The speed to which almost all industries have digitized since 2019 was completely unprecedented. Pre 2019 many businesses didn’t consider digitization to be of high priority. Fast forward to now, and the percentage of digital offerings from companies have drastically increased and your online presence is everything.
The process for which retailers look for temp-lease space has not seen much progress in recent years. In most cases, the search for temp retail space follows the same process: A tenant calls around multiple shopping centers looking for information, there’s a lot of back and forth, and eventually they decide on space and commit to a lease. This is so far from the modern norm, where information and services are so readily available online.
Short-term retail leases are gaining popularity. Casual leasing tenants want the option to self-serve. To enable this, the Commercial Real Estate industry needs to establish a strong online presence.
The goal is to ensure that prospects can easily find your business in the search results and find the right information that they need. Here are some top CRE marketing strategies to start establishing your online presence.
Your own portal
We’ve established that the customer journey almost always starts online. Your website needs to sing to prospective tenants and highlight your flex retail offering. A branded booking portal helps with this, while also making it easier to manage your properties and improve the tenant experience. Here are just some of the things a portal helps with:
- It creates a seamless booking process
- It makes you available 24/7
- It effortlessly processes payments
- It can work in several languages and currencies
- You have control to add promotions or additional services
Giving tenants the chance to self-serve shows that you’re listening to their expectations of them being able to lead the process. It’s about providing a choice. Tenants can lead themselves or approach you for help when they need it.
A branded portal doubles up as a marketing hub. If you’re running digital campaigns on social media, they can all be directed to your site. Social media posts or videos can also be linked, further connecting all of your digital channels to help improve the user (tenant) experience.
Property Marketing & Content
When it comes to showcasing your spaces online, you need to put yourself in the eyes of the prospective tenant. What do they expect to see? They need to see relevant information so that they can quickly decide if a listing meets their requirements. Not only is it about the availability of information, it’s about the listing images.
If you were to rent a holiday apartment online, what is the most important thing for you to see? A detailed description? Relevant information? Lists of features?
While these are all essential components, chances are you would not even consider renting a space if there were no images, or poor quality images. According to Trivago, a hotel can have a 63% higher click-through rate if they have high quality images.
These elements must all come together to convince prospective tenants to book. While quality images are indispensable, they alone can not convince a prospect to book. No one would rent an apartment from only seeing the images, you need to know what amenities it has, how much it is, how long the leasing period is.
You are marketing your space. The beauty of digital is that it reduces time and makes information easily available. Online listings need to provide prospects with answers before they can even think of the questions. Provide decisive information such as prices and availability – make it simple as possible for prospects to book.
“85% of US Americans go online every day”
Email marketing can be seen as an old digital marketing method, but there is a reason everyone is still doing it. It’s affordable, it’s instant, it’s easy to personalize. Thanks to its easy deployment and low cost, you could even argue that it’s better than social media.
The vast majority of the world’s population own a smartphone, meaning that email notifications have a high chance of getting a reaction. With up to 85% of US Americans going online every single day, they are bound to see these notifications.
In fact, 46% of them spend 5-6 hours a day on their phone and 22% spend 3-4 hours a day. This colossal amount of time adults spent online is one of the reasons that email campaigns remain popular with marketers.
Start utilizing email by building up a list of your local businesses. It does not matter if these prospects are not currently looking to rent a space, the goal is to have a database that is ready for action. Once an opportunity arises, such as an attractive shopping center event, you use your curated database to approach leads. Consider that it is more cost-effective to target existing tenants than sourcing new ones, build and nurture these relationships.
Social media presence plays a large part of your online presence. Unsurprisingly, 4.59 billion people on this planet use social media. That’s a lot of people who are easily contactable through the device in your hand.
Given that there is a shocking amount of people on social media, it’s not surprising that 54% of property managers feel the expectation to be present online. More than 50% feel strongly that social media is a top lead generating tool, with Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn being the favored choices.
Social media is key because it brings you into direct contact with your prospects. To compare with the residential real estate scene, 49% of realtors say that they use social media not only to promote listings, but to build relationships with clients too. If residential realtors are utilizing social media in this way, so can specialty leasing teams.
There are hundreds of direct to consumer brands on social media that could be looking for temp retail space. Attract them by starting the conversation. There’s no pressure to dive in the deep end and ask about their pop-up goals, but start nurturing the relationship. You want to make them aware of your business so that when they need you, you are the first thing that comes to mind.
Optimizing Google Business Profile (Previously Google My Business)
At a glance, you might think that a Google Business Profile (GBP) works in favor of stores and restaurants – but property managers can benefit too. Long gone are the days of flicking through the Yellow Pages looking for services, now Google Business Profiles act as a go to for anyone looking for a handyman, dentist, dog groomer, or even pop-up space.
Most businesses already have a GBP, but there are additional practices that can be done to improve its effectiveness. If you’re a shopping center, include in the description that you have pop-up spaces to offer. Include images that show some happenings at your location. Always check reviews and make an effort to reply, this shows that you care about your business’s feedback. These practices are simple, but they’ll have a big impact on how your business is perceived when prospects come searching.
Similarly to the hotel industry, within the CRE industry there are online platforms for listing your spaces, take popupshops.com as an example. These sites are a valuable way to advertise your spaces as they give you direct exposure to prospects. Ideally, prospective tenants would come to your site directly, but there is a high chance that they’re not aware of your business yet.
There is a chance however, that they’re familiar with a listing platform. This is where it benefits to have your properties advertised on such sites, the direct access to your market makes them a very profitable tool to use and greatly helps to establish your online presence.
Further down the line once you have recurring tenants, you can then invite them to book directly through your business website. One of the downsides to listing platforms is that web traffic is not directed to your business’s website. This is where your own branded platform such as the ones offered by Spacewise can be a huge benefit. Once a business has their own platform, they have complete control over the whole process, everything is centralized, and web traffic is directed straight to your website.
Consider offline activities
While it may seem odd at first to think of offline activities when thinking of your online presence, there is a strong possibility that these can actually help to build your online presence. Offline activities help to create a feeling of social validation and shows that you’re personally active in your industry.
One of the oldest and most trusted methods of marketing is word of mouth. It’s possible to spend hundreds in print or digital advertising. In reality, sometimes all it takes is one person to make a recommendation to a friend or colleague, and you can win a new client.
Referrals tend to produce the best leads, this is because the connection is already founded on trust. Normally a referral comes from someone who has the same pain point as the person giving the referral, meaning that the person receiving the recommendation already has a good idea about what your business can do for them. This is exactly why 78% of B2B marketers consider referral programs to be the best way of producing good leads.
You can get started with referrals by targeting your happy tenants. It’s best to ask them to give a referral as soon as possible, the more time passes, the less motivation they’re likely to have to give a referral. It can help to include an incentive to tenants for giving a referral, including a discount on a future booking will likely be tantalizing enough to encourage them to find friends to refer to.
Out of Home Advertising
Your surrounding area is a prime place to make prospects aware of your specialty leasing opportunities. If you are a mall manager with pop-up spaces, it makes sense to market your temp leasing opportunities from within your own shopping center. It’s quick, affordable and a really effective way of getting your offer seen by prospects. While traditional out of home opportunities can be costly, advertising in your own space doesn’t need to be.
Make an effort with your advertisements, try to create something that is memorable. Turn adverts into a feature, if there is a seasonal holiday, why not incorporate that into the ad? You can use sign posts, garlands, and banners to really showcase your offer.
Take empty pop up spaces and create window displays to show the possibilities of the offer, consider showcasing images of past pop-ups. Always refer back to your website and booking portal. If prospects are interested, they will want more information straight away.
Out of home adverts have a stronger impact than their digital counterparts. The reason? Well, digital advertisements have more battling against them, often people have ad blockers which makes it unclear if your audience is viewing the ad.
On average 67% of people view digital ads for less than a second, this is because of the over exposure to ads online. OOH adverts do not force themselves on viewers, instead the viewer makes a conscious decision to actively look and engage with the ad.
It’s not just the ease of access and cost-effectiveness of OOH that makes it a winning marketing tactic. The unobtrusive approach to showcasing your offer helps expose prospects about your offer in an interactive and memorable way.
Business Networks and Councils
Check your local area for any business networks or councils that offer help and advice to businesses. Networks like these have a lot of contact points within the community, so they are in tune with what they want. Not only can they offer advice but they can also spread the word of your offer. Bodies like these often host networking events so that businesses can get together and learn about each other’s offering.
For property managers, this can be a good way of canvassing to new prospects. Just like with out of home advertising, any conversations had offline can be directed to your website to help build your online presence.