How many business cards do you have stuffed into your wallet and desk drawer? How many business cards do you give out to potential clients on a daily basis?
The appeal of the business card is clear, you want to put something in people’s hands to help them contact you. In my last article, I talked about personalized apps that could replace agent business cards as a marketing tool. You want your name, number and brand to be in clients’ phones rather than lost somewhere in their desk.
Having an app that’s branded to you is the most cost-effective way to do just that. There are so many app developers out there now that it’s hard to see which one would work best for you.
The primary thing you want to look for is that your app caters to your brand and does not make you compete with anyone else for consumer relationships.
This checklist gives you eight should-haves when weighing your options and deciding who will build your personalized app.
1. The app should strengthen customer loyalty to your brand.
The Adobe Digital Index found in a 2013 study that mobile app users are twice as likely to exhibit brand loyalty than those who only visit a mobile website.
As desktop usage continues to fall and mobile usage increases, native apps now get more engagement, usage and leads for agents than just a responsive website — your website could even prompt users to download the app.
This means you have a real opportunity to win yourself repeat and referral business using your app. You should make sure that your app users know exactly who they are loyal to; the app should be populated with your name and photo — not those of your competitors.
2. It should allow you to own your leads.
When clients are interested in a listing in your app, all calls, texts and emails from them should be routed directly to you, regardless of the listing agent. It’s the best way for you to connect directly with your clients and the best way for you to have control over your business.
3. The app should be synced with MLS data feeds.
The properties in the app should ideally be completely accurate so that your customers aren’t wasting time looking at listings that might not be on the market anymore.
If the app developer works directly with MLSs rather than third-party aggregators, it’s better for you because you can then assure your clients of 100 percent accuracy when it comes to all your listings.
4. It should come with easy ways to download and share with potential and present clients without forcing them to create a login account.
The best kind of app should allow you to share it with clients and prospects via unique URLs, social media posts and a host of other ways.
A significant advantage of having a real estate app in addition to a responsive website is that you can carry out targeted viral marketing, showing people listings that will appeal to them based on their tastes and preferences.
Clients share apps and properties with their family and friends who will then also start using your app. Your app should be a way for you get leads 24/7 without being dependent on websites or local newspapers to market your listings to increasingly mobile-savvy homebuyers.
5. Your app should give you information about your customers and their preferences.
A good app should be equipped with powerful analytics to give you valuable information about your clients and what they want.
It should also give you information to help you track your app’s traffic — for example, what listings are attracting the most interest or client calls and emails by day, week, month and year.
The more organized the app dashboard, the better the service you can provide your clients.
6. It should be highly rated and acclaimed.
The ideal real estate app should be among the top in its category on iTunes and Google Play. Look at the ratings, reviews and the number of downloads. Another general rule of thumb: look at the quality of real estate companies the app developer caters to.
7. It should be free for your clients to download.
If your clients have to pay to have your app, they won’t be as likely to download it — especially if they are still exploring homebuying options.
A free app will generate more downloads and viral distribution, which helps your app get to the top in app store rankings.
8. It should come with integration.
Is it a native app? Ideally, it should be. Apps made to use the features of your phone allow for better navigation as well as better use of GPS technology and photo display than a responsive website will.
The real estate app you end up choosing should be equipped with any easy-to-use interface and designed specifically for use on mobile.
An app that strengthens your brand instead of watering it down is the one you should choose. It’s all about making yourself and your name more accessible to your clients.
Which agent is more likely to get a lead: the one that’s lost somewhere in a messy pile of papers or the one with a branded app right there on a client’s smartphone?
Happy app hunting.