What happens when the world's largest online retailer joins forces with some of the world's most advanced artificial intelligence? The possibility to instantly discover just about anything is born, and it's changing the landscape of real estate as we know it.
In case you haven't heard, Amazon's newly developed brainchild, Echo, is reshaping every aspect of our daily lives, from listening to music to ordering a pizza to summoning an Uber. And it is quickly finding its foothold in the real estate marketplace as a virtual agent.
"Always ready, connected, and fast. Just ask." That's the campaign promise Amazon has touted with their virtual assistant Echo, and they mean it. Powered by the intelligent speech activated cloud-based Alexa Voice Service, Echo users simply need to say Alexa's name and make their demands.
Real estate companies like Miguel Berger's Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Tech Valley have discovered the home buying possibilities Echo affords and developed an app that makes starting the new home search as easy as vocalizing a few specifications.
Using Berger's app with Echo, house hunters can search by home size, number of bedrooms or bathrooms, price range, city, state, radial distance, or a number of other factors. Alexa does all the research for us, asking followup questions to understand the requests. And when Alexa strikes the jackpot, the buyer receives an emailed payout of all the listings that meet the requirements.
All this, without a single phone call, meeting, or click of the mouse.
For Echo users, the days of jumping from website to website in search of products and services - new homes and rentals included - are over.
But where is the emotional connection? Where is the human element that is necessary for conversions? And how can your marketing efforts play into a device that relies solely on a verbal request?
Virtual assistants like the Echo will redefine marketing as we know it. Where marketing once relied on emotional connection and humanizing elements, it now shifts its focus to simple, no-frills facts and figures, which is exactly what traditional marketers try to avoid. You can't impress machines with mood-inducing colors, soft music, or high-quality stock images, so how else can you stand out from competitors?
Marketing will take a sharp turn on the learning curve, and competitive differentiation will be key. Your SEO efforts may start pulling double duty. Not only will you cater to a web-browsing audience, but also to prospects vocalizing their need for your services via Alexa. Essentially, marketing to virtual assistants like Echo will become equally important as marketing to your human audience.
Berger's app is just one of a few - and potentially many more to come - that cater specifically to the real estate market for Echo users. Still a largely uncharted territory, there is much left to be discovered on how exactly the real estate market will benefit from the help of a virtual assistant.
Will Echo ever reach the popularity of the email, the dot-com, the social media presence? It remains to be seen. But with over five million Amazon Echos sold in the last two years, and similar products from Google, Apple and others not far behind, the Virtual Assistant continues to establish its relevance in the modern tech world. And it does not look like that will change anytime soon.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Verge