Statistics show the use of digital media is on the rise in the marketing space as people become more connected.
This is according to Sean Pretorius, digital project manager for RED-i (Real Estate Development Interactive), who create systems for property developers to streamline their sales and development management processes.
Pretorius believes this shift brings a host of new opportunities and challenges.
“The digital marketing spend is increasing in relation to traditional marketing each year with good reason, as we become more connected, we can’t avoid the new mediums that engage us.”
Property developers can maximise their return on investment (ROI) in digital spend by following a few simple, yet often overlooked, steps.
Prepare and research
Before embarking on creating a web presence, do your homework and explore the market, find examples of websites you like and list why you like them and do the same with ones you don’t like. Then list your primary objectives and goals you would like your digital presence to achieve.
Focus on the content by categorising and listing the content structure based on what you have. It is important to enlist the help of a content strategist as they can help you fill in any blanks.
Pretorius says he recently attended the Content Strategy Forum at Spier which included international experts including Mailchimp, Facebook, Ebay, Yahoo and Opera.
He says the common thread was the often overlooked importance of content - the structure, tone and delivery mechanism all combine to be the key in your marketing strategy.
The production of mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones will continue to grow and statistics show mobile internet usage is expanding at a rapid rate, mobile page views in Africa doubled from 2011 to 2012 and this is a global trend that cannot be ignored.
Responsive design simply means your web presence is made to adapt its display to suit the size of any device – desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone.
One website is created that works across all devices, saving on the cost of building or updating separate mobi sites or applications.
Digital marketing mediums
Social media is a good medium at providing alternate channels for your brand, the key to maximising your reach and engagement is to deliver interesting and valuable content and create two-way conversations about topics that really matter to your audience.
Encourage users to subscribe to your email newsletter and fill it with content that will enrich its subscribers.
At RED-i, they make the website and newsletter template easily editable by clients, empowering them to update their web content plus create and send their own communications easily while reducing their overall spend.
List your properties and developments on property portals to extend your reach even further. A good example is www.hellohouse.co.za who use cutting edge SEO along with some innovative tools that not offered by competing online portals.
While potential buyers may find multiple listings, the risk of creating confusion and the subsequent drop-off is high (with potential customers not being sure which link to follow and which link has the correct or current information), he says.
The often misunderstood practice of search engine optimisation is not a ‘black art’, it is simply having meaningful content contained in a well coded website that sticks to fundamental best practices.
"Drive interest and traffic to your website from your social media channels, blog, newsletter and partner websites.”
Track your website, email newsletter and social media engagement and patterns, using the knowledge to adapt and fine-tune your content to what your audience is engaging with.
“At RED-i we also track user analytics on all of our products such as the Interactive sales map, allowing us to pinpoint which pockets of real estate are showing more interest than others."
We then direct all marketing leads into their leads profiling system where sales agents can view the users’ units of interest and engage with clients in a pertinent way, he says.
Pretorius says when sales are steady, developers are happy to keep things static, but if the sales numbers aren't at the levels they needed, their marketing spend needs to be increased.
"The digital marketing arena now allows developers the opportunity to analyse their product and market interest and, more importantly, to gauge how effective their ad spend is,” says Andrew Kumm, a RED-i director.
Digital marketing has the potential for a broader reach than traditional marketing and can be more cost effective than the traditional methods.
Following basic best practices and ensuring the content you broadcast has substance can mean the difference between a website that exists and is never visited or an integrated digital marketing ecosystem that your users share, engage with and thrive on, adds Pretorius.
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