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February 1, 2019

Inman Connect 2019 NYC –Tech & Insights wrap

Inman Day One down, and it seemed to be the big Tech day with most of the afternoon dedicated to Tech; while the morning was focused on agent performance.

As with most conferences there was plenty to learn outside of the official speaker sessions. Last night I spoke to a California-based CRM Founder. We talked about his market focus and I learned there are 96,000 agents in South California alone; yes the market here is HUGE

Here are my highlights and key take outs at Inman so far:

Tech sessions key insights

Alexa Flash briefings – voice activated assistant usage is on the rise, and this new feature from Alexa allows you to send out daily short messages in push format. When you create a flash briefing, your original content will reach customers daily with Alexa reading out the briefing. It is similar to a one minute news report. Voice activated technology has been in the US longer than AU so they are further advanced here, but one to start to follow if you’re interested in future marketing trends. If you want to learn more check out this article on what voice activated is all about and this one on Alexa Flash Briefings.

Google will soon be moving to include audio content in search. The relevance of this relates to Podcasts, it provides further weight to the importance of Podcasts; in particular, niche and quality Podcast content.

Google also announced a new product for the US Real Estate industry flagging their continued commitment to extend products, at least in the US. Not available in Australia (yet?), however the key platform linking their product set together is Google My Business. So if you haven’t set up a Google My Business account or want to find out more click here. It will assist your local search, and as new products roll out from Google in Australia you’ll be in the loop.

AI session: Current state of AI in the Real Estate industry

This panel session has 3 superstars in the AI space including: our own Aussie Sarah Bell Co-Founder at AIRE, John Berkowitz from OJO Labs and the Head of Product at Keller Williams, Neil Dholakia.

The first example was OJO which is a chat bot that works on behalf of the agent, brokerage or team and is focused on giving the end user (buyer) all the information they need about a property; scanning millions of pieces of text and images. OJO also offers value-add content based on algorithms and data. A practical example would be offering up suggestions for similar homes with attributes that the buyer is after. Another example is providing information about local schools alongside the property profile. OJO aims to have a natural conversation on behalf of the agent. Anytime the bot doesn’t know the answer to a question, the query is redirected to a human team member to take over.

Panel on stage

Australia’s own AIRE was represented by Co-Founder Sarah Bell. AIRE’s baby is the Digital Employee named RITA. RITA is a smart piece of technology designed to wade through the endless CRM and other market data available to agents, present the agent with the prospects (not suspects) they need to speak to NOW, along with a reason to speak to them and some very cool insights on why the time is right to get in touch. Sarah spoke about the ‘Supercharged Agent’, one that is using a digital employee to do the heavy lifting on data including, demographics, customer behaviours and CRM information. You can download their latest case study HERE to learn more.

Sarah also spoke about the early start up phase AIRE went through with RITA; the collaboration with customers and the industry as a whole to ensure RITA was being developed with an appropriate product-market fit. During this phase AIRE was able to identify the key tasks that needed to be done by agents, but simply weren’t as they were too time consuming or there was too much data to trawl through to produce accurate insights. Beepo has been working with AIRE on some joint customer projects and I’ve seen the tech applied in practice. An agent at Beepo was able to double their output (of appraisal opportunities) when having RITA analyse the agent’s CRM and cross reference that data with other market information to offer up the highest priority leads for that day. RITA is different to a bot as it doesn’t require the user to ask a question or ask for the information. RITA works in the background day and night, think proactive rather than bots which are re-active.

Lastly on the Tech panel was Neil Dholakia from Keller Williams. Keller Williams have been spending some of their time in the AI world as well. Their bot is called Kelly; who is a digital assistant for Real Estate agents. Kelly is all about providing an enhanced experience for buyers and vendors. Kelly undertakes a range of tasks including;

  • Connecting calls e.g. “Kelly…… call XYZ person on their mobile”
  • CRM updates. What use is a CRM if you don’t use it? With Kelly, agents can drive, walk, sit, do whatever while they talk to Kelly who updates their CRM for them including tagging and flagging follow ups and other actions.
  • Other uses include Kelly automatically providing market snapshots. An Agent can simply ask for a “snap” and Kelly sends it back with the option to forward to prospects.

Kelly has the power of 35 years of data behind it, Kelly has some serious insights into customer trends; and if it’s as simple as it sounds, this may well set Keller Williams agents apart from the competition.

Social Media key insights

“More than likes” was the name of the session from Marki Lemons-Ryal who had some excellent, no BS insights for businesses and agents including:

  • You cannot build a company on one platform – yes Facebook, Yes Instagram, Yes Messenger get your content across all for lead generation
  • People will share insights about their life stage and future plans on social. There is a need to listen
  • Video, video, video - people do not give a s&^t about how you look, get over it and get on video
  • BUT, you MUST be solving a problem. People want you to solve their problems, grab your phone and interview people who can help solve these problems (may be part of the purchase process e.g. lending advice)
  • DO NOT talk about listings, products or hard sell
  • Other content to consider is stats of what is going on in the neighborhood, local events, insights, developments in the area
  • Vertical video on mobile – and STORIES, 1 min helpful videos are recommended and then post these across Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories and Messenger. Stories are getting more and more traction. Tips include recording your Story on your phone and then using it later and re-purpose (Otherwise it will disappear in 24 hours).
  • Her advice was to do a 1 minute story every day. Interview someone – doesn’t always need to be you making the content. Make the content fun and engaging
  • To grab attention, introduce the problem at the beginning of the Story. Here is the messaging hierarchy suggested:
Social Media Mindset

Here is one statistic that really surprised me; Messenger has surpassed the use of social. Marki’s advice was to use Messenger in your advertising spend, its not being used much and is an opportunity for greater ROI. To re-purpose and save production time, use your Stories and then post them as ads in Messenger.

Video, video, video coming through in many of the marketing sessions, not a new theme really but I love this quote from one of the Google panelists;

Sight, sound, motion drives the emotion.

Exceptional customer service key insights

Many of the practical tips and tricks for agents I’ve heard before at conferences, so I will wrap up with those highlights that piqued my interest;

  • Agents that are perceived as full service including staging coordination and any fix up or improvements are winning over thosewho are not.
  • One high performing agent spoke about her commitment to process, for herself and her 2 assistants. She has developed a 50 stage process of must-do’s during the transaction. She has one assistant to look after business processes, and one that looks after client engagement, arranging gifts, and value add – basically loving the client and providing white glove service. This was a new addition to the team and the staff member is profiled as a people pleaser. They focus solely on the client engagement, and its producing results. The agent reported a double in their referrals by adding this new assistant to the team.
  • Dinner Club – where the Agent selects someone from the database (usually someone with a transaction in the last 6 months) and sponsors a dinner where the Agent brings in gourmet take away and the host invites 10 people around for dinner in their home. It is usually neighbors or close friends that join, and in nearly every instance the host will ask the Agent to stay and share dinner also. So then the Agent meets 10 new people in the local area and gets to connect in an informal setting.

Inman live stream the whole conference, so if you are keen to get a feel for the content and are considering attending in the future, for only $57 USD you can sign up for a quarter and gain access to the live stream here.

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