Big opportunities for the property industry in the digital age
Bluewire Media, the Brisbane based web design and strategy agency, has undertaken an extensive study of 16 leading property websites, evaluating them against 25 criteria covering web design, web development, useability, content quality, email marketing, business process use, Google search and social media use of websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Youtube.
While the property industry received an overall pass mark, there is opportunity for property companies to add value and differentiate themselves in the digital age.
Toby Jenkins, Managing Director and co-founder of Bluewire Media reports:
“To achieve results online requires a deep understanding of what the user is looking for and how they wish to be engaged. Rather than trying to be everything to everyone, focus on addressing key issues and driving key measureable outcomes such as database signup, or completed enquiry forms.”
Christina Camuglia, corporate communications manager at listed diversified property group Trinity, adds:
“The biggest challenge for Trinity with its web strategy is trying to juggle the interests of the large variety of stakeholders and users such as investors, shareholders, prospective investors, staff and the general public.”
The top 5 most important conclusions from the research were:
- Go back to the users (eg shareholders, property investors, developers, builders, homebuyers, staff, clients, influencers, property regulators, public etc) to find out exactly what information they are looking for, and how they want it delivered.
- Focus the role of the website to address key visitor issues or questions.
- Create clear calls to action then incentivise sign up and engagement activities to grow the database (eg competitions, campaign micro-sites).
- Regularly create fresh, interesting, value-add content directed towards specific segments of the market place eg property investment tips, leasing pit falls, property development updates etc.
- Choose the most relevant way to distribute the content: website, email newsletters, whitepapers, audio, slides, pdfs, video, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
Katie Barton-Harvey, General Manager of Marketing at Investa, agreed with the findings:
“The Internet offers a huge array of marketing options for property companies. The critical part is to know why people visit your website and what they want from your site. Once the basics are in place then tailor content and interactivity accordingly, for example, when we re-launched investa.com.au we added mini-movies of our Group Executives and designed the site with the experience of entering an office building complete with receptions and lifts to take you to different sections of the site! The internet continues to be increasingly important for direct engagement between property companies and their markets.”
In most cases, the basics of web strategy and web design were covered:
- The sites were neatly presented and well branded
- The sites worked across the different browsers (Internet explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc)
- They provided content about the company, its properties and services, and shareholder information.
- In just over a half there were other business processes online to add value eg for recruitment or tenant management.
- Most had sign up facilities for email communications
The research threw up a number of questions that may well hold the key to the future success of property web strategy:
- Where and how will the property industry add value through their web strategies for all of their stakeholders including existing and prospective customers, shareholders, staff and the community?
- Can these stakeholders be better serviced through secure areas and specialised content?
- What calls to action and incentives entice an interested visitor into the lifecycle marketing of the company?
- What rich media – videos, audio, interactivity – will engage a user and build a brand?
- What interesting, value-add content is available to a first or fifth home buyer, to a novice or seasoned investor, to a prospective or existing staff member? How would they like to see this information delivered?
- What other business processes could be facilitated online to save time and increase efficiency?
- What is the best way to handle a corporate site with multiple project micro-sites?
- And ultimately – what are the users saying about the website and web strategy? Are they engaged? Is it useful? What changes would they like to see?
Could be an interesting time for the property market to experiment with new strategies since confidence has taken a battering over the last 12 months!
Property Web Design: For professional and effective web design for property companies, call Bluewire Media on 1300 258 394.