How big data is warming up cold leads

January/February 2017 edition
Big data is fundamentally changing how real estate agents go about their jobs, as detailed real-time data collection provides agents with more focused tools to win listings and create long-lasting relationships with clients.

by Kylie Davis

New algorithms and data collection points are helping agents identify potential clients who are more likely to be in the market to list their homes. In the most basic terms, they do this by overlaying shopping, demographic and online behaviour with property data, such as time at current address, recent property sales in the area, average ownership periods and more.
The end result is a list of targets for cold calling who are significantly statistically more likely to sell their home when compared to a random group of people who agents would approach through their normal means of advertising, letterbox drops or drop ins – also known as ‘spraying and praying’!

Here are three ways agents can use big data to improve their prospecting.
1. Executing more targeted traditional marketing
If the idea of a fully digital and social campaign fills you with terror, start with the basics: replace generic flyers or ‘to the householder’ mail with targeted and personalised marketing that is personally addressed and recognises property features. If you’ve recently sold a three-bedroom family home and still have an arms-length list of buyers searching, target the three-bedroom homes in your area and send a personal letter telling owners about the price you achieved.

Yes, it will take a little longer to create and do a mail merge. And yes, you’ll send fewer letters out. But research shows that personally addressed mail is three times more effective than generic mail, so your hit rate will be higher – and you’ll save money on wasted printing.

CoreLogic’s Marketing Direct helps you to personalise your message to homeowners and tenants, and market more strategically and effectively.

2. Short lists built by algorithms
Take everything you know about the local property market, overlay that with powerful demographic and consumer behaviour data, add a marketing database and what you get is a list of names and addresses to cold call that are significantly warmer than usual.
What is big data?
Big data is a term that describes the large volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that inundates businesses daily. It’s being generated by everything around us at all times. Every digital process and social media exchange produces it, and systems, sensors and mobile devices transmit it. It’s collected in hundreds of ways including surveys, online audience tracking, industry statistics, client feedback and more.

But it’s not the amount of data that’s important. It’s what businesses do with the data that matters. Big data can be analysed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves. It can also be used to create insights into consumer behaviour, patterns and even trends.

For the real estate industry, a major drawcard of using big data is being able to predict who is more likely to sell their house and zero in on them before they even decide they want to sell. 
Trials of algorithm-generated lists show that 15 per cent of cold call conversations made from a big data generated list resulted in an appraisal or call-back and 10 per cent listed within six months. This compared to just one in 100 calls made from a random cold call list resulting in a call back.

You need discipline to hit the phones and a good cold calling technique, but handled properly the results are significant.

CoreLogic’s SmartList combines property, market and consumer data to help you identify homeowners who are more likely to list and sell.

3. Understanding your customers – and targeting more people like them
How much do you know about clients you’ve had in the past – or even those you’re working with now? Big data can take your existing client list – going back as many years as possible – and analyse it according to demographics and consumer behaviours. By overlaying it with property market data to understand property features, recent sales and what’s sold around them, you begin to get a real understanding of the types of clients your business attracts and their trigger points for deciding to sell, buy, rent or invest.

Once you know how your existing clients behave – including the best times to re-engage with them and the type of client (buying, selling, renting) that they’re most likely to become – you can target your marketing accordingly, whether it’s a digital or traditional campaign.

The final step is to take your knowledge of existing clients and ask the big data algorithms to find non-clients who match the same criteria, so you can also target new prospects.

CoreLogic’s Re-Engage, developed in partnership with Greater Data, uses big data and analytics to help you connect with past and future customers.

Final note
Big data isn’t a magic bullet, nor a cure-all. The agents who understand the power of big data are winning in their markets – not just because they know how to work the numbers, but because they then amplify their personal skills in marketing, negotiating, and supporting and helping clients. No matter how good the algorithms are, real estate is primarily about relationships – so use the data to enhance your relationships, not replace them.