COMMENT | Gaining the edge from marketing automation
For busy property teams, automation could become your new best friend, writes Al Mackin of theEword.
There’s a chance that you’re already using a basic version of automation if you have Hubspot or Salesforce. When emails are automatically going out to leads, or messages get sent after a viewing, you’re automating at a low level and it’s saving you time and money.
Automation empowers sales and marketing teams to spend more time on the high-level tasks that they’re really good at, and less time on the mundane tasks that – let’s face it – teams hate. For the C-suite, it offers the holy grail: saving time and money, improving performance and a better experience for customers. In a post-Covid market, that leads to a financial and competitive edge.
I’ve mapped out the three areas of automation that will have a profound impact on property companies:
1. Automating communications: robots respond faster
In the early stages of the buying, renting or leasing process, your customers have questions. Perhaps the answers exist somewhere on your website, or a brochure, or an email, but the customer can’t find them.
The traditional way to ask a question is to fill in a contact form, send an email or pick up the phone. The response may come in minutes, hours or days, and requires someone within the sales or marketing team to craft it. Meanwhile, the customer is on hold, their interest is reducing and their impression of your brand is decreasing.
Every contact from a potential customer is important, but is a human being best placed to deliver the response? Automating your early-stage communication through a virtual property agent means responding to the customer questions within milliseconds not days, and it allows your sales team to focus on the mid and late stages of the buying or renting process.
Virtual property agents can do more than just respond to customer questions; they can find and filter property options, set up viewings or arrange callbacks, and engage customers on your website or social channels based on a data-driven understanding of who that customer is, and how they’ve engaged with your company previously.
Driven by machine learning, and with deep data on your units, buildings, schemes and the area, virtual agents mimic your best sales agent on their best day. Looking at the way users interact with the virtual agents we have deployed for clients, it’s clear that buyers like, and in some cases, prefer, to converse with them. Among our clients, virtual agents play a part in 31% of new sales leads that are generated.
2. Managing leads: robots don’t forget
One of the challenges facing a busy team is nurturing leads. Every lead is important, but team members are sometimes too busy to have ad-hoc, warming comms.
In an ideal world, every lead would get a personalised, nurturing experience. After becoming a lead there should be a regular flow of communication that helps bond the buyer with the brand and builds up excitement and interest. The reality is leads sometimes fall by the wayside because team members are too busy.
Automating your nurturing process is a solution, but personalising it and customising the contact points and timings is the goal.
A side point around managing leads is the challenge for stakeholders in monitoring them. Innovative automation allows you to check-in with leads to make sure they’re getting a great service, gather their responses and pick up any gaps with your sales team.
3. Insight automation: listening, learning then actioning
Property companies are swimming in data, but the majority of that is quantitative. Platforms like Google Analytics and Salesforce allow you to pull out the numbers, but how do you gather valuable qualitative data, and from untapped sources?
Moving conversations digitally is the first step. Using a virtual agent allows you to see, and gain insight from real conversations with customers. That insight is invaluable for the sales and marketing teams, and the wider business. A recent and simple example of this was a client who saw a spike in conversations around Help To Buy and Shared Ownership. This helped the company prioritise marketing changes, and this fed back into stakeholders.
Beyond online conversations there’s significant value in the conversations that take place on the telephone. Using technology to transcribe sales calls and automatically pull out valuable data will lead to new insights, as well as being able to find trends across an aggregate of calls.
Innovation can be a single, significant and often multi-year project, or it can be a series of step changes. Through working with property companies, we’ve felt the pain of the challenges and gaps, and equally the desire that teams have to innovate, but the lack of time to do it. That’s why we’ve created rebrix, a marketing and sales automation platform for the property industry.