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7 Lessons From INMAN Connect 2018

The future of buying and selling real estate will be easier, faster and more affordable, fuelled by data-driven technology that removes the complication and friction of today’s awkward processes. And all this will be guided by a trusted professional who understands and supports each client, working to reduce their stress and maximise the value of their investment.  

These are the key outcomes of the themes that came through from the INMAN Connect 2018 conference in San Francisco, where 5000 real estate agents and technology experts came together to pull apart the ideas and issues driving the industry as it undergoes disruption. 

Automation, AI, voice driven commands, and big data algorithms powering ever more insights were all identified as the technology affecting the change. But the good news is that the tech, which has made life so hard for so long with so much new to learn, is about to get easier – if we approach it the right way. 

Here is a quick summary of the key lessons:

1.    We’re moving from a sales industry to a service industry

From being focused on the product – the house – to being focused on the needs of the people as they embark on a new lifestyle, the challenge for real estate is in moving to a service model, said INMAN CEO, Brad Inman. 

We are no longer guardians of the information – we are guardians of the people and their assets. 

The change is going to take courage, conviction and curiosity as agents move towards identifying their true purpose in the transaction – which is to guide and support people as they uproot their lives and help them resettle. 

2.    Do we want agent enabled tech, or tech enabled agents?

The industry is at an inflection point, said Gary Keller, CEO of US franchise group Keller Williams, which will decide if the technology is to serve the agents, or if agents are going to serve the technology. 

He argued that the model to date has leaned towards making technology the rock stars rather than agents, with models such as Purplebricks, OpenDoor and Redfin in the US only using agents because they have to. 

The industry needed to learn from the example of Facebook, Amazon and Google – who developed and owned their own software and technology – and invest back into itself quickly and generously or it risks giving away its own power. 

3.    We’re not one industry

Approximately $7 trillion is spent on real estate globally ever year. In the US alone, real estate is 17% of GDB and commissions are worth $62b annually, which actually represents a plethora of micro-markets where the sales process is being disrupted.

From residential real estate to commercial, to construction of new housing, to property management to short term stays, to retirement planning – the industry is being deconstructed to be rebuilt many times over as the sum of its parts – and each element is being raked over by the geeks to identify new, better and different ways to transact. But the underlying asset is a key asset in everyone’s lives and that market is not going anywhere, even if economic circumstances change in the short term.

There is currently an estimated $200m in venture capital going into proptech with significant increases expected in future years, meaning the change is not going to stop any time soon and in fact, a whole lot of smart money is banking on it.  

4.    The technology is getting smarter and more connected

Technology is no longer being built in silos, but using models that can ‘hand off’ to the next step in the process and automating time consuming and laborious tasks allowing them to be done faster and with more accuracy. Big data overlaid with automation and artificial intelligence is both driving new insights, and identifying ways to gather even more data. Good service is being determined by pre-empting individual customer needs – which can be done by analysing the data. 

For agents, this means systems that more accurately identify customers who will list or buy through them being connected to CRMs which are seamlessly connected to marketing, document management processes and accounting systems. These changes will make our offices more efficient and cheaper to run, reducing data entry, double handling and a myriad of ‘busy’ tasks that suck up so much of our time and are not client facing. 

5.    The technology experience is getting simpler

Voice activation is the next major technological step change that will revolutionise all aspects of our lives, not just real estate. From the current state where every task must be accomplished by peering and tapping into a screen, voice activation is the next new operating system allowing users to simply speak their request.  

No more UX, no more needing to learn the technology, searching for files or hunting for information – ask and it will be given. Voice activation will be the driving force that reduces technology complexity in our lives and genuinely makes life easier. 

While most of us type at about 40 words a minute, we can speak at about 150, meaning voice recognition will allow us to be three to four times faster in our daily business. Bring it on!

6.    Transparency will drive pricing

If I can get lists of properties and prices read out to me from my device, if it’s as simple as speaking to book an inspection time, or place an offer, won’t this drive down agent commissions?

Yes, probably. But it will also drive down costs for agents, allowing current business models to function on lower commissions, while also removing the friction and difficulty that has prevented agents from offering other services – such as repairs and utility connections, insurance, finance and removals. 

Vija Williams from The Vija Group said; “When clients are given a menu of services, we get higher commissions.”

Transparency speaks to the “power of the people” age that we are living in. In opening the books to consumers, they do not need to use every service, but they like having a choice. And understanding the range of options helps them see the value in the few they select. 

Transparency will therefore not be about leading with a cost, but about delivering experiences. 

7.    The thing holding us back is not technology, but psychology

Real estate technology commentator Mike DelPrete summed it up when he identified that behaviour trumps technology. Unlike Uber, or AirBnB where the transactions being disrupted are low value and high frequency, there is a greater psychological barrier taking place in real estate which creates serious loss aversion.

“Our industry is about transactions that are ultra low frequency and ultra high value,” DelPrete said. “We’re no longer waiting for tech to replace agents. People are always going to want the insurance of having someone to hold their hand.” 

For agents, the challenge is about overcoming their own psychological aversions to understand how the new tech advances creates a bold new world allowing them to deliver a higher level of service and give consumers greater choice. 

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Do You Operate Like A Tech Company?

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When last did you learn something new from your customers or competitors?  Something that changed how you did business?  When last did you perform a test on your business or with your customers that changed the way you are planning for the future?

If you can’t answer this question, you are not alone.  Most of our industry operates as if customers are not changing, that their needs are constant. Most of us are good at looking at our internal processes and getting efficient, but are not preparing for when those processes no longer work.

This is a culture that can sleep walk us to irrelevance.  Think Kodak who invented digital photography but then couldn’t change their own business model to use it, and couldn’t learn from competitors who were.  Kodak was caught in time, thinking they knew who their customers were, and what their customers wanted.  Without continuous learning, and the internal processes to use that learning to change, they lost their market. 

Contrast our dominant ‘make and sell’ culture to the culture of fast growing technology companies, one based on ‘sense and respond’ to customers’ needs, or even ‘lead and define’ what a new market can look like.  Innovative technology companies don’t believe they have all the answers, so they constantly experiment and learn.  Companies like Netflix who started out as a mail order business but pivoted into online content delivery when technology was ready, and use big data and constant measurement to get better and better at delivering to customers.  Technology companies experiment with real customers by changing what they offer and seeing how customers respond.  Amazon for example changes their prices millions of times a day in response to the supply and demand they are seeing and as a way to experiment and learn.

Question yourself: are you a ‘make and sell’ business that is good at delivering a service or product repeatedly.  Whether it is a mortgage or an off the plan development, a residential sale or new land release, most of our industry ‘makes’ a product or service and then ‘sells’ it.  This works while that product or service is relevant and while the channels in which we sell keep delivering customers.  It can rapidly shift when the product is no longer relevant or customers prefer a better channel.  Uber still sells a similar product to the taxi industry but through a much more efficient online sales channel.  They have changed channel but will eventually change even the service with driverless cars.  

In a rapidly changing world, our property industry should look at how we iterate the development of our products and services with customers, sensing their needs and responding to those needs.  With advanced customers or particular segments this can even become a way to lead and define the market.  LJ Hooker’s Settlement business is targeting millennials and digital natives and is a good example of a business that can learn and lead a new approach with customers, learning from the millennial segment and taking those learnings into their core business over time.  

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7 Reasons Why Real Estate Agents Need Video

7 Reasons Why Real Estate Agents Need Video

Real estate agents frequently forget how hard buying or selling a house is. There is just so much ‘homework’ you have to do – so much research to make sure you understand how the market is performing, so much to read and so much information that must be digested to keep abreast of – you’d be forgiven for feeling like it’s a major exam you must pass. 

But when an information is presented to you in video, the science shows that humans both understand it more quickly than reading, and find it easier to remember. Plus there’s a host of other benefits. That means that the real estate agents who embrace video are seen by consumers as being more helpful and therefore more trustworthy than average agents and get more mileage from their marketing dollar. 

Here are some more reasons why you agents need video.

1.    Video makes it easier to understand complex data concepts at a glance

A team of neuroscientists from MIT has found that the human brain can process entire images that the eye sees in as little as 13 milliseconds. That’s infinitely faster – and less taxing on your brain – than having to read great swathes of text. Videos that provide an overview on market performance are more likely to be understood and remembered.

2.    The majority of online traffic is now to view video

In 2017, 74% of online traffic was to view video according to Forbes Magazine. By 2019, Cisco estimates it will be 80% demonstrating that video is significantly driving online behaviour.

3.    Four times as many consumers would prefer to watch a video than read about a product. 

According to Forbes Magazine, the joke that most people would prefer to wait for the movie than read the book is absolutely true. But you don’t need Hollywood production values to make video work for you. Even the simplest videos are preferable over long text-based explainers.

4.    Video posts have 135% better reach on Facebook than photos

Research from Socialbakers shows that videos have an average organic reach of 8.7% on Facebook compared to just 2.7% for photos. And when boosted, videos perform even more strongly again ensuring you get more bang for your Facebook buck. 

5.    The use of video in emails more than doubles click-through rates

If your email is like most, it has an open rate of less than 20% and a conversion rate that is around 2%. The action on that? Even lower. Inboxes are so cluttered these days, it’s hard to make your piece of correspondence stand out, but a video both captures attention, and imparts the information more quickly. Major tech case studies show video improves open and click through rates by up to 500%, especially when it is personal 

6.    55% of people watch videos on their phone everyday

Google calls them ‘micro-moments’ – that time on the bus or the train or in a queue when the phone comes out and you look for something to do. Increasingly, we’re watching video on our phones and turning to it to understand what to do, where to go or what to buy next. 

7.    Audiences are 10 x more likely to embed, share, comment and engage with video

According to TechCrunch, 100 million hours of video are watched every day on Facebook, while the Content Marketing Institute reports that 61 of the top 100 companies in the US now embed YouTube videos onto their websites.

Need help with video for your real estate agency? CoreLogic has recently launched HomePrezzo allowing you to create suburb profile, listing and CMA videos.
 

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Why Content Marketing Is So Powerful For Real Estate Agents

Why Content Marketing Is So Powerful For Real Estate Agents

Content marketing is the new marketing. It generates three times as many leads as other outbound marketing and has conversion rates that are six times higher according to experts

But what does that mean for real estate agents, how does it compare to traditional marketing behaviour and what needs to change?

According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach that is focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content. Instead of boasting about yourself and your services, a content marketing approach provides truly relevant and useful information to prospects and customers to help them solve their issues.

In real estate, a content marketing approach is a key part of changing your mindset to becoming an attraction agent. Instead of boasting about your past performance, properties you’ve sold and your skills as a negotiator, its about putting yourself into the minds of a potential customer and asking yourself “What do my clients need to know before they sell their home, that will help them feel more informed and confident about that decision?” 

Content market places sharing information above shouting self promotional slogans. It can and should change how you advertise yourself, do mail-box drops and drive what you post on social media and the information you put onto your website. 

Taking an information-led approach has five other major benefits:

1.    Content makes you a subject authority

Why should people hire you as a real estate agent? Not because you’ll sell their property – that’s a given. They hire you because they believe that you have the skills and expertise to get the highest price based on your market knowledge and insights and the experience that will protect them from the scariest elements of selling. 

So share that expertise! Sharing reports and insights about property market performance – median prices, recent sales results, rents and yields – is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge. Providing advice on how you’ve helped past clients avoid the pitfalls of selling helps people trust you and positions you as a subject authority.

2.    Content creates awareness

Every single week in my suburb, every single agent sticks a DL flyer in my letterbox talking about a property that is either on the market or that they’ve sold (but not with anything useful on it like a price explaining how much it sold for – they just big note their listing). 

The awareness I’m left with is “I’m a real estate agent and I sell property”. My response? Big deal – because every single agent does the same thing. 

But when you start having a different conversation – about property prices, about past people you’ve helped, about how the market is performing, about ways to reduce stress when selling – you immediately stand out. And the awareness you create is “this agent is different. This agent is here to help me, not sell to me”.

3.    Search engines love content

If the only content on your website is property listings, your site will be relegated behind the major portals of realestate.com.au and domain.com.au because those sites have better audience and links, even at a local level.

But start posting unique content about your local area, property prices in your area, the people and events that make the area unique, and the combination of regular new content and content that is different will make you stand out to the search engines without the need to spend considerably on search engine marketing.

4.    Content encourages engagement

When people read an article, a property report, or see your latest listings, they often have additional questions. This is great – don’t see it as an annoying imposition. 

They want to know more. Helping them learn more, assisting them with their inquiry is to put yourself at their service, and gives you even more opportunities to both engage with them and demonstrate how you are different to other agents in your area. 

5.    Content improves prospect quality

What would you prefer – pitching to a potential client who knows nothing about you and your service, is dubious and needs you to start from scratch? Or pitching to a potential client who has read a lot of information about you, knows your approach to selling, has researched the market based on the information you’ve provided, and is really just having a personal interview to confirm the decision they want to make – that you’ll be their agent?

When you take a content marketing approach and make your goal to provide helpful and useful information and case studies on past people you have helped, you are in effect ‘warming up’ your leads. We know that buyers and sellers would prefer not to deal with an agent until they absolutely have to. 

Taking a content-led approach means potential clients find out a wealth of useful information about you and how you do business that both reassures and assists them that makes picking up the phone and setting the appointment that much easier. 

What else can you do to change your marketing to a content marketing strategy? Check out this podcast from Josh Cobb at Stepps

Need help with creating content for your agency? CoreLogic has a range of automated content including reports and video. Contact us.
 

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