- OpenAgent allows real estate agents outsource their lead generation
- ActivePipe provides agents with their own lead nurturing email marketing platform
- RiTA gives larger agencies the option to automate incoming communications
This is an edited version of a Proptech Association of Australia podcast, with PAA founder and president Kylie Dillon as host, and three panellists who each work for a technology company helping real estate garner and deal with leads.
There is nothing more important in residential real estate than lead generation. Identifying who is ready to sell their home and convincing them that you are the right agent for them is literally the lifeblood of the real estate industry.
But the way that real estate agents find leads in Australia has undergone an extraordinary amount of change over the past five to six years. Whereas, once agents would pound the streets dropping off letterbox flyers, door knocking or hitting the phones to do a 10 call, big data, digital marketing and AI have combined to revolutionise the speed and the accuracy with which leads can be identified, nurtured and acted upon.
Today, I am talking with:
- Zoe Pointon co-founder of OpenAgent which allows agents outsource their lead generation;
- Mona Chebbou head of National Sales and Marketing at ActivePipe. An email marketing platform that allows agents themselves to own their own lead nurturing and encourages agents to be in regular communication with their contracts; and
- Sarah Bell, Mother of RiTA, the real estate robot at AiRE, which provides larger real estate agencies and groups the option to completely automate all aspects of incoming communications and market analysis to both surface leads and to manage and measure action.
Zoe, let me start with you, what does OpenAgent do?
Our vision is to make it easier for people to buy and sell property and how we do this is we make it easier for agents to help connect and help qualified buyers. So I guess if I was to just break down in essence, our goal is to let our agent customers focus on selling properties and let us focus on doing all of the work we need to do to fill their pipeline with highly qualified sellers who are looking to transact in the near future.
So we really have two products, our first product and the one that made us famous if you like is our lead generation product. And we use our own digital marketing and nurturing techniques to find sellers and we use our own large Sydney-based team of people to then qualify these sellers and connect them with our agent partners.
On our second product, we’ve taken everything we learned in becoming lead generation specialists and turn this into a product that agents can use in their own business. And we call this one Prospecting Assist. And that’s where we use digital marketing, big data nurtured techniques and even our own people to find and qualify sellers from within an agent’s database. So agencies won’t miss out on listings from within their own context set.
I think agents are being asked to do way too much. And I think it’s not realistic to be a great listing and selling agent and for example, great at admin, great at social media, great at SEO, great at content nurture, make a hundred calls a day, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, right?
And like anyone an agent needs to figure out where do I actually spend my hours to be the most effective. And most of the agents I’ve come across in the last seven or eight years would much rather focus on their live transactions and helping people buy and sell property, that’s usually why they got into real estate in the first place. They don’t mind making a few calls, but they don’t want to have to make 30 calls for one appraisal. It should feel more like I make three calls and I get an appraisal. And that I think the role that we play by just partnering with agents and we split out the bit we’re good at and let them focus on the bit that they’re good at.
Now ActivePipe comes from completely the opposite end of the spectrum. Give us a quick summary Mona of how ActivePipe helps agents find leads.
ActivePipe is a lead nurturing and lead generation platform and we’ve tailored specifically for the real estate industry. So what we do is we automate on-brand emails that are relevant to each and every context needs and we unlock opportunities within the agent’s database. And the opportunities that we actually serve are those that are ready to buy or sell today.
So right now, so if you think of ActivePipe as a big sea of working in the background, we’re constantly sifting through the tens of thousands of contacts in the agent’s database and at the bottom of that comes the goal, which are the leads that are ready to transact today.
At least 45% of leads have lost every single year. So and it’s typically due to there being more contacts in an agency and they can physically keep up with. They’ve spent years and years adding the contacts in but as I mentioned they can’t physically call all of them, right? Try and find a needle in the haystack
So how effective is email marketing at surfacing leads inside your CRM?
Email marketing is extremely effective at surfacing leads. So people don’t want to answer their phones these days. 27% of people actually want to take a phone call. So email marketing then takes place. So we’ve recently actually sent a new client live on the ActivePipe platform and they had around 11,000 contacts in their CRM. In the first 24 hours of being live on ActivePipe, we managed to surface 93 contacts in the database who were active in the market right now.
We also had 156 contacts that updated their profile and they were flagging to the agent the type of property that they were looking to buy or sell. But most importantly, we also received 10 appraisal requests within 24 hours. So you can see this database was sitting there for years and years and building and all of these hidden opportunities were being pushed to the side. And to put this into context, Kylie, if an agent wanted to call 3000 contacts it would take them about 60 full days of work to make contact with 3000 people. So we’re talking about a database of 11,000 that would take an agent in excess of six months to make contact and generate the leads that ActivePipe was able to generate in just 24 hours. So email marketing is super effective.
We’ve heard from ActivePipe that they can bring it all in-house and help you manage and nurture on leads and everyone’s quoting the REB list. So obviously, there’s lots of agents doing both but where does RiTA and AiRE sit in this spectrum?
I think in a way RiTA defies the spectrum because it’s rather than being technology that’s a tool that you use, we’ve positioned RiTA as a collaborative employee that you work with. And so there’s certainly the opportunity to, take leads that she surfaces, we call them opportunities. So RiTA will automate a list of opportunities for you to connect with today and how you resource that is really up to you. You can call them yourself as an agent knowing that it’s an optimised list that’s been produced with artificial intelligence.
So that’s the best people for you to connect with at the best time for the best reason or we also have a phone service of telemarketers trained by real estate agents, so we call it AiRE sourcing. So you can have somebody else call that list for you and simply booking appointments. And so the resourcing of the work is something that’s, I guess, less what RiTA is about but what we want to do is make sure that however you design the service that you want to give as a real estate agent and that will be brand dependent, that will be agent dependent and it will be capacity dependent as well. So however, you want to design your service RiTA is going to work with you to execute that. So definitely there’s a lot that she will do automatically and then how you resource the human element of the work once it’s handed over is a design choice for the agent.
The research talking about lost listings and lead leakage before we did a six-month study with 190 offices and across that group there was $750,000 in GCI per day, every day over those six months in lost opportunities and so our calculation is a little bit higher, it’s about 1.5 million a year per office.
So where do we think the future of lead generation is going ..?
I think all of us are saying some similar things. Different solutions to a very similar problem. There’s a lot of data out there that an agent has and there’s a lot of tech and smarter ways of using that data by checking it against other data sets, whether they be CoreLogic data sets, economic data sets or OpenAgent data sets and things that to generate the warmest leads.
I agree with Sarah. I mean, these days’ people want their name on a card bottle. People want their name on a veggie mart or on their beach towels. So again, being relevant and being hyper-personalised and relevant is super important in lead generation. People are going to go to those that they trust and those that are front of mind.
I don’t know about you, but I open my inbox and I have about 50 emails every single day from different online shopping or real estate agents or whatever it may be. The name that they know, the name they trust is what’s going to stand out to most of them. What’s personalised is what’s going to stand out most, that’s what’s going to get the cut-through. So it’s all of that comes back to nurturing those relationships, building long-lasting relationships and remaining front of mind consistently so that way your clients come back to you.
I think we’re going to be able to leverage technology for greater productivity. So in terms of providing that hyper-personalised service and it actually scaling the human function, I think as AI continues to learn and to become more humanised in a way that it naturally interacts and conversationally interacts conversational marketing is huge emergent untapped field in real estate. And I think that as we see these more humanised technologies taking form I think the real estate agent will be able to leverage those with a minimal investment in resources and have the same impact as they would have if they traditionally had put on very expensive human resources to help them gain more productivity. So that’s where I see the focus for the next 12 months and I think in the 21st Century we don’t look too far beyond 12 months because who knows what AI is going to do next.
You can listen to the entire podcast at Proptechaccociation.com.au.