The world is in the grips of the Coronavirus outbreak, and most Governments have implemented lockdown advisories to safeguard against the spread of the virus. With so many potential homebuyers barricading themselves indoors, the real estate industry experts are making a case for online or digital project launches.

These days, real estate developers have so many technological aids such as social media, cloud computing, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) at their disposal. It would be hare-brained to ignore the boundless marketing power of these technologies to facilitate an online project launch in the wake of the socially limiting Coronavirus pandemic.

The marketing campaign for a product unfolds in a tried and tested pattern; the more aware the marketing team of the developer is of this pattern, the better they will be able to capitalise on it. Some of the following paradigms can help market the project effectively with minimal physical interaction from the buyer and ensure healthy engagement from the intended buyer base:

Pre-launch teaser campaigns

The teaser campaign surrounding your residential or commercial project should be launched about 20 or 30 days earlier than the actual launch date. This will give you enough of a time bracket to build up hype on social media platforms. You can keep your audience at the edge of their seats by giving out little details about the project periodically.  

Make it a point to constantly update your target audience with images of the amenities in your project that will help pique curiosity. Marketing experts suggest scheduling your social media posts much in advance, pre-emptively making sure with analytics tools when you can maximise audience engagement.

Collaborate with influencers

Influencers on social media, i.e., users with substantial mileage due to a sizeable online following, have credibility and are perfect for marketing your upcoming project. If you can get influencers to discuss and promote the new project on their blogs or websites, it could get you enough eyeballs. By showing how excited the influencers are for your project launch, they can get their followers interested and help spread the news forward.

Marketing the project effectively involves sending the details of the project early to influencers and letting them review it on their blog or create buzz through Instagram or Pinterest. This will create anticipation in their followers to get their hands on the project as soon as it actually launches.

Online real estate portals

From the first contact to providing all the information about the project, the engagement cycle for procuring potential homebuyers for a project was earlier carried out online. However, the pandemic has brought up the necessity for developers to move even the buying process online to minimise physical contact as much as possible.

A successful case study in this respect was seen in 2015, when Tata Value Homes, a subsidiary of Tata Housing, sold over 200 apartments online across five of its projects over a four-day period over its online portal. The motive behind this experimental strategy was to attract the NRI buyer segment interested in buying a home in India without having to physically show up to pay for the home.

Virtual experience centres

Experience centres are immersive information centres where home-seekers could get information about various projects. Users could browse through property listings, compare properties, have immersive virtual reality walkthroughs and use touchscreen-based map searches.

The social distancing advisory from the Government has necessitated similar services, but on cloud-based databases with operating system-agnostic user interfaces which the user can access through a browser.

In a virtual experience centre, users could strap on VR goggles for realistic walkthroughs of the property, have conversations with advisors and arrive on a buying decision without moving a muscle, and from the comfort of their PC screens. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it necessary now more than ever, for developer firms to integrate this infrastructure into their respective customer engagement strategies.

 

- Bhavik Mehta, Assistant Professor, Anant National University

Plan contests around the product

Once your online campaigns get you enough mileage and market metrics show positive signs in terms of leads, you can plan exciting contests around the project, offering discounts and giveaways for winners. This could help gain further mileage for the project in terms of brand awareness and an increased foothold on social media platforms.

With every industry taking precautions to curb the spread of the virus, and social distancing advisories to the public from the Centre, it would be shrewd for developers to continue the paradigm of project launches and transactions on the digital domain, at least for the upcoming few quarters.