Instagram-first approach led to 175% jump in follower base: Sarthak Seth, Tata Housing

Sarthak Seth #TheSocialCMO

Sarthak Seth, Tata Housing shares an overview of the changing landscape in Real-Estate advertising, helping us understand how the brand created a digital-first audience and created regional campaigns for customized solutions.

Sarthak Seth, CMO, Tata Housing sheds light on the evolving trends in the Real-estate sector, the latest campaigns by the brand, and ways and tips to reach out to the consumers at various touchpoints of the purchase cycle.

Edited Excerpts

Tata Housing recently launched the campaign #MySafeHaven for the projects in the western region of India & a special campaign for the Southern region of India. How did region-wise campaigns help?

At Tata Housing, we are aiming to provide financial assistance to homebuyers in India so they can invest in their dream homes even during this time of uncertainty caused by the second wave of the pandemic. In the past quarter, there were different lockdown restrictions in each region and hence the requirements of individuals were not the same.

We realized that the markets might have changed homebuyer preferences in terms of the kind of financial assistance required. For instance, the West zone needed the stamp duty offer as people were looking for discounts and the Maharashtra government has reinstated the stamp duty to 5 percent from 3% during the discounted period. In line with this, we launched the campaign, ‘#MySafeHaven’ offering financial assistance to homebuyers interested in West Zone projects.

Similarly, Karnataka had chosen only the affordable housing segment for the stamp duty reduction so the impact on the sector was lesser. We came up with a South-centric campaign based on in-depth qualitative research conducted among 120 homebuyers to understand the consumer preference while buying a house during this period of uncertainty and instability. Based on the insights, it was found that the homebuyers are seeking flexible home buying options and some kind of financial assistance that will encourage them to expedite the decision of home buying.

With the second wave, how is the real estate industry placed? Please share top consumer trends…

The pandemic is compelling the real estate industry to look at wellness as a major priority area of building design and construction. Owing to the pandemic, home buyers are now seeking spacious homes, balconies or sun decks, large developments with in-house amenities, leading to an increase in demand for a quality lifestyle.

Our research showcased that homebuyers are increasingly paying attention to amenities that offer holistic health and wellness and over 80% of them are ready to pay a premium for wellness-featured residences.

People have been confined to their homes for over a year now and the impact of this lockdown will be felt for the remainder of 2021, as they continue with the hybrid work model. With the future of travel and hospitality being highly uncertain, it is very likely that people will invest in a second home that acts as a safe and spacious alternative where they can relax and have peace of mind.

Flexibility and adaptability are the keywords of this era, with people coming up with new solutions that might also change with the changing dynamics of the pandemic. Multi-use spaces is another concept that is fast gaining popularity in the Indian residential real estate landscape.

The definition of work, worker, and workplace continues to change due to the pandemic, forcing us to evaluate spaces through the lens of Work-from-home and social distancing norms.

Tier 2,3 seem to be significant for the industry. What would Tata Housing’s regional marketing strategy be?

The past year witnessed an increase in interest towards luxury homes in Tier 2 and 3 markets from Indian as well as NRI homebuyers.

We are making use of a segmented marketing strategy to reach out to these homebuyers through digital and virtual marketing campaigns. As a result, several of our spacious projects in non-metro cities like Tritvam in Kochi saw a remarkable performance despite the pandemic situation.

Properties that are based in great locations yet close to the metros have also witnessed increased demand, like Tata Housing’s Myst overlooking the Himalayan foothills in Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh, Prive in Lonavala, and Rio De Goa located at Dabolim, Goa.

At the moment, online comprise 60% of our overall marketing strategy whereas offline makes up 40%.

How did digital experiences and social media help you keep users hooked and hopeful?

During the lockdown, the consumption of social media increased by 87% in India, which also highlights one of the facts that the majority of audiences spent nearly about over 4 hours per day on social channels.  While the digital-first approach has been incremental in reaching out to the right TG for the relevant home buying ads, which in turn resulted in the acquisition of prospects and conversions, the right communication w.r.t to our Brand was essential in driving higher engagement from varied audiences on to our channels.

With social media as a holistic approach, it’s not just the regular campaign-led communication but also the industry-specific knowledge that garners a customer’s attention and his intent towards a brand accordingly. Hence, being consistent on channels like LinkedIn and Twitter, highlighting the construction benefits or the green living aspects has been affluent in making the customer shift from a Neutral POV to Positive POV about the Brand.

We are leveraging social media for lead generation on a large scale, especially during this lockdown period. On average, Indian users spent 2.4 hours on social media, with 50% of the time being spent on FB, hence it becomes the preferred medium to connect with prospects. Facebook is also inherently visual (just like real estate), and provides extremely granular targeting options that allow us to reach our buyers at an optimum cost. Other channels like Instagram and YouTube are also used by the brands to support the promotional activities.

Buyers start their home search online and with the continued influx of millennial buyers and their internet consumption patterns, it is now equally important to walk the prospect through the process and create a stronger bond. Video conferencing with the salesperson is helping us achieve the desired results especially in times when a physical visit is difficult. Identifying where the user is in their purchase lifecycle and nurturing them through their preferred mode of communication is another way to ensure that we improve the site visits and conversions.

Also read: #TheSocialCMO Stickiest content comes from the southern belt with highest consumption: Avneesh Khosla, Vi

Please take us through your communication strategy on social media- key content hooks/buckets, creatives, and top social channels leveraged. Which social media channel works the best for the brand?

An IG first approach led us to an incredible 175% jump in our follower base with the posts covering projects, campaigns, topicals, and moment marketing ensuring that you consistently engage with your audience.

Strategic use of products like Polls, Reels, Stories and plugging it in with Swipe-Ups furthermore enhanced the Brand recall and clicks/views to the website.

Keeping in line with the campaign communication, LinkedIn was a quintessential channel helping drive more of the educational content bucket talking about the awards and accolades received for the premium construction – green and sustainable living.

Twitter as a platform was crucial with quick interactions on the buzzing trends and for keeping in line with topicals or engaging with audiences about various discussions on the likes of Work From Home.

Customer Testimonial as a content peg was affluent in reaching out to fresh audiences via YouTube where showcasing our existing customer stories got newer interests from audiences and enhanced our overall audience base.

Could you tell us about some of the key campaigns in the last year? In terms of ad spends and results, how has FY2020-21 been for the brand?

Interestingly all 5 campaigns in the year were successful in delivering the key targets. While ‘A Happy Place Called Home’ launched in Q1 2020 helped the brand spread awareness during the lockdown, the campaign in Q2 ‘Move In India’ focused on a subvention scheme for ready-to-move-in homes. The festive campaign launched in Q3 ‘WOW is NOW’ offered a low-interest rate to consumers for 1 year. Lastly, the Grand Indian Home Festival and Final Rush were Q4 campaigns that focused on savings during the year.

What are the tools and criteria put in place to gauge the ROI from digital marketing?

Our focus is not to just drive the maximum number of leads from our lead generation campaigns but also on the quality of leads that we get. With a project-specific approach, we are able to focus on the granularity of our campaigns.

Some of the metrics used to track the effectiveness of the digital campaigns include Cost per lead, Cost per acquisition, Impressions, Click-through rate and Engagement rate.

Apart from Google Cloud Marketing tools, various third-party tools like Optimizely, visitor-analytics, mix panel, WebEngage, HotJar, etc. are available, that help you do quantitative as well as qualitative analysis of the live campaigns.

3 tips you would like to share with the industry leaders for marketing in the Real-Estate sector in this ongoing pandemic?

Brands need to urgently relook at their Product Development basis current trends. In the new normal, the real estate sector witnessed digitization being adopted across the purchase cycle.

  • Capitalizing on the digital wave, differentiated digital assets must be created and personalized experiences for consumers can do wonders for creating long-lasting relationships.
  • Video assets, such as DIY videos or video walkthroughs of the property must be leveraged to reach out to consumers at the digital touchpoints they like to be active on.
  • Preferred channels of communication must be defined, and brands must decide how to reach the customer post-pandemic based on data analysis.

Trends are changing very quickly and developers need to keep a check and Re-Strategize to evolve and sustain long-term growth. Lastly, agility needs to be demonstrated across all functions, as it is the need of the hour to complement and supplement marketing efforts.