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

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

Look who is going Places in Project Marketing (our recent newsletter)

This month Brightfox is proud to introduce Brisbane based project marketer, Place Projects.
In the last few months Place Projects have not only adopted foxEnterprise to manage the sales, marketing and reporting functions for their project sales but have also released a brand new website with a custom design by Brightfox utilising the power of the Umbraco Content Management System.

The Place brand launched onto the Queensland residential real estate scene in late 2002 and since then has grown significantly in both recognition and in market position.

Real Estate power houses – Bruce Goddard, Syd Walker, Damian Hackett and Lachlan
Walker partnered with this growing name, to open the Place Projects office. Understanding that their project marketing needs were going to be immensely more complex than a residential sales office, they approached Brightfox looking for a high quality CRM system and a website that could keep up with the times.

The Place Property group had an existing in-house CRM software application in use
throughout their offices. But to suit their specific project marketing needs
Place Projects spent a considerable amount of time investigating the various
options available on the market before deciding on foxEnterprise and according
to Kathy Cuthbert of Place Projects.

“. . . We never found a system before that catered for
projects. . . and the system is amazing and so user friendly”

and 3 months down the track…

“Since using foxEnterprise we get help with anything
we ask for and if it can’t be fixed straight away or the
person we speak to can’t help us, any issues
arenormally resolved within 24hrs.”

Place Projects is a business involved in launching and marketing
new ‘off the plan’ Projects, so it was essential that the website presented the
Company and the Projects it was marketing professionally. The website needed to
be user friendly and be easily updated, with both new Project content but also
up to date research from Place Projects own internal research division.

The Place Projects website has been built from the ground up to work
seamlessly with foxEnterprise, ensuring that all prospects are imediately
captured and profiled for each Project within the foxEnterprise CRM. The
Brightfox CMS (Content Management System) ensures that Place Projects is 100% in
control of the content on their website, updating as they need to, thereby
ensuring it’s up to date and encouraging repeat visitors to the site.

and the results…   

“We had our projects website designed and operational within a couple of months, the training for it was great and even now, when there is a question it’s answeredin no time at all. It’s so user friendly we can make 99% of the change ourselves”

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 . . .

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Impeccable Customer Service!

Not long ago we talked about the importance of implementing CRM systems. As a winner in your industry, I hope you critically analysed your own processes and the available products out there and took immediate action.

This week we will be following up on the topic and adding to it, just like a builder will add the walls on top of a solid foundation for a multi-storey building.

 Let’s take two stories as an example:

1. Buying a Luxury Car – When you go to test drive a luxury car, let’s say a Jaguar or something similar, a good salesperson will be asking questions to get to know you; to get an understanding of who you are, what you like and more importantly what you don’t like, so that he / she can utilise this knowledge to persuade you to buy that expensive but lovely car. One sales agent I know of asks the question: What kind of music / artists do you like? When you do purchase the vehicle and return to the dealership to pick-up your new car, a stack of cd’s with all your favorite music is waiting for you!

2. Le Meridien Hotels – one of the well known, luxury hotel chains, has a unique service to ensure their clients always return to their hotels, anywhere they go in the world. So how do they get their clients to be so loyal? When you first go to one of their hotels they ask you a bunch of questions, silly things like what kind of pillows do you and your partner like (feather, downe, etc), how you like your eggs, do you like orange juice or apple juice, how do you take your coffee, etc. Silly questions right? Well, should you choose to stay with Le Meridien again, no matter where in the world you stay, when you walk into your room you will have your favourite pillow on the bed and when you wake up, your breakfast in bed will consist of your eggs prepared the way you like them, alongside your preferred morning drink, etc.!

Now the simple question you may ask, as a fellow salesperson, is how in the world did they know all this information and remember it? I can’t even remember a person’s name, let alone his / her partners name or where they work, let alone their kids’ names!

Well let me tell you that this is where the best salesperson leaves the rest trailing behind.

Just imagine, you maintain as much information about your prospective buyer or seller and even if they don’t do business with you now, you keep in touch with them (via email marketing as discussed in one of our earlier blogs) and when they do come to discuss their options with you in a year or two, you’re able to say:

“Hi Paul & Wendy! How is [insert kids names here]? Are they still at [Name of school]? Etc. And did you get my [Birthday Card /Anniversary of Purchase Letter]? . . .”

If I talked to you like that, would you feel a rapport between us? Would you like to do business with me? I hope you say yes!

How do you achieve this in your business?

Step 1: Build a strong foundation for your business with a good real estate specific CRM system.

Step 2: Capture the Data! You will need a process where you are able to capture the required information while you are on the move. This can be achieved by a paper based form which you fill out as soon as you have spoken to a prospect (buyer or seller). This information can be entered into the CRM by yourself or by your PA so as to maintain the accuracy of your CRM system.

Step 3: Implement the process. Time and again we have seen many agencies implement a fancy CRM program and even design a very good system but do not follow through. This is where your CRM supplier has to play an integral part to coach / consult with you to ensure the implementation is successfully carried out over the first 90 days. As soon as the Agency has been using the system continuously for over 90 days, it becomes second nature and the chances of falling back to the old ways of doing business will be reduced.

A Quick Brightfox Plug!

Brightfox is one of the world’s leading providers of CRM software and online marketing solutions for the property industry. We have a suite of software applications to suit individual agents, small, medium and large agencies, multi-office agencies, property developers, investment networks and retirement village developers and managers. We would welcome the opportunity to show you how we can help your busines, so please do not hesitate to contact us.

Action Plan:

• If you have not finalised a CRM system as yet, please do so. And when you are talking to your supplier, please enquire on whether they provide a consulting / coaching system to ensure successful transformation of your business processes.

• Decide on what kind of information that you would like to obtain from your prospects (buyers / sellers) and put it in a form / CRM • Start collecting information today!

• Put a plan in action for sending cards to your prospects / clients for birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

As always, please let us know your feedback on this or any other idea, as your feedback helps us to continuously improve these strategies. And don’t forget to pass these insights on to your friends / colleagues and help share the success!

Understand your clients and communicate better!

In previous blogs we have talked about how you can keep track of all your past customers and the people you meet every day.

In this blog we will look at trying to understand what they want!

There’s no point in you having boxes and boxes of business cards from as far back as 1989 if you have no clue where you met the people they belong to, what you discussed with them and what they were looking for.

I hope after reading and taking action on our last few posts, you will no longer have boxes of business cards, or excel spreadsheets filled with people’s names and contact details. I am sure you will have pulled the plug and done some research and implemented a specific CRM system for your business.

Now let’s look at segmenting these people into manageable sections.

  • Some of these people might have talked to you about buying their first home.
  • Some of them may have said that they can only afford to buy for less than $450K.
  • Some of them might have said that they already have 3 properties and may be looking at buying some more or may even be selling 1 or 2, if the price is right.
  • Some of them might just be local business leaders you met at the Chamber of Commerce and they may even consider referring new business your way, etc.

Can you see where I am going with this? When you add a new person into your CRM system, you will need to have thought through which category or categories that person will fit into. This is going to be extremely effective when you send out targeted marketing materials.

Now why do you need to send out targeted emails as opposed to just sending the same emails to everyone?

Well, as the saying goes, even if you get the highest quality Grade A steak lovingly cooked by a world renowned chef, when you put it in front of a vegetarian he or she is still not going to eat it. Are they?

The same applies to your prospects as well.  If you keep sending email messages that are not targeted to what they want, they are going to see you and your marketing material to be more of a nuisance/spam rather than a helpful service provided for their benefit.

This simple point is extremely vital for your success (online or otherwise) and that’s why we take great care and spend hours working with our clients to see how they want to segregate/categorize their customers/prospects/etc, to effectively market and get more business.

For example, one of our client’s categorised their prospect list as follows:

  • Buyers under $350K.
  • Buyers between $350 – 500K, etc.
  • Buyers for apartments with ocean views.
  • Buyers for apartments close to ocean views, etc.

What we have seen and learnt from the best agent’s is that they have a system that they follow without fail, especially when it comes to adding new prospects to their database, segmenting them and marketing to them on a regular basis.

All we are recommending is for you to refine your system or create a new system that will help you convert this routine task into a habit, just like you have converted the activity of driving a car into a habit.

One of the additional benefits of categorising your database is that it will be a fantastic marketing tool for you to get more listings.

Imagine this, you get a call from a prospective vendor and they say, “I am looking to list a property with ocean views”. Now, even before you start talking about anything else, all you need to do is jump into your categories and check the number of people who are in your database specifically looking for this kind of property. And you tell the vendor, I have just over 175 people looking for your property.

Will that make them want to list with you or walk down to your competitor who says, “we have a database, but we don’t really know exactly how many are looking at something similar to your property”?

When the vendor lists with you (which invariably happens to quite a few of our customers, as they have the right data at their finger tips) the first thing, even before advertising or putting it on realestate.com.au, is to select everyone in this category and send out hundreds or even a thousand emails to your database of buyer’s who are looking for that exact property. Just imagine how fast the property will be sold!

Action Plan:

  • Go through your last 12 month’s sales and see what kind of categories/segments you can create
  • Implement these into your CRM and go through the list of people in your CRM and categorise them. If you don’t know which category a prospect/client falls into, then it’s a good time for you to give them a call to chat and understand what they are looking for. If the number of calls you need to make is huge, get your assistant or hire temporary staff to call and update this information as this will be extremely valuable in the current market.
  • Develop a Customer Registration Form and carry them in your folders and give them to your entire team so that they can get as much information they can from a prospective buyers anytime.

If you haven’t looked at our CRM systems as yet, I urge you to contact us for an obligation free online demo.

As always, please let us know your feedback on this or any other idea, as your feedback helps us to continuously improve these strategies.

 

Brightfox Plug!
Did you know that Brightfox not only develops some of the leading CRM solutions for the property industry, but also has their own award winning web design team that can help you market yourself and your business more effectively online.

Never Lose Another Client Again!

Recently we have been talking about the importance of communicating on a regular basis with your client database. The question that we want you to think about this week is, how many names do you have in your database and how often do you add to that list?

In the last 12 months how many people did you meet or talk to on the phone?  Stop and think about the approximate number.. Is it 100 or is it more like 1000 + +.

Online marketers love to talk about how the money is in the list. What do they mean LIST? It basically means the list of prospects / clients that you have in your database. So in your career as a Real Estate Agent, how many people have you meet, and are they all in your list?

We know that in most developed counties people move houses every 5 to 7 years. So if you meet me today and we talked about buying a home, then theoretically by 2016, I will do the following:

– Buy a home

– Sell my home

– Buy another home

So in theory, you could possibly be involved in up to 3 transactions with me over the next 7 years. Now that does not include

– Any investment properties that I may buy.

– Any family and friends that I may recommend to you.

So let’s say you have 1,000 people in your list, who you keep in touch with regularly with valuable information: you know what they want and they know who you are. Now let’s say that you got 10% of their business as outlined above, then your settlement list will look like this by 2016:

3 x 1000 x 10% =
300 settlements in 7 years, that’s approximately 3-4 settlements every month!


That is the foundation of a very solid and successful business.

Now the question is, do you have all these 1000 + prospective customers details and have you kept in touch with them?

If you are not already doing this, what are you going to do to get started?

There are many different ways you can maintain this list:

1.     On pieces of paper / sticky-notes !!

2.     Outlook

3.     On excel spreadsheets

4.     Generic CRM software. You may have heard of ACT, Goldmine or similar off-the-shelf software.

5.     Real Estate specific CRM software

What is CRM Software?

Definition: Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is a way for you to capture every lead, purchaser, seller, service provider and other contacts that you deal with on a daily basis. It then enables you to systematically communicate with all or select contacts very easily by email, phone, mail, the web or sms.

It will transform the way that you sell, increasing sales whilst lowering the cost of sale, improve customer service standards and protect your business when
key staff leave.

Action Plan:

1.  Review your current CRM / Database system

If you already have a CRM system that you are using, identify if you are using
the system to  its full capacity and if you need further training to make
better use of it, then organise that. If you can’t get it working the way
you want, you might need to consider changing software and suppliers.

If you don’t have one – identify that you want to implement Real Estate
specific CRM software. Research the software out there in the market (Choose
one that is easy to use and gives you the functionality you need. It is
important to list for yourself exactly what you want to achieve from the CRM
software and then use this to compare the various options available).

2.  Set up your existing contacts. We suggest that you focus on quality and not quantity. That is put into your database people that you have meaningful relationships with and will welcome communication from you. Don’t import old databases from prospects 10 years ago that you have never spoken with since.

3. Send out your first email to all your contacts / prospects / customers / past customers. You can use the templates you have already downloaded from our previous blogs. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the response you will get from even your first email.

As always, please let us know your feedback on this or any other idea, as your feedback helps us to continuously improve these strategies.

A Quick Brightfox Plug!

Did you know that Brightfox is one of the world’s leading providers of CRM software and online marketing solutions for the property industry. We have a suite of software applications to suit individual agents, small, medium and large agencies, multi-office agencies, property developers, investment networks and retirement village developers and managers. We would welcome the opportunity to show you how we can help your business, so please do not hesitate to contact us.

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?

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.