Mobile Marketing in the Real Estate Industry – Part 1

Real Estate Mobile MarketingIt’s not exactly a fun time right now for the average real estate agent/firm. The sub prime fiasco mixed with a declining new house purchases has left the industry in a state of major change. Like any sector facing a tough market, agencies are making cuts to help survive, including, inevitably the marketing budget.

However, while cost-cutting measures like this can help in the short term, it’s more advisable to consolidate efforts to those that are both economical and effective. This is where mobile marketing can help.

At the very beginning of my career in the early 90s, I helped author a national housing survey for the Urban Land Institute. In the report, we concluded that the housing market, based on lot inventory levels I painstakingly had to research, was about to go very soft, especially in California. We recommended that more effort be placed on marketing and positioning of existing properties vs. future inventory.

This was a pretty shocking prediction as at the time California real estate agents basically did almost no marketing because demand was incredibly tight. Our findings were basically dismissed as overly pessimistic but as it turned out we were actually optimistic.

I use this as an example to show how short-sited thinking when it comes to marketing can cost companies in the long run. This is especially true when it comes to adopting new technologies/strategies like mobile marketing.

With Location Based Services (LBS), cell phone triangulation and GPS finally starting to make their way on to the average mobile users’ devices, now is the perfect time to get started with mobile marketing when it comes to the real estate industry. This includes both external as well as on-property marketing.

In this 2 part article, I will discuss the ways in which mobile marketing can be applied to real estate marketing. In part 1, we’ll talk about external marketing efforts and how to tap into the power of mobile with this.

According to a recently published report by the marketing research firm Borrell Associates, traditional real estate advertising, after a period of growth since 2001, will begin to sharply decline while online advertising will see double digital growth over the next 5 years. This shift toward more online initiatives indicates the increasing ineffectiveness of traditional print/newspaper advertising and the rising dominance of sites like and Yahoo! Homes.

The report doesn’t split off mobile spending from that but while it represents merely a sliver of the $2.5 billion that will be spent this year, mobile marketing, like Web advertising/marketing before it, will become an increasingly important vehicle in the next few years.

Here are just a few examples of how mobile marketing can augment or even replace your current real estate listing marketing practices.

New Listings Mobile Campaigns

Certainly in the print advertising but also in a lot of online listings, the realtor is largely placed in a reactive mode, hoping that potential buyers locate their properties. Not exactly an ideal, not to mention possibly costly, situation. Instead, you could send out a text message blast to your database of hopefully pre-qualified buyers, saving time and effort while potentially increasing your chances of a sale.

Time Sensitive Notifications

In addition to the strategy noted above, mobile marketing allows you to take an advantage of highly time-sensitive notifications, like when an open house is starting for an interested property. Since most people have their cell phone with them pretty much at all times, you get a much better chance of catching them via a text message versus other mass forms of communication like an email. Plus, if it’s during business hours, it’s more likely for someone to read/respond to a text message vs. a voice mail.

More Engaging to Youth Consumers

OK, I admit, mobile marketing probably isn’t going to help you close multi-million dollar properties. However, for those who rely on a high volume, like apartment rentals, mobile is an ideal solution because the youth demographic is starting to prefer it over other forms of communications. This shift will only increase in the years ahead so using mobile listings will begin to pay off dividends very soon.

Location Based Services

This is arguably the Holy Grail of mobile marketing and while it’s taken quite awhile to start to come into focus, all signs point to 2008 being a watershed year. Simply put, LBS and other location tracking services make text messaging even more proactive by triggering alerts based upon location. Now, instead of broadcasting a message to a large database and hoping they are in the area of your listing(s), you can hit potential buyers that are in range of coming to your properties right away if interested.

Again, these are just a few examples. Basically, almost anything you are currently doing in your listing advertising/broadcasts can be handled via mobile marketing. Feel free to share your own uses/thoughts in the comments below.

Next time, we’ll talk about on-property advertising/marketing and how mobile marketing will transform that area as well.

Steve Chipman
Analog thoughts in a digital world


3 Responses

  1. Josh Carney says:

    Very informative Steve. Might I recommend They offer a text-messaging tool which handles 3 listings starting at $30/mo. It helps provide the info immediately to buyers & generate/track leads for the agent. They use a sign you place in front of your listing which contains a property code. The buyer sends a text-message to the sign and instantly recieves the property info & even pics on their cell phone. If the buyers cell phone doesn't recieve the pics or doesn't have mobile web capabilities, they still have the option to e-mail themselves a property brochure by replying to the message with their e-mail address. It's really pretty cool for the potential buyer & the agent alike. The world is going mobile for sure. Convenient & cost effective. I recommend RTextUSA.

  2. james-ma says:

    I agree with Josh completely. This kind of service has a lot of potential in US as we lag behind Europe where these services are old news. There are quite a few service providers offering compelling pricing and features in US. One that I think offers a great value is

  3. Terrific info! I’ve been seeking a thing similar to this for the even though now. Many thanks!

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