Part I: The Coming Boom in Mobile Real Estate Marketing

What happens when the so-called forms of “alternative media” become the mainstream? Real Estate Agents are about to find out. After years of growth since 2001, the total amount of money spent on real estate print advertisement fell in the past year according to a study by Borrell Associates. Why? Buyers are using new technologies and interacting with Realtors in new ways.

In the coming years, real estate agents will need to adapt their marketing strategies or risk becoming an anachronism in a digital world. The old mediums of the past are giving way to two new ways of reaching buyers: the Internet and the mobile platform. There have been countless articles written about the benefits of marketing online; we’re not going to explore that here. Mobile marketing has received less attention, but the importance – and benefit – to Realtors is just as real.

In this three part series, we’re going to explore the world of mobile marketing as it relates to real estate agents. This article – Part I – will take a look at how the mobile market is poised to explode. Part II will take a look at the current mobile strategies real estate agents are using and their effectiveness. Part III will try and predict where the technology is headed.

Lately there has been tons of hype in the mobile market in United States. With the iPhone, 3G networks and the coming release of the Blackberry Bold, it seems like we’re leading the world in mobile innovation. In reality, this buzz masks the fact that the United States trails the world in mobile use. From Europe to Asia, the mobile platform has (generally) matured much further. And all signs point that it’s only a matter of time before the extraordinary growth abroad trickles down to the United States – both in terms of uses and technology.

Two recent reports, one by Limbo – a mobile marketing tracking group – and the other by Nielsen Mobile shed the following light on mobile growth worldwide:

  • There are currently 262 million cell phone users in the United States
  • Of those, 55 percent actively use text messaging. In Britain, 93 percent use text messaging. In India, 94 percent.
  • The number of text message users in the U.S. grows by several percentage points each quarter.
  • In the U.S., just 37 percent of users recall seeing a mobile advertisement on their phone, versus 51 percent in the UK and 85 percent in India
  • In the U.S., 60 percent of mobile users between the ages of 18-24 recall seeing a mobile advertisement. This is an increase of nearly 10 percent over the past six months.
  • As of May 2008, there were 40 million active users of the mobile Internet in the U.S.

What sort of takeaways can you get from these statistics?

  • There is a huge untapped market in the United States. With 262 million active cell phone users, the potential market is quite big. However, the U.S. isn’t fully using the mobile technology at their disposal quite yet. The number of users actively text messaging grows each quarter, as does the number of mobile Internet users. There’s every indication that our usage will catch up with Britain and Asia – it just has taken a bit longer.
  • Mobile marketing is a great way of reaching a younger audience. Not only are younger demographics more likely to use rich mobile technologies, they also encounter more advertisements (or at least remember them better).
  • The Mobile Internet is maturing, and will continue to. According to Nielsen Mobile, the U.S. actually is one of the largest mobile Internet market in the world. While just 15.6 percent of users use the mobile Internet, that still is more than 40 million people. And the number continues to grow as new technology like the iPhone makes mobile Internet browsing easier.

How fast will the marketing component mature? The U.K. and Europe saw nearly exponential growth once their subscribers started using more and more mobile technology, and as the U.S. market grows, experts predict we’ll see the same. This from Brandweek:

“Forrester Research forecasts that mobile-marketing spending in the U.S. will surge from the $270 million it stands at now to $405 million in 2009. Then it all goes exponential, doubling every year through 2012, at which point the Cambridge, Mass.-based research firm predicts mobile marketing will be worth $2.8 billion.”

So how can you as a real estate agent tap into this huge market and make a difference in your bottom line? What technologies are at your disposal? Find out more in parts II and III, coming soon.

SPS recently announced SPS Mobile Marketer which offers Agents an automated and FREE way to engage mobile consumers with Instant Text Property Flyers, Mobile Web sites and Text Lead Alerts. For more information, go to http://singlepropertysites.com/mobile-features.shtml

5 thoughts on “Part I: The Coming Boom in Mobile Real Estate Marketing”

  1. We are seeing an increased awareness of the need for agents to get involved with texting. It is a slow process of change but none the less it will happen and those that embrace the new web 2.0 will benefit tremendously. We would like to link our real estate video networking site to texting so that the videos could be view on the mobile devices. Our site is new and still in beta but we are getting tremendous support from the industry because just as agents need to be texting they definitely need to be taking videos of their listings to please their sellers and the viewing public. Our site http://ViewThisHome.com is poised to be the premier real estate video network. If anyone has any ideas as to how we could link these technologies we would be interested in a further discussion.

  2. There’s a problem with trying to equate the use of text messaging and mobile web in the US with the exponential rise of its use in India and the UK. Those countries have less widespread use of PCs, especially in India. Because of this, mobile is the way they get their multimedia and internet. Cute applications for real estate marketing on the iPhone are great and text messaging should definitely be used by agents, but having .mobi sites doesn’t seem necessary for many, right now.

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