In a gloomy French market, the property advertising group seloger.com has achieved an advertising turnover of EUR 61.7 million in 2009 (representing a growth of 3.5 percent). Its flagship is the website seloger.com. But its mobile extensions (site and applications) are an integral part of the service offered to its customers. "This service fits nicely our core mission to facilitate connection between buyers and agents" explains Frédéric Toquin, head of the group’s Internet and mobile portals.
The free SeLoger application on the iPhone (launched in September 2009)
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attracts 180,000 downloads and the group recently launched an application for mobile phones using Android.
What are the first results for your iPhone application?
Frédéric Toquin: There was a very strong start, as is the case when a known brand joins the App Store. We are at present at 180,000 downloads and still among the top 20 utilitarian applications, alone in the property category. The recent update of the application has boosted the downloads. A property project lasts several months and interest continues (six months to one year); therefore there is a turnover, but as it is a very involved market, people remain interested even after a property has been bought.
How much did the development of your iPhone application cost?
Toquin: I cannot tell you the cost of development, but let us say that the estimates that best satisfied our specifications ranged from EUR 15,000 to 45,000. Mystudiofactory convinced us by the strength of its graphic and functional offering.
You recently updated your application, why?
Toquin: The first comments of the users were highly positive, but they very soon began to put forward their suggestions. For example, the possibility to register search criteria and receive parallel alerts for several cities. We had original options, such as scheduling appointments, the possibility to produce records of visit (taking notes, photos, etc.), but we added the possibility to share information: for example, by sending a report of a visit by mail to one’s partner. Geolocalisation was integrated from the start, mainly to locate the nearest local real estate agents and list the number of properties they offer. This service fits nicely our core mission to facilitate connection between buyers and agents.
Do you get the real estate agents to pay for this added service?
Toquin: The property market suffered a lot in 2009 and we look after our customers. It is vital to give them total visibility. The Seloger site can boast an audience that is three times that of all our competitors: in number of unique visitors but also the time spent on the site, which is longer than 20 minutes in our case (for viewing the ads and contacting the agencies). The mobile application is used as a strongpoint in our marketing pitch, but is not reflected in the charges. All our customers are present simultaneously on the web, our mobile site and our applications. That is part of the package we offer them. In a market governed by tight budgets, properties agencies have cut their marketing spend and favour the media that bring them the greatest number of phone calls and contacts, therefore our position as market leader was more firmly established last year. In the long run, it would be conceivable to offer a paid-for “pole position”, such as is possible already in directories. There exists also an interest and expectations in relation to financial services. Banks already advertise on our website.
Was the development of your mobile applications at the expense of the Seloger mobile website?
Toquin: We have had a mobile website for some years already and it has been the object of a major redesign. This site addresses a much wider audience that that of the applications. We must be on the iPhone, in view of the numbers of French users. But the mobile website is omnipresent, it is available on all mobile browsers and is a big success. The application is complementary, it is a more attractive way to fully integrate the possibilities of the iPhone. You can do geolocalisation, schedule dates, take notes, photos … all of which is not possible on a mobile site. One of the integrated functionalities since the start of our application is the “pushing” of property ads to the user. As soon as you have recorded your search criteria on your iPhone application, when an ad that matches your search is published on the seloger.com site you receive an alert on the seloger icon of the iPhone. By clicking on the icon, you access these ads directly. It is possible also to subscribe to alerts on the mobile site, but they will then go through the traditional e-mail route.