The Best Real Estate Technology of 2017: Business Apps, Tools, and Software for Agents and Brokers
By Matthew Bushery
About Inbound Marketing
A new year means it’s time to examine new real estate technology that could benefit your brand in 2017 and beyond. From helpful time and finance management software to customer satisfaction and review platforms, there are plenty of mobile and desktop options at your disposal that can simplify and enhance not just your day-to-day, but also your long-term business goals.
Discover many of the cream-of-the-crop real estate tech tools and apps you ought to use for your online marketing and sales efforts in the year ahead — some of which are dedicated entirely for agents and brokers, others that are helpful for professionals at large, and all of which can provide some much-needed organization and assistance for your various real estate business needs and objectives.
(NOTE: You already know the most popular tech tools. These options, in comparison, are ones many Realtors may not be aware of, but can be just as resourceful — or even more so — than some of the most well-known choices out there. Having said that, don’t expect to see Dropbox, Evernote, or the like listed below. We hope you find these apps, tools, and software helpful for your real estate marketing plans!)
Instant messaging apps are definitely “in,” as of us writing this — and not just for teens and Millennials. Numerous industries have shown they need a communication system for their employees to conduct meetings, share ideas, and have a myriad of other essential business discussions. Whereas most chat-based software offers only the ability to talk one-on-one with others in a text-based format, Slack has broken all of the rules, so to speak, by offering a multimedia-focused, multi-room communication platform.
Within the feature-rich tool, you can chat with single individuals, specific groups of people (you can add and remove members to the conversations, as you see fit), and channels (e.g. departments within your company, like agents only) via text, phone calls, and video streams. What’s more is there are countless apps that can be integrated into your Slack account, all of which can improve your communications and team productivity in one facet or another.
So, if you need to constantly be in touch with fellow colleagues to monitor ongoing conversations — everything from sharing leads with agents at your firm to setting up meetings with your assistant — this is the ideal instant messaging software for you.
Ask dozens of other real estate agents and brokers how they organize their schedules, and general business priorities, and you’re likely to get a different answer from each and every one of them. That’s because no two professionals work alike. Everyone has their own particular organizational systems that keep them focused on the tasks at hand.
Having said that, there are certain software programs out there many of these pros use that provide a visual framework that helps them ensure they are able to distinguish various marketing and sales activities, prioritize which ones to handle first, and essentially categorize all of the daily and weekly duties associated with their real estate business. One such program — and a very handy one, at that — is OmniFocus.
This software affords you the chance to see every element of your job at a glance: projects you’re working on (like revising your listing presentation), high-priority emails (like those from prospective clients), and long-term marketing and sales agenda items you need to handle over time (like building your real estate blogging strategy). With apps available for iOS on top of the desktop version, OmniFocus is the premier solution for the modern agent.
Not every industry pro is willing to shell out $50 for content marketing tools like Adobe’s Creative Cloud solution (Photoshop, InDesign, etc.). The good news is there are plenty of free and more affordable options available to agents and brokers that provide just as helpful design resources as that software suite — one of which also happens to belong to the Adobe family: Spark.
With Adobe Spark, you can create unique graphics, animated videos, and pages, each of which can become brand new — and high-performing — real estate marketing collateral for your business: an explainer video for your agency, a lengthy infographic about your local market, buying and selling stats you can plaster on images and post to Facebook.
The design possibilities are literally endless with Spark — which, did we mention, is free! That’s right: Simply create an Adobe account, and you have access to this top-of-the-line program at no cost. Think of the innovative platform as a means to develop creative collateral that can tell your brand story and even generate and nurture new leads (just be sure to promote the heck out of any assets you create to maximize their effectiveness!).
Video editing tools like iMovie, Adobe Premiere, and Final Cut Pro can cost you a pretty penny, if they don’t already come with your computer or your broker hasn’t already purchased them for your agent team. But this is 2017: Look through the App Store and Google Play Store, and you’ll find hundreds of apps for your real estate video marketing strategy.
The problem with many of these resources, though, is they require a hefty amount of your time so you can organize, edit, and optimize your recordings. There is one app, however, that does all of the nitty-gritty work for you. All you have to do is upload the photos and videos you want featured in video montage, select some background music and a scene transition style, and boom — just like that, you have a marketing video you can share on your site. The app in question? Quik, by GoPro.
In addition to creating one of the most unique cameras in the marketplace today, GoPro has also crafted a few bonus video production tools for consumers and brands alike. Quik is one such solution. Simply play around with the types of videos you can create and customizations the app provides, and, in a matter of minutes, you can have an amazing-looking real estate video that shows off your latest buyer client’s new home, a celebration of a closed deal with a seller client, or even a tour of your latest listing or the local neighborhood.
Whether you’re a solo agent looking to discover where you are and aren’t spending your time wisely or the head of an agent team aiming to ensure your sales squad is aptly making the most of their meetings with leads and clients, chances are the Hours time-tracking app is something that can improve your efficiency as a real estate pro.
There are a handful of distinct features Hours offers users. For starters, you can track every activity you perform on a daily basis to see how long it tends to take you to complete certain tasks. After monitoring this time usage over … well … time, you can run reports that explain to you in detail where you tend to allocate most of your minutes and hours and, in turn, how you can modify your schedule to become a more orderly and adept agent.
Moreover, you can use this time-tracking method with your fellow team members, each of whom can figure out where they can afford to cut back on certain duties, like catch-ups with the managing broker or open houses. Once each agent has an idea as to how they should be spending their time at work, they can use the timeline feature to plan out their revised schedules.
In other words, you can save a day or two’s worth of time over the course of a year using Hours.
In the market for comprehensive and intuitive real estate CRM software that makes lead management a cinch? Look no further than our very own real estate marketing solution for agents and teams … and our dedicated iPhone app that makes organizing, prioritizing, and contacting prospects and clients on the go easy.
With Placester Mobile, you can collect all of your leads’ information in one place. Create lead profiles that feature your prospects’ primary contact information and housing preferences in a matter of minutes, then use that information to dictate the notes, tasks, and reminders you can set using the app as well.
What’s more is Placester Mobile allows you to email your contacts right from the app, so you don’t have to worry about going back and forth between the app and your iPhone email client just to send a message to your top leads or current clients.
The features and functionality of Placester Mobile continue to grow each month, so download the app today to access these essential lead management features — or sign up for a Placester real estate marketing subscription, so you can sync the lead and client details in your app with your desktop account.
Once you create custom content for your real estate website, one of your next moves — in this case, before your start promoting the pages in question — you should set up UTM parameters that will allow you to track all of the content you craft in Google Analytics. The downside of these parameters is they make your site links super-long and, in turn, look a little suspect in the eyes of anyone who clicks them.
The solution to prevent any click-through issues from occurring with these links is to use a link shortener, like Bitly, that can transform your 250-character URL into a brief, 40-character version. These link shorteners essentially act as a 301 redirect for your site links, meaning they still direct clickers right to the appropriate page.
While this is the main functionality of Bitly, the link-shortening platform now offers a wealth of analytical data associated with all of the links you create. So, if you produce an area page for a local neighborhood in your market and create different UTM links (for example, one for Twitter and one for Facebook, so you can see which source generates the most traction) and Bitly them (yup, it’s a verb as well as a noun), you can see which link “wins” — that is, which source earned you the most traffic.
There are plenty of other data-based use cases for Bitly as well, so it’s highly recommended you give the service a try so you can more easily ascertain what types of content (e.g. buyer and seller resources), sources (social media channels, email), and mediums (blog posts vs. pages) garner the most traffic to your IDX site.
Clients who want to know about the best nightlife options around town, coffee shops that are open 24/7, music festivals that tend to tour the area annually: These are just some of the requests your buyer clients may ask of you anytime. To ensure you’re able to be the one to provide the answers and info they need before anyone else, use Gboard: a fantastic smartphone keyboard from Google.
Instead of having to open up a browser on your phone, enter in your search terms, and try to find the most applicable link to share with your clients, Gboard makes it easy to search within your texting app on your iPhone or Android, meaning you can find the details you need to share with clients and send them their way, all in the matter of a minute.
While you may not save tons of time with Gboard, the convenient app can definitely help position yourself as a local thought leader and authority who can fill in clients and leads about the best stores, venues, entertainment options, and other locales around the community — something that can distinguish you from other agents in your market.
Canva and Piktochart have long dominated the DIY design space. Other options, with just-as-simple functionality and a plethora of pre-made templates, though, are certainly optimal options for agents looking to take on their own visual branding efforts and create some original content pieces to share in their digital outlets — and that includes DesignBold.
Whether you want to fashion some fancy images to use on Instagram and Pinterest, construct a direct mailer that can double as an infographic, or craft the imagery for a long-form asset, like an ebook or guide, DesignBold offers the resources you need to get the job done right (a.k.a. build some bold and beautiful marketing materials).
You can even create your own event invitations, postcards, and print ads using the design service — content that will resonate with clients of months and years past and help you earn new business in the future — so spend some time getting to know this polished platform and start crafting some amazing graphics you can leverage online and offline in not time.
“The detailed insight required to ensure consistent, long-term success.” That’s what RealSatisfied states it offers real estate professionals on its homepage, and that’s exactly what it delivers: the optimal medium for collecting customer satisfaction data from buyer and seller clients that can be leveraged as social proof for their real estate marketing plans.
Sending surveys to clients using the real estate software is beyond simple, and the reporting capabilities featuring the survey findings are comprehensive and can give you the requisite information you need to both understand what you did well for clients and to inform (and impress) your audience online by publishing said feedback data.
Sharing your real estate success stories with your audience through your IDX site and other digital channels is what will help you ultimately generate high-quality real estate leads for the foreseeable future and build your brand to the heights you want to reach. Creating and promoting a wealth of valuable content is needed too, but the feedback you secure via RealSatisfied is what can put your real estate business over the top, so to speak, with visitors considering hiring an agent soon.
Once you’ve mastered your organic real estate marketing on Facebook, you can afford to spend some time, energy, and money with advertising. There are few better ad options for Realtors today than Facebook, thanks in large part to its hyper-targeted audience options, which can get your ads in front of only the right individuals: those who are likely to convert into leads.
But you’re out of the office much of the day, so how you can efficiently oversee your ads’ performance and, when needed, edit them before they go live? With Facebook Ads Manager for iPhone and Android, creating, adjusting, and analyzing your ads on the social network is a cinch (just make sure you only link to your highest-converting real estate website pages to maximize ad success — your lead gen).
Without a doubt, Google Keyword Planner is the premier SEO keyword research tool today. Having said that, there are dozens of lesser-known options that can also give you a glimpse into what kinds of locally focused terms and phrases you should be incorporating in your content, based on their relevance and popularity (that is, their monthly search volume), and KWFinder is one such tool.
This keyword research solution can instantly give you hundreds of similar terms to main keywords along with their monthly search volumes so you can build or enhance your real estate SEO strategy in no time at all. The paid option definitely provides a much clearer view of what keywords will likely work best with your online content, but the free insights the site provides can still deliver the keyword details you need to build a strong SEO plan.
Knowing who’s opening your emails and when they do so may seem impossible, but in actuality, there are several tools that can give you email marketing insights just like these, including Bananatag.
The funky- (and fruity-) named email software tells you when your recipients open and engage with your messages and provides other key resources to help you boost your campaigns, such as email scheduling, so you don’t have to send each one manually.
What’s more is you can even determine which members of your email list open attachments in your messages, meaning you can easily discern which leads and clients check out your home buying best practices guides, home seller resources, homeowner checklists, and other nurturing content you share with your audience regularly.
Don’t get us wrong: Having a real estate YouTube channel is essential, nowadays — but that doesn’t mean every video you create needs to be published to the most popular video marketing outlet. Video hosting services, like Wistia, also afford you the chance to post recordings you can later embed to your site and share on social media and via email. Where Wistia and YouTube differentiate, though, is in the analytics.
Yes, YouTube offers its own brand of proprietary analytics that can give you key insights into how your videos perform. With Wistia, however, you get even more granular data you can use to enhance your video strategy: average engagement (e.g. how much of a video viewers watch), play rate (e.g. how many people watched a video who loaded it on a page), and heatmaps (where in the world your videos were viewed).
This tool is optimal for large teams and brokerages at large, given Wistia’s relatively pricy plans, but that’s not to say it’s not potentially the right video marketing solution for your real estate brand. For instance, you and fellow agents at your firm who also produce videos routinely for their personal brands could use a single account to organize your videos and measure your clips’ performance.
What other relatively new apps, tools, and software do you use for your real estate marketing? Share your suggestions with us below!
Published on February 14, 2017
Written by Matthew Bushery
I'm the Sr. Content Creator for Placester, where I educate real estate professionals about modern marketing and, in turn, help agents and brokers make the most of their online presence, earn more traffic, and generate more leads and business.