Takeaways:

  • Panelists at Inman Connect San Francisco argued that lead generation products often distract agents from technology that is far more valuable: tools that help agents milk their sphere of influence for business.
  • Agents should communicate based on behavior and personalize their messaging.
  • Test email subject lines and target your ads, too.

SAN FRANCISCO — Real estate tech has largely revolved around generating leads for real estates agents.

But panelists at Inman Connect San Francisco argued that lead generation products often distract agents from technology that is far more valuable: tools that help agents milk their sphere of influence for business.

The most useful real estate technology for the foreseeable future will focus “humanizing your marketing,” said Chris Smith, co-founder of Curaytor, a provider of marketing and contact management software and training to real estate agents. “It’s going to be about fake handwritten notes.”

Here are five tips for using tech to turn more of your existing contacts, the primary source of business for many agents, into clients.

chris smith

Chris Smith

1. Communicate based on behavior, not time intervals

“You should never call someone again based on when you met them,” Smith said.

Instead, use website and email tracking systems to gauge prospects’ interest in buying or selling.

Have they opened a listing alert in the last 24 hours or visited your website recently? That’s when you pick up the phone.

Court the person who’s looked up their Zestimate “89 times” in the last month, who’s opened a “market snapshot” email 17 times, he said.

2. Personalize marketing emails

This doesn’t mean you have to handwrite messages to prospects. You can use contact management and marketing platforms to automatically fire off prewritten emails to prospects based on their behavior.

Some technology even lets you automatically generate and send what appear to be handwritten letters to prospects or former clients.

Spending hours on crafting a 100-word message can pay off tremendously, Smith said.

“It’s about obsessing about the message and not obsessing about the medium that you’re sending it through,” Smith said.

SmartZip offers another way to evaluate whether an existing contact might merit a thoughtful note. The big data lead generator can now analyze an agent’s sphere of influence to determine who’s most likely to be interested in working with them.

Agents can also use BombBomb to spice up their email with video messages.

3. Test email subject lines

Track email open rates for different subject lines — targeted based on contacts’ behavior — to increase your contact conversion rates.

Philip Lang, co-founder of New York City brokerage TripleMint, says his weapon of choice is the email marketing tool Customer.io.

4. Target ads at your sphere of influence

Lang says boosting a post on Facebook is the best way to stay top of mind with your sphere of influence.

Agents could also leverage Driftrock to stay on contacts’ radar. It lets you target ads at a curated list of contacts, which can include people you’re not even friends with on Facebook.

5. Provide lasting value to past clients

You can tap services like Loop and Tie to seamlessly send gifts to past clients, or give them tools or products they may continue to use in the future, such as an agent-branded version of Updater, a service that helps people complete moving tasks, or agent-branded 3-D property tours.

Email Teke Wiggin.

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