If you have invested in a virtual tour before, you probably already know how much of an asset they are in your marketing campaign. Unfortunately, most of the time when you get a tour done for a property you are sent the tour itself and are left to go on your way. Even though this is better than not having one at all, it can be hard sometimes to know how to get the most out of this new technology to get the best return for your client. We have put together a simple guide with our top 5 tips to help you get the most out of your next virtual tour.
Put It On Your Listing
Ok, now I know this seems pretty straight forward but unfortunately I see this more than I would like to admit. The point of a virtual tour is to be the most effective first point of contact for your potential purchasers. A lot of this time, this point of contact is via your online listing. According to Realtor.com, real estate listings with virtual tours also receive 87% more views than listings without.
There are 3 ways a virtual tour can be incorporated into a listing page.
1- Some real estate portals incorporate forms which are to be filled out with all of the different components (e.g. videos, photos, description, virtual tours etc). Some of these platforms allow for the tour to be input here via an embed code or a link. When this is applicable, the tour will usually be found via a 'floorplan' button or something similar.
2- If you have full access to a web page, you may be able to get an embed code from your virtual tour provider which will allow you to have the tour playing natively on the webpage. Simply copy and paste the code into the designated area and it should magically change from a bunch of numbers, symbols and letters into the full fledged virtual tour. This works well as it will automatically come up and start playing whenever a viewer lands on the listing page.
3- The third and most widely available is via a hyperlink. You know when you are searching the internet and see some blue, underlined text? This is a hyperlink. Your virtual tour provider may be able to send through a link for you to copy and past on almost any platform.
Having your tour found within your listing page is extremely important. According to a realestate.com.au study, purchasers are 60% more likely to email and 90% more likely to call an agent after viewing a virtual tour. The beauty about this is that when they do call, they are already prequalified.
Statista.com released some stats around New Zealand's social media use for 2018. It showed that 74% (roughly 3.55million) of New Zealander's use social media and on average we spend 1hr 43mins scrolling through the endless stream of information per day. There is arguably no better way to reach such a large audience in an effective and targeted way, than by the use of social media marketing.
Fortunately, posting your virtual tour to Social media is generally seamless and easy. The link we talked about in the listing section, yip that works here too. Most Social Media platforms (Including Facebook) support the use of links. Once placed into a post it will generate a preview of the tour which is able to be clicked on and will take the viewer to the virtual tour page. The beauty of this is if your virtual tour company has tracking analytics set up, you will be able to track how many people are viewing the tour, how long they are viewing for and even what they are clicking on.
An alternative to the tour itself is that some virtual tour software's allow the creator to turn the tour into an interactive video which can start playing automatically when your audience is scrolling through their feed. This format does not have the same functionality as a full fledged tour but the viewers can still pan the camera around as the video slowly moves around the different shots throughout the property. This can be a great way to mix up your content and keep it fresh and vibrant. How many videos have you seen that you can actually interact with? Not many? I know me either. These can even be uploaded to video based platforms such as YouTube for even greater reach.
One method you can effectively use to post your virtual tour is to create a post a couple of days out from an open home to attract buyers to come and view in person. Then repost a couple of hours after the open home. In this second post mention a caption along the lines of the following:
"Thank you to all of the amazing people who came through and viewed the 'x' open home today. It was lovely to meet you and and we look forward to seeing you at the auction on 'x' date. For those of you who couldn't attend the physical viewing, we have put together this virtual tour so you are able to see what the house is like before the next open home on Saturday 15th." This adds value and puts your listing front of their mind while also offering more information. There have been a number of studies which have shown that you need around 20-25 interactions with someone before they feel comfortable enough to purchase from you. This helps to create those engagements with cold buyers and interacts in a way that creates credibility and adds value, without blasting them with the same information over and over again. Then when you have a majority of your viewers viewing the virtual tour, you can accurately access their engagement and activity within the tour to get more of a gauge of how much interest there is likely to be, before the end of the campaign. So if need be, you can adjust your targeting to compensate for the lack of interest.
The beauty about incorporating a virtual tour with this method (even when you are reaching buyers who aren't able to view in person) is that according to a Redfin study, 63% of their 1,000 person sample made an offer on a home sight unseen in 2020. This was able to be achieved through the careful use of informative 3D virtual Tours and Video Walkthroughs. This opens up a whole new market and allows you to actively reach and convert people who you never even see in person.
I know what you are thinking, "Sam, don't be stupid. Even I know you can't put a virtual tour on paper".... You would be right. But imagine receiving a flyer in you mail. You open it up at the letterbox and at the top of the page it has a QR Code with the text "Open the camera app on your phone and scan me" Curious, you do as the text asks. Next thing you know, you are in the middle of a virtual tour of a house you have been driving past every day for years.
Just like that, before the potential purchaser has even got inside after checking their letterbox, they are already in your sales funnel where they can download the property files, contact you as the agent or even sign up for an auction.
This is extremely simple to set up yourself. All you need is the link provided by your virtual tour company. While there are a bunch of different sites that can help you generate a QR Code, I like to use https://app.qr-code-generator.... as its free to create an account, has all of the functionality you will likely need and is simple to use. Once you have created the QR Code, download it as a PNG or Jpeg (Different types of images. Either will do) and insert the image into your flyer design. Again this can be tracked if you would like to get some feedback on how effective it is. Just ask your virtual tour provider on how to set the tracking up.
Some people believe that email is dead. They go on about the small open rates which average around 15-25% and how many times more effective a phone call and in-person visits are. While they are correct to a point, I believe that a carefully curated mailing list of people you have made a connection with over your years of good service can be a powerful tool. On top of that, it is a way to reach a large audience of pre-qualified buyers for little to no cost.
It's simple to add your virtual tour into an email. Simply copy and paste the link your virtual tour company has provided into your email and it should generate the hyperlink we talked about earlier.
But how can we use them to make our emails more effective?
Email Update For Buyers - If you regularly send out email updates showing potential buyers what you have to offer in the way of listings. Consider sending out links to the tours instead of links to the listing pages. This will change it up a bit and keep it interesting for your buyers. After a few updates with virtual tours in the email, you may even notice your open rates will start to increase. Your readers will love how quick and easy you are making the process and how much value your emails are offering them.
This is also a great way to get some free word of mouth advertising. When your buyers are talking to their friends about the houses they are looking at and they open the email you sent. The email contains a full virtual walkthrough of the property as well as all of the information within the skin and the hotspots they need for an initial overview of the house. They will wonder why their agent is only sending out generic listing pages with some pictures and a long description they can't be bothered to read. Their friends then proceed to walk through the house and point out how nice the bathrooms are, how great it is having the laundry off the garage and how amazing summer BBQ's will be on the beautiful deck out the front. It becomes fun and interactive and will allow the people around them (who they look to for advice) to come along through the open home with them and help to justify their decision. Relaxing them and helping them through your sales funnel.
All of this over a beer on a Saturday night while you are at home relaxing. Not bad aye.
Finding New Listings - If you regularly reach out to your mailing list that you have worked with before, whether they were buyers or sellers, it doesn't really matter, you can make sure you are front of their mind when it comes time for them to sell again. Send them value and get them to want to open your emails by offering genuine and timely information. Email them updates about the market and how homes are selling in their area. Then every now and again, send them your marketing plan, showing them how you are maximising your vendors listings to get the best return for them. This is where you add the virtual tour. This is the point of difference for you over the other agents and your secret weapon for streamlining your sales process to get the best results for them.
Matterport recently did a study of 1,000 US property sellers. It showed that nearly 80% of property buyers and sellers would switch to a real estate agent who offered immersive 3D tours on their listed properties. Using virtual tours shows that you are ahead of the game, keeping up with the trends and most of all, you know how to sell houses. With frequent touch points and updates that add value, it will be a no brainer for your mailing list to reach out to you when they are ready to sell.
Measure And Adjust
The difference between average and great marketing is the ability to review and adjust what actions you are taking. That way you can scale back the marketing that is not effective and double down on the areas that are giving you the best chance of success. It can be easy to sit back and say that you are reaching 'x' amount of people and are getting likes on your social media posts. But how do you know if these are the people who are actually going to purchase your listing or whether they are just wasting your time? Measurable stats on your entire funnel is how.
Because virtual tours are new and most people aren't bombarded with them every day, they tend to have a much higher engagement rate compared to a standard post with some pretty pictures. This is great, but if you are getting a lot of views but people are only staying on the tour for an average of 30seconds, you know they aren't that interested in viewing the whole property. This shows you may need to readjust and look at a different audience.
One way you can quickly find the best audience at the lowest cost is to do multiple sample ads via social media. Create up to 5x different ads with a virtual tour but different targeting on them. A couple to different demographics within your home town, a couple targeted to investors outside your area and maybe one for overseas New Zealander's who may be returning home. Put a couple of dollars a day on each and look to see the engagement after a couple of days. You will notice some one or two are performing better than the others on Facebook (or other social media). At this point, stop the unproductive ones and scale up the ones that are working well.
Then you look at the stats within the Virtual Tour itself. Are people staying on long enough on average and are viewing the whole house or are they getting bored and exiting? If this is the case, you may need to adjust your targeting further to reach better quality buyers or add in some more information hotspots etc to increase the quality of the information within the tour.
Finally there are the call to actions you need to track. How many people are clicking to call within the tour, downloading the documents or signing up for the auction? Looking at the combination of these areas give you real world, accurate information that you are able to take back to your vendor. They will be able to see the exact information on how your efforts are converting and get a feasible idea of how you are progressing with the sale of their house, as opposed to relying on your word for it. This will breed trust and get more buy-in from your vendor. There is nothing worse as a customer, than hearing "everything is going well" but not receiving any credible evidence to back it up.
There are so many ways you can implement your virtual tour into your marketing strategy to give you some great results for your vendor. Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming to try and do so many things and once when you already have so much on your plate as it is. But trust me, once these systems are set up for your listing you will see the benefits. You will be in front of more buyers, receive more calls and the contact you are making with purchasers in person will be more effective and worth while.
The key is to is it often and to constantly reference it. Try a couple of these methods to start off with and scale your campaign up as you get more comfortable with each section. I always strive to think outside the box when planning my marketing campaigns. Yes there are tried and true methods that get results that you should not ignore, but if you are wanting to stay ahead of the rest of your competitors it pays to spice your tactics up with a little freshness to stand out, be different and overall be memorable.