You probably know mobile usage has experienced mammoth growth over the last few years. We don’t leave home without our smartphones. Heck, we don’t put them down period. Our smartphones have become the place where we research first — before we buy.
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A joint study in January 2013, entitled “The Digital House Hunt,” by the National Association of Realtors and Google found:
If your current website is not optimized for mobile, you may be losing business. So how do you go mobile? Do you need an app? Should you mobilize your current website?
Your very own app: all your info, souped up, tricked out, and fun. All the leads will be coming directly to you. But how do you get people to use it?
It’s like a website — you have to tell people about it. Don’t think that they will just stumble upon it in the App Store. Not gonna happen. You will have to market your app like you do your website. Some apps will allow you to personally invite customers to use your app via email or text, which is a fantastic way to introduce it and promote its use.
Realtor.com Agent-Branded App
Realtor.com offers up a free agent-branded app that promotes “collaboration.” Agent-branded means it uses your contact information and photo. All lead inquiries will come directly to you. You can suggest homes that your clients might be interested in, and they can request showings on the listings they like. You can chat back and forth within the app via built-in instant messaging to discuss each property. Setup is easy peasy, and at the end, you are encouraged to invite your clients to use the app.
Apps from Your Brand
Most of the larger real estate brands offer agent-branded apps now that are similar to the realtor.com app. If your brand allows you to customize an app off of their company app or an existing website profile, give it a try. Typically, there is little required from you until someone connects with you there.
Feeling adventurous? Want something that is uniquely yours? There are now TONS of sites that will help you build your own app. One huge thing to consider: the inventory. Make sure you can get an MLS feed in there. These sites have lots of real estate agent app templates and give you a great place to start:
Another big consideration: Your app needs to work on Apple and Android devices. Make sure you understand the steps involved to get listed in the Apple App Store and Google Play.
If you are not feeling the app route, you might consider a mobile site. This is a version of your website that is optimized for mobile. The cool part here is that there is no download required. The not-always-cool part is that you are creating another website. This could be the little cousin of your website and have the same look, feel, and functionality, or it could be a total stranger.
Yes, more work, but hopefully more leads, too. If you are considering a mobile website, check out Barcode Realty. They build mobile websites for phones and tablets and offer assistance with marketing strategies and understanding the analytics behind your sites.
Responsive Web Design
Responsive design is built into the code of your website and allows a website to respond to the environment on which it is viewed. It looks larger on laptops and more compact for tablets and phones (but with all of the same basic functionality and feel). If your site is not built with responsive design now, this can get pricey. But on a side note, do not built your next site (or redesign your existing site) without taking responsive design into very serious consideration.