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2020 will not be the year of AI, but you’re sure going to hear a lot about it.
While AI, augmented reality and things like blockchain work on closing the gap between market promise and market reality, plenty of other important trends are set to hit the Australian real estate sector in 2020. Here are six you’ll want to know about before it’s too late.
#1 Email unsubscribes will increase, no matter how good your letters are.
According to researchers, we receive on average in the ballpark of 108 emails per day, more than 50% of which will get marked as spam. Reasons for unsubscribes remain the same: too many emails, lack of relevance, lack of legitimacy as a brand. Why then are we seeing more unsubscribes?
Frankly, consumers expect businesses to get marketing emails right by now. Marketing email as a channel is decades-old and completely saturated, so it seems reasonable that they are only willing to hear from businesses that respect inboxes enough to send only professional comms with authentic and relevant content.
In short: up your game to hold onto your subscribers. Send no more than one marketing email a week, and make sure you’re focusing exclusively on what your audience actually wants to receive.
#2 It’s getting easier to be green
Millennials have now become the largest market demographic in history, comprising 44% of the Australian working economy in 2019 (Mcrindle, 2019). Of millennials, 31% rate climate change and the environment as their top concern (Deloitte, 2019). And contrary to the avocado stereotype, millennials are 30% more likely to save regularly than their parents, and 80% of them budget, compared to 66% of older generations (www.aph.gov.au, 2019).
What this amounts to is a strong trend towards environment- and money-saving preferences in 2020 that is too big for any business to ignore. So unless you’re cornering a niche or boutique market, it’s time to consider how your agency will attract more members of this group.
Can you help landlords make greener choices by partnering with solar providers or smart water devices? Can you encourage better environmental practices among the properties on your rent roll, such as a policy to let lawns die in drought periods? Go green to get more millennial advocates in your community.
#3: Content matters even more
The number of times someone will look at your website before deciding to do business with you: between 9 and 12, on average. Consumers now do even more research online, and in that research mix, they’re likely to be looking for articles to read related to your business. So if your agency doesn’t have a blog, it’s time to get one.
Use content to educate your customers, and communicate your expertise to them. In a market saturated with choice of agents, agencies and property managers, writing more of your own content is a way to keep consumer eyes on your business, build trust, and nurture your prospects. Generally speaking, your audience is more forgiving of imperfect content on your website than they are of imperfect emails. So get writing!
#4 … And so do user reviews.
Between 20 and 50 user reviews of your business will cement a company’s reputation as trustworthy, even if some of those reviews are negative (in fact, especially if some are negative). Some stats to back this one up: according to Zendesk, 88% of buyers are influenced in their buying decision by reviews. And from Fan and Fuel Group: 92% of consumers hesitate to make a purchase if there are no customer reviews.
What it comes down to in 2020 is that trust in brands and businesses online is at an all time low. Customers trust each other more than they trust you… unless those reviews about you seem too good to be true. The bottom line is that to get more business in 2020 might be as simple as convincing a certain percentage of your client book to leave a review about your agency. They don’t all have to be gushing essays—a good quantity of high-ish scores is better for establishing trust in your business than one rave review.
#5 the shift from technology-literate people to people-literate technology begins in earnest.
You’ve probably heard (or read) the term machine-learning algorithms quite enough for one year. We sympathise, but prepare yourself: we’re not even close to being done with this one in the real estate sector.
The good news is that technology and software is set to become easier to use, but not through any shift in intuitive user interfaces. We’re talking here of technology that understands and can communicate with humans more intelligently. Yep, that’s chatbots, more self-serve machines, and conversational marketing.
Conversational marketing, you ask? That’s basically about finding more ways to start conversations with site and ad visitors, rather than pushing people to fill out a form or pick up the phone. And to do that effectively, those conversations need to be timely. Like, the moment a visitor lands on your website, timely.
Unless you’re willing to pay for round-the-clock livechat services, a chatbot is how you do that effectively. And while 2020 is unlikely to see a significant bloom of chatbots, self-serve machines and conversational marketing in the property sector, it is set to take off in other industries. This means it’s likely just a matter of when, not if, chatbots and their ilk become mainstream in property management and real estate.
That’s why we predict that in 2020, we’ll see the shift to people-literate technology begin in earnest.
#6 social media will become even less social
The Cambridge Analytica debacle (rightly, justifiably) scared social media users, but it didn’t stop them. Tiring however of the infinite and endless tsunami of public content deluging our feeds every day, people now spend more of their social media time participating in interest-based groups. The important thing to note about interest-based groups here is that they are closed. You can’t pay to access them, generally.
This is just Yet Another Blow to most branded Facebook pages, with algorithms dropping to on average 5% organic reach per post for most businesses. It was 9-10% organic reach for average performing Facebook posts even just 18 months ago, and nearly double that for Instagram.
That’s why in 2020, we predict that while social media will remain important for businesses, the time will come to make a call: either pay to play (and get very good at playing), or go home. Going home isn’t necessarily the worst option either. While a suite of reasonably well-tended social-channels is probably going to remain necessary for most businesses to show that the lights are still on and the signs are still vital, not everyone has to make social marketing a priority.
If however you plan to win at social in 2020, your posting strategy is going to have to be top notch. Focus relentlessly on tweaking and refining a mix of content that your audience actually wants to see. Expect to invest a lot more time understanding your audience behaviour and experimenting with ad strategies. And then: hope for the best.
On the other hand, businesses who continue to treat social channels as billboards will be wasting their time (and everyone else’s). Your page’s reach will bottom out, and so will your social media editor’s morale.
What else can we expect to see more of in 2020, you ask?
There’s no shortage of promises around tech and marketing trends at the moment, but as dot com booms and silicon valley hype should have taught us by now, these promises are typically met with a period of disillusionment and market correction. That’s why there are a few items you probably expected to hear about but didn’t in this article.
So here’s a list of things that didn’t make the cut for 2020, as far as we can predict:
- Blockchain: while promising the best security for large transactions, this has great potential to become the gold standard for high-value transactions like property sales. Nonetheless, is still has some ways to go before it is understood, available, and fit for use in most Australian agencies. Other sites like Gartner predict this will see mainstream adoption in 2022-2023.
- AI and robotics taking over: until simple chatbots become mainstream for the majority of businesses, AI is unlikely to dramatically change how we do business. In the meantime, chatbots are likely to be used on a significantly larger scale. When chatbots become the norm, AI and robotics are poised to follow.
- Ultra-personalised marketing: While creepily personalised marketing (think ads from companies that know your name and recent transaction history without you having heard of their business) is being hyped up a lot right now, it’s still got a long way to go before it is viable for most Australian businesses. Thank the merciful marketing gods for that, and pray that they work out how to market accurately without creating privacy breaches or eroding our civil liberties at the same time.
Wondering what to read next? Check out the ultimate pre-holiday checklist for property managers to prep for the holiday season, or read about five things we all learned in 2019.