These days, keeping your customers interested and invested in your business is more important than ever. Although this isn’t a problem for all real estate agents, it presents a difficult pivot for real estate agents and other careers that traditionally relied on face-to-face interaction. However, with the right tools and some creative thinking, these types of businesses can successfully move online and maintain close relationships with customers, virtually.
How to Keep Your Customers Interested
When your clients are used to speaking with you in person, it can feel shallow or inauthentic to move all communications online. Make sure your customers are able to feel how much you continue to value them by making time for the little things.
1. Check In More Frequently
You know what they say, out of sight, out of mind! Don’t let this be the case with you and your customers. Maintaining the human connection is essential for everyone to get through this difficult time, so make sure you're checking in more frequently than you normally would if you were able to meet in person.For example, if you usually text a client once per day with available apartment listings, perhaps check in once in the morning and once in the evening to gauge their feedback. Or if you normally have a weekly call, send them a one-off email just to see how they’re doing. This shows your customers that they’re still a priority for you, and also helps make sure they don’t forget about the importance of your partnership.
2. Communicate with Empathy
Though checking in frequently is essential, you need to, of course, make sure you’re doing it in a tasteful way. These are not ordinary times to be living through, and most people are experiencing hardship in one way or another. Now is not the time to be pushy with product offerings or aggressive selling.As we mentioned above, taking a minute to text or email a client just to let them know that you hope they’re doing well is an empathetic touch that will be appreciated. And if clients are having difficulty with communicating, offer your support as much as you can. They’ll be thankful for and remember your supportiveness down the road.
3. Utilize Small Value-Adds
Who doesn’t like free stuff? A great way to keep customers interested is to provide them with extra value-adds such as a discount code, free samples, or company swag. Real estate agents could send their clients a small gift basket, flowers, or baked goods with a note to let them know you’re thinking of them. Small gestures like this can go a long way in earning a client’s trust and loyalty.
Which Communication Tools Do I Need?
In order to shift your business to a virtual-only focus and stay connected with your customers online, there are a few tech tools you should invest in. Luckily, most of these won’t break the bank, especially if you’re already saving money on food and transit by working from home.
1. Smartphone with Cloud Storage
Almost everyone has a smartphone these days, but if you’ve been sticking to your trusty flip-phone, now is the time to upgrade. Countless productivity apps are available on most smartphones, such as G-suite products (Docs, Sheets, and Pages), Dropbox, Basecamp, and of course, email. You should consider upgrading your cloud storage on your phone to make sure you’re able to have easy access to a large number of files. Many phones offer expanded Cloud storage for $5 or less per month. This is essential to have since all of your communication will likely be through your phone and email. For example, real estate agents who are touring homes for their clients are able to take detailed videos of the spaces, and then upload the videos to a file-sharing app like Dropbox so that their clients can instantly view the footage.
2. High-Quality Camera for Photo and Video
For people in a visual-focused industry, having high-quality footage is a must. Though smartphones work great for providing initial impressions of a space, high-budget clients are going to need more than that in order to make a decision remotely. The same goes for taking photos of a staged home for property listings. Since we’re living in uncertain times, people are naturally going to be more cautious with their money. Blurry iPhone photos aren’t going to exactly inspire confidence! Though cameras can be pricey, the investment is worth it in the long run as you’ll be able to use the device for years to come. Our recommendations for real estate cameras include:
- The Nikon Coolpix P900 (budget)
- The Panasonic LUMIX GH5 4K (premium)
3. Zoom Pro
The internet is abuzz with talk of Zoom-bombing, Zoom memes, and Zoom fails as the world moves online. But do you really need it? Yes, there’s a reason why Zoom remains the preferred platform for video conferencing. Despite the concern over its security, Zoom is one of the most high-quality and easy-to-use options out there. Instead of meeting with clients in person, agents can easily text their clients a link and hop on a video chat in seconds from their phone, computer, or tablet. You can also easily set up recurring video meetings for clients who want to talk frequently. Though Zoom does have a free version available, the video calls only last for 40 minutes, so you’re better off paying for the “Pro” version and avoiding any awkward hang-ups.
4. Social Media Management Software
Staying active on social media is one of the best ways to make sure your business is staying top-of-mind, and investing in social media management tools makes this task much easier. These types of tools allow you to schedule out posts days or weeks (or months) ahead of time so that you can have a more deliberate approach to follower engagement. Most also come with advanced reporting if you’re looking to take a deep dive into your content. For example, an agent advertising new available properties on social can spend a couple of hours uploading their photos and writing captions, and then not have to worry about it for the rest of the week as they continue to share content regularly. They could even use the reporting features to see which platforms and which types of posts are performing the best. Some of the most popular tools include:
- Hootsuite - (budget)
- Sprout Social - (premium)
- HeyOrca - (premium)
5. Light Editing Software
Again, for visually-focused businesses, your photo and video content should be top-notch in order to showcase the quality and professionalism of your work. If you aren’t able to work with a professional designer or photo editor, you can always do some light tweaking and touch-ups yourself. Oftentimes, photos just need a little extra something such as brightness or saturation adjustment. You can continue to show your customers that you remain dedicated to your work by making sure it stays high quality. Some of the best editing software you can try out include:
- Affinity Photo (budget)
- Corel PaintShop Pro (beginner)
- Adobe Photoshop (premium)
4 Ways to Use Tech to Stay Connected
Now that you know how to communicate with your customers and what tools you need to do it, here are some ideas for keeping your customers interested and engaged with your business.
1. Host a Virtual Coffee Date
Set up a video meeting via Zoom, and publish the invite ahead of time on your social channels. Then, host a virtual coffee date or happy hour with the customers who join in! Everyone can bring their drink of choice to the meeting and discuss any concerns they might be having, interest in a specific product or listing, or just take some time to enjoy each other’s company and connect on a more personal level. Agents can invite clients to discuss new properties you might have shown them, which is much easier to do via video chat instead of texting or emailing. As an added touch, you could even send them doughnuts before the coffee date.
2. Run a Contest on Social Media
Once again, everybody loves free stuff! One of the best ways to get your customers engaged with you online is to host a light-hearted contest on social media. The prize could be something as simple as a gift card. The point is to get your customers excited and talking about something related to your business.For example, agents could hold a contest for the best “quarantine crib” on Instagram or Facebook. Followers and past clients could submit photos of their current home setup and then vote on the most creative crib. Not only does this get people talking about your business, but it’s also a great way to showcase all the wonderful homes you’ve helped people find during your time as an agent.
3. Showcase Product Offerings Online
If your business normally relies on face-to-face interaction, come up with a creative way to move that type of interaction online. The technology that we all have at our fingertips presents unique possibilities for a variety of industries. Something that is becoming increasingly popular with agents is to provide clients with a 3D online showing. Since clients aren’t able to be at the property in person, you can bring the properties to them by using apps that allow for a 360-degree view of the space. Zillow’s 3D Home Tours is a free app that enables you to easily create these types of videos. Another idea is to host a remote “open house” using live video streaming. Facebook or Instagram Live is an easy way to do this. Let your clients know that you’ll be doing this ahead of time, and they’ll be able to “walk” through the house with you and ask specific questions, just as they would in person. If you do host your “open house” on social media, you may even gain a few new interested parties who see that you are live streaming.
4. Get Creative with Your Content
When it comes down to it, creating the same old content on your website and social media isn’t going to cut it. How can you pivot your strategy to still appeal to your customer base while giving them something they’d be actually interested in during this time?Take inspiration from organizations like museums who are now offering virtual tours, or DJ’s hosting remote sets. Use what you know you’re good at and serve it to people in an accessible way. Agents who have worked in the same market for a long time could walk around and take photos of historical buildings, and feature a new type of architecture or historical time period every day. You could write articles about the best or most unique properties you’ve ever dealt with, or client horror stories (anonymous of course) and life lessons you’ve learned from your work. The opportunities are out there, you just have to get creative.
4 Examples of Brands Successfully Pivoting to Virtual Life
If you’re still feeling like you need a little more inspiration, here are a few examples of famous brands that have successfully pivoted their business to keep the customer connection alive online.
In order to capture the excitement of an auto showroom, Mercedes-Benz took to China’s popular WeChat app to showcase one of their new models, the GLB SUV. Attendees were granted a 360-degree interior view of the car, much like they would if they were able to take a tour of the model in person. Mercedes-Benz was able to generate hype about their new product, which could lead to a bump in sales once daily life returns to normal.
2. Universal Pictures
Since movie theaters across the country have closed, Universal began offering new feature films via streaming services. Renting the film costs about the price of one theater ticket ($20) and viewers get to enjoy the new releases for 48 hours, all from the safety of their home. Universal is offering films on popular platforms like Amazon and Apple TV. Not only does this allow Universal to continue making a profit off of their films, but it also opens the door to continuing this strategy in a post pandemic World, possibly allowing them to appeal to new customers.
As a substitute for meeting with fitness trainers and having access to weights and machines at the gym, Nike has been streaming workout routines on the video app TikTok. The trainers often make use of various household items that can take the place of gym equipment, such as water bottles for weights. Through these videos, Nike both shows empathy for their customers and is able to appeal to people who may have never used their videos or products before.
Disneyland and other theme parks are closed for the foreseeable future, but they’ve come up with a creative way for customers to continue to enjoy them. Similar to museums providing virtual tours, parks such as Disneyland are now promoting their virtual rides for some of their most popular attractions, like Space Mountain, Small World, and Frozen Ever After. This is a great strategy for maintaining customer interest and enthusiasm in the park’s offerings, as people will almost definitely want to experience the ride in person after watching the videos. For a visual version of these business tools and pivots, take a look at the infographic below:
Staying connected with your customers during this difficult time is definitely achievable, as long as you practice empathy, pivot creatively, and make use of your expertise. RentSpree can help make your job as a remote agent or landlord easier with our fully-online tenant screening and rental application services. Sign up for a demo to learn more.