If you could watch all of your properties 24/7 and provide anyone in the vicinity with pertinent information while they’re at the location, do you think it would improve your performance? Absolutely! And with developments that have come along in just the past 5 years, you can pull off both of those feats, and look good doing it.
Exciting innovations have been made in two major areas: iBeacons and sensors. Both are tremendously valuable to marketing and property comparisons.
iBeacon technology embeds content into inaudible, high-frequency sound waves that can then be pushed out to nearby smartphones or tablets. In a practice sometimes called Proximity Marketing, it can send multi-media content to anyone within range, providing additional information on a property right when it’s needed –and you don’t have to be there. This lets you make contact with serendipitous visitors or people who would otherwise move on without pursuing further information. It’s a whole segment that we were missing before.
The leader in this technology is Signal360 (formerly SonicNotify), which has been around since 2011, but is in wide use in the U.S. and Europe. They call this contact “proximity-based moments”, and offer their hardware at very affordable prices. Devices with a 15-foot reach go for under $20.
“There are numerous applications for beacon technology in the real estate industry. Beacons enable seamless communication about details- such as price, property specs and open houses- with potential buyers at the moment they are in proximity of a property, and offer comprehensive analytics about dwell time- giving insight into level of interest,” says Lauren Cooley, EVP, Sales and Marketing at Signal 360. “What Signal360 offers that’s unique in the space is a complete solution. In addition to the beacon hardware, Signal360 offers a full proximity platform, which is the engine that allows for intelligent scheduling of communication and frequency capping to ensure the messages are sent appropriately.”
Think of an iBeacon as an inaudible QR code for a property. Anyone can access more information while they are physically at the location. Signal360’s site calls this “an intelligent tap on the shoulder when it’s needed most.” We call it a high-tech assistant at every property you handle.
Less interactive, but every bit as game-changing is sensor technology like Motionloft. This product provides live pedestrian and vehicle counts for your properties around the clock. This lets you eliminate guesswork when it comes to peak traffic times and other considerations.
The service verifies the data with better than 95% accuracy. They provide reports that let you access the activity around a given property at a glance, and make it easy to compare multiple locations. You can provide clients with detailed reports in PDF or Excel, and sharpen your own knowledge of the market by observing data over time.
This technology works around the clock for you, reaching out to potential tenants and generating useful data effortlessly. You can basically set these tools in place and step away; the technology works across devices and is backed by solid support.
“As sensor technologies advance, numerous industries have found new and exciting ways to implement and benefit from such solutions. Motionloft sensors leverage computer vision and machine learning to collect data on pedestrian and vehicle traffic – delivering that data in real-time,” says Chris Garrison, Chief Operations Officer of Motionloft. “This data is rapidly being adopted by commercial real estate and retail professionals, disrupting how they have conducted business in the past. These professionals now have reliable, accurate data to connect with what is really happening outside their properties and in their stores. The data paints a clear picture on the traffic patterns at a property, helping tenants to find the most suitable locations for their businesses. REITs, malls, and global brand retailers are now using this information for site selection, lease negotiations, and are building the data and tools into their operations and marketing efforts. This will ultimately provide savings and gains across the industry, as companies build models for success.”
These tools are already having an effect on the way we do business, but it’s hard to predict how widespread use will become in the future. An eMarketer report last year included this opinion:
On the bullish side, some foresee a radically transformed environment in which the world is, in essence, a personalized and interactive catalog to be browsed and shopped with a smartphone or wearable device. At the other end of the spectrum are those who expect the widespread testing of proximity platforms to show them unready for scaling and hampered by fragmented services, operational complexities and consumer reservations about privacy.
While consumer reservations are a legitimate concern, it appears that widespread testing over the past year has been largely promising, as providers continue to expand services. These tools are opening new avenues for effective marketing and management in CRE.