Each and every year we see new online solutions or technology that enter our industry, many are raised and discussed here at length on this blog. There are 5 levels of adoption in most innovations and the challenge of many of these solutions is to break through the Innovator and Early Adopter levels and start being adopted by the Early Majority and Late Majority. The last level, The Laggards will only be taken kicking and screaming when everybody else has already adopted the innovation.
With online solutions its possible for an innovation to rapidly move through each level far quicker than the offline world would allow. Look at the use of Facebook and Twitter in our industry. A little over 18 months ago Twitter and Facebook where only being used by the Innovators and the Early Adopters in our industry. That quickly changed and by the end of 2009 it was being picked up by the Early Majority and today we see the start of the Late Majority joining the party.
So it had me thinking whats going to be the big things of 2011 online for real estate agents and early evidence suggests that three big breakouts to hit the Early Majority for 2011 will be Video, Mobile and Single Property Websites.
To breakout to the majority things generally have to change. There is generally and update or a new technology or something that facilitates the change and for my suggestions there is a change that will facilitate that greater adoption.
Video has been used by real estate agencies for a few years. Online video broke through to the majority with the advancement of broadband internet connections to the home and Youtube is now one of the world’s most popular websites. Despite this video has not reached the same popularity in our industry and has remained a niche product only with the Early Adopters.
So whats going to change? Realestate.com.au is about to launch their video product. Domain were first to the punch last year but realestate.com.au are going to be doing it bigger and better and has gathered the resources and man power from around the country under one banner.
This army of video contractors will provide a consistent product across the country but best of all video will be a main feature of the realestate.com.au portal and will finally come of age in our industry. 2011 will have video written all over it and you can smell it in the air. Every article published on Business 2 so far this year includes something about video.
Smartphones and Tablets are becoming hugely popular placing internet access into the palms of the people and they are using it to visit our websites. Over the past couple of years some real estate website providers have offered mobile websites to their clients but till now the concentration has been on making the property pages fit a mobile device and not the whole site.
On our website we are currently receiving an average of over 25 unique visitors every day from mobile devices including ipods, ipads, iphones and android devices. By the end of the year I expect that number to triple or even more as these “smarter” phones and web enabled mobiled devices become more and more popular.
What stood out most though was that the majority of visits were to non-property pages. In fact 75% of visitors came from Google to view a non-property page.
If that is how the public are viewing our websites we as agents need to deliver the best experience to them and start offering mobile friendly versions to those arriving with via mobile devices. More and more agents will create 100% mobile optimised sites.
Single Property Websites
I remember creating a standalone property website from scratch for a client many many years and swearing that I would never do it again. Over the past couple of years templated versions have become popular allow agents to create a standalone website in minutes. They have certainly attracted their fair share of Early Adopters in the industry but have struggled to gain a wider acceptance.
TheHomePage.com.au is one of Australia’s newest free portals and the team is thinking outside of the box with many things they are doing. Along the way the team may have found the magical ingredient that will introduce single property websites to a much wider audience and have called it MyPropertyAddress.com.au. With the previous suppliers there was still a significant investment in time uploading and commissioning the website. Whilst it is no longer measured in hours like my original attempt year ago it is still a significant amount of time especially when you are doing multiple property. When you factor in price changes for all of your property the time invested can still be quite significant.
Because TheHomePage.com.au already receive all of your information as a portal (and if you are not sending your properties to them now, I recommend you should) they can make a single property website with literally a couple of clicks.
The result is a professional website with great SEO benefit back to your main website with very little effort. The site will be constantly updated with absolutely no additional time needed at all.
You can probably expect the current manual style operators scrambling to get hold of an xml feed themselves to replicate the sheer simplicity. You might also see other companies who already receive or send xml property feeds try and tap into this type of product and join the fray. For now though thehomepage’s MyPropertyAddress.com.au is the only one that I know of that has the process as simple as possible
These are for my mind the top 3 solutions that are on the horizon of making the biggest impact for agents online. The real question is though, are you going to be the Early Majority, the Late Majority or one of the Laggards.