One of the new essential skills of running a real estate agency is the ability to collect, crunch and manage big data. It’s now the ‘new oil’ helping agents identify leads, drive marketing efforts, win listings and manage performance.
However, few real estate agencies have the budgets or expertise to hire data scientists or even know what they should ask them to do. Here are three super-smart startups that can help your real estate agency embrace big data.
Run by Ian Campbell and Sarah Bell, AIRE made AI and robots for real estate easy for non-technical agents to understand when they launched Rita, claiming she was a ‘digital employee’ and they were her Dad and Mum.
Like all good employees, Rita does the job you give her. This includes responding to inquiries and capturing more information to create more complete data in your CRM. But where she is being effective in a growing number of real estate offices across the country is in her ability to interrogate CRMs and match the data with big data datasets covering things like property ownership and demographics to give better insights into client motivation and identify potential leads.
The appending of big datasets, in turn, helps Rita rank and sort the leads and identify the topics that agents should discuss with potential clients to engage with them. And Rita helpfully sends messages to your team to confirm that they have followed up and makes it easy for the information collected to feedback into your CRM thereby helping you oversee and manage agent performance.
What it is: AI-driven automation sitting on top of your own CRM to streamline and automate lead identification and conversion and simultaneously improve many of your administrative processes based around inquiries.
Most suitable for: Large to medium-sized agencies prepared to invest in the infrastructure to continually improve their processes and lead identification within their businesses. AIRE is a way to bring big data analysis inhouse by partnering with expertise.
Reported successes: AIRE is used by a growing list of high profile and top-performing agencies including Di Jones and Cunninghams. AIRE case studies identify how in an office with 95,000 and 25,000 property owner records in their CRM, Rita was able to identify missed opportunities totalling a conservative $5.4m in commissions.
Additional benefits: Rita is also being successfully used in property management – a legacy of her ability to be ‘trained’ in other tasks.
Funding: AIRE recently received $1m in early-stage VC funding through PieLab Ventures and the Queensland Government.
Now more than five years old, OpenAgent was founded by two former McKinsey consultants Marta Higuera and Zoe Pointon as a consumer portal driven lead referrer. The website provides helpful information including property reports and guides to buying and selling and removes a lot of the fear homeowners have around selling and using agents by offering to match potential vendors to a real estate agent that is best suited to sell their property. Their team then qualifies and refines the leads further and sells on to select real estate agents who fit the client requirements.
The startup was initially denigrated by the industry for its business model which charged a proportion of commission. But agents who dismiss them do so at their peril.
OpenAgent is more than just an online algorithm and has a truckload of big data smarts and sophisticated analysis sitting behind its consumer exterior which is genuinely valuable to agents. It’s been the recipient of $25 million in funding to date – a formidable amount of money that is backing its ability to intelligently use data to improve life for agents and sellers. The business is also adapting its charging model to offer subscriptions to select agents which include access to a deeply impressive dashboard tracking agent behaviour and analytics.
What it is: A consumer-facing website with best in class content marketing that identifies and captures user intention, backed with big data appending and analysis. This is combined with a team of 80 Australian consultants who qualify leads further before passing on to agents. OpenAgent report that they deliver 6% of all listings in the market annually to their agents.
Most suitable for: Real estate agents who want the benefits of big data delivering them leads but don’t want – or can’t afford – to invest in the infrastructure and processes to execute to a high level. In this way, you’re effectively outsourcing your big data expertise to a trusted partner.
Reported successes: Being big data geeks, OpenAgent constantly monitors the REB Top Agent awards. It reports 70% of top-performing agents across those awards are their clients. OpenAgent introduced agents to 20,000 listings last year.
Additional benefits: Keep an eye open for the new Premier product. It won’t be available for everyone but includes an impressive dashboard that provides principals with extraordinary visibility on agent performance.
Funding: $25 million and counting from a combination of private and institutional investors.
Cribz is a relatively new startup born from the project management industry through founders Peter Esho and Dominic Nesci. The two claim to have sold over a trillion dollars in real estate across their combined careers. They’re using their experiences of the pain points of running longer-term marketing campaigns as the motivation for their innovation.
Cribz started out as a CRM and marketing automation tool. It helped agents and developers segment, track and engage with leads across the much longer sales cycle of off-the-plan developments. After being selected for the UK-based accelerator program with PiLab (different to the Australian version), the pair pivoted. Cribz now helps businesses get more insights from their existing database.
It enriches data you already own by appending big datasets including demographics and social media insights. Upload your existing database into the Cribz platform, and they will ‘wash’ it against their constantly updated data universe. In return, you’ll receive a heap of additional information where its available including employment status, demographics, and social media accounts. This provides you with a solid base upon which you can build out your own marketing, lead generation and acquisition campaigns. Or alternatively, Cribz can consult for an additional fee.
What it is: A data enrichment platform supported by a real estate marketing consulting service.
Most suitable for: Agents, developers and project marketers who have existing processes and structures in place. You know how to do marketing automation and lead generation, but want to get more out of your existing database. It’s an affordable solution to help you dip your toe into this thing called big data.
Reported Success: Cribz is working with real estate developer clients in Australia and London. It is currently processing up to 15,000 leads on behalf of clients each month.
Additional benefits: Cribz can append their insights into any customer dataset. You don’t have to work specifically in real estate to use it.
Funding: Cribz is accelerated by Pi Labs Property Innovation in London. They received Pre-Seed funding in January 2019.
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Content marketing strategist, researcher, journalist and presenter specialising in the real estate industry. I'm passionate about proptech, digital disruption and all things property, big data, leadership and entrepreneurial ideas, have an MBA and specialise in social and digital media content creation and automation.