Commercial Real Estate Marketing: The Technology Supporting CRE Success
Emerging technology has changed numerous industries, and commercial real estate (CRE) is a sector in active transition. Especially for tasks related to marketing, networking, and communications, technology is increasingly crucial for success. CRE professionals must adapt high-tech commercial real estate marketing tools and strategies to remain competitive in an evolving, post-pandemic market.
What is Martech in Commercial Real Estate Marketing?
Marketing technology, referred to as martech, is a category in the marketing landscape. Martech refers to the technologies companies use to execute a digital marketing strategy, and includes tools for building, running, managing, and measuring marketing campaigns. A marketing technology stack is the collection of these tools, which include customer relationship management (CRM) software, customer success (CS) software, website marketing tools for lead generation and SEO, and AI-powered data analysis tools. While many brands have extensive martech stacks, a 2020 Gartner survey revealed that only 18% of brands feel they leverage them as effectively as possible for marketing performance.
Optimized or not, martech adoption is broad, having grown by 13.6% between 2019 and 2020, with more than 8,000 martech solutions now available to businesses. Today, 69% of marketing professionals rely on martech and smart technology solutions, and 97% credit these tools with an increase in marketing ROI.
In the last two years, commercial real estate has undergone a digital transformation, catalyzed in part by the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for better digital resources. Martech is an undeniably essential component of a streamlined marketing strategy, and commercial real estate professionals stand to gain considerably from early and ongoing adoption of martech tools.
Benefits of Martech for Commercial Real Estate Marketing
In a post-pandemic business climate, the return to the office may not be a return to historical practices. The lessons learned and new technologies assimilated have both streamlined and elevated business for many CRE professionals.
Early and adept users of martech have seen the following benefits:
1. Collaboration — Ongoing connectivity is an appealing outcome of martech tools, and new communication platforms make it easier to stay in touch, accelerating the progress of deals and ensuring shared understanding among cross-functional teams.
2. Efficient use of marketing budgets — The ability to glean actionable insights from both unstructured and structured data has revolutionized marketing spend. Martech makes it possible to see with greater clarity what works, what does not, and how to pivot accordingly.
3. Improve online marketing results — Deploying a marketing campaign with a full set of martech tools ensures results that are trackable and measurable. This develops a meticulous process for both inbound and outbound marketing that will yield superior results.
4. Attribution and reporting — Among CRE teams of any size, the ability to better manage contacts, conversations, and interactions is a powerful outcome of martech. Attribution and reporting provide visibility in what may have historically been siloed data, offering a comprehensive view and the ability to act strategically.
5. Enhanced client management — Client-centric operations are important, and as the average consumer acclimatizes to a customized messaging experience, the CRE industry cannot fall behind. Martech tools are the key to maintaining personal connections even in a digital environment.
Examples of Marketing Technology or Martech in Commercial Real Estate
Martech is already actively in play across CRE. Regardless of where an individual or group is in terms of martech adoption, it can help to see illustrations of what is possible. The company that I work for, Hartman Income REIT is an example of an innovative CRE company that is continuously leveraging new technology to streamline operations and provide winning customer service experiences. Our marketing team at Hartman was recently recognized as a Top Influencer in CRE Marketing and Communications by GlobeSt Commercial Real Estate News, and here are some of the tactics we employed to earn that recognition:
Investing in high-quality photography and video — In a digital age, consumer demand for multimedia and new media experiences is present and growing. Revamping our property photos as well as developing drone footage of our properties has enhanced our listings and clearly distinguished us as an elite CRE manager.
Virtual tours and immersive experiences — Shutdowns and social distancing in 2020 often made property tours challenging so this technology was fast-tracked out of necessity. Immersive experiences are important to assist prospects in preliminary research, accurately marketing and showcasing a property, as well as saving everyone valuable time.
In-house IT departments — The value of quality IT and security support cannot be underestimated. Hartman has a robust IT team who is at the forefront of upgrades, management, and innovation. This supports our operations, and also the operations of businesses that occupy our many commercial office and retail buildings. Our IT experts play many roles, including educating tenants and employees on cybersecurity; data management; deploying tech upgrades, such as fiber internet in properties; and standardization of building network infrastructure.
Developing more robust CRM — Every contact matters, and as the industry moves past paper-based, or even phone-based communication methods, contact management systems are vitally important. At Hartman, we are building a proprietary CRM to elevate leads nurturing and customer management. This is part of our ongoing dedication to exceptional service.
Property data — Tracking property-specific data can be achieved through martech platforms such as Loopnet and CoStar. We partner with these commercial real estate marketing platforms for gathering and managing CRE information, research, and analytics. These tools help us reach and connect to potential tenants and investors when they search properties online.
Content marketing and personalized content automation — With personalized content automation, CRE professionals can engage with the prospect at the right time with the right message, pushing the prospect higher in the sales cycle. This is a high priority for our team, evidenced by a thriving commercial real estate blog and timely content pieces, such as our Returning to the Office and Texas Corporate Relocations whitepapers.
Advanced marketing analysis — As ad spend continues to increase, and marketing budgets increase in step, it’s important to know the impact of marketing on the bottom line. This conclusion is informed by data on the quality of leads or contacts a company receives, and measurable KPIs such as conversion rates, acquisition cost, ROI and more. Advanced marketing analytics are an important element of a comprehensive martech stack, and should inform best practices. There are many best-in-class tools available, for example SEMRush for SEO, HubSpot for inbound systems, and Salesforce for standard CRM and email marketing.
New channels for lead sources — Consumer behaviors shift, and reaching the right people at the right moment requires awareness and timeliness. Martech tools can help CRE marketers find the right channels to generate new leads, using social media, content marketing, email sequences, reviews, pay-per-click advertising, and more to reach the right audience. 92% of people who use marketing automation acknowledge that their goal is to improve a qualified lead pipeline, and 61% want to focus on lead generation. A survey at Focus Research found that 75% of companies that use marketing automation see a positive ROI within 12 months.
The Future of Commercial Real Estate Marketing is Bright
The most successful CRE companies have embraced technology and innovation. The future of CRE marketing will rely heavily on martech. Marketing teams can use relevant software and systems to optimize workflows and processes, increase collaboration with other departments, and make better use of data when designing strategies and measuring success. The shift has come: the only question that remains is, will your CRE business be ahead of the curve?
About the author:
Anthony Trollope is the Director of Marketing at Hartman Income REIT. To stay up to date on the digital transformation in CRE, follow Anthony Trollope on Medium, on Twitter, and LinkedIn.