Nick Romito, CEO of VTS.
The Covid-19 pandemic completely upended real estate as we know it, as most of the physical world became remote instantaneously. Offices took a big hit, as workplaces across the globe that were once packed to the brim from 9-5 Monday through Friday went dark overnight. As a result, every owner, tenant and broker had to reimagine their day-to-day. For tenants, this meant adapting to working from home, which brought layers of complexity—from connectivity to childcare and work-life balance.
For owners as well as brokers, it meant converting an innately face-to-face business into a tech-forward atmosphere in order to meet their clients where they were—virtually. They had to market their spaces without the element of in-person encounters that had driven this hyper-personalized transaction of signing a lease for decades.
Now, two and a half years since the onset of the pandemic, my company’s most recent landlord report recorded that 70% of landlords agree that virtual touring is necessary in the leasing process, and 78% say digital marketing helped cut deal times by reaching qualified tenants. So, what’s caused this digital marketing shift in the office arena for owners, brokers and tenants that makes it a non-negotiable?
How You Can Benefit From Digital Marketing
For landlords, digital marketing can bring their spaces to market faster, publishing content automatically as soon as their spaces are set to become available. But before that, a digital marketing platform provides the capability to proactively get ahead of those vacancies and publish marketing content for those listings across the web, ultimately shortening the time a listing takes to be leased. Once published, an internet marketing platform provides your team with in-depth analytics on precisely who’s interacting with your listing, which gives you highly valuable insights into how your space is resonating with the public, helping you to move deals more aptly over the finish line, and better position your spaces.
Additionally, digital marketing gives them control over how their property, portfolio and overall brand are showcased virtually. Through premium content, owners can attract the right type of tenants with professional images and videos of their properties that elevate how potential tenants experience their space online. As tenants are virtually touring office space, owners can garner real-time data and insights into what type of companies are engaging with their spaces and how they are doing so—from how long a prospect is on the listing page to the rate at which the listing was shared throughout the company. This enables them to better understand modern-day tenants’ wants and needs, informing crucial portfolio decisions, such as which neighborhoods are garnering the most traction, which amenities catch the eyeball, and what an industry’s average requirements are.
Today, over 90% of people find information about properties via a website. By enabling brokers to do the first leg of the search from their desks, it ensures they’re only bringing their clients in person to tour spaces that have met their initial checklist, which can create a higher level of satisfaction during the space search for their clients. This can decrease showing times while allowing prospective tenants to tour any space repeatedly—without wasting time on a commute or bringing their entire team.
For users, virtual touring enables them to get to their “shortlist” faster. Instead of having to scope out thirty spaces in-person to get to their top five or ten, they’re able to vet the right spaces upfront, ensuring that they meet all of their requirements before taking the time to go visit in person. It’s an easy and accessible way to begin the search without leaving their computer. As a company looks for new space, digital marketing provides a unique way for key stakeholders to be involved in the search process, helping to build consensus among your team when choosing a new office space.
Setting Up Your Company With Digital Marketing Tools
To get started, you need to develop a digital marketing strategy. Here are three initial tactics to jumpstart your digital marketing capabilities.
1. Content Marketing: Focus on capturing high-quality content that can be repurposed through multiple digital channels. Content can include photos, video tours, 3-D space renderings, floorplans and more.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): When you conduct a Google search, likely, you don’t scroll past page one. Google lists trustworthy sources on the first page; this is why SEO is essential. Consistently pushing out content on your website, such as blogs, can help increase your SEO.
3. Email Marketing: Regular emails sent to tenant rep brokers help keep your spaces top of mind. These can be email reminders to submit an inquiry on a property they viewed or one showcasing a newly listed property.
Although these tactics can be tailored to each property, not every tactic will suit your property. To help decide—determine your goals, objectives and budget. In addition, be sure to review metrics quarterly to understand what’s working and what’s not.
It’s no secret that commercial real estate is one of the last industries to embrace technology. There may be challenges in blending digital marketing into your traditional strategy. For starters, many platforms offer digital marketing tools, and assessing the landscape can be overwhelming. A key question to consider during the vetting process is which platform is going to provide the most seamless experience. Determining your goals and outlining your benchmarks for success can also help narrow down your options.
Any player in the commercial real estate ecosystem can benefit from strong digital marketing tools like marketing and workflow automation, analytics and digital content. Investing in digital marketing technologies and data solutions can position you to strike the prime path forward, whether leasing up, brokering key deals or engaging with the right type of tenants. While the value of virtual tours is undeniable, it doesn’t make live tours obsolete. Instead, they are a key component in the leasing flywheel to get one step closer to the goal: a signed lease in as minimal time as possible.