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Thumbs up to texting!

Text messages are short, sharp and successful, says Ian Laverty.

The Negotiator
Ian Laverty image

Ian Laverty

texting imageI received a text yesterday from Papa Johns. I hadn’t asked for it. I hadn’t ‘subscribed’ to the service but they’d obviously taken my mobile number from a previous order and added it to their database. I opened the text, I read the text, I wasn’t offended or annoyed by the text being sent to me – and in fact last night my son and I had an extra large pizza between us for only £9.99 (other pizza brands are available!).

Marketing can be an expensive business so it’s important that you get a bang for your buck and that you can monitor just how much bang you’re getting. Direct mail has been effective but it’s becoming increasingly less so. The price of sending a mail item to each potential customer is 46p for first class and 36p for second class (discounts for large numbers, but still expensive) – that’s getting pricey. It’s also difficult to monitor the success rate of your mailers unless you ask a respondent to quote a reference number when they enquire about a property.

When we want a quick turnaround, snail mail just doesn’t cut it!’

Having said that, many businesses are making their mail marketing more interactive and bringing it up to date through the use of QR codes linking to good, interactive mobile optimised content. Done properly, you can track the number of times a QR code has been scanned and monitor the response rate. A good direct mail campaign will generate typically between 0.5 per cent and three per cent response though usually to the lower end of that scale. Doing the simple maths, I mail 200 people and I’ll get between one and six respondents – it’s not wonderful is it? In a world where we all want a quick turnaround (especially your vendors and landlords!) however, snail mail just doesn’t cut it.

AVOIDING THE SPAM

What about email? – it’s free after all! If your emails are carefully targeted rather than sent out generically to a large database, then you can expect a response rate of around two per cent (click through rate). Email has a number of problems that you need to be aware of. We all have spam filters and if you’re sending emails to a large group of people it’s easy to fall foul of them. This can have implications when you want to send out important and legitimate emails to clients where their email provider has determined that you are guilty of spam. The reality is that 90 per cent* of your recipients delete the message immediately without opening it never mind reading it. You’re now looking for a response from a very small proportion of recipients making it difficult to generate the leads you’re looking for.

EFFECTIVE TEXT

So what about text? Well actually, it’s proved to be an effective method of marketing and it continues to grow in both effectiveness and acceptance. Straight away you overcome the spam issue and the problem of people deleting your message without reading it. 95 per cent of the people who receive a marketing text message are reported to read it within 15 minutes. Look beyond the 15 minute point and 98 per cent of all text messages are read**.

new text message imageWhy didn’t I find the Papa John’s text intrusive like an email? Well, firstly, unlike most emails it’s a very short message – I can decide instantly if I want it or not. Secondly, I know they’ve got my number because I’ve bought from them before and therefore they’ve targeted me because they know I’m interested. Thirdly, I know it’s easier to unsubscribe – I just text ‘stop’ in a reply and no more text. It’s not as difficult as clicking on ‘unsubscribe’ and entering my email address etc. I only ever unsubscribe when it’s ambulance chasers or PPI claims – in other words, where somebody has bought my number from a list. If I get a text from a  business that I’ve bought from previously then I won’t unsubscribe because I will probably be interested again. Your customers will differentiate in the same way.

The price of SMS text marketing is around 4-6p per SMS unit, so it’s more expensive than email but considerably less than a mailing campaign. It generates the best response out of the three options too.

TOP TEXT TIPS

To get the most out of text marketing there are some easy tips to improve your response rate.

  • Target specific customers with specific messages/properties;
  • Link it to mobile optimised content (such as your mobile website) – this gives customers the chance to choose to see more information if they’re interested;
  • Use an SMS service that will manage your ‘stop’ (unsubscribes) for you;
  • Use a service that lets you see who has opened your message and who has opened the link to your mobile website – that gives you the ability to follow up genuine interest rather than waiting for them to contact you.

Follow these simple guidelines and you can get some impressive results. We send out around a quarter of a million text messages per month on behalf of our property sector clients and we typically see a response rate of over five per cent (ie click-through to mobile optimised content). We also know from consumer behaviour that once a customer is browsing on a mobile site they are more likely to commit to an action (email for a viewing, call to speak to someone) because the functionality is there in their hand instantly – it’s what we call action oriented browsing. Text marketing is simple, it’s instant, it’s cost effective and there are plenty of companies who can help you. The right message, to the right people with an appropriate call to action to encourage an enquiry is all there is to it.

*source: emailcentreUK
** source: MobileSquared/Mobile Marketer

Ian Laverty is Sales & Marketing Director at Intelligent Mobile.
www.intelligentmobile.com

Two Faced

Is Facebook the marketing messiah or a very naughty boy? – asks Oliver Chapple.

Facebook has been an established internet presence since its conception in 2004, and during 2009 it expanded beyond the realms of social interaction to become a growing commercial force. Much has been said about the benefits of its use in business, but what are the implications for the property market? Some agents recognise the need for Facebook, but don’t know exactly why. Others are sceptical about Facebook as a viable means of doing business, dismissing it as a purely social site designed for chat between friends. In essence, they are right. Facebook is just that, a social network, but it is precisely because of this that it can be a powerful tool for you to use. The social network should not be dismissed, but rather embraced.

Word of mouth PR has always been a powerful tool; an opinion from a trusted source is worth infinitely more than an advertisement. Generating a “like” on Facebook will instantly communicate this action to all of that person’s friends and family online who in turn could further recommend your brand. The exponential growth nature of social media can mean a recommendation is soon communicated to thousands of people, any of whom could be a potential client.

Of course, exposure on Facebook isn’t going to instantly breed a desire for everyone viewing to sell or buy a house, just as a billboard by a roadside, or an advert in the paper won’t instill than same desire either. However, the brand exposure, the constant reinforcement of your brand recommended by their friends over any other, will ensure that your business is the first name on their lips when they do. Facebook shouldn’t be viewed in a different light to any other marketing or PR tool, the only difference is the sheer numbers of people your brand could be exposed to. In fact, the only real difference is the cost; Facebook is substantially cheaper than any other marketing or PR avenue giving you a far greater return on investment.

In addition, generating a “like” on Facebook will give you key information about that person. Demographics, interests and contact details will be accessible to your business. In effect, Facebook will generate contact lists and potential customer avenues for you, without any need for you to collate this information for yourself. Social networks are a social net, ensnaring vital information that you would otherwise spend hours trying to collect. They are also a bridge, enabling you to maintain relationships with past vendors, landlords and buyers.

However, some agents ask, am I collecting the right information through Facebook? Am I appealing to the right audience? Does Facebook provide the correct demographic for my business? Well, the simple answer is yes. Over a third of the UK population is on Facebook, 81per cent of whom are over 18. In addition, half of all Facebook users are friends with at least one of their parents.
Facebook is no longer the realm of the teenager, but an advanced network across all demographics.

Of course, understanding how Facebook could potentially benefit your business is fine, but realistically, can one expect to generate real revenue, directly or indirectly, from this avenue?

A recent Deloitte survey measured Facebook’s economic impact in Europe. It found that Facebook’s broad effect, which takes into account third party activity as a result of the Facebook ecosystem, was worth £12.64 billion. A huge part of this valuation is classed as business participation, enabling businesses to raise awareness of their products and therefore generate new sales and referrals through Facebook business pages. The reason Facebook’s stock market valuation is so high is precisely because of its effect on business and its ability to increase brand awareness, and in turn generate sales and referrals.

Your business potential to generate sales is part of the reason Facebook is valued so highly, so you should grab this opportunity with both hands and ensure you reap the rewards on offer. Many household brands are now using Facebook to attract followers and fans. You’ll notice that on the majority of adverts on television, companies will ask the viewers to find their Facebook page, and post links to their social networking sites rather than their website address. Companies are actively promoting their social networking pages over and above their company website, which is a huge shift in their behaviour.

Some estate agencies such as Chesterton Humberts, have embraced this new outlook. They integrated PropertyPage (www.thepropertypage.com), a property search app that allows visitors to their page to search, share and like their properties across the UK and actively promoted its new tool. With so many agents already on board, as well as the compelling evidence for its use, the key question is can you afford to be left behind?

For more hints and tips on social media use, please visit: www.thepropertypage.com
Oliver Chapple is CEO Webdadi Ltd. www.webdadi.com

FACEBOOK AND TEXTING: THE AGENTS’ VIEWS

Facebook – yes!

Facebook page image“I think it would be foolish to ignore a communication platform such as Facebook, that boasts over 800 million users, half of which will log-in to their account every day. At Chesterton Humberts, we have embraced this opportunity to interact with clients and buyers and have recently re-launched our Facebook page with an innovative new property search function, allowing sellers to showcase their properties to the online community and house hunters to find their next property with the involvement of their friends and family.

“We understand that looking for a new home is an essential, but often tiring and frustrating process and are continually working on projects like the Facebook search and our mobile App in order to make it as simple, accessible and as hassle-free as possible.”

Chesterton Humberts is the only national estate agent to offer a property search function on Facebook, allowing users to remain on the Facebook website whilst browsing properties. Other agents’ Facebook pages require users to navigate away from the website to perform property searches or view search results, but this is unpopular with many users who prefer to stay on Facebook. Once someone becomes a Facebook ‘fan’ of Chesterton Humberts, they can use the company’s Facebook page to search for property according to area, rooms and price and then view and share the results of their search with friends and family. They can also book viewings and valuations and browse the ‘wall’ for news stories and market comment from industry experts.”
Robert Bartlett CEO, Chesterton Humberts

Facebook – no!
“It is called ‘Social Media’ for a reason. People are trying to give it a business aptitude and that’s where the dangers can lie.

“The recent launch of a new application in particular where landlords can target potential tenants and check their lifestyle, background and relationships online, I have found, in particular, to be shocking.

‘I think it’s foolish to ignore a communication platform that boasts 800 million users.’ Robert Bartlett, Chesterton Humberts

Although it will allow agents and landlords to advertise properties for sale or rent to a large audience, it opens up an opportunity for landlords to search potential tenant’s personal information and judge what they are like by looking at their photos and interaction with friends. This concerns me.

Many people using Facebook play out their whole lives online, and have personal information on there that they cannot get rid of. A young man might be in a steady relationship now, but have photos uploaded by himself or others from a few years back of a lad’s holiday, and he might be discarded as a tenant because of it.”

“Social media sites offer potential access to a huge personal database of people, the ability to intrude into people’s personal space, through them allowing access, due to their interest in a property seems incredibly intrusive. With regard to those who are running these new applications how do they know that the information being uploaded is factually correct?

The marketing of property might be a ruse to gain access to people on social media sites. There are many innovative and established methods for prospective tenants to find properties, and I strongly recommend that landlords receive professional management services to ensure that their tenants are referenced by the book. In the majority of cases, a house is a person’s biggest asset and it should be looked after in this way. Traditional methods shouldn’t be forgotten.”
Sarah Rushbrook, Rushbrook & Rathbone 

Facebook – yes!
“We’re just getting going and have plans to use Facebook quite extensively during this year. It’s not expensive to outsource the work and we’ll ramp up user numbers by bribing people with prizes and so on. A taster run with a video last year was very successful. Using Facebook, we had over 2000 hits on the video instead of the normal 100.”
James Wyatt, Barton Wyatt 

text confirmation image

Short, sweet and effective, says Finders Keepers.

Text messaging – yes!
“We use text messaging from our bespoke database for,

  • Ad hoc texting to applicants (to ask if they’re still looking, for example)
  • Sending properties – if they agree, we sign them up to receive up to 5 properties per day which meet their search criteria.
  • Confirming a viewing to a tenant and confirming the viewing to an applicant
  • Confirmation of a valuation appointment for a prospect landlord
  • Texting contractors to confirm job sheet.”

Finders Keepers, Oxford.

Text messaging – yes!
“We use @thebu2iness to tell our 1300+ applicants about every new property within seconds by email & SMS.”
Johnsons, Evesham

“We use SMS to inform all applicants of new instructions. We also use it as another means of communication.”
Premier Places, Worcester

“Edmund Cude has used SMS technology since 2010, offering landlords a quick, accurate research tool when considering rental values in a particular street. By texting the word “VALUATION” to 84840, the system triangulates the landlord’s location and sends them the top rental comparables on that street and immediate area and links to relevant properties. It registers their details on the system and our Senior Relationship Managers will contact the landlord the same day to discuss their property.”
Robert Nichols, Edmund Cude

“Wanna hear about new instructions via text? Wanna get fed up with endless irritating texts? We tried – no-one liked them.” Barton Wyatt, Virginia Water.

What’s your view? Email us now, [email protected]

March 21, 2012

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