every time they released a new product, but now I’ve got another reason to rethink my smartphone commitment when my contract runs out at the end of the year. If Google Wallet gets rolled out to other smartphones for this holiday season, I know what I’m going to be asking my husband for Christmas!

If you’re looking to buy a cool new toy for the technolgy lover in your circle of friends or family, you should look into a smartphone that is NFC enabled. Even if it doesn’t have a Google Wallet app, I’m positive there are going to be plenty of other alternatives down the road. I mean after all, if Visa and American Express can coexist and if there are dozens of banking giants, I don’t think Google is going to monopolize the NFC payment market. They’ll just be among the first to the party.


Could Near Field Communication Be the Next QR Codes?

So far I’ve used a lot of entries in this blog talking about QR codes and different ways to use them in marketing, but like I mentioned in an earlier blog post, QR codes are really just a form of mobile marketing. So I’d be remiss if I didn’t spend a little bit of time and space talking about something that might prove to be the next new big thing in mobile marketing: Near Field Communication.

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a technology that allows for communication between devices such as mobile phones that utilizes radio waves that travel a very small distance, typically a few inches or centimeters. It also allows for passive, non-powered devices such as keychains, cards, pads, mats, stickers, etc. to interact with a powered device that utilizes NFC.

Near Field Communication can do many things that are similar to QR codes, such as direct someone to a website, friend someone on social network, or exchange contact information like a business card. But it also can do things that QR codes cannot, like pay for purchases at stores using a mobile device.

Near Field Communication is based off the same technology as Radio Frequency ID (RFID) chips and essentially works the same way as Bluetooth does, but only over a much smaller range. Because it only works over a range of a few centimeters, its much harder for the signal to be intercepted and/or hacked, making it far more secure of a signal and more viable in commercial enterprise. A user has to hold their NFC enabled device directly near or on the device or target it is going to interact with. This alleviates security concerns that many people have with Bluetooth and other forms of wireless communication.

Will Near Field Communication be the future of business? Only time will tell, but I’m going to be looking into how I can start using NFC in conjunction with QR codes and other forms of mobile marketing to enhance my real estate practice.


Does Your Car Have a QR Code On It?

I can’t tell you how many of my colleagues and competitors in the real estate industry have custom screen printed cars with their photos, logos, and contact information on them. I’ve never been a huge fan of them myself, only because I think its kind of weird for me to drive around in a car that has my face, only bigger, printed on the side. I’d find it weird to pull up to a traffic light and see someone in the next car glance over at me, glance down at my car, and realize they’re seeing the same face twice. It also seems kind of, I dunno, self-absorbed to me. But I know a lot of great real estate agents who are also great people that swear by the practice. So to each their own.

But if you’re driving around all over town in a car that has your name, face, logo, phone number, and even website information on it, but you don’t have a QR code, I’d recommend you add one right away. Here’s a few great reasons why:

1) A parked car with a QR code on it can basically be a really big and mobile business card. People who see the parked car can scan the code and get directed to your website or the most recent listings.

2) A lot of QR codes are tiny and dense and hard to scan. It’s one of the main complaints and drawbacks, I have to admit, to this amazing technology and marketing tool. Imagine, however, a really big and easy to scan QR code, one the size of a door. Someone could scan it from across the street and it would probably work.

3) If you run or manage a real estate practice with multiple agents, you could provide them all different QR codes to put on their cars and then track the data. Is one agent getting out there more often than others? Is an agent getting a lot of scans in a particular neighborhood? As I mentioned in a previous post, better data leads to better decisions, which is one of the main jobs of a manager and/or business owner.

So if you’ve got every piece of contact information imaginabile printed on a car or fleet of cars, but you’re missing QR codes, do yourself a favor and add them right away. You’ll be glad you did!


QR Code Analytics and Real Estate Marketing

In my last blog entry, I mentioned how direct mail campaigns can be unpredictable in terms of return on investments, especially in real estate marketing. I’ve learned, however, that QR codes used on your direct mailers offer the promise of greatly reducing the uncertainty associated with direct mailers. Here’s how: analytics.

There are variety of ways to measure and track which QR codes are being scanned, when, and how often. If you do set it up correctly, you can even learn where. That data can be used to improve the efficiency of not only your direct mail campaign, but many different aspects of real estate marketing. Here’s a few suggestions:

1) Find an analytics solution. Many people I know prefer to use Google, since they’re a major search engine to begin with, but I do know that there are some reliable analytics services out there besides Google, even ones bundled into other QR code applications. Since Google is pretty familiar to most people, though, lets use them as a sample analytics solution for this blog post. If you’re not familiar with Google Analytics, here’s a link to get you more acquainted with what it is.

2) Use Googe analytics to create a urchin tracking codes to append to your URLs. An urchin tracking code is something Google uses to track where people are coming to your website from. Most people use them to figure out which websites are sending the most traffic, but you can do the same thing with QR codes.

3) Use several different URLs or create different tracking codes to create unique QR codes. Print the unique Qr codes on different flyers and mail them out to several different neighborhoods. You can be as wide or as narrow as you wish – one QR code for each zip code or one per street – its up to you!

4) Mail out the flyers and then start tracking the data. After the flyers are mailed out, within a few weeks, you will have a better idea of who actually scanned the codes. Every time someone scans the codes, Analytics will track that data and tell you which QR code sent you the traffic.

5) Use the data to make better decisions. Once you have enough data, you can start making better decisions. Did you notice that one neighborhood or street had the highest amount of scans? Did you see that others had very low amounts of scans? Now you know who’s looking to buy or sell a home and who’s not. You can beging using that data not only for your next round of mailers, but other aspects of your marketing as well. Over time, you will become far more efficient using your marketing funds and see a greater return on time and investment.

This method may sound complicated, but its really not. Even if you’ve never used Google Analytics, you can sign up for free and learn the basics within a few hours. Once you start using the method, you’ll find once you set it up, the data basically tracks itself and you’ll wonder how and why you ever made marketing decisions before without such valuable data!