Juwai.com recently hosted a live international property expo in Hong Kong on Saturday, demonstrating how property portals have to evolve in the new media environment.
"It's no longer correct to think of property portals as just online classifieds," said Juwai.com CEO and Director Carrie Law. "When the first portals launched, print classifieds dominated consumer behaviour and expectations. Today, the old classifieds format barely exists. Old-media newspapers have very little relevance to most of the consumers with which we work.
Law says that because of this change, consumers are measuring property portals against different standards and have expectations that would never have occurred to them just a few years ago.
"Portals today are operating in an environment defined by social media and other online properties," Law said.
"Consumers are looking for a property buying experience that more closely matches what they get from social media. One part of that equation is relationships and bridging of online and offline.
Law said Juwai.com focuses on benefiting from the new consumer expectations.
"We still reach more than 3.2 million users online every month,” she said, “but we think portals have to also use social media and offline methods to build true relationships with consumers. "For example, we operate Juwai.com. We also have mini-programs in WeChat and a partnership with Tencent to help us interact with consumers before they arrive at our website. In fact, we can help them even if they never arrive at Juwai.com."
Referring back to the Hong Kong Overseas Property Expo, Law highlighted that events are an important tool for building and monetising consumer relationships today.
The Expo took place on 30 March. At it, consumers learned from experts on property investing, stock markets, and overseas education. They also got to meet developers and agents from around the world. They were able to obtain details about new projects in the US, UK, AU, Malaysia, and other countries.
"With a complete consumer relationship, portals can become a part of their users' lives and not just a website they go to once in a while.
“We have the listings, and we can introduce them to real estate opportunities. We can also be their friend and helper on WeChat. Our call centre team in Shanghai can talk or message with them and be something like their real estate concierge. And our staff and partners can meet them in person and shake their hands and answer the questions that are holding them back from making a purchase.
"Property portals have to remember that we are not just online classifieds any more. We are friends, concierges, storytellers, trusted experts, publishers, and a support network for our users."
Law pointed out that it's easy to understand this concept, but it can be hard to implement it. She referred to Peter Drucker's quote that, “Strategy is a commodity, execution is an art.”