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 . . .

To tweet or not to tweet!

The property industry has been pondering for some time the importance of being active on twitter. I personally have equally been skeptical as to its benefits. I really question agents or consultants who think that there are a large pool of people who want to be bombarded with regular tweets on new listings, price changes etc. As a consumer, and a technically orientated one at that, I just can’t see how I benefit from that. Email alerts will do just fine and I get to read them when I want (the one exception I would make here is for rentals in particularly tight markets. In some cities I know of instances where people pretty much fall over themselves to find out about new rental properties when they come available. A tweet would be great for that).

However, as a technical company, we needed to give it a go so we set up a couple of Twitter Accounts a few months ago and got started.

Not much feedback and quite a few followers and then, out of the blue, a genuine enquiry! Yes that is right, a genuine enquiry from a real estate agency that had come across one of our tweets and then contacted us.

So I guess the proof is in the pudding as they say. Not a huge number of leads but certainly it is a start. So maybe my thinking on twitter and the value it offers is starting to change…..

By the way you can find us at @brightfoxhq

How to measure if your website is successful

This is an excerpt from one of our weekly emails sent FREE to subscribers of the 50 Bright Ideas email campaign. To read this article in full, and to get another 49 great tips and action lists on how to improve your property business, visit http://50ideas.brightfox.com.au and sign up – it is free. “Last week we talked about using Google to promote your business. We will talk more in coming weeks about how to optimise your website design to improve search engine results. But we digress this week to answer a question from one of our readers regarding last week’s email. Charlotte asks us:

“Thanks for the information on Google. I understand a little more on how I can use it to increase visitors to my site, but how do I know if it is working or not?”

This is a good question, thanks Charlotte, and the answer to your question is this week’s Bright Idea.

So you’ve built a website and spent money on Google Adwords, how do you know if your website is working? To get the best out of your online marketing you need to understand the basic metrics that are used to measure the performance of your web site.

Most web development firms would point you immediately at a weblog statistics package that will analyse the technical details of how many visitors came to your site, how long they stayed and so on. This is all important, and we discuss it below, but we believe in analysing the success of your site more deeply than this. We recommend that you use three forms of measurement. They are:

(a) Lead Tracking: There is nothing more important to your business than generating actual leads that convert into sellers, purchasers, tenants or landlords. The true and absolute measure of any advertising medium, including your website and online marketing, is the amount of business your website generates.

We would say that a website that brought 10 leads is better than one which brought a million page views but no new potential clients. I think this is pretty obvious to us all however, we have found that many clients fixate on the web traffic analyses and don’t track nor analyse the number and quality of leads generated from the site.

So the number 1 measure of success is simple: the number of leads and the % of those leads that convert. We recommend that you track both and report on them weekly.”

To read the rest of this article and to get a detailed action list of how to measure success on your website, subscribe for FREE to http://50ideas.brightfox.com.au.

A 3rd wave of foreclosures in the US heralds more bad news for the world economy?

A recent article on MSN Money (link here) by Michael Brush discusses the coming 3rd wave of foreclosures – namely housing distress and foreclosures from prime lenders. These are people who have never come under the banner of  sub-prime mortgagee’s. These loans are thought of as your traditional house mortgage starting with a significant deposit and home owner equity. Economists have been discussing for some time the possibility that these prime borrowers would ultimately come under distress just as sub-prime borrowers have. It would seem that that is now happening.

So what does this mean to the world economy? We are seeing signs that growth in China and India are returning somewhat to previous levels, or so it would seem. The questions remains is that is this growth being driven by underlying demand or the build up of depleted inventory. Once inventory levels return to normal for these companies, growth of any kind will be driven by demand. 

As the US represents almost a quarter of world GDP (reference wikipedia), continued and extended weakness in the US economy, leading to significantly reduced demand, must continue to push down growth rates in all economies, including China and India. Short term stimulus packages driving short term domestic demand will only last so long in these economies.

Further we have the prospect now of interest rate increases in the US. 30 year fixed rate mortgages in the US  are now at 5.45%, up from around 5% in April. This is primarily being driven by concern over the US Bond Market where yeilds have been increasing over the past few months on concern of the US Federal Reserve’s ability to continue purchasing bonds.

There is no doubt the rate of decline in almost all of the benchmarks for the economy is slowing. No doubt they will soon bottom. The question will be however how long until we see real growth again. A turn around to seeing actual growth in employment numbers for example. We then have the specter of interest rate rises being driven by the huge borrowings of governments around the world, immediately stunting any possible growth as it tries to emerge.

So where will this leave us? Some econmists believe that the world ecomony, or at least many of the developed economies, may end up with a Japanese still ‘lost decade’ – long periods of no or very limited growth. Personally I am starting to lean towards a 70’s style era of boom and bust. I can see many economies having an inflation lead boom followed by a series of busts, with quite wild cyclical variations.

All your essential property news in the one location

Searching for the most update to date and topical news on the property industry is always hard. That is why we developed www.propertymash.com. This site brings together property news from around the world so that you don’t need to go looking for it. Its nice and simple – but it works.

I know – we built it so we have to like it! But seriously, I use it everyday to find out what is happening in property markets around the world and find it invaluable. Most of the information I reference in this blog, whether they are opinion, articles or market commentary, all comes from www.propertymash.com

So I suggest you try it out and see what you think.

RSS – find out what it means to me….web 2.0 continued

You may have noticed websites popping up with ‘RSS feeds’ on their site. RSS basically allows someone to link not just to a page, but to subscribe to it with a notification every time that page changes. For example, news websites have taken this on board with top news from various organizations feeding into one website.

RSS can push all kinds of information from news articles to blog entries, stock quotes, weather data, photo availability and more.

One such website has been developed by Brightfox, which is called PropertyMash.  It embraces the new ‘mash up’ technology and is applied with a real estate focus. What this means for those in the property industry is the ability to access all real estate news and information in one spot.    Visit it here…www.propertymash.com

We’ve also created an iframe application, so organizations can have live real estate news from property mash on their website for free.  This has already proved successful for some of our clients as they obtain more visitors to their site and demonstrate the importance of market intelligence to their clients.  Visit the PropertyMash site for more information.

More Web 2.0 information coming shortly…