Embrace technology to succeed in commercial property

Not everyone likes using new technology, but if you don’t keep up with the latest tech trends in your sector, you could be left behind. And one area in which this is becoming increasingly apparent is the commercial property sector. Technology applications in commercial property have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, yet not everyone is embracing the benefits it can offer. In this piece, we’re going to explore the advantages to be gained by looking at what’s available and how it can help you do better - instead of waiting until your competitors get in first!

2017 and beyond

Traditionally, real estate wasn’t a very high tech business; typically, marketing the business relied mostly on direct mail, print ads in industry publications and expos. In fact, even in 2006, one study found that 52% of companies surveyed didn’t have a website, but that’s all changing. Today, every business needs a website. It’s your shop window for the entire world and it’s how most customers will find you.

But, it’s what you do next that will make all the difference to the success of your deals. That might mean hiring a digital marketing expert to bring it all together. This key member of staff will be the interface for all your online activities, developing a sound digital marketing strategy to support the business and your sales team, and provide the metrics that shows what’s working and what isn’t, so you can concentrate on doing the things that matter – closing deals.

Who does it well?
The short answer is WeWork. By putting the digital-first approach at the forefront of the marketing
strategy, this unicorn startup breaks the mould of the traditional property marketing by concentrating on
an efficient and lean way of generating leads through digital channels.

Here are a few digital tactics deployed by WeWork that helped them to build a strong enquiry generation
machine:
  • PPC - paid search ads on Google. Especially in London, WeWork optimises the ad scores
    and maximum CPC to ensure their ads appear on the first page at least 80-85% of the times.
  • Content marketing - With their ‘Creator’ magazine, WeWork concentrates on two objectives
    - improving their SEO (globally and locally) and enhancing the brand message
  • Brand building - WeWork is not your standard serviced office provider. WeWork is
    a brand first and foremost. They built the brand that then powers the demand for the space
    which results in in more enquiries generated.
  • Influencers and influence marketing - this is in a way fueled by the WeWork Creators
    Awards run in the US and UK. On the one hand, it is a brand building exercise. On the
    other, it’s the way to build influence amongst their target audience. Plus long term, it should
    allow them to tap into the pull of the influencers that will come out of the Awards alumni.

Upwardly mobile

The past few years have seen a huge upsurge in mobile technology. With more people working and doing business on the move, if you can’t take your commercial property business onto a mobile platform, you risk losing business to rivals that do.

Cloud-based information storage and applications can cut infrastructure costs and enable you and your employees to do business wherever they are in the world. Of course, to make the most of these technologies, you have to implement flexible, adaptive working processes and environments, but those companies that do are seeing the rewards. After all, when you’re dealing in real estate, the properties you manage can be in a wide range of geographical locations, so your employees need to be able to work wherever they’re needed.

What works for you?

While property companies have long used generic software applications for basic business tasks, such as accounts and order processing, newer solutions are coming onto the market that are specifically designed for commercial real estate functions, such as property management, leasing software, marketing and analysis. More and more companies are using these niche-specific applications, because they can be tailored to work in the way you like to do business, helping your save time and money – and can deliver added value to the business. All-in-one solutions, such as RealBase by Realla can be a huge benefit, streamlining and coordinating processes and providing one single interface for every aspect of your operations.
It’s also important to keep an eye out for the next big thing. Technology never stops moving, so it’s up to you to have someone on your team that can see what’s coming next.

Information is power

Big data is transforming every industry. Commercial property is no different. Data is critical when it comes to decision-making and there has been a real consolidation of online real estate information in recent years. That’s information you can use to make better decisions and drive better business outcomes.

One emerging technology that can help you make the most of this data is Artificial Intelligence (AI). Crucially, AI technology allows you to automate processes that you would otherwise take a lot of time, resources and costs. For example, this technology can instantly produce insights and intelligence your sales team can use to drive prospect conversion – before the competition has even had a chance to look at the data. AI chatbots have already proven themselves valuable in helping brokers make better decisions.

And that’s just the beginning. Goldman Sachs Research estimates that the market for virtual reality (VR), for use in 3D property visualisation tools alone could generate as much as $2.6 billion by 2025. That doesn’t mean a robot is going to take your job. People will always want the human connection, but by integrating these technologies into your business, it could make your job a lot easier, minimise room for error and improve conversion rates.

What's new out there?
Chatbot technology helps to automate and deliver communications digitally between.
Chatbots are chat applications connected to a vast database full of information about
your product/service with preloaded answered and powered by a learning algorithm.
That allows them to understand the most common questions asked by tenants and can
automatically reply to queries. Plus, they can integrate with other systems via API
to feed data back and forth between systems. Some more sophisticated chatbots use
so-called natural language to analyse user’s questions, and form answers that sound as
if they come from humans, not robots.

One of the recent examples of chatbots for real estate is AskPorter - AI driven
property management.

Technology can be daunting, but in the competitive commercial property market, no matter what size your operation, it can help you do more with less and compete with much bigger players. And if it’s a question of cost, ask yourself, what will it cost your business if technology isn’t part of your long term strategy?