Renters Are On the Move. Are You Standing Still?
Today, seventy percent of all Canadians are mobile subscribers, and we are active users as well. Statistics show that Canadians texted over 20 billion times in 2008, and a total of 4 million of us browsed the mobile web more than once a week. What's more impressive is that these numbers are continuing to rise and cell phones are quickly become a staple part of our everyday lives. So, how can landlords begin to use cell phones to their advantage?
This article is all about answering that question. We're going to explore a few innovative ways that you can incorporate mobile marketing into your marketing efforts.
Mobile Websites Marketing
A mobile websites refer to mobile-friendly versions of your current website that is designed to fit on the smaller screens of cell phones. These mobile friendly sites allow users to easily view and navigate your web pages to quickly find the information that they're looking for.
How do they work? Well, when a cell phone user tries to access your website via a mobile browser a snipit of code on your website detects that they are trying to do so via a mobile browser. It then automatically re-routes the user to the mobile friendly version of your site.
Why are they important? Having a mobile-friendly website improves your customers' viewing experience by fitting frequently used content into a smaller, scaled down version of your website. This enables them to view your website in its entirety, without having to scroll left or right to view the entire page. This saves them time and it also shows them that your company is up-to-date and innovative. Optimizing your website for mobile access gives your renters the impression that your organization is not only current and respective of their visitors needs, but also that your company values innovation and forward thinking.
Many large landlords have already developed and launched mobile websites because they realize the mobile behaviour patterns of their customers. Trish MacPherson, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing at CAPREIT, comments that, "Our decision to develop a mobile-friendly website was an easy one to make. Renters are on the move when they're visiting our properties or touring around our neighbourhoods and many of them are choosing to access our listings via cell phones. Our mobile site, caprent.mobi, has proven very successful since it's launch this spring 2010 with almost 2000 visitors a month surfing our site on a mobile device, predominately the Apple iPhone."
Clearly the results are in. Renters are mobile, are you ready?
Now, developing a mobile website is not the only way that you can reach cell phone users, although it is the starting point. So, assuming you've built a mobile friendly website, what is your next step to increasing your mobile marketing presence?
Mobile advertising could be your next step.
Mobile advertising is very much the same as online advertising is for regular websites. I'm going to focus on explaining one area of mobile advertising that you can use, namely Google MobileAds.
Many landlords have already implemented Google AdWord into their marketing mix because the tool is powerful in its ability to generate relevant, quality leads. Just as Google AdWords has opened up online marketing opportunities for landlords, so too does the extension of Google MobileAds.
Google MobileAds are just that, they are ads that appear on mobile websites. They are created the same way as Google AdWords and are available as an add-on to the AdWords platform.
This extension package allows you to appear on mobile websites that contain relevant content related to your keywords. The other perk of getting into the mobile game early is that not all landlords have capitalized on this fresh, new medium. You may gain a monopoly on the mobile leads for a short time until this medium gains popularity.
The last mobile marketing tactic I'm going to discuss is short messaging service.
Short Message Service (SMS) Marketing
Short Message Service (SMS) is a term used to describe the system that enables cell phone users to receive and send text messages. So, in laymen's terms SMS marketing is essentially marketing to cell phone users via text messaging.
Most of us already participate in text messaging to our friends and family and so do renters. That's what makes this form of marketing so opportunistic. Since renters have their cell phones with them all-day, everyday, why not use texting to engage them?
Now, before I explore some ideas on how to use SMS to your advantage, I want to be perfectly clear about one thing: do not text your renters without their permission. This would be an invasion of their privacy and your texts would certainly be classified spam.
So, to use SMS marketing effectively you need to make sure that renters "opt-in" to receiving your messages and conversely, they can "opt-out" at anytime. I won't get into "opt-in" systems in this article but you can find out more by Goggling it or you can email me for further reading material.
Now, assuming you have an "opt-in" system in place, how can you capitalize on this medium?
Many landlords are beginning to offer their residents exclusive perks and promotions as a reward for being customers. SMS marketing is a great way to keep track of these promotions and it allows residents to participate in the promotion by simply sending a quick reply message.
Polling is also a great use of SMS technology. Find out what your renters think about topics by sending then a quick text and asking them to reply with an A, B or C response. Using this technique you can engage your renter and find out more about their thoughts on certain topics.
SMS can also be used for news updates. SMS text messages are a great way to keep your residents informed and up-to-date on current news.
Running contests can be fun and engaging for cell phone users. These contest could be as simple as the 10th person to text in a picture of themselves standing in front of your building will receive a Starbucks gift card. It may seem cheesy, but simple contest like that can be fun and easy to participate in.
As you can see the possibilities of using mobile marketing to engage and market to your renters are endless. The costs are relatively low and the value that the engagement brings is priceless.
As mobile marketing continues to grow and evolve in Canada, landlords will certainly be presented with enhanced opportunities to market to their customers. Mobile websites, mobile advertising and SMS marketing are just three areas of mobile marketing, but they provide you with so much opportunity to further your marketing efforts. So, renters are on the move. Will you continue to stand still?