DETAILED, REAL-TIME data collection can now provide agents with more focused tools to win listings and create long-lasting relationships with clients – a radical change in how they do their jobs. Kylie Davis from CoreLogic investigates.
LET’S USE AN example: you’ve recently sold a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home for a record price. You’d like to use this information to win the confidence of your next vendor. The old way to achieve this is to create a flyer about the sale and letterbox-drop it in streets nearby. You’d need to print – and pay – for enough flyers and shoe leather to get it delivered to every address in the streets you nominate. It would take several days to execute, and you have to hope that your target audience reads it, not put it straight into the recycling with the rest of the junk mail.
A better way to do it would be to use your property data database to identify each of the homes around your recent sale that have four bedrooms and two bathrooms. You’d also be able to see how long the owners had owned the property, and refine your list to include only those who have lived there for 10 years or more and therefore more likely to be in the market to downsize. Using a direct marketing overlay with your property data provider, you’d then be able to send a personalised letter or flyer directly to those addresses.
You’ve removed several elements of randomness in this by personalising the recipient and address, and ensuring that the information inside is specifically relevant to the receiver.
But the smartest way to do it is by using big data to identify four-bedroom, two bathroom homeowners on Facebook who have owned their home for more than 10 years and live near your target property. Use additional data elements that signal their children are leaving home. This might be that their grocery bill has significantly reduced in past months, that they’re spending more on entertainment and dining out, or at hardware stores sprucing up the place.
CASTING A WIDE NET VS FOCUSED MARKETING
“In the first example, Agent 1 is spending about $2,500 on 10,000 letterbox drops about a property he ‘just sold’, while Agent 2 is spending about $500 on targeted mail,” says digital consultant and real estate podcaster Josh Cobb from Stepps.
“Agent 3, however, has spent $300 in a month on Facebook ads targeting people who are demonstrating behaviours that make them genuinely potential sellers of properties similar to the one the agent just sold. In this example, Agents 2 and 3 are marketing to someone but Agent 1 is marketing to no one.
“The common misconception is that the louder you shout, the better you’ll be heard. While that might have worked 10 years ago, it couldn’t be further from the truth today.” The kind of marketing executed by Agent 3 is now possible in Facebook due to a new data partnership between Quantium data and CoreLogic. Quantium has overlaid its data sets from NAB, Foxtel, Woolworths and News Corp with property data from CoreLogic to identify people within Facebook who are most likely to engage with your message, based on their property details, spending patterns and media consumption.
The move is literally a quantum leap for real estate agents wanting to use big data to drive their business and wondering how on earth to use Facebook to its maximum potential.
Josh Cobb explains: “Howard Luck Gossage once said, ‘Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them and sometimes it’s an ad.’ Data gives real estate agents the insight to create marketing people actually want – even if it’s an ad. This is instead of what we typically do in real estate, which is create marketing that people tolerate.”
It also neatly illustrates the difference between big data and lots of data.
Every real estate agent and finance broker in Australia has data – from your customer relationship management and database system, to your own knowledge of the local market. There is data in your filing cabinets, email contacts, social media interactions, listing books, payments and accounting systems – and that’s all before you even get to third-party data from providers. Too many agents, however, get hung up on who owns the data, when what they should really be focusing on is how to work the data that already exists.
LOTS OF DATA VS BIG DATA
The difference between ‘lots of data’ and big data is generally defined by the presence of four Vs – Volume, Variety, Veracity (accuracy) and Velocity. Anyone can build a database, if they can be bothered to pull all the data out of the filing cabinets and email, and merge their payment system with their CRM, and so on. The real trick is in maintaining it with real data integrity, and being able to run complex analytics across it to extract its real value and merge it with other databases that provide complementary insights. Few agents have the computing and analytical firepower to do this, but it is now becoming easier and easier to partner.
Facebook generates the most social data, with users ‘liking’ more than four million posts every minute. This adds up to 250 million likes per hour. And each of these likes is a data point in its own right, giving you an insight into a person’s tastes, preferences and activities. But it’s up to agents to step away from the familiar spend of printed flyers and letterbox drops and embrace the slightly wilder west of data-targeted advertising on Facebook and social platforms.
“The way I see it, the people who understand data in any size enterprise are the cool kids these days,” says Josh.
“Data is what the winners will use to keep playing the game in future, while the losers will pick up their ball and go home.”
The irony is that agents who understand the power of big data are winning in their markets, not because they know how to work the numbers, but because they use it to amplify their personal skills at marketing, negotiating, supporting and helping clients.
HOW TO HAVE A DATA CONVERSATION WITH A CLIENT
Using data to empower your conversations with a client or potential client can go one of two ways. It can help establish your credentials as a market expert, engender trust and generally ensure you sound like you know your stuff. Or it can make you sound like a creepy stalker.
Obviously, you want to go for the first option.
Knowing how to use data in a conversation takes a bit of common sense and practice. A great example is that given to me by a friend who is now a barrister. When barristers question someone in court, the first rule is they never ask a question to which they don’t know the answer. The questioning is, therefore, not to find out information but to flush out information in a way that is publicly acceptable.
The same principle applies in data conversations. Don’t use the data knowledge that you have as a way of making statements about a client. Use the data to drive questions with your client where your client confirms what you believe to be true.
For example, using our four-bedroom, two-bathroom home, don’t say: “Hi Mary, John from John Bloggs Realty here. I can see from our database that you’ve got a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house and you’ve owned it for 11 years. I just sold a house like that up the road from you for a record price. You guys must be ready to sell by now since you’ve lived there so long. Could I sell it for you?”
Such a conversation will ensure Mary contacts the privacy commission and adds a ‘Do not call’ to her phone. Instead, your conversation is more likely to be successful if you pitch it like this: “Hi Mary, John from John Bloggs Realty here. I was wondering if you knew that I recently sold 27 Jones Street, just up the road from you, for a record price?”
“Well, the reason for my call is that because of that sale I’ve been in your street a lot lately and I couldn’t help but notice that your home is similar to 27 Jones St. Am I right in thinking your home has three or four bedrooms?”
“Four, really? And so have you renovated and added an extra bathroom, or do you still have the original bathroom and house layout?”
“Wow, so you know Mary, I’ve got a list of potential buyers who missed out on 27 Jones St who might be interested in your place if you were to sell. How long have you lived at your place? I can’t ever remember seeing a signboard out the front of it.”
“Well, Mary, I know the decision to sell is really personal and you’re only going to do that when the time is right for you. Would you be interested if I ran you through how we marketed 27 Jones St to get such a great result and gave you some other insights on how the local property market is performing?”
And close with either an appointment or a promise to send out some information on email based on the client’s preference.