It should come as no surprise that, in early-mid March, a new search-field surged in appearance within and across MLS systems – the Virtual Open House (VOH). In some cases, the traditional Open House field was even removed from the MLS system dataset altogether.
As locations across the country begin to reopen, guidance from NAR is continually being updated. As a result, some questions arise (and remain) when it comes to Virtual Open Houses.
If Virtual Open Houses become standard practice for an extended period of time, how do you make an impact? With this relatively new technology, how do you drive interest and offers?
As always, new tech + an evolving market = a new opportunity. It’s a chance to lead the pack and make an impression. So what exactly do these opportunities look like from a digital marketing perspective? In broad strokes, the answer appears to be two-fold:
An opportunity exists for new lead generation. There has been a shift in how buyers assess and engage with technology to make their way down the proverbial “funnel”. The point of conversion from “visitor” to “lead” won’t necessarily happen in the physical world anymore. In other words, we need to adjust the avenues used for promotion.
Take the time to explore how you will drive your sphere’s interest via your social channels. Leverage the channels you already have, but also delve into new ones. For example, if you haven’t had time to create a Facebook business page for yourself yet, check out this Hootsuite article on how to get started. We also recommend setting up your free Google My Business page to instantly boost your SEO!
Think about how you will present and showcase your VOH via your real estate website and drive traffic there.
An opportunity exists for new avenues of generating demand! The way we judge whether an Open House was a success (or a failure) requires new means of measurement. Of course, there won’t be an eye on physical attendance. But, by using the technical tools at your disposal, you may be able to derive an even richer view of how in-demand the property is.
Beginners can use the technology they already have – smartphones, programs like EyeSpy360 or Matterport, and IDX Broker! Developers and more advanced users can take things a step further – place a Google analytics tag to track engagement, or a Facebook Pixel to retarget these visitors on (where else?) Facebook!
If you’re hosting the Open House and creating a video experience, measuring the view-through rate will give you a good idea of where and when interest dwindles. This insight can inform how you organize and/or edit your subsequent tours.
Ultimately, as a seller, offers will speak volumes – especially strong offers! Investing a portion of your marketing strategy in digital/virtual open houses and tours will have lasting value. For those who become comfortable and can master the technology, and maybe even employ someone to maximize it, the rewards may be significant.
The IDX Broker Advantage
At IDX Broker, we put an emphasis on easy and effective home search. We make MLS system data easy to search and easy to display. Not only that, we also work hard to ensure the maximum amount of data in your MLS system is available for use on your site – according to IDX rules, of course.
So, when it came to VOH (our new, favorite search field), we sped up our mapping initiatives to make sure this data was ready to go! Now you can simply build and tailor a Saved Link or Widget for VOH like you would for any other search.
Displaying properties with available (and scheduled) VOH in a homepage widget can amplify your visitors browsing experience. Even better, build a saved link to display homes with only scheduled VOH! It can be a great way to differentiate your site. With unique, dynamic, and SEO’d content linked to and from your navigation, you’ll be climbing the search results pages in no time.
Doing It Right
When it comes to the actual execution of your VOH, there are a few ways you can get it done right – whether it’s at your listing with your phone, or from home via Facebook Live or Zoom with a set of property videos, 3-D tours or photo slideshow.
Whatever it is you decide to do, if giving your home-searchers the power to access your VOH in one place is a priority, or if you want to show a boom in demand and interest for your property while maintaining a safe social distance – you should be using VOH’s and your IDX-enabled website to get it done!