Park Residences Interactive iPad Solution for Conrad Properties

As one of Australasia’s leading apartment developers with over 17 years experience in developing successful projects in Australasia (particularly in New Zealand), Conrad Properties approached Brightfox to begin developing interactive iPad solutions for use by their agents in their display suites and by their network of referral agents throughout South East Asia at Seminars and Property Road shows.

Park Residences

With the release of their latest development, Park Residences, Conrad Properties approached Brightfox to develop an interactive iPad solution. Consisting of 225 apartments over 28 floors in the heart of Auckland, Conrad Properties needed a solution that would help showcase the project to prospective purchasers both locally and internationally.

App Layout

The resulting product allows sales agents to take prospective purchasers on a ‘guided tour’ of the project. With image galleries, project video and an interactive rotating 3D model; users are able to not only showcase the development but navigate to specific levels and apartments for more in-depth information including views, floor plans and property details.

With a dedicated and highly successful team along with a myriad of successful projects in various stages of completion, construction & planning; 2014 is looking like a bright year of innovation for both Conrad Properties and Brightfox. To find out more about our interactive iPad and Touch screen solutions visit our website.

Responsive Web Design: The changing face of website design & development

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The power of mobile

Everyone who is anyone in digital marketing is talking about responsive web design. But, whether you love it or hate it, responsive design is going main-stream in 2013. So let’s talk about the what, the why, the how & the who of responsive design and how a Brightfox Smart Site can get you ahead of the game.

What . . . is responsive web design?

According to Stanford University, the definition of a responsive website is: “A website that responds to the device that accesses it and delivers the appropriate output . . . . Rather than designing multiple sites for different-sized devices, this approach designs one site but specifies how it should appear on varied devices”

So in layman’s terms, a responsively designed website will recognise what device you are using, like an iPad or iPhone, and will adapt itself to best suit the device. What this means is that you can live in comfort knowing that every one of your website’s visitors is having the optimum viewing experience no matter what devise they use.

Responsive Design Workflow

Why . . . is responsive design becoming so important?

With the explosion of Tablets and Smart Phones all over the world we have seen a major shift in how people access websites. For the first 15 years of the Internet as we know it, everyone used a PC to view websites. But that is all changing now. In fact it is becoming increasingly the norm to access websites on your Tablet and/or Smart Phone.

Did you know that:
• 61% of smartphone users are accessing the internet daily.
• In Australia alone 76% of people own a smartphone and 38% own a tablet device.

So the next stage of evolution of website access is already being dominated by use of Tablets and Smart Phones as opposed to the use of PC’s. The significance of this to the development of a successful website is quite profound. Just one of the surprising (or could we say alarming) statistics is that on average 61% of mobile visitors to a non-friendly website bounce, that is to say they never travel past the homepage.

Good and Bad

If we look at our own website you can quickly see the negative impact that having a non-responsively designed website has. Looking at our own website’s analytics we found that 20% of our visitors came from mobile devices and that a whopping 57.73% were bouncing. That’s 72 potential customers we lost in a single month! Simple math says that if we converted 20% of these bounces into leads we would have 19 new prospects and if only one of those prospects made a purchase from us, I’d say that the money we invested into our new responsive Brightfox website was money well spent!

How do figures like this stack up in your business?

How . . . does responsive web design work?

Three key technical features form the heart of responsive web design:

  • Media queries and media query listeners
    The process that determine the device being used and its screen size and resolution.
  • A flexible grid-based layout that uses relative sizing
     The word ‘Grid’ is used  a bit freely to describe this element, but effectively it is code used to determine the position and layout of the content based on the device detected by the media queries. The flexibility of this is done not in traditional pixels instead in percentages to provide relative sizing based on the device.
  • Flexible images and media
    This feature allows you to adapt your images or other media to load differently depending on the device, either by scaling, cropping or using an alternative (perhaps smaller size) file.

Who . . . should be utililising responsive web design?

Everyone!

With the speed at which mobile devices are being adopted all over the world, a responsive design will ensure that your website stays ahead of the browsing trend. Now not everyone can justify the additional expense involved, but if you are in a selling or service industry where your clients are typically on the road or away from a traditional PC, then a responsive design is an absolute.

Two of the best  industry examples are automotive and property. With clients on the road constantly inspecting and investigating potential purchases, Tablets and Smartphones have become key tools in the consumer search. In fact, according to realestate.com.au over 34% of all visits to their site came from mobile devices (and this does not take into account their iOS and Android apps).

We suggest you do some simple math yourself. In the case of a property development, lets consider a traditional weekend advertising campaign with a full page ad in a national paper. Lets say for arguments sake that this costs $20,000. If this advertisement was to generate 40 leads, one would say the cost of lead generation would be $500 per lead. A large number of these potential leads will immediately visit your website for further information or to register their further interest. Lets assume 50% visit the website rather than pick up the phone to call or visit the display suite. If we use the above statics (61% bounce rate for mobile users visiting a non-friendly website) we can say that 12 potential leads will be lost (61% of 20 leads), with a direct cost of lost leads of $6,000. Of course the true cost is vastly higher than this as the potential revenue that could be earned from each prospect is greater than the lead generation cost. Nevertheless, this example does show the immediate and direct cost to a business through having a poorly designed and developed website.

Are you maximising your cost of enquiry and can you afford to lose this business?

Brightfox Smart Sites

We encourage you to visit the Brightfox website on a range of different devices so you can truly experience what a responsively designed website is. You will find the experience quite different, but far more rewarding on each device. To ensure that all of our customers can similarly start developing responsive websites, we have launched a new product call Smart Sites. This is a single  high powered content management system that is coupled with a responsively designed website which seamlessly delivers a website suited to every device, all with minimal technical and administrative input. Please visit our website or call Brightfox on 07 3177 0505 today to find out more.

Brightfox Smart Sites

HTML5 in mobile and web development

You may or may not have heard the term ‘HTML 5’ used lately when discussing the future of web development and in particular the future of mobile web development. So what is HTML 5? HTML 5 is a browser-based programming language that can make your content more accessible and interactive. In short HTML 5 can deliver app-like usability and mobile friendly delivery in a website.

Is it worth jumping on the HTML 5 band-wagon? The continued support and growth of HTML 5 is undeniable and its capabilities were clear to Apple Inc’s CEO Steve Jobs over two years ago when in April 2010 he controversially issued a public letter that concluded that Adobe Flash would no longer be necessary to watch videos or consume web content as “new open standards such as HTML 5 will win . . .” in the mobile arena. The result of this statement? Apple does not support Flash based content on any iPad or iPhone devices and when you consider that global sales of these devices are in the region of 180 million units, that’s a whole lot of users without the ability to view your content and subsequently adobe gave up the fight and ceased development of mobile versions of flash.

With improved support for offline data storage, advanced form development and API support for complex web applications HTML 5 is clearly becoming the favoured path to follow, particularly for companies looking to avoid the increased development time & cost to publish multiple platform specific applications. Brands such as Ford, The Financial Times and Vimeo have paved the way, utilising the power of HTML 5 to develop their web based ‘apps’. According to the Burrows Communications Agency who developed the ‘Ford Showroom’ application it’s all about cross platform integration and “The cost savings of not developing twice (for multiple platforms) can add up to the hundreds of thousands . . .”

Here at Brightfox we’ve been busy building HTML5 websites (stay tuned and check out our revamped website due for release in a little over a month) and web apps for the property development industry. A new product that we have recently launched is a powerful multimedia sales tool developed for use on Tablets, and in particular for the IPAD. Combining the power of our live agent portal sales tools and our interactive display suite touch-screen solutions, we have developed a sales and presentation tool that not only allows our clients to interactively present their product to potential purchasers but also seamlessly roll their presentation into a sale utilising one dynamic tool. Stay tuned for more on this product!

Click Here to be taken to an interesting infographic about HTML 5 hosted by mycustomer.com

Real Estate Open Homes, Botox & Luxury Car Test Drives – A Winning Sales Combination . . . . ?

The other day an interesting article came across our desks here at the Brightfox office courtesy of Real Estate Business Online.

Free botox, test drives to lure agents to listing

According to the article an ingenious, for want of a better word, Californian Listing Agent  has teamed up with his local Audi dealer to provide prospective sales agents the opportunity to test drive the latest range while attending open houses for the agent’s multi-million dollar listings.

Traditionally a nice spread of good food was enough to seal the deal, but with competition growing he wanted to push beyond this approach.

. . . “We look at ourselves not just as agents, but as promoters, and want agents from Malibu to Palos Verdes either attending this event or at least talking about it,” he said of the US$8.495 million Beverly Hills-based property.

The offer includes $300 worth of free botox and a test drive of an Audi, and comes as the US property market continues to flatline . . .

 . . . “I attended a few gifting suites last year for the Emmys and Oscars and saw companies giving away great stuff to [celebrities]. I started thinking about how I could pair businesses with agents and wanted my open house…to be more like…those gifting suites . . .

If this sounds like the winning edge you’ve been needing, give it a go and let us know if it works out for you!

To read this article in its entirety please visit Real Estate Business Online

Adobe and Flash give up the mobile fight!

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Adobe Flash ImageFour years after the release of the iPhone and Steve Jobs’ controversial decision to not support flash on apple’s mobile devices, Adobe has given up the fight. According to ZDNet, after many teething and speed problems getting flash to work on android and other mobile devices, Adobe have announced they will halt development of future mobile versions of flash.

Adobe will now focus on developing tools that will allow flash developers to create mobile apps running on Adobe’s Air platform.

What does this mean for the general population? Not much. But if you’re a website owner and have flash based content, you might want to start looking at upgrading your site and utilising the ever growing power and simplicity of HTML5!

To read more about Adobe’s decision follow the ZDNet link above or visit news.com.au

Raine & Horne + QR Codes – An Evolution or A Revolution . . .

Some years ago on this very Blog we talked about QR codes and their possible use in real estate. Here in Australia they are finally starting to get a little traction (and I mean a little – the vast majority of Australian’s still don’t know what a QR Code is let along know how to use them).

Raine & Horne, a large real estate franchise group, have recently gone through a complete brand revamp, and as part of this have included the overhaul of all of Raine & Horne’s digital media platforms. An interesting inclusion in their new media platforms is the use of Quick Response (QR) Codes across their entire media.

What are QR Codes?

QR Codes were originally developed in Japan by Toyota to track vehicles through the manufacturing process. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background and were designed to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed.

Ver. 3 QR Code

QR Codes have seen wide usage across Japan, Europe and the U.S. with smartphone users able to take a photo of the barcode which is placed onto traditional static media such as flyers and billboards. Users are then typically directed to further interactive content such as a plain-text message, website url, video url, enquiry registration form or email address. Though not as popular in Australia at this time, many local media agencies are beginning to see the potential for the use of QR codes to not only interactively communicate from what was a traditionally static channel but to also effectively track these offline user interactions.

Where is the potential for the broader real estate industry?

The primary potential for this technology in the real estate industry is to provide prospects with the ability to interact online with property listings after reading a traditional mail-out, sign-board or window card. In this way multiple images or interactive tours can be viewed after seeing coming across a simple static advertising piece.

The typical usage scenario involves a potential purchaser driving through a suburb investigating different streets and neighbourhoods. After seeing a ‘For Sale’ or ‘For Rent’ sign the purchaser would normally have to remember the address (along with 10 others); visit an agency website and search for the listing from their phone (very time consuming); or call the agent for more information (which can be daunting). With a QR code printed onto or attached to the sign, the purchaser can simply take a photo of the barcode and be redirected directly to the property listing online or to an online enquiry form to submit their details or to ask more questions.

An underlying advantage to QR codes is in tracking consumer interactions with your static media. By utilising unique URL’s for the various static media types (eg. Flyers – estate.com/flyer; Window Cards – estate.com/wc) redirecting to the appropriate content, entry points can be tracked back to the offline media that directed the traffic. A much more accurate way of tracking user interaction compared to the classis, Where did you find out about us . . . ?

QR Codes; the next big thing?

Will QR codes be the next big thing in real estate? Probably not. But is there a fantastic potential for tracking offline marketing and greater consumer interaction – Definitely! Only time will tell . . .

Tips for sending a successful Email campaign

Email Client Logos
Emails are a critical tool for every online publisher. They should be used both in the sales process and to build loyalty. Therefore if you are finding that a lot of your emails are not being opened or delivered you need to take the time to understand why.

Tips when Designing your Email:

Let’s first look at the design element behind your HTML email. A well designed, easy to read email will always win hands down when compared to a cluttered maze of images, links and content. But what other design elements can you employ to ensure that your recipients are seeing and reading the same high quality email that you are?

Email Creative Size
Your email content and creative should be kept to a maximum of 600px wide. This is so that you can be sure that your email will display well in the myriad of different email applications your recipients may be using ie. Hotmail, Gmail and Outlook 2003/2007/2010. We also encourage you to maximise the content ‘above the fold’ and recommend limiting the length of the email to 800px.

Alt Tags
Ensure that all your images have an alt property that will provide descriptive and meaningful content even when images are not being displayed. With the advent of mobile and tablet email, many recipient are choosing not to download external content and you don’t want them to only see a series of broken images!

Broken Image Example

Declaring Image Heights and Widths
Always specify the width and height of images contained in the email to keep formatting consistent in case images do not load.

Background Images
Support for background images in email is very poor, notably in Outlook 2007. Try to design your email creatives without relying on background images and compensate by specifying a background colour which will appear if the images do not render.

Default Link
The Default link is the main link that you would like the list subscriber to click on when they receive your email. You can have as many links within your email as you like, but the Default link is the most important one so make sure you emphasise it!

Clean & Simple Layout
CSS positioning elements are not supported in most web-based email clients. For this reason we always recommend that you use tables to format your emails.

Inline Styles
Inline Styles are preferable to other style definitions as many email clients strip out all information not contained within the body of the email. Keep styles as simple as possible – many advanced CSS properties are unsupported by email clients.

Image File Sizes
Images should be kept to the lowest file size possible to improve email loading time. Make sure you resize your images before inserting them into your email so that you can be sure you have the smallest file size and aren’t carrying a small image with a large file size in your email


Tips to Avoiding SPAM filters:

The number one reason why emails don’t get delivered is because they are blocked by spam filters. Therefore it’s important that you know why this is and how you can reduce the chance that it happens.

Spam filters are like bingo cards. They have a checklist and if an email ticks enough boxes on the scorecard … bang … the door is slammed in its face.  Unfortunately every spam filter is slightly different.

However if you follow these guidelines your newsletter should slip past the gatekeeper every time.

Image to text ratio
The greater the text to image ratio the better chance you have of avoiding spam filters. i.e. use more text and less images. Most spam has a file size of less than 20k. Therefore newsletters with quite a lot of text are more likely to get through. The ideal file size is 20k – 50k.

Minimise the use of BCC:
If you put dozens of names in your BCC (blind copy) field in your email programme the newsletter could be marked as spam.

Subject
Spam filters look for certain words, phrases, layouts and email characteristics.

Length should be less than 50 characters. Ideally your subject should be between 4 – 8 words written in sentence case and refrain from exclamation marks. The best subject lines are descriptive of the content and capture the viewers interest.

The number one cause for spam filters blocking an email is the use of words that commonly appear in spam. Some are obvious like free, Viagra, and get rich, while some are not so obvious like opportunity, amazing and compare. Also make sure to avoid the following words (especially in ALL CAPS): free, offer, 50% off, click here, subscribe, earn, bonus, guaranteed, act now, while supplies last, why pay more, visit our web site, time limited, plus all the obvious pharmaceutical and sexual words.

Body text
Apply the same logic and guidelines to your body text as we have suggested for the Subject. Emphasis on using sentence cases and avoiding ALL CAPS.

Avoid using large font sizes and stick with only one or two different fonts and/or sizes. If you do use color text or color backgrounds in your newsletter be aware that some spam filters will wag their fingers and look for other questionable characteristics and reasons to block you.

Recommend Against:
Please do not use any of the following in your email campaigns:

Java, Javascript, VBScript, form elements, frames, ActiveX, animated GIFs, Flash, or embedded video.

As many email applications do not support these elements.


So You’re Ready To Send, What Next?

You’ve put together the greatest email known to man, following all the right guidelines and you’re sure that your recipients are going to find it both informative and useful; but you’re still worried about it not making it through the spam filters. What else can you do to help your chances?

Spam Checker Tools:
A spam checker tool is a piece of software that will put your email copy through a spam filter and create a report about how it was viewed. This will instantly tell you if you have a problem. Most good commercial email services have a spam filter built in. If yours doesn’t there are some free tools you can look at using:

  • Lyris Content Checker
  • Programmer’s Heaven Spam Checker

A Quick Brightfox Plug
For a professional bulk email and CRM solution, why not take a look at foxMessenger. As one of the most cost effective bulk email clients available, foxMessenger could be exactly what you need to execute your most important bulk email needs. With built in reporting and online support, you can analyse the results of your send and implement ways to improve your receiver response every time you send.

Utilising Email Templates to create consistent communication!

Let’s talk about why you should be email marketing and how you can utilise email templates in your business to attract more buyers and sellers!

Some of the reasons that make email marketing so popular include:

*  It is one of the most cost effective methods of marketing / advertising
*  When setup correctly it is extremely simple to carryout
*  When used correctly, you can use it to become known as an expert in your local area
*  It’s instantaneous and can command a fast response

Following are 3 effective templates that you might look at creating:

1. My Profile

This is an extremely effective piece of marketing material that you can use as part of your pre-listing / initial communication process. As soon as you have an appointment set-up with a prospective vendor, just send them this email with your pre-list kit. The idea behind this email is to pre-sell yourself and your expertise / services to the prospective client, before you even meet them.

You can even add images of recent properties that you listed & sold in the local area. The Agents who use this on a regular basis find that their prospects are very impressed with the testimonials, the information about how they do business, etc.

This is exactly like giving your business card and company profile all rolled into one, which is easily accessible in their inbox and may even be forwarded to other prospects.

One of the systems we have successfully used with some of our clients, which you can easily replicate with your website / software provider, is to send this My Profile to all those who enquire online (from your websites).

For example, if a visitor sends a request for an appraisal, an automatic email will be sent to the visitor with your details (including photo, testimonials, other useful information on what a seller will want) thanking them for their enquiry and promising that you will be in contact shortly.

You can see how powerful this kind of email can be, especially in this day of instant gratification. The prospective seller feels that their request was acknowledged and they have been provided with more relevant information that they can use whilst they wait for your call. It also has the added benefit of acting as an easy referral mechanism. The prospect can also onforward your details with a simple click of the button.

2. Congratulations

This email can be used to send to both Purchasers and Vendors.

Imagine the following:

Sending a prospective purchaser an email as soon as their offer has been accepted by the Vendor congratulating them on purchasing the property. This email has the “next action” steps that the purchaser needs to take, such as organise finance, building & pest inspections, etc.

A similar email goes again when the property actually settles. However, hold on to this thought as we have another Email HTML template coming your way and the details to download it will be available in the next blog!

You can also send a similar congratulatory email to the Vendor when the property goes under contract and then when it settles.

So why do you need to send these emails and why ask for referrals now rather than wait till the property settles?

The experts in human psychology talk about RAS (Reticular Activation System), that’s a mouthful I know! What it basically means is people who are buying a property normally meet / talk / discuss with others who are also buying a property or looking to buy a property. Similarly, vendors normally talk with other vendors / prospective vendors.

The bottom line is this (30 or so days) is the best time to ask for referrals! And you can educate the vendor or buyer that you ideally work via referrals and ask them for people they know who might be interested in buying / selling. As we all know referrals really do form the core of a successful business. Understanding how to tap into the psychology of the buyer / seller to maximise the number of referrals
is therefore essential to your business.

In foxEnterprise (one of our software products), these email templates are already provided and are linked to changes in listing status. As soon as a listing goes from Listed to Under Contract, one or more emails are automatically sent to the Vendor and the Purchaser. The same thing happens when the listing status moves from Under Contract to Settled. These emails are automatically sent out when these triggers happen, without you or your PA having to remember to do them and physically spend the time doing these routine activities. Systemisation of your customer service processes in this way really does make these initiatives achievable.

Now for our plug:
If your current software system cannot do the above then perhaps you should give us a call!

3. Newsletter

This is one of the most effective marketing tools and, unfortunately, under utilised by many in the real estate industry.

It’s a simple technique but not easy to implement! That’s exactly why we diligently train our clients to gather latest local and national news (weekly) and on a monthly basis, choose maybe 2 to 3 relevant news items and send that out as part of their newsletters. When these newsletters are used in conjunction with Blogs (we will discuss on how you can setup a Blog in detail in a later blog) you will be able to cement your position as an expert in your area.

The newsletter is an extremely important piece of marketing material that you should use to keep in touch with your entire customer database. This includes prospects, current clients, past clients and your referral network. You need to think of it as your primary marketing piece for ensuring you are “top of mind’ with your customer base. Real estate is such a competitive and dynamic marketplace that being top of mind with your customer base is essential to success.

Google+ What’s the potential benefit for your business?

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Google+ ImageWill it be just another social networking site . . . ? Or with the backing of the Google brand and some added features and benefits, could this be the dawn of a new age of Enterprise capable social networking?

Having already exceeded its maximum allocation of users within 2 days of its test launch, there is obviously a demand to see what’s new and where Google is going to go with this. After the failure of its first two attempts at social networking – Wave and Buzz – I’m sure Google is giddy with delight at this kind of initial response from users.

But what’s new . . .

Google have introduced five main features to Google+

Circles – Unlike facebook, Google is providing the ability to group your ‘friends’. As an example you will be able to group your work mates separately from your family, friends or high school buddies; allowing you to choose what and how you share with each group.

Huddle – This allows a group chat functionality, instead of having several one on one chats. A particularly useful function for planning events or discussing a central topic with a number of people.

Hangouts – A video chat function, which allows users to see who’s online and chat face to face. Similar in nature to Skype but integrated with your ‘friends’ lists.

Sparks – Similar to an RSS feed, sparks will look for videos or articles it thinks you might like and if they take your fancy, have them ready for you to view anytime .

Instant Uploads – There is nothing particularly new with the concept of uploading photos and videos to social media sites from your mobile devices. But with smart phones running Google’s Android and Google+, you don’ even have to think about uploading because all the hard work is automatically done for you. All you have to do is log in afterwards and publish for your ‘friends’ to be able to view.

What does Google+ mean for the business world . . .

Looking only at the basic functionalities as described above there are numerous possibilities for integration into the business world. With instant uploads you have your very own ‘live feed’ to your social media site keeping your ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ up to date by the minute. With circles you will be able to group users based on preference or practice thus allowing you to send targeted information or marketing materials. Sparks will prove to be useful with up to date media related to your fields of interest, which you may have otherwise missed, sent straight to your account.

Unquestionably Google is targeting the consumer market with this new offering. But many industry commentators believe that there may be more to Google+ than meets the eye. With its collaborative tools and ability to build distinctly separated groups from the aggregate whole, many believe the fundamental building blocks exist for Google + to truly own the Enterprise Web, not just the Social.

Google+ and +1’s. The coming effect on search engine results . . .

What is +1’ing you ask? Google is now providing the users of Google+ with the ability to recommend or refer a website, google ad, video or image. They are calling this action +1’ing. This provides users of Google+ with the ability to make or see virtual recommendations.

The biggest overall affect that this will have is the return of  search and ad results in Google’s search engine which will be annotated with the number of +1’s they have received. This will effectively provided users with the ability to gauge whether something may be of use to them simply by seeing whether their peers have previously rated it as noteworthy.

While still only in a testing phase, the response to Google+ has been strong. But once fully released, will there be this predicted mass influx of users to make this the new Facebook? One thing is for sure, Google+ is definitely something worth keeping an eye on. To visit the Google+ page and read more about its features and stay up to date with its full release, click here.

ABS Data shows worrying trend for developers

Brisbane Business News has just published an article showing a worrying trend for apartment developers with commencement of new product down almost 13 per cent in the last 12 months.

“. . . While the January floods have increased new housing construction in Queensland in the March quarter, demand for unit and townhouse sales decreased 15 per cent.”

Visit Brisbane Business News to read more . . .
http://www.brisbanebusinessnews.com.au/article1961/APARTMENT%20STARTS%20AND%20SALES%20TUMBLE.html