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“Digital is the way to go for consumers in terms of property”

Sean Tan, iProperty.com Singapore

Recently iProperty.com Singapore has started a new journey to transform its business and better serve consumers and agents alike. Sean Tan, General Manager, iProperty.com Singapore shares points on how the company is using the digital medium in innovative ways to move ahead in Singapore market.

Like travel and hospitality segments, how do you think the digital medium is better for the real estate segment?

Singapore has a huge consumption of digital media that real estate and other businesses can leverage. We find that consumers are going online to search for property related information than searching in traditional media. What digital media brings is ease of use and the ability for consumers to perform multiple selections and customise products or services to their needs. In fact we see that digital is the way to go for consumers in terms of property, since search is easier. This is especially true in Singapore where the consumers are very digital media savvy. For property agents the online consumption is also rising. They are not only encouraged to use an online channel to promote their service but also use social media as lead generation tool. However we see that property developers are still entrenched in traditional media. This is where we see our work cut out, as we need to create more appreciation around how they can track and see actual ROI online, e.g. in terms of promoting new developments etc.

Do give us a brief on iProperty in Singapore

iProperty.com Singapore is a website catering to the real estate industry in the country. This means that we connect property seekers, agents and developers. It is part the iProperty Group that is a listed company in Australia, and is headquartered in Malaysia. We have been ranked second in Singapore, with over 600,000 property listings in Singapore and the rest of Asia. We have over 700,000 monthly unique visitors. We also work with more than 14,000 real estate agents, and have the most comprehensive online database of properties for sale and rent in Singapore. Some of the websites in our network include iProperty.com Malaysia, rumah123.com, rumahdanproperti.com, GoHome.com.hk, House18.com, CommercialAsia.com, iProperty.com India, iProperty.com Philippines, iProperty.com EXPO, and iLuxuryasia.com.

How are you transforming the business here?

We are embarking on a road to transformation. iProperty.com Singapore recently launched a revamped website with a new look and feel. There is lot more focus on unique content. The new site provides property seekers, real estate agents and developers the latest listings and property-related news, relevant content. We have improved the search functionalities. Our goal is to help consumers make the right decisions according to their preferences. That is why there are highlighted features on new property developments, and supply/demand trends such as most searched condos and HDB estates. We are now doing something different by offering lifestyle content that many of our users find useful. For example our site would have information of top restaurants and amenities around a property a user might be interested in. We are also partnering with architects and interior designers for exclusive content and insights to help consumers make an informed decision.

What are your plans for marketing the site through various digital and mobile platforms?

Since iProperty is an online business, so digital marketing forms the core for us in pushing the business. In fact we are pushing the boundaries of digital marketing. We are investing in all the three platforms – digital, social, and mobile. Till now our word-of-mouth marketing on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn have shown tremendous results. When I joined around three months back our Facebook fans were just 10,000. But now we already have 25000 fans, which I plan to take to 45,000 by the end of this year. There is also a major focus on SEO and SEM. We are going aggressive with that; I am taking a relook at our digital traffic, and have tied up with Zenith Optimedia to monitor our digital traffic and push for conversions.

With such a strong focus on digital, what is your strategy to encourage more agents and developers to use iProperty?

The online medium is catching up. For agents we plan to promote through a series of education/training to make sure they are digitally savvy not just in terms of using iProperty tools but all things digital – social media platforms etc. as a way to reach out to consumers. For property developers we plan to tackle their inhibitions through real demonstration of ROI. We aim to bring their traditional media experience online with the same or better execution and results using high resolution photos and videos

How much customisation is required for the country websites that you have in the Group?

To develop the website layout and content we take into account the culture and consumer habits of the country we are planning the site for. Our content is very specific to the region or the country. But we also keep the experience very seamless. For example Singapore and Malaysia have similarities in overall format because the culture and people are very similar.  Content is just slightly different, for instance, with Singapore it is skewed more towards property as an investment, while Malaysia it is more as a living option. But in every region we create exclusive reports and studies that cater to investors and home buyers.

 What do these activities mean for iProperty’s backend?

For us it is essential to build the right product and content; and recruit good people who can track market trends to better service the customers. We are working with the best partners/ investors to build a solid platform for a richer user experience.