Giants track how consumers use mobile and focus on engagement in apps

At The 2015 Barton Ventures Mobile Web Summit the co-founder and Executive Chairman of Zillow, Rich Barton, noted that recurringly across companies he invests in “mobile web gets the majority of mobile users (as high as 70 percent) but a small fraction of engagement (as low as 5 percent)”.

At Inman Connect San Francisco, another event that took place earlier this year, Google revealed research showing that consumers now spend more time on their phones than on desktops. It’s normal to pull out phones while standing in grocery lines, at sporting events, and in front of a house for sale. Ultimately, this means we are logging on multiple times a day, and these “mobile moments” as Google calls them, add up to big usage numbers.


Two takeaways from Zillow and Google

First, consumers are using mobile devices more and more because it gets them the information they want right away, from a device they always have with them.

Second, while attention must be paid to the flood of searchers using the web from their devices, engagement happens more in well designed apps than in responsive websites. This is because mobile apps are fast and to the point. They are quickly opened via an icon on your phone after you download them. Instant gratification becomes a factor as apps immediately get you to the information you want.


Mobile lingo

Therefore, if you are a broker or agent, your thinking should be centered around how to capture mobile customers in 2016.

First, a quick recap of relevant mobile lingo:

Responsive websites: A website that morphs to fit the screen size of your phone, making it easier to read.

Reactive websites: Adds smarts to a responsive website. For example, a reactive website will only deliver information in a responsive format that is appropriate to the device you are on at the time. Not everything on a desktop is relevant on a mobile phone.

Mobile apps: Apps are powered by being in the app marketplace, such as the Apple App Store or Android Google Play. They use the features of the phone, like GPS capabilities, cameras and push notifications better than a responsive website can. These are also called “native apps” because they are made for phones specifically. This is why apps generate more engagement with their visitors than responsive websites.


The basic approach a broker or agent should take

First, get a responsive or reactive website. Any decent website firm should be able to create a responsive website. The promise of responsive is capturing the number of people using mobile devices. The problem is that responsive sites are unwieldy to use when searching for a property for sale.

If you are an agent or a broker, not looking to spend much money, a basic responsive website is the bare minimum you should have to get your message across. If you have a top custom designer, they can create more reactive solutions.

Just be aware even mega companies like Facebook haven’t cracked the code on getting engagement entirely from responsive websites.

Think about an app to get more engagement with prospects and customers

Leads, referrals and client collaboration all come from apps. This is because apps are designed for simplicity. Apps make use of the phone functionality to get real estate consumers where they want to go faster.


How Zillow does responsive websites and apps

Zillow spends a great deal on their responsive website. However, when a consumer goes to their responsive website via a mobile device, Zillow prompts them to download their app. Why? They want to create leads that they can sell!


What to look for in an app

A good app is one that you can share easily with your prospects and customers. It will be solely branded to you, with IDX listings and place you in Google Play and the App Store. Having your very own app not only directly connects you to prospects, it increase sales through referrals and repeat business. Even agents can get affordable apps these days, and many app providers will let you make apps available to all your agents as well when you purchase a company app.