Evolving consumer behaviour and technology have changed the game, leaving many agents at risk of falling behind, but with years of experience working in an array of sectors, I know that the challenges you’re facing are not unique to property.
From my time at BriefYourMarket.com, I’ve been able to learn how other industries – namely insurance, leisure and hospitality – are responding to online disruptors and changing consumer demands, and use that insight to draw parallelisms to what agents are experiencing. Here’s what I’ve found…
Intelligent use of data
The online model has one key thing in its favour and that’s its intelligent application of data to maximise the value of each customer; particularly when it comes to capitalising on key dates and anniversaries.
Your agency holds a wealth of information about its customers, yet many fail to see the value in that data.
Independent restauranteurs are under threat from tech-savvy national brand marketeers, with the high-street becoming littered with chains and franchises, such as Pizza Express.
As a frequent Pizza Express customer – with two young children who love it there – I receive messages that are tailored to my lifestyle on a regular basis. So, what do they know about me and how do they use that information?
Well, they know that I’m a father, they know when my birthday is, and they know where I live. Meaning that when Father’s Day comes around – or I’m approaching my next birthday – I can be sure that there will be an email sitting in my inbox, offering a discount or a bottle of prosecco on the house to celebrate it with them.
Now, when faced with that offer, I have to ask myself: what are my local, independent restaurants doing to stay in the running?
Despite offering a better service, and certainly a better quality of food, it all comes down to that added incentive. The independent restaurateurs are not capturing my attention, nor are they collecting my data, and so they miss out on the opportunity and my custom time and time again.
Data capturing tools – like our online estimation tool, Digi-Val – aim to put a stop to that for agents, ensuring that you can compliantly collect data and market to it.
Dependence on aggregators
With over 17 million properties listed on Rightmove, and 1.6 billion website visits each month, we’ve now reached a point where going it alone isn’t an option. No matter what industry you’re in, price comparison sites and aggregators are an unavoidable necessity.
Yet as I drive around the country, I hear a lot of negativity towards portals. Understandable, given that many are facing price hikes as high as 20%, but it begs the question, if you’re so unhappy with the balance, what are you doing to tip it in your favour?
From Peter Knight’s speech at last year’s EA Masters, it became clear that agents are not utilising portals to their full potential, as: “57% of all Rightmove enquiries are unanswered whilst only 30% of portal enquiries make it into a CRM system”.
This is a problem that I’m all too familiar with.
As consumers, we expect maximum results from a minimal amount of effort, but without a marketing strategy in place, you may as well throw your portal leads – and even your database – away, because all that valuable data is serving little purpose if you don’t use it.
Working with hoteliers, I can see that they’re just as reliant on comparison sites as agents.
Aggregators have encouraged their consumers to be fickle when making a hotel reservation, with a cancellation rate that’s 43% higher than bookings made direct.
What’s more, once they’ve received an initial expression of interest from an online travel agent (OTA), hoteliers have access to a very limited amount of information, which makes it difficult to re-book someone who cancels or market to them in the future.
In estate and letting agencies, it’s all about your repeat customers, so getting that customer journey right from the beginning is crucial.
Timing means everything
Having worked with many UK insurance brokers, I know that there is a very small window of genuine opportunity when they receive an expression of interest.
To be more precise, it was found that 35-50% of sales go to the business that makes the first move, with conversions increasing nine-fold if a lead is followed up within the first five minutes.
So, when a customer receives a quote for a policy, the broker stands to double their conversion rate from following up with a call.
The technology behind this is simple enough, utilising email open and click-through reports to prioritise your leads by level of engagement or in response to an action, which in this case, would be opening a quote.
On the consumer’s side, this shows an impressive attention to detail and implies a service that is personalised and responsive.
In 2018, our attention span sits at around eight seconds, so before your customers have even had time to close their inbox, you should pick up the phone to provide them with more information on the property or service that caught their eye.
Since joining BriefYourMarket.com, I have been fortunate to gain experience with a number of different industries.
Meaning that I’ve seen first-hand how disruptors have emerged into each respective market, wooing customers away with promises of a service that’s quicker, more convenient and more innovative but lacks the relationship and experience offered by traditionalists.
To discuss this further with a member of the team, call us on 0344 800 84 24.