Businesses are increasingly using the Internet of Things to facilitate location-based marketing via their customer’s GPS-enabled smartphones. They combine that data with other information the customer has provided to send personalized messages when the customer is nearby. This technology is relatively simple to deploy and has the potential to change how real estate agents and owners market their properties. ComScore Inc. conducted a survey that found out that almost half of the unique hits to real estate sites were made from smartphones and that presents a huge opportunity for location-based real estate marketing.
Let me explain with a story.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith were desperately in search of a vacation rental. They tried many realtors, attended many open-houses, but to no avail as no single property offered them what they wanted from a summer home. Just as they were getting fed up and deciding to settle down with the next satisfactory prospect, someone suggested that Mr. Smith install an app on his smartphone that would help him find nearby rentals. Although skeptical, Smith went on with the advice and installed it in his device. Little did he know, this app was creating a beacon system that was able to use his location at all times to help push the right listings to him depending on his location.
A few days later, when the family was taking a ride across the city to the beach, Smith’s phone went off. There was a notification from the app indicating a beacon – a property to rent nearby. Surprised, Smith and the family opened the beacon notification which took them to the property page on the Internet via a URL. There were images and videos of the property, along with the history of maintenance and details of furnishing. The property was beautiful and surprisingly similar to the family’s dreams.
They scheduled a private showing using the smartphone through the app itself and negotiated the rent with the owner over chat. In a week or so, the family moved in for the seaside vacation, happy with the convenience and thrilled that they didn’t need to pay a broker’s commission.
So what exactly are beacons and how do they work? Beacons are connectivity devices programmable to interact with surrounding devices and redirect to a property URL. They operate either with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth media and constantly send out signals to nearby devices. The strength and sophistication of the beacons determine the maximum range of transmission. Beacons can be placed or attached to almost anything. Since they are very power efficient with small cells and require minimal space to occupy, even the most tech-adverse of us can place them with ease.
Beacons send out constant messages to nearby devices that anticipate these signals. Once the beacon signals are received by a smart device with the compatible application installed in them, the application interprets the beacon message and notifies the user. Beacons are not only indicators but also carriers of information. In most cases, the beacon transmits signals regarding their location. Another type of beacon transmits URLs to the receiver’s end-devices; to display information from the Internet, like a property details page.
There is another kind of beacon service that uses GPS as the medium of transmission. You can set up the beacon on your property and let the location services do the job. That is, when you attach the beacon to your property, the service provider tags the location. To anyone who uses the service provider’s application to explore properties, the location of your property will be displayed, accurately on the map on their screens. Websites like Zillow offer these services; they even provide you with the images, cost, and other details of the property along with the location when you hover your mouse pointer over it.
If you are a service provider venturing into beacon technology, and you don’t have a dedicated development team, you can rely on a huge list of mobile application developers to create the right software solution for you. Since the technology relies on the software as much as it does on the hardware, choosing the right level of sophistication and quality for your software is key. There are even services that attach beacons to full-scale IoT ecosystems and offer the users market analysis and statistical data evidence to aid in sales and purchases.
Beacons and location based marketing can be powerful tools for individual property owners, real estate agents or landlords. Consumers, and increasingly B2B customers, are expecting the convenience of smartphone enabled transactions in just about every aspect of their life. In a world of digital distractions, it’s important to target your prospects at the right time and place.