Mobile marketing for real estate is so in your face right now that it can’t be ignored any longer. The options available for you to create and tailor your mobile application are so plentiful that you could literally have one ready within an hour of reading this. I want to talk about two aspects – getting up and running and then the marketing benefits from all of these efforts. The mobile market is absolutely massive and it continues to grow so hopefully this gets you hungry for a piece of it.
I’d also like to mention that since it’s still considered “new” technology, you’ll have a really great chance to stand out in your market. If you happen to be in a larger market, like say Manhattan, then you’re far behind the pack. With that being said, you can still come out with a unique mobile app for your area that focuses on something a little more unique and specific than just the MLS listings and a map for your phone. The crazier and more unique you get, the better opportunity you’re going to have to get it written about, linked to and spread around.
Those of you who already have a mobile application in the wild, I’d really like to hear how it’s going in the comments below. Our team only has the numbers from our clients, so it would be great to hear how others are liking/hating it.
Creating + Programming Your App:
There are more than a few good options for getting your real estate business on a mobile platform, so we’ll look at the cheap and move up to the more costly. Obviously a great iPhone app that’s geared to be approved by Apple is going to cost more than a free RSS -> Mobile app tool. Going in one direction can make or break the app’s potential marketing so listen up!
–> Out Of The Box Solutions <–
WidgetBox.com Mobile Solutions – This is as easy as it gets! WidgetBox is something I’ve mentioned before, and besides easy widgets, you can have a mobile app launched within 15 minutes (booyah). How does it work? Well, you can easily just mash your social feeds together from sources like Twitter, Facebook, Google Maps, your blog, Youtube and other places then have them compiled into an application that keeps everybody updated no matter how they follow you. The pricing options range from fair to pricey and it is charged on a monthly basis, but for the lack of hassle and sheer quickness, their service is a definite win. If you’re skeptical, try a 14-day trial for free and you’ve got nothing to lose..
Smarter Agent – This is service is highly geared for real estate mobile application solutions that are more than sufficient. The best thing I can mention about Smarter Agent is that you’d be hard pressed to find a mobile platform they don’t cover. It’s a great platform that is competitively priced with WidgetBox, yet it’s FOR agents.
I didn’t find anything else worth blogging about that made life easy and quick, so for now those two options seem the best. If I missed something, then please let us all know in the comments below. With the way the mobile business world is going, it won’t be long before other similar platforms start popping up like crazy.
Hiring A Mobile Application Developer:
While this next sentence is completely my opinion, I think the custom route is the best option for a few reasons. I’m all about helping my clients create something extraordinary, something that gets noticed and best of all something that works specifically for their target market. You want to really make that user want to install and use your app, once you do, you’re golden.
The hiring process can, honestly, be a pain in the ass! A lot of businesses tend to reach out to cheaper development teams in developing countries, something which I don’t recommend. I’ve had more than a few failed projects going this route myself, but it hasn’t been all bad. Finding the right fit will take a lot of time and a lot of extra communication on your part. Try and get a recommendation from someone who’s dealt with a good programming team and go from there.
–> Freelancers <–
This is the hard part. Wading through countless freelancer sites that all kind of look the same, have a lack of moderation and generally a lot of scammers is time consuming. If you’re willing to save some cash by investing the time, then the least I can do is recommend some good starting points.
ODesk.com – This one is most likely an obvious “oh yeah” to most of you readers here. ODesk has made a name for itself by offering access to higher quality freelancers. While they’ve done a decent job, you’ll still find that you still have a possibility of getting stung . Perhaps I’m being too negative, call me Mr. Scrooge, but being cautious is never a bad thing (especially when it comes to your money and business). Do your research on your prospective freelancer and go with your instincts after taking in all the information you can.
ReferralKey.com & Linkedin.com – These two go hand in hand and they are, in my opinion, a better way of finding someone of quality. Linkedin recommendations are a great way to scope out a potential programmer and ReferralKey can help even more. Check out this video for a visual explanation of how the two work together:
Join mobile development groups on Linkedin and see who’s around and making moves. This way, you will, at the very least, be able to see legitimate recommendations for that person/business. If we’re reaching out to a freelancer, we’ve always done it through LinkedIN and never really had much of a problem. It’s also a great way to network, so you might as well kill two birds with one digital stone.
–> Reputable Mobile Dev Firms <–
This is the route I recommend, especially if you want to get your app into something like Apple’s directory. It’s no secret that Apple likes to keep the app store pretty tight, so getting an app accepted there is a task unto itself. That is, of course, if you don’t go with these firms. They specialize in just that and have become very good at it. The downside? The price is going to be significantly higher than the other options. In the end, however, your end product is going to be significantly better and hopefully, take your business a lot further.
Grapple Mobile – I’m more than happy to recommend this company any time I speak, mention or Tweet about a dev company. These folks have talent oozing out of every corner of their team and, most importantly, they get the job done right. You know without a doubt that going with Grapple means your app is going to be the best it’s ever going to get… and no, they didn’t pay me to say that!
MyFirstMobileApp.com – This is another firm that has a great reputation and has a lot of experience building all sorts of applications. They cover most platforms as well as handle some marketing aspects of your mobile campaign but come on, you might as well ring me for that (shameless plug!).
Apptellect.com – These folks might sound like they only do Apple development, but they cover all the top platforms. I’ve had friends and business contacts use them and they were all very pleased with not only the service, but the prices too! Apptellect has a lot of award winning applications coming out of their end making it a good and sound contact to add to your list!
Marketing Your App:
The good news is that you’ll get more than just mobile downloads/installs from your application. If you put the time in, you’ll see that the links and brand buzz will follow. If your completed app is really something else, then you’ve got yourself some mighty fine piece of link bait there. This is a great way to add diversity to your link profile and a great example of links that set you apart from the competition.
Don’t fret if your link building efforts are slow to kick off in the beginning. One thing our team has noticed is that local blogs will eventually throw you a link or two if you establish yourself in the community.
Now that you’ve got your app, we have to let people know about it and app directories make for both great links and a solid advertisement.
–> Official App Directories <–
– Official Apple Application Directory http://www.apple.com/webapps/
– Android Application Directory https://market.android.com/
– HP App Directory http://www.hp.com/united-states/webos/us/en/apps.html (horrid web navigation here)
– Blackberry App World http://appworld.blackberry.com
There are of course many more sites out there that list the latest and greatest mobile applications on the market. I’ll only list a few sites that will get you going, but put your Google hat on and you’ll be able to find many many more.
–> Places To Submit Your App <–
Some of these app directories just pick and choose from the official sites for content. Others will either take submissions or, if you make nice on Twitter with them, you’ll stand a chance. Either way, the links you can gain are well worth your time. Again, don’t stop here and get to Googling. You’re bound to find more sites of this type and get the head up on your competition.
–> Generate Buzz & Links <–
There are a number of other ways you can use your mobile application as link bait so let’s cover a few of the easier options. Keep in mind, we always find that local bloggers are quite willing to write about stuff like this so be ready to fork over some free copies for a review. This is where you’ll really see an influx of buzz for your app locally.
– get it reviewed by local bloggers
– submit a press release
– submit the news to local news sources online and off
– get local Twitter users to tweet it
– blog about it
– write about it on your external sites like ActiveRain.com, Zillow and perhaps your REW blog
– do a video showing how it works or get a local video blogger to do one for you
– run a contest and give away copies
– get new business cards with mention of it
– create a pdf for Scribd showing people how to get it and how to use it
– create a SlideShare.net for it showing how its useful
– perhaps a local forum you’re on is a good spot to sneak in the news
–> Going From Here <–
That should be enough to get you started and get you excited for jumping into the mobile marketing game. Keep your ear to the ground and keep adding cool and unique features to your app over time. The crazier the better is what I always say! Just make sure your mobile download options are front and center on your website and your incredible mobile app will get good traction. Go get that mobile money!