In one of the most competitive industries in the world, real estate professionals can leverage big data to help them find the right clients and target them in time-saving ways. Real estate lead generation is no longer just a matter of “trusting your gut.” If you’re looking for trends to push your business to the next level, look to big data.
What exactly is big data?
While “big data” is thrown around a lot – often associated with phrases like the “internet of things” — and can appear confusing, the term is actually an accurate description. Big data refers to large amounts of data collected over time, specifically on the internet.
Since becoming publicly available in 1991, the internet has generated a cache for information about people (and places and things), whether it’s their preferences and hobbies from social media, shopping history through coupons and purchases, or even credit and financial information through credit bureaus. This creates both opportunities and challenges in real estate.
Why you should rely on big data
In a world where people are bombarded by advertisements and content from all angles, how do you get your messaging seen by your clients and potential clients? More importantly, how do you know that reaching out to leads is really the best use of your time and resources?
Big data provides some insights on this. In a breakout session at the 2016 National Association for Realtors annual convention in Orlando, Florida, Realtor and continuing education instructor Carrie Bey-Little explained this information provides a variety of opportunities for real estate professionals including:
- It shows hidden trends and patterns
- It uncovers new insights
- It helps filter important information from the noise
Big data and where to find it
The overall purpose of using big data is to capture leads, choose target markets, build relationships through marketing opportunities and to meet the needs of savvy consumers, Bey-Little said.
There are plenty of big data or predictive analytics companies, whether you use them to purchase data, discover insights in your own data or analyze trends in their marketplace. Companies such as CoreLogic (via its Realist product), Smartzip and Infosparks offer interactive data visualization providing important data you can act on.
Using data to advertise
Once you have a service that helps you make sense of your data, you can use this information in your marketing channels (social media, email and direct mail), all of which support your own targeting strategies and opportunities.
Using big data with social media
Discussions of big data often involve social media. Many advertisers are flocking to social media sites because large amounts of people – especially those in the valuable 18-35-year-old demographic – use these platforms and consequently generate tons of valuable data useful in marketing. Despite the great advertising opportunities these platforms present, you must use them carefully to get results.
For one, you shouldn’t spend your energy on organic social media posts. Organic — meaning posts without paid sponsorship — were once the bread and butter of social media platforms. Now, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have changed their algorithms; they present organic posts to only a few people. Too often, advertisers spend hours posting to Facebook and tweeting without advertising the posts. Will it do some good? Probably. Are there better and more efficient uses of your resources? Absolutely.
Paid advertisements on social media platforms offer some good opportunities for targeting specific clients using big data. You can go to Ads Manager on Facebook and Instagram and promote your posts to a specific audience, whether through a custom audience you’ve been building for years, an audience of people who’ve triggered a pixel on your website, or an audience based on demographics.
Before you jump on Facebook and begin spending money to target your neighbors with ads, it’s good to be aware of the realities of social media targeting. While it’s easy to receive clicks and engagement on social media ads, it’s more difficult to secure buying customers. It can be easy to mistake clicks for conversion. Make sure you’re measuring the right things in your social media campaigns, such as the rate at which social media-derived leads become clients.
Other social platforms, such as Snapchat, offer some engagement opportunities, but your advertising abilities are still limited on them.
Using big data with email
While not as trendy as social media, email has perhaps the best and most profitable opportunities for remarketing, especially when it comes to engaging previous clients. Once you pay for the email service, your emails don’t cost you much (or anything). This is much different than Facebook, where you pay for each result. And sure, paying 20 cents per click may not seem like a lot, but when ads receive a few hundred clicks, it adds up.
You can optimize your emails to get the best possible results. Start by creating a welcome series that encourages leads to engage and react. If data shows that no one clicks on the links in an email, you should evaluate whether your copy needs improvement. If no one opens the email, consider changing the subject lines. Even if half the people who get your email open it, optimizing copy can still generate results. You would be surprised what changing a few words or adding an image can do. You should strongly consider using big data insights in your email strategy and acting on them.
Once you’ve started to optimize your emails, you can segment data and create a clear path for your clients. For instance, think about people who’ve purchased homes. From the data and industry insights you have, you may deduce that some of your contacts, based on their attributes, may be more likely to buy another house sooner rather than later.
This information allows you to use email to target those likely buyers and engage them. Not everyone you target will transact soon or need your help in the near term, but your message gives you a leg up on competitors for those who are planning a move.
Using big data with direct mail
Believe it or not, direct mail is still a relevant marketing tool. As Bey-Little explained in her talk in 2016, “Buyers come from the internet and listings come from the mailbox.” To make the most of direct mail, you should consider reaching out to the credit bureau Experian, which has a mailing list database with fountains of data. Not only can you find client addresses, but also home values, homeowner ages and incomes and even census data to discover how many children they have.
With this information, you can start to segment your own data, find the attributes of clients who are more likely to buy or sell and then target homeowners with similar attributes. This is a powerful opportunity for real estate agents.
Interweaving the data
In today’s information-saturated age, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by big data. But agents shouldn’t be anxious about this big opportunity. It can be a life raft for your most precious commodity: time.
Find a service that turns big data into insights with analysis and visualizations. This will help you unearth the details and attributes shared by your best clients and help you focus your efforts on marketing activities that most support your business goals. With this insight, you can target these audiences on social media, email and direct mail with effective marketing.
Have you taken these steps to make big data work for you? Share tips in the comments!