The year 2020, thanks to the pandemic, can be credited for transforming the marketing channels from the conventional mode to digital.
The Real Estate sector, along with enhancing and digitalisation of the existing channels of communications, embraced multiple newer formats in order to maintain customer outreach and brand momentum. New prop technologies like Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence and Video walk-throughs enabled developers to help customers visualise their project from the comfort of their home. Additionally, Social media platforms, mainly, Facebook, twitter, Linkedin and Instagram replaced traditional mediums like newspaper advertisements and billboards as effective marketing platforms for project announcements and offers.
Manish Joshi from NewsBarons connects with Prashin Jhobalia, Vice President – Marketing Strategy, House of Hiranandani who informs ‘Creating an immersive digital experience will continue to remain essential even once the pandemic passes, as the consumers are less likely to prefer analogue ways’.
NB: How have you transitioned from traditional practices to building up digital touch points to cater to your clients?
Prashin: Over the last few years we have realized digital advertising is the need of the hour to be able to reach the right target audiences. While traditional practices were sometimes one-way communication driven, digital platforms provide us with analytic feedback making us understand the latest trends. It is also an important platform to connect and engage with our potential customers and audience.
At House of Hiranandani, we provided an immersive property experience for our customers, often located miles away from our projects, through 360 degree project videos, virtual site visits, and expansive location images shot through drones. Influencer engagement made inroads in the sector and we are proud to be among the first to successfully experiment with this tool during the launch of our Glen Ridge project in House of Hiranandani, Hebbal. We tied up with around 25 influencers with a good mix of categories and reach, and successfully created noise about our project. We also opted for other social media platforms for a sustained approach for interaction and engagement with our audience.
Webinars, Google and zoom meetings became the new ways of interacting and meeting with customers and stakeholders.
As cities open up and normalcy returns, we do not expect these trends to reverse. While customers will prefer visiting the property once before finalising, the new found processes of virtual site visits and digital interactions before buying a property shall continue to remain in post pandemic world due to their effectiveness and convenience.
NB: What has been the impact of using social media platforms compared to traditional media?
Prashin: Social media has witnessed a greater share as an effective marketing tool during the lockdown and is poised to grow further. While using social media, the amalgamation of creativity, messaging with the use of right social media marketing tool is important.
Along with a considerable and sustained presence on social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, twitter, we also tried our hands on innovative influencer engagement campaign for the launch of our project Glen Ridge at House of Hiranandani Hebbal. This was a first kind of initiative for a real estate brand. We were astonished with the success of the campaign and are set to continue with the strategy for new launches ahead.
Engagement though digital video encompassing varied topics without losing the essence of the brand will be the key to gain customer attention in a creative way on social media platforms. We aim to invest largely in creating artistic videos that reflect the brand essence.
The impact of the digital transition is visible through the tremendous increase in customer outreach and interactions that we have experienced over a period of time. Our inquiries have increased owing to the digital customer targeting. We are seeing an interest from buyers both – national as well as international who are using social media/ digital platforms for this process.
NB: From Physical to Virtual tours, how has been the customer acceptance to that?
Prashin: Due to the COVID-19, a lot of dependency grew on the technology to keep the business running and we have deployed a series of new prop technologies. These tools enable customers to visualize the project from the comfort of their home. We provide an immersive property experience for our customers through 360-degree project videos, virtual site visits, and expansive location images shot through drones.
We have witnessed a rise in the number of enquiries from domestic to international markets as potential buyers are spending time digitally to understand, get a feel of the property and its whereabouts and all their queries are answered with our trained sales team. We have closed deals virtually and this can happen only when the client is satisfied and has all answers to their doubts and trust the brand name and its legacy. Today, with the on-going situation, customers have now become quite receptive to the entire digital transition.
NB: What was the earlier budget allocation to Digital media and how has that changed in the last one year?
Prashin: Our spends towards digital mediums has gone beyond 70 percent, the limit that we adhered to in the pre covid scenario. We have witnessed a good response through this medium. Our media buying consists of well-strategized campaigns on platforms like Google, Facebook along with native ads & advertising on property portals. Our focused campaign approach complemented with the right set of targeting & custom ad placements help us get good results in terms of lead generation. This strategy has been working well for us to help connect with the right audience and enhancing brand recall.
Creating an immersive digital experience will continue to remain essential even once the pandemic passes, as the consumers are less likely to prefer analogue ways. A constant upgradation will keep brands relevant and flourishing. The rise in adoption of digital routes has further opened avenues for multiple modes of reaching consumer. The way ahead will centre around being present on the right channels with the right communication, which focuses on building stronger connections with existing and potential customers. Well strategized content will play an important role in the days to come. All in all, digital interactions are here to stay, and early movers who recognise and prepare for this are going to be better positioned for the times ahead.
NB: What other changes did you incorporate in the last one year?
Prashin: Our focus has been more towards marketing automation, video based and influencer marketing and experiential marketing. We implemented a Marketing automation tool, so as to effectively use our database and drive customised communication with the prospects. We saw phenomenal results, with an 11% increase in sales.
Video consumption was high during lockdown and hence we implemented contextual brand videos as well as influencer led campaigns. Video led approach worked well for us and we saw high engagement with our audience.
When it comes to Experiential marketing, we took our Virtual site visit experience to next level and have launched ‘Virtual Sales Office’ (VSO)for our projects in Bangalore and Chennai. Now one can experience the grandeur of Hiranandani from the comforts of home as we bring an end to end site visit experience.
Designed like our physical sales office, this VSO offers seamless experience for prospects right from entering into the sales lobby to taking a tour of the show flat. Planned intuitively, this VSO offers an immersive experience to visitors; they can move around and explore the sales office, interact within the virtual environment & experience the projects as well.
This is a first of its kind initiative built exclusively to give customers an enriching site visit experience & help sales and customer engagement teams perform better remotely.
NB: List few projects launched during the Covid period?
Prashin: During Covid, we launched 3 projects under our residential segment. We launched the Glen Ridge tower part of the House of Hiranandani township at Hebbal in Bengaluru, along with plotted development projects at Devanahalli and Hyderabad.
Despite the challenging conditions, our projects were available on digital platforms for viewing in the form of 360 degree views and virtual tours. As a result we were able to garner a good response from our audience.