• Hitchly converts links into phone numbers that can be added to for-sale signs and other marketing materials.
  • Consumers who call Hitchly numbers receive texts with links to Web pages, such as listing pages.
  • Service may be better way to tie online marketing to offline marketing than using QR codes.

Homebuyers who stumble upon for-sale signs on properties that strike their fancy often have two ways to learn more about the home: They can tap around on a smart phone to pull up the right listing page or they can call a number on the sign to chat with a stranger.

Hitchly provides agents with the option to offer a more seamless way for homebuyers to pull up listing information when they catch sight of an enticing for-sale sign.

Agents and homesellers can use the service to convert listing page links into phone numbers and print those numbers on for-sale signs. Consumers who call or text the Hitchly number (callers will only hear a busy signal or a custom voice recording) will then receive a link via text message to the home’s listing page.

A sign using a Hitchly number.

A sign using a Hitchly number.

Hitchly officially launched last week, and some real estate agents are testing out the service in the United Kingdom. A number of U.S. agents are also gearing up to add Hitchly numbers to marketing materials, said Hitchly founder Mariano Fernandez.

Fernandez, who previously developed websites for agents and brokerages, envisions agents introducing Hitchly numbers on for-sale signs with text like, “Text or call for link” or “Text for direct link”

The goal of Hitchly is to provide a better way for marketers to tie together offline and online marketing.

QR codes, barcodes that you can scan with a smart phone to be taken to a website, have often produced lackluster results because only 5 percent of smart phone users have an app that can scan QR codes, and QR codes require someone to get really close to something, said Hitchly founder Mariano Fernandez.

Hitchly phone numbers, on the other hand, don’t require an app to use and don’t have to be scanned. That means they can generate leads not just through print materials like for-sale signs and flyers, but also through radio and TV commercials — or even T-shirts.

Another benefit: Hitchly captures the phone numbers of callers who dial Hitchly numbers, offering agents the opportunity to follow up in person.

The free phone numbers Hitchly is providing on its website last just seven days. Using the service for a longer period of time isn’t cheap — $49 gets you three numbers that will stay active for a month. The cost per number decreases significantly if you buy Hitchly numbers in bulk, though.

Email Teke Wiggin.

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