I love mobile technology and I have really been enjoying watching the advent of some very cool products finally become real in our industry. We have been talking about it for years and today, finally, there are some excellent mobile tools on the market. Make no mistake, though, mobile is still in the baby step phase in my opinion and we are going to see some big advances in the coming years. Mobile, after all, is destined to become the norm rather than the add on, so rather than just catching up to our MLS desktop tools it will pass them eventually. What is that going to look like?

GPS and Mapping

I think the key in thinking about mobile and what it can really become for our industry is to think back to what mobile devices bring with them before we even access the MLS information. Mobile devices, for example, have GPS and mapping capabilities. Of course we all think about searching for properties on maps, driving directions and so on, but GPS and mapping have many more uses that have yet to be built into our mobile tools in any serious way. Retailers for one are hugely interested in tapping into location-based ads to both our real estate professionals and their clients. Mapping also take analytics to another level yet we really haven’t seen any serious mobile analytic tools yet on our MLS products, but we will. Every time we move with a smart mobile device we are creating a trail that can be saved and analyzed and that data is very important to understand our patterns and behavior. Huge money is and will be spent to tap into that data.

Visualizing Statistics and Trends

Being able to represent statistics and trends for customers on mobile devices should be a natural part of telling the real estate story as well. Right now we can search for homes and display homes but we haven’t really seen mobile go to that next level. I am confident we will see layers and layers of strong analytical data get added to these tools as they mature.

CRM Tools

Our devices also allow for easy integration with contacts, but this has not really been developed yet. True CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is an area that has huge potential but has not been addressed well even in the PC or Mac desktop world for the average user let alone on mobile. We have Outlook and Mac contacts and that is what the majority of people use but imagine the possibilities of having a truly powerful CRM tool that is also mobile. Every smart mobile device has a contact manager but all they are really are glorified address books. Good CRM software tracks history and allows you to manage ongoing contacts with more elegance than a simple contact manager. Schedules, calendars, contacts are integrated in ways that allow users to manage projects, project business, automate communications and maintain a clear view of your overall business operations. When that is also mobile you are in control anywhere you choose to work. In real estate that might allow you to set up and launch an automated email campaign to announce a new sale, while you are sitting at your favorite coffee shop or to send off a seasonal mailing to everyone you have done business with. Better yet, when you get that call from someone you worked with two years ago you have all of their historic information right on your phone to jog your memory.

Transaction and Document Management

How about transaction and document management? This is a natural for our mobile devices where all the parties of a transaction can review and sign documents, see updates, etc., and it may be the spark that really makes transaction management a reality. It’s beginning and we are seeing tools that allow remote document viewing and signing. Not many people are using these tools yet but they will in the not too distant future.

Photo and Video Tools

True photo and video integration is a natural for real estate that still has a long way to go. We see great examples of how mobile photos and videos can be used on sites like Facebook and YouTube but imagine if mobile templates allowed you to take advantage of your smart phone or tablet’s camera and video features to communicate visually with your clients in real estate. Sure, it can be done today with a little creativity but for the mainstream to use it, it needs to be simple. Also, these tools should all be integrated as part of a mobile suite of products. In real estate, these products naturally have to be integrated into the MLS system.

We Need More Than RETS Integration

Integration with MLSs will be increasing quickly as well, due to a strong field of mobile competitors. The first stages of integration are things that can easily be accessed via the RETS standard but agents are demanding much more. Agents want to see their “My Favorite” list from the MLS systems and when they enter a search and save it on a mobile device they want that search to show up in the MLS system. They want the ability to not only edit listings from the field but to add and edit contacts and photos and have all of these edits sync with the MLS system. Likewise, when they create a new map search with a custom polygon on the MLS map search wouldn’t it make sense to be able to use that same area search on a mobile device? You can’t do all of these things today but you will be able to in the not too distant future. Some vendors are creating open APIs to make this happen and it will be really fun to see just how far this integration goes and the level of two-way integration that results.

The New MLS Mobile Paradigm

We all talk about how mobile will be the real estate platform in the not too distant future. I think the future has arrived. I’m keeping a watch for the mobile solutions that do more than just give us access to the MLS data. I’m looking for mobile tools that change the paradigm and take real estate to another level where we really use the tools available on our high-powered mobile devices in ways that couldn’t happen when we were anchored to a desktop. I want to see MLS, with CRM and incredible GPS tools that take advantage of video and the high-resolution photos we have available through devices today. I want to easily review and sign contracts from the same device using the same software and I want my documents to be archived and accessible through my CRM system. I want everything I do to be tracked and stored so I can access it and mine it for future campaigns. I want my MLS data available on every module where it makes sense and I want it all working under a simple, common interface. I want data to really flow automatically throughout the modules I work with. I want to put data in once and only once and have it available anywhere I need it and I want the ability to share that data effortlessly with outside technology tools if needed. Is that too much to ask?

I think it’s time to expand our thinking of what MLS can and should be beyond what we could do when we were bound to our desks. Let’s see who shares that vision to become the next big game changer in the MLS industry.

Below is a guest post provided by our friends at Dynamic Search. It is a part of our ongoing series bringing you valuable content from around the net, with interesting lessons and insights about the business of building and marketing your business through mobile apps.

The hardest part of developing a new app is not the development or design itself, but the marketing of the app after it has been created. It is not enough to simply publish the app and let it be, no one will know about your app so no one will buy it. It is common for app designers to have a hard time with marketing; especially with their first app.Thankfully there are some easy tips to get you started with successfully marketing your app. The following is some of the most important and useful tips.

Social Networks

Use social network sites to your advantage. Not only can you promote your app on your personal accounts, you can also set up pages just for your app. That way people can find the page, click to like it, and get all the new information as you post it. Make full use of this strategy, set up accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and any other site you deem appropriate. With social networks, your app will get shared by far more people than it will in the app store that you use. You can also target potential users by searching for them and then posting a link to the app page on their wall or direct message them. Look for people who will be interested in your specific app, if it is an information app look for people who will need that specific information, if it is a game look for people that have interests similar to your game.

ASO and SEO

App Store Optimization (ASO) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are very important in the marketing of any mobile app. ASO is the process of improving the ranking of your app in app store searches with excellent titles, well researched keywords, and great descriptions. SEO is the process of improving the ranking of any website or page in search engine results with well-placed keywords. With these two things combined, your app is sure to get plenty of hits and downloads. The importance of using ASO and SEO comes in because no one will buy what they cannot find and without great rankings no one will be able to find your app.

Blogs

Seek the aid of well-known bloggers to get the word out about your new app. Review sites are a good place to start, if you can get a few review sites to post a good review of your app it will get more attention. Don’t stop there, contact bloggers that are known to write about the type of app you created, whether it is a game, information app, or any other niche, there is bloggers out there that specialize in it. Find them and ask them to check out your app and if they like it, blog about it. Ask friends or relatives with blogs to do a blog about your app. Once it is out there, you will find that it will gain back links time and again as people read about it and try it out.

Agencies

If you do not feel comfortable marketing your app entirely on your own, there is always the option of hiring an agency. The problem most app designers have with hiring an agency is the cost, which can cut drastically into profit margarine’s. For some hiring an agency is ideal because it takes the worry off of them so that they can better concentrate on designing new features and levels. It is a complete preference as to hiring an agency; there is no right or wrong choice. For some it is a good fit, for others not so much.