Real Insights Article Series
This is an ongoing series of articles that cover the topics and insights shared during the three-day Real Conf 2021 hosted by Adfenix. The following article summarizes the keynote session with Erik Wikander on Day 3 Session 5 of the conference.
Erik Wikander is Vice President of Svensk Fastighetsförmedling, as well as Country Manager for Sweden and Spain. During his session at Real Conf, Erik shared insights on how to help agents fill the pipe with leads.
At Adfenix’s Real Conference 2021, Anton discussed the value of social media marketing in the real estate industry, breaking it down into three hard truths:
A Swedish Business Model
Erik Wikander knows that gaining new business is the single most important goal of real estate agents, and working with agents in the Swedish housing markets has revealed a unique Swedish business model that differs to how business is done elsewhere. To be able to get more business, a much wider pool of customers needs to be tapped into from various situations, be it digital contacts or physical meetings. Nevertheless, the struggle to gain new leads and convert them into new business remains a shared mission for agents anywhere and a tricky one at that.
Life as a Real Estate Agent
The life of a real estate agent is busy, and the majority of their time is spent on open houses, shootings, negotiations and client meetings, while any remaining time is poured into finding new leads. It may be easy to see what the next two-three weeks look like, but how do you allocate more leads into the sales funnel over the next one to two months? Not being able to answer that instantly means agents need to apply new ways of working.
Traditional Lead Generation
Traditionally, real-estate agents, at least in the Swedish market, worked primarily with direct mailing in presenting listings or showcasing past sales, or with traditional paper ads - particularly with sellers because in the Swedish market, the seller is the client.
The key ingredient
However, Erik shares that in his experience and the experiences of his company, the most important, measurable ingredient in why a client actually chooses an agent is recommendation.
Favourable recommendations from satisfied past clients are shared with friends over dinner, in small talk and given as advice to people who are beginning their own home or apartment search.
Agents who understand this go one step further by working their recommendations into a more structured process, by way of review sites or Google reviews and incorporating them into their websites, which in turn can come alongside an agent’s advertising and recommendation process.
In today’s digitized world…
Today, both agents and sellers live in a modern digital world, and there are now far more touchpoints with the customers:
- Increasing number of digital touchpoints
- Meetings in various scenarios (offline or online)
- Open houses and new ways of viewing properties
- Smaller touchpoints, like SMS or text message, email etc
- Social media is essential in informing and interacting with potential customers
And all of the above needs to be integrated with a CRM system, so that all potential information is automatically driven and centred in one place for the agent to process through afterward. Automation also saves time, already a scarce resource for agents.
The Agent Website
Websites continue to be the most valuable agent asset for the visitor. It is the headquarters where they can fill in a form, book an evaluation and get estimates (although a personal follow-up evaluation is always recommended to render accuracy). Websites need to work alongside an efficient CRM to give agents real value and increased opportunities for lead generation and conversion.
Social Media Ads (SoMe ads)
To add social media ads on top of this, it’s another avenue where not only potential customers are informed of new listings, but also serves as a way to truly connect with them as people with real needs.
So important is the power of social in lead conversion that a study done by Svensk Fastighetsförmedling, in collaboration with their social media partner (not Adfenix), revealed valuable insight: all sales for the previous 10 months (about 25,000 sales) were compared to sales that had no social ad promoting the listing. There were three packages made available, from none, basic to premium. Just going from no presence to having a presence at all in social media advertising revealed:
- More visitors for open houses
- More willing clients to get to the bidding process
- Much higher end price
While website availability is essential to garner customer attention, social media adds another whole new element because it means a new way of finding digital leads who are actively searching for homes.
Time is of the Essence (Turning Digital Leads into Customers)
Svensk Fastighetsförmedling conducted another survey that showed how important a factor time is when it comes to turning these digital leads into customers. The time it takes to respond back to a lead query had a direct impact on the outcome of sealing the deal:
- Answering the incoming lead within 5 minutes: 95% chance of getting new business
- Answering the incoming lead within 2 hours: 50% chance of getting new business
- Answering the incoming lead within 24 hours: 5% chance of getting new business
Focus - a new way for agents to work
Agents can still invest time and resources into the aspects that create value, (listing presentations, negotiation talks, etc) but being able to catch these very quick calls from digital leads clearly calls for a new way of working, where calls and queries are immediately sent to a customer-center function or call center function that is automated. This could mean that all digital leads go to the contact center and instantly get booked into the calendar for a consultation as part of the automated process. Whatever the setup by the agent is, the aim is to let customers know that their efforts in reaching out are immediately taken care of and responded to.
To qualify your leads is as essential as getting leads in the pipe
Being able to quickly qualify leads early on in the process is also going to let the agent know which leads to follow up on seriously, and let them fill up the next calendar month or two in a much more efficient way than before. Erik believes it is how you communicate that is important, not who deals with every part of the contact chain with the client.
What is the future?
Already we see a number of developments in the tech revolution;
Voice recognition - Amazon Alexa, Siri, Google home functions, every kind of smart speaker can be in the home but if customers don’t find real estate agents there, then agents are not part of that search engine. Many companies are missing out on this field because it’s relatively new, but it will continue to be essential in the future.
5G - With the 5G rollout among cities and countries, we are now in the era of smart and data-driven cities, where we connect everything with functions. As every device becomes smarter, with growing capacity everyday, this is a field the industry can use to get closer to customer discovery and interaction.
Artificial intelligence - Adding virtual reality and augmented reality aspects into everyday customer behavior, we see new ways that listings can be presented for the clients, where -in the near future - they will be able to simply walk out onto a street and be presented with information about potential listings on the current market.
Post-COVID world - The last one and half years have shown clear shifts in customer behavior, as one survey conducted with end customers amid the homebuying process revealed. The survey indicated that 25% responded positively to being accepting of a full, e-commerce experience when it came to shopping for houses or apartments.
And the winner is…
Customer behavior is driving technology in the future, and we have to be ‘in the future’ to be able to provide these new solutions for clients. Erik concludes by reiterating that the winner in the future is the one who gets more leads by becoming a leader in the market, by being innovative and looking for new things, new technology and new behaviours.
To sum up:
- The life of a real estate agent is busy - but not necessarily as efficient as it can be if not adapting to the modern, digital world
- An important element is recommendation by past clients, but agents who do well are those who digitize even this process via their website
- Having a real social media presence is vital to tapping into new potential audiences who are sales-ready
- Time is of the essence when turning digital leads into real sales
- Responding to leads and qualifying them early is essential to putting quality leads into the pipeline
- Automation is key in driving all of the above
- The tech revolution is introducing a host of new technologies and new customer behaviours that more companies (and agents) need to pay attention to so as not to lose out
Access all streams @ Real Conf. 2021
Real Conf 2021 is a three-day virtual event exploring ways that agencies and brokerages can leverage the power of digital to increase business opportunities, elevate the brand, and empower agents to deliver success. The conference features hundreds of invaluable insight from keynote speakers, panel discussions and case studies from experts in the field.
All 15 sessions with 25 speakers are now available to stream on-demand.
Gain full access to the stream and watch the sessions in their entirety by signing up here: https://www.adfenix.com/real-conf