David Barista is editorial director of Building Design+Construction and BDCnetwork.com, properties that combined reach more than 100,000 commercial building professionals, including architects, engineers, contractors, and building owners. He has covered the U.S. construction industry for more than a decade, previously serving as editor-in-chief of BD+C, Professional Builder, Custom Builder, and HousingZone.com, covering the U.S. construction industry for more than a decade.
While conducting research for this month’s report on “16 Tips For Driving Consumer Traffic,” I came across an interesting fact about technology and consumer behavior.
Next year, for the first time, it’s expected that more consumers will access the Internet using a mobile device than a traditional desktop or laptop computer. The proliferation of smart phones like the iPhone and Droid — combined with the precipitous drop in price for these high-tech devices (low-end smart phones are now available for as little as $50) and better data connections — means that a sizable chunk of the population is connected 24/7. And when you consider that the majority of consumers start the buying process with a Google search, it makes having a mobile web strategy that much more relevant.
Yet, to date, very few home builders have ventured into the world of mobile marketing. I reached out to several website design specialists that cater to the real estate and builder markets for advice on developing a mobile strategy. Here are their recommendations:
- Make your website mobile-ready. As anyone with a smart phone knows, surfing traditional websites on a mobile device is an extremely clumsy, inefficient process. Most major consumer websites now offer streamlined versions of their sites specifically for smart phones, and some home builders, including Simmons Homes, Owasso, Okla. (www.simmonshomes.com), are following suit. Experts say to include only the most relevant information on your mobile sites — namely product and contact information — and keep in mind that you’ll have to create a different mobile version for each smart phone platform (start with iPhone since it’s most widely adopted to date).
- Utilize texting for on-demand information. Consider putting a unique text code on each and every community and property sign. This allows prospective buyers to receive specific information, such as floor plans, pricing, and amenities, on demand using their mobile device.
- Use social media to your advantage. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube usage has exploded in the past few years, largely with the help of the smart phone revolution. These sites are ideal for on-the-go interaction via mobile devices. If you’re not using social media tools to promote your brand, now is the time to starting think about it. For instance, builders have successfully organized “Tweetups” with their Realtor and buyer groups for special promotional events.