The Chicago Association of REALTORS®, the “Voice for Real Estate” in Chicago since 1883, represents over 17,000 members from all real estate specialties including commercial sales, development, property management, appraisal, auctions and residential sales.
Every minute, there are 277,000 tweets sent, 72 hours of new kitten videos uploaded to YouTube, 416,000 swipes on Tinder, and 27,000 reviews left on Yelp. The world is full of data. It is estimated that there will be more data created in the year 2015 than since the invention of the Internet. We’re capturing everything: clicks, tweets, tumbles, posts, status updates, shares – everything you do online is being used to create this data, and it’s being stored. But how do we make this usable?
The number one challenge for marketers today is how to make sense of all of this.
It’s not about big data anymore; that was 2005’s buzzword. Instead, we need to focus on smart data, which means, how do I use the data that I’ve found to market, communicate and contextualize my information, so that it resounds with my client?
In the real estate industry, outside of the initial buyer or seller interview, we collect and utilize very little data about our clients. We only have 10-12 data points like marital status, income, etc., that we’re currently using to truly define and profile our clients. We just don’t have or track any of the really important personal information that makes our clients who they are. But what if you could understand your clients’ connections, likes, dislikes, personality traits, behaviors, fears, weaknesses, the whole nine yards? How easy would it be to pick up the phone, send an email or essentially market to that client? You would be able to curtail your entire interaction to that individual and be much more effective in getting your message across.
We must begin to start creating profiles for our clients. We’ve created certain profiles in our brain — we know NAR buyer and seller profiles, we know demographics — but we need to round these out and pull these profiles into the real world.
Essentially, there are three main types of data points today:
Demographic data has been used for years. It tells us the gender, marital status, household size, income, etc. of our database or target market.
Psychographic data allows us to get granular, to look at who people really are and begin to identify or profile them. Psychographics allow us to focus on targeting messages that appeal to the true self of our target market.
Sociographic data is the new one. This is behavioral data: when do you go online, what device do you use, how do you react to the color red. Sociographics relate to content delivery, or how, when and what medium is best to get your message across.
What if, instead of dropping 500 postcards at random in a certain zip code, we took this kind of approach – pushing out information targeted to a specific profile using data that is readily available to best spread the message? We could do amazing things, and better yet, reap amazing returns on our investment.
Now let’s apply this to the day to day of real estate prospecting. Currently, we have leads, and in response to those, we have marketing actions. You get a lead, you take a marketing action, regardless of who they are or what source they come from. Some people may have an email drip campaign, or a response signature they send out en masse to those coming in from Zillow, Trulia or your brokerage website. But the problem is that you’re sending the exact same message to all users. There’s little to no differentiation between buyers and sellers, single or family, male or female. It’s no wonder the response rate to these current marketing efforts is less than one percent.
Now, let’s insert demographic and behavioral interests, then layer in psychographic profiles — how might this impact the conversion rate of these very same leads? If we’re able to bring this information and data into your marketing before you even make that first phone call or send that first email, you’re able to be more effective, more targeted, more personal. That’s instant credibility.
There is a process to begin to collect and utilize this data. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll break it down to three basic steps that anyone can accomplish with the free tools available to us today.
Gathering the Information
Technology can help you with this step. With Gmail and the Chrome browser, there are several extensions you can easily add, almost all of which have free versions.
Rapportive: This extension for Gmail allows you to hover over the sender’s email address, and it will display any social information associated with that address. Think about this from a lead perspective: it will actually tell you what LinkedIn connections you might have in common, what they talk about on Twitter and information on the company where they work. Awesome.
Full Contact: Full Contact has a Gmail plug-in very similar to Rapportive, but it also allows you to upload your entire database into their social CRM and use it to manage, scrub, and better know your contacts. Contact records include social and company profiles, as well as other data gathered from across the web.
Realist: Imagine that you want to get more listings in an area or more information on a potential seller lead. You can go into Realist and download a report which gives you the name, address, mortgage information, purchase date — all this information about a homeowner or property. This is a MUST KNOW tool for serious agents in the industry today, and it’s given to you free through MRED.
Tower Data: Based in Evanston, this company gives you a deep insight for leads, past clients and referral sources by taking your entire database of past transactions and scrubbing it. They give you 16 data fields about these contacts, ranging from age and gender to length of residence, marital status, household income and home ownership. They can even provide you with physical addresses from emails at about 75-80 percent accuracy. Tower Data allows you to look at past clients and determine who you’re most successful with, who you have the best relationship with, and who refers you the most.
MailChimp: An awesome email service provider, MailChimp also allows you to gather great information through fully customizable web forms. Create a web form for your iPad, type out whatever questions you want to use to segment your audiences, collect the information from potential clients and open houses; it makes the sign-in sheet completely irrelevant. Best of all, you now have more than just a name and an email — you have declared consumer data to round out their profile and act upon in the steps ahead.
So now we have all this information. The next step, and it’s important, is segmenting. Segmenting means identifying and creating customer profile types based on the information that we have gathered about them. The beautiful thing is that you can create whatever consumer profiles you want to target, and automate follow up for each segment.
MailChimp: Anytime someone provides an answer on that web form, you can configure MailChimp to automatically add them to a segment list or profile. Think of all the attributes we’re gathering as searchable “tags,” which can be used to build out segments going forward. So, if you want to create a list of single males in Lakeview looking to buy an investment condo, you can create a segment just for them.
Facebook for Business: Using the Power Editor, Facebook for Business can become the best money spent on advertising today. It takes a little bit of learning, but is well worth your time. Agents can create super-segmented audiences based on the information you’ve gathered or attributes you’d like to target. So, if you’d like to create a segment for married couples living in 60647 that make more than $150k per year and like Game of Thrones, you can target those folks directly.
Now we have all this information – we’ve collected the data, we’ve segmented our list, and now we can put our marketing efforts to work and execute them effectively.
My personal feeling is that the best medium an agent can spend their money on today is — you guessed it — Facebook. Below are just a few different things that you can achieve with Facebook for Business.
Website Custom Audiences (WCA): One of the coolest things EVER for marketing. All those leads you receive from the portals, your brokerage and even your own website can be loaded into a custom audience for marketing on Facebook. There are many different forms of WCA’s on Facebook, including retargeting to those who have visited your website over the past 180 days, and each one gives you the opportunity to serve targeted ads to these specific audiences across mobile and desktop.
Lookalike Audiences: Think about taking your favorite past clients, finding people just like them who you don’t know, and serving ads to their News Feed that promote your business! By using the lookalike audience feature, agents can take their entire database of people they’ve worked with over the years, upload them into Facebook to create a lookalike audience, and create targeted ads just for them.
This may sound very complex, but if we put it all together and visualize the journey, it may look something like this: someone comes to your website, they go to the homepage, which automatically hits them with a tracking pixel, you do your retargeting thing, which will send an ad back to them on Facebook, which then adds them to your lookalike audience, where you can say, “Here’s someone who came to my website, I want to create a similar audience and run my ads to them.” That is a strategy based on psychographic, demographic and sociographic information.
As a real estate agent, you don’t have time to be a marketing company. You should be out selling real estate, because that’s what you’re awesome at. These processes, once set up and configured correctly, can automate all of that, while making the information personal and contextual. And that is smart marketing, my friends.
Matt Dollinger, President and Founder, Gearbox Consulting