What’s the one thing that virtually every new-home buyer (and new-home sales agent) has in common? They all have cell phones. And if they’re in their 20s or 30s, chances are they’re using text messaging on a regular basis. The recently released, third annual Mobile Attitude and Usage Study from the Mobile Marketing Association reports that text-messaging is growing rapidly as a form of communication—and that many people value the ability to receive marketing messages via text messaging.
Given the level of conversation that takes place via text—10 percent of the study respondents between the ages of 13 and 34 said they’d even ended a relationship that way—it’s not unreasonable to think that buyers might use text messaging to make purchase decisions, says Anastasia Goodstein, editor of YPulse.com, a daily blog on marketing to teens and tweens (the next generation of home buyers). “I don’t think it’s too far of a leap to believe this generation would inform someone they wanted to buy a home via text if they had also been talking to them in person, seen the plans, etc.,” she told Builder via e-mail. “It’s just a quick way to communicate.” Sales agents could use text messaging with their customers to tell them about a model opening, an upcoming price increase, or an attractive incentive.
If builders can send highly relevant messages on an opt-in basis, consumers may greatly appreciate it, says Blair Kuhnen, a vice president at Austin, Texas–based builder technology consultant Builder Home-site. He also sees potential for using text messaging with Realtors. His company recently launched that capability so Realtors can pull down fully updated listings for inventory homes via text message.
Mike Lyon, Internet sales counselor for Simmons Homes in Tulsa, Okla., says text messaging would be a great way to provide customers with “up-to-the-minute communication,” such as open houses and one-day-only offers. “It’s definitely leading-edge stuff,” he says.
Eddie Scruggs, a partner with Memphis, Tenn.–based Leader Realty, says he sees customers in the sales center ignore calls to their cell phones, but instantly return a text message. It would be a good idea, he says, to add text messaging to the list of preferred methods of communication on customer information cards. Barring that, it’s pretty easy to see who uses text messaging just by spending an hour or two with them.
“Want a great way to remind people about their appointments?” he says. “Send them a quick text message. They read it.”
Of course, getting permission before sending a marketing message via text is a must. “Don’t ever send an unsolicited text message,” Goodstein says. “Marketers should clearly ask consumers if they would like to receive info via text first.”
Atlanta-based builder Monte Hewett Homes recently added a text messaging feature to the “Get Information” page on its Web site. Director of marketing Dina Gundersen says she wasn’t quite sure how to respond the first time a prospective buyer used the feature.
“I remember [information technology manager Robert Kohl] saying, ‘What do we send them?’” Gundersen says. “That’s a good problem to have.”
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Atlanta, GA.