- By Matt Glenny
Close to 100% of tenant and investor searches go online - agents need to harness the power of digital or be left behind.Commercial Real Estate (CRE) in the UK has been slow to react to the online marketplace. This is despite clear shifts in consumer behaviour, demonstrated by the latest research, from 2014. This showed that 87% of tenant and investor searches went online and 50% of successful acquisitions were of a property originally found on the net.
Notably, even where tenants and investors - our consumers - had hired agents, more than half still checked the web personally. Six in 10 used mobile for CRE searches at least sometimes.
These figures are already three years old – and they are only going in one direction. Online CRE searches increased by over 60% between 2008 and 2014. By the same growth rate from 2014-17, searches involving online would today be close to 100%.
This should come as no surprise to business people in 2017.
The online search experienceThe Tenant experience of searching for commercial real estate online is like a bad episode of the Crystal Maze.
Consumers used to easily identifying and comparing products are subject to dizzying clickrobatics as they work out where to find a product matching simple criteria.
Rather than the list of properties they set out to compile, tenants and investors end up double counting, calling three companies about the same property and signing themselves up to endless call and email lists. In the new marketplace, no consumer wants to be badgered by brokers for weeks on end.
Taking back controlThe traditional arbiters of the CRE marketplace - the established agencies - have been relatively quiet on the online scene. Many upstart flexible space companies, tenant representation businesses, fit out firms and serviced office brokers have dedicated huge spend to building their online presence. In doing so they have hungrily eaten up keywords and Google advertising. They have been consistent and methodical users of social media in order to build their online presence.
Incumbent businesses in a relatively buoyant market are less likely to innovate; busy agents are doing deals. At the start of the last crisis in 2007 there were no iPhones, no Uber and no Airbnb. App wasn't a word and only half of CRE searches went online.
However the fact remains that agencies are now losing out to their upstart competitors - who are harvesting the online market for the same, valuable leads. A great opportunity exists for agents to take back control of the marketplace by using the right tools.
What is more, the right technology can keep them at the forefront of innovation and new trends in a rapidly evolving marketplace. For example, 74% of internet traffic will be in video form in 2017 – and companies using video enjoy 41% more web traffic. Advances in 3D photography and VR are already settling into mainstream property marketing. Incorporating the latest digital marketing innovations with ease is central our proposition at Realla.
There are enormous benefits to harnessing the power of online technology. Emailing PDFs which are designed to be printed out is no more advanced than the post. Consistent best practice improves the quantity of inbound leads to your agency and the quality of leads generated from outbound marketing.
Harnessing the power of onlineOur mission at Realla is to make agents into experts in the online marketplace and – in doing so – to improve the online search experience for tenants and investors. We have a world class team of developers who have built the first software which empowers agents to intelligently harness the power of online. We are continually building new products to shorten deal cycles, streamline workflow and help agencies optimise their interactions with online media.
What drew me to join Realla in December last year was using the product as a customer for 12 months at JLL, where I was able to see the benefits in action.
By allowing us to quickly and easily create well designed online campaigns, Realla's tools improved our speed to market at JLL by a week on small transactions and up to a month on larger investment sales.
On my first Realla campaign in November 2015, digital tracking allowed me to properly harvest our contact list. It led me to follow up with agents who had clicked our HTML - leading to three viewings and first contact with the agent who acquired the space.
Realla helped me win work from clients who understandably expect agents to be experts in the online marketplace. We saved our clients £thousands on marketing whilst improving speed to market and optimising our own performance.
In addition to our digital marketing tools, the Realla portal is now doubling in traffic every 6-8 weeks, helping to improve the online search experience by gathering data from 900 agency websites. It updates itself every 24 hours. This is already generating meaningful leads for our customers and we are building tools to help tenant rep agents use the site more and more effectively.
Improve your speed to market, harvest the power of your contact list, generate more inbound leads and demonstrate your expertise in the new marketplace.
If you are interested in learning more about how Realla can help your agency harness the power of online, please get in touch.
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