The property landscape is seriously shifting. Digital-first estate agents Purple Bricks are now the biggest UK estate agency by market share, out-performing not only digital competitors such as Strike and Yopa, but traditional estate agents too. Last year, hybrid and online estate agents increased their market share to almost 10% during the pandemic.
Despite early predictions that digital disruptors would kill traditional estate agents, this doesn’t seem to have become reality. But it’s clear that their streamlined service and digital experiences built for the home buyers and renters of today are dominating the market. And with looming recession making the way ahead uncertain, there’s never been a more vital time for traditional estate agents to nail their offering and make it as easier as possible to buy and sell properties with them.
Estate agency digital strategy – where to begin?
Developing a leading-edge digital strategy for your estate agency doesn’t just begin and end with your website. Your website is obviously a vital tool in attracting and engaging potential buyers, sellers and lessors – after all Purple Bricks probably wouldn’t be where they are today without a strong user experience. But understanding where exactly your website fits in with the wider customer journey, digital experience and your internal processes is an important step in maximising its effectiveness.
It also helps to understand additional routes into your website and engaging with your brand. There’s no denying the impact that property portals like Zoopla and Rightmove have had on how people search for properties to buy and rent online. Getting a grip on how your digital products integrate with these platforms is another vital part of your digital strategy.
With an entire world of digital tools and potential products at your disposal, it can start to feel a bit overwhelming.
You need a way to cut through the complexity and focus on what’s going to be most valuable to you.
What is a discovery sprint?
Discovery is a process that digital studios, or internal digital project and product managers go through to gather insight, validate ideas and find a route forward for a digital product strategy.
We call it a sprint because it’s usually undertaken as an accelerated process – a hyper-focused piece of work over 2-3 weeks to gather everything needed to create the foundation of a digital strategy.
It starts with a discovery workshop – a structured discussion in which the project team extracts as much information as possible from staff, clients/customers and stakeholders about your current digital strategy, products and user journeys.
Following the workshop, the project team go away and collate all thoughts and discussion points, research outcomes, conduct product and user group audits, scope out technical specifications, investigate with third parties, and analyse findings. The findings and subsequent recommendations will then be presented for discussion, and ultimately, turned into a clear project plan to deliver a digital product (or products).
What do you get from a discovery sprint?
What you get out of a discovery process is individual to your organisation, where you are currently on your digital journey, and what your goals are, but broadly speaking, you should be able to answer the following questions:
- Who are your users and what do they need to be able do?
- This refers to both external users (such as potential buyers and sellers) and internal users (marketing team, agents/negotiaters)
- Does your current website setup support your technical needs?
- Is the framework/CMS scalable, supported and flexible enough?
- Can/should the website integrate with internal and external tools to improve both the user experience and your processes? E.g. CRM, Rightmove
- Can website performance be improved to capture more organic traffic?
- What does your current user journey look like?
- From searching for a property to making an enquiry, and then through to managing offers, viewings and communications – how do your customers interact with you and your current digital products?
- Where can this user journey be improved/streamlined to create a better experience?
- What is/are the digital product/products needed to move your strategy forward and help you achieve your business objectives?
- What should your website and user journey look like? How will it be delivered?
- How will you ensure that you have the flexibility to use your digital products in the way you need to? – i.e. How will you list properties? What CMS will be put in place, will you need flexible content blocks and components?
- What other digital products are needed to deliver your customer experience? E.g. a customer-facing portal, internal management portal, API integrations
Is a discovery sprint right for you?
If your estate agency is wondering which way to turn when it comes to digital – but you know you need to grow and evolve this part of your offering, then a discovery sprint can help you unlock the way forward.
Want to move to the next stage of your digital journey? Get in touch to find out more about our discovery sprints.