While companies struggle with monetizing mobile, Trulia (NYSE:TRLA) seems to be only finding success. The company is a leading search engine for real estate and was an early player in the iOS space.
It has certainly paid off. In the latest quarter, the monthly unique mobile visitors came to 5.8 million, up 129% from the same period a year ago. Consider that about a third of the traffic comes on weekends when people are actively visiting homes. No doubt, this represents a highly engaged audience — and one that marketers are willing to pay a premium to reach.
So to get some perspective on this, I recently talked to Lee Clancy, who is the company’s VP of consumer products. Of course, he had some great advice on mobile:
Team: “While we do have a centralized team for user experience and design to ensure a consistent look and feel across the Trulia website and all of our mobile apps, our in-house mobile engineering team is organized by specific platform competencies. We have one group of iOS-skilled engineers for iPhone and iPad, another group of Android-focused engineers for Android phones/tablets as well as the Amazon Kindle Fire, and another internal team focused on our m.trulia.com mobile website experience. Additionally, the front-end engineering team that works on the regular www.trulia.com website will often roll out code that works ‘responsively’ on both web and mobile web interfaces. For example, in the recent launch of our Trulia Mortgage Center, the same code serves both our website and the mobile website, but the UI adapts responsively depending upon the screen width of a given device.”
Monetization: “We build our monetization engines from the start. For example, when we launched our agent app in May, we built an ad system.
“It allows our real estate agent customers to promote themselves directly to transaction-ready consumers whenever and wherever they are looking at home information in our Trulia mobile apps. The concept is quite simple, yet Trulia is the only real estate information site to offer a mobile-specific agent marketing tool. As consumers browse specific neighborhoods or zip codes, we display the agent’s photo, name, and phone number and allow consumers to email the agent for more info or call them immediately with just one touch.”
App Philosophy: “We have 13 apps because of the diversity of mobile platforms that we support and the diversity of the various customer segments that Trulia serves. For example, our main Trulia app is available on 6 different platforms: iPhone, iPad, Android, Android Tablets, Amazon Kindle Fire, and Microsoft Windows 8 tablets/desktop. Additionally, we have separate, purpose-built apps for specific user segments like renters (on iPhone, Android, and Android Tablet), mortgage shoppers (on iPad and iPhone), and real estate agents (on iPhone and Android). These purpose-built apps provide only the most essential functionality to ensure that these 3 customer segments have as fast and efficient a mobile experience as possible. Targeted apps also help extend the Trulia brand and improve App Store discoverability when users search on relevant keywords.
“One great example of why purpose-built apps make sense is our ‘Trulia for Agents’ app. That application is not only a productivity tool that allows our real estate customers to manage their workflow of contacts and new leads from consumers shopping for homes on Trulia, but also a promotional vehicle for them to show off their local knowledge and stand out to consumers via our check-in feature. Not unlike what consumers do on Foursquare or Yelp, agents using the Trulia for Agents app can ‘check in’ to specific properties on the market to show their local knowledge and distinguish themselves from other agents in the area. The app also shows a leaderboard of agent check-ins in a given area so that agents can see how they compare vs. their local competition. We’ve heard from agents that this type of user-specific functionality and productivity workflow works well for them. It ensures a fast and easy Trulia experience for busy real estate professionals on the go.”