Business may be brisk right now but it can always be better, especially with the stamp duty holiday ending soon and the potential for decreasing consumer confidence. Whether it’s conjuring something from nothing or seizing a sizzling hot lead, a raft of property partners are ready to grow your 2021 pipeline.
Having calls answered by a human helps build rapport – people buy from people and that’s critical for lead generation, especially with heightened call volumes. Joanne Tattum, Moneypenny.
Agency is a people industry so how has lead generation fared in a pandemic where many movers have stayed behind closed doors? The team at Moneypenny says our need for human contact – and our desire to feel supported, heard and valued – has driven people to their phones. “We’ve seen heightened call volumes and longer call durations over recent months,” says
Joanne Tattum at the telephone answering service. Joanne points out that in an industry where business is usually won face-to-face, the telephone has proved to be the next best thing to an in-person meeting. “Having calls answered by a human helps build rapport – people buy from people and that’s critical for lead generation.” Call answering can also provide a safety net for understaffed offices, branches preferring to (or being forced to) temporarily close and those who are contacted frequently out-of-hours.
In fact, data from Yomdel shows over 54 per cent of all online enquiries to agents are made outside standard business hours and live chat taps into consumers’ desire for a 24/7 society but being available isn’t enough.
Andy Soloman at Yomdel believes agents have just 15 seconds before they lose someone’s online attention: “Our human live chat handlers work in micro moments to deliver the instant responses people demand, even if it’s outside of the traditional nine-to-five,” says Andy. “A round-the-clock service proves its worth. Typically we convert an average of 40 per cent of all live chats into leads.”
Our human live chat handlers work in micro moments to deliver the instant responses people demand, even if it’s outside of the traditional nine-to-five. Andy Soloman CEO, Yomdel.
Bertie Horne at CommVersion also believes live chat is essential in today’s instant gratification environment. Its 24/7 service, also manned by real people, illustrates how an extensive pre-determined list of FAQs – the result of a detailed collaboration with agency clients – can provide an authentic experience that results in leads.
As many of the team are ex-agency, we recognise when a lead shows immediate conversion prospects. We connect the client with the agent by phone on the spot. Bertie Horne, CommVersion.
CommVersion’s ‘Instant Connect’ facility also ensures the hottest leads never go cold, with staff intercepting chats and instantly passing the keenest clients on to a negotiator. “As many of the team are ex-agency, we recognise when a lead shows immediate conversion prospects,” says Bertie. “With permission, we connect the client with the agent by phone on the spot.” This carpe diem approach gives agents the chance to be the first through the door and offer pro-active customer service, adds Bertie.
Similarly, Yomdel’s Live Connect service blends decentralized live chat with live interception and in-branch lead conversion, with uplifting results. “When Arun Estates ran Yomdel Live Connect alongside our live chat, it saw a 36 per cent increase in conversion from valuation lead to market appraisal,” adds Andy.
Not all conversations, however, happen on the phone or with humans but it doesn’t mean they are not important. Abbie Heslop at EBI.AI highlights how optimized voice traffic search, via Google Home or Alexa, can deliver pre-qualified leads.
“If the voice command is ‘I want to view flats in my area with a garden’, Google Home or Alexa would ask some qualifying questions, then book the customer in for a visit. Similarly, someone could ask the value of their home and the device gives an approximate value, based on postcode, bedrooms and current market conditions,” says Abbie.
If the voice command is ‘I want to view flats in my area with a garden’, Google Home or Alexa would ask some qualifying questions, then book the customer in for a visit. Abbie Heslop, EBI.AI.
Agents interested in getting inside a client’s home via a smart home assistant would need their own fully managed AI property assistant with a smart home skill as one of its channels, which EBI.AI can set up and manage. “The criteria required to generate leads – email, postcode and phone number, for example – would be decided with the agent during the onboarding process, with leads delivered already segmented and qualified.”
Instant valuations requests, whether via Alexa on using an online form, are one of the biggest indicators of moving intent but their authenticity is under scrutiny as thousands are simply satisfying their own curiosity, rather than seriously thinking of selling.
But if the brevity and accessibility of a tick-box instant valuation form is its downfall, a new breed of online valuations using stand-alone apps, such as iVal – The Virtual Valuation App from Integrated Interest, should deliver more robust, genuine leads.
“While the download stage and data input involved in iVal’s valuations aren’t overly laborious, its five simple steps do weed out time-wasters, save valuers time and extract more honed information so agents can send extremely accurate valuations, which in return is giving a higher rate of instructions,” says Paul Force from Integrated Interest.
While the download stage and data input involved in iVal’s valuations aren’t overly laborious, its five simple steps do weed out time-wasters and save valuers time. Paul Force, iVal Valuation App.
He believes unrealistic online valuations costs listings. “If the potential vendor isn’t satisfied when the in-person valuation doesn’t match up with their instant online one, they may ask another agent for their opinion – leaving the door open to others to win the instruction.”
Over and above many web-based instant valuation forms, the iVal app (which can be white labelled and integrated into many property management platforms) prompts people to upload photos and/or videos, with a function launching early in 2021 that will enable prospective sellers to capture 360° images and room measurements from a mobile device. This will enable more precise remote valuations, closer to a home visit appraisal.
The quantum of uptick in valuations agents win when using Sprift as part of their valuation process is currently running at an increase of 22 per cent. Matt Gilpin, Sprift.
But do leads exclusively hang on an accurate valuation? Not according to Matt Gilpin at Sprift. “The trust element may be more important than whether the valuation is too high or too low,” he says, challenging whether who delivers the valuation and the accompanying materials outweigh the accuracy of the figure.
When encouraging agents to use its Sprift reports Matt shares survey data that says market knowledge was what mattered most when choosing an agent.
“Confidence and trust can be built if an agent demonstrates hyper-local market knowledge and delivers specific information about a property. Once positioned as the ‘true local property expert’, homeowners are less likely to disagree with that agent’s valuation,” says Matt. “The quantum of uptick in valuations agents win when using Sprift as part of their valuation process is currently running at an increase of 22 per cent.”
For those unfamiliar with Sprift reports, these give agents access to highly detailed ‘whole of market’ comparables, local schools data, transport links and information about the property in question, from when it last sold and for how much, to broadband coverage and flood risks.
What happens after an online valuation form has been filled out is equally as important as the request itself. There can be a subtle difference between softly softly and a hard sell when it comes to lead conversion but the myVal team think they’ve got the balance just right.
Its six-stage, post-request nurture journey is its most popular rapport building product, with more than 90 per cent of agents opting for this ‘drip’ email campaign. Once a potential seller has completed a myVal online valuation request, they automatically start receiving a series of white labelled emails designed to seal the deal. “With many ex-estate agents on the myVal team, we’re confident that we provide a compelling and sensitive nurture journey,” says Charlotte Gowers. “Of course, each email is customisable and the journey can be stopped by the agent at any point.”
The Zeus app takes valuations from the lap of the gods and puts it in the hands of the homeowner. It’s a virtual valuation app that a seller-homeowner or landlord would use to upload their property details, which are then passed on via the app to the local Zeus’ agent network. Founder Nick Christoferou says accuracy of valuation is critical to success. “We track the average valuations produced by our platform versus other tools, then compare this to any eventual deal price. On every occasion so far our initial average valuation is closest to the deal price. Our average valuation is regularly within just five per cent of the eventual sale or rental price.” The key is that the seller or landlord upload the property details and the app allows them to spec the property in great detail, even including recent improvements to the property, with a short commentary too. And so a real valuation based on that comes back from the agent. “Our average user in one of our locations will receive five valuations within six hours. So it is a super-quick method to obtain accurate data and the app allows the user to contact whichever agent they choose.”
Acaboom is a product that alerts agents to the perfect point in time to pull the lead conversion trigger. “Thirty two per cent of vendors take over a month to instruct an agent – catching people when they are in decision making-mode is difficult yet key to winning the instruction and increasing conversion rates,” says Suzanna Mavity.
Acaboom tracks when someone is reviewing the agent’s market proposal, triggering an instant push notification to the agent. “Acaboom gives agents the opportunity to put in a timely call to the client and pick up the instruction. In fact, many agents say their conversion rates have increased by up to 20 per cent when using our service,” adds Suzanna.
Catching people when they are in decision making-mode is diffi cult yet key to winning the instruction and increasing conversion rates. Suzanna Mavity, Acaboom.
Canvassing is one of the more traditional ways of generating leads but manual methods, such as spotting ‘for sale’ boards and monitoring portals, are laborious and in the case of lettings, not always fruitful in terms of reaching the landlord.
Spectre’s automated canvassing uses fully customizable letters and a tailored timeline to create a bubbling pipeline of new instructions, with minimal effort from agents. “The system monitors the market daily and automatically sends letters when a vendor is most likely to be considering a change of agent, such as following a price reduction, a fall through or a withdrawal,” says the company’s Heather Staff. “After agreeing a sale, Spectre also allows agents to write to nearby off-market properties and those in vicinity who are on with competitors to notify them of sales success.”
There’s also lots of love for lettings as, for the first time ever, Spectre gives agents access to a tool that identifies portfolio landlords and investment properties on their patch. “Spectre lets clients now know who, how and when to contact landlords to most effectively grow their lettings portfolios,” adds Heather.
After agreeing a sale, Spectre also allows agents to write to nearby off -market properties and those in vicinity who are on with competitors to notify them of sales success. Heather Staff, Spectre.
Once every two, seven or even 14 – the cycle of moving home can generally be measured in years, so that means a long spell of client dormancy. Thankfully, there are services that take the guesswork out of predicting when someone may sell, allowing agents to time their marketing to perfection.
The TwentyEA Off Market audience service successfully predicted 73 per cent of all new instructions in 2019. The success isn’t down to Madame Esmeralda gazing into her orb but a mix of TwentyEA’s machine learning and processes developed by its own data analysts, designed especially to identify properties that are likely to come to the market in the next 12 months, says the company’s Katy Billany.
We provide a targeted alternative to traditional blanket mailing campaigns, proven to be three times more effective in generating responses. Katy Billany, TwentyEA.
This off market model analyses factual data, such as the age of the owners, family composition, how long they’ve lived there, their financial status and occupation, and combines it with what’s known about the property and local market activity. “We provide agents with a cost effective, targeted alternative to traditional blanket mailing campaigns, proven to be three times more effective in generating responses than random targeting,” says Katy.
“Off market data allows agents to build a relationship with potential vendors who may not be ready to move for several months. It establishes the agent as an expert in its local market place and can form the backbone of direct mail campaigns, which are easy to track with TwentyEA thanks to our automatic reporting.
If you think print was a thing of the past when it comes to lead generation, think again. “For agents wishing to target on-market or even profiled off-market households, print is the only method of a direct introduction,” says Richard Combellack at BriefYourMarket.
The company’s Auto 20/20 product is the perfect example of hybrid lead generation. This ‘digital-to-print’ campaign automatically recognises when the status of an agent’s property has been changed to SSTC or ‘let’, for example, that’s to a property feed and populates a printed direct mail campaign to target up to 40 of the nearest properties.
For agents wishing to target on-market or even profiled off -market households, print is the only method of a direct introduction… to deliver a lead that’s ready to engage. Richard Combellack, BriefYourMarket.com.
The campaign is then sent to print and delivered by Royal Mail. Richards does add that a ‘call to action’ within the printed message, perhaps a gated landing page url, is essential. “These are what deliver a direct lead that’s ready to engage or a lead that can be nurtured through a digital customer experience.”