Photograph of rooftops, used as a header image on a blog about how estate agents use big data.

Big data gives estate agents access to more information about the housing market than ever before. Understanding what buyers are looking for is crucial for estate agents to succeed, and big data’s insights can make that clearer.

Today’s wealth of data shows us the desirability of certain properties and areas to live. For example, Zoopla analysed email enquiries to find that Edinburgh is the most sought after place to live in the UK, receiving 145% more interest from buyers than the average property. Meanwhile, property portal Viva reported that “Spanish property with pool” is their most searched-for term. Even Royal Mail gained insights into how people move around the UK by looking at redirection applications. However, big data is not just used to create an interesting headline. Beyond the attention-grabbing statistics, data can be used every day to help inform important business decisions.

Big data can improve your own knowledge of your customer’s needs, as well as how you can meet these. We look at how you can effectively utilise data to generate sales and achieve your business goals.

Analysis

Zoopla, Viva and Royal Mail may have conducted their analyses to generate interesting stories but these same insights have other business purposes besides good PR.

Knowing your most desired properties is essential for any estate agency or property portal. Now that the property industry is increasingly digital, this can be understood through analysing email enquiries (like Zoopla did), common search terms (like Viva did), or online traffic volumes. Estate agents can use this data to monitor interest in their properties and improve their sales.

By monitoring online traffic using a service such as Google Analytics, you can understand what your customers are looking for, how many people ‘view’ a property before it sells, how long they browse for and so much more. There is no need to keep manual records or make guesses anymore. You can see where potential buyers spend their time pondering, as well as what makes them leave your site.

The data you gain through online analytics can improve your understanding of your audience. If you find that people are searching for “3-bedroom semi-detached house in Cheshire” but you don’t have one, you know that this is a property you need on your portfolio. On the other hand, if you find that people are searching, finding the property that matches their query but then not enquiring, you need to ask why. Can people contact you easily? Is your price point higher than your competitor’s? Is there any other reason?

By tracking your customers’ behaviour online, you can work out why you are ‘losing’ customers as well as what’s winning them over. The data gained through this analysis improves your understanding of your audience, which in turn improves how likely you are to close the deal.

Lead generation

Before the internet, the only semi-targeted option for lead generation with property would be flyering. This method of posting “Interested in selling?” leaflets through the doors of people living nearby recently sold properties continues today. New ways of advertising don’t negate traditional efforts, but access to big data can change how you think about marketing.

Instead of blanketly targeting everyone with adverts for your properties (perhaps with more leaflets or adverts taken out in the local paper), you can choose to only display your adverts to your most prospective buyers. You can also choose to show individual properties to certain audiences, with social media.

Social media advertising allows you to reach people based on specific qualities so you only need to pay for your advert to be shown to the relevant people. This means your lead generation is towards a highly targeted audience and will be more cost-effective.

You can show property adverts specifically to people who you know are already looking – your email subscribers, people who have visited your website, those who follow your accounts or perhaps people who have shown interest in other ways through their own ‘likes’ or, slightly less targeted, simply fit into the most likely demographics for purchasing property. You can carry out the same targeting for those looking to sell with you.

Gone are the days where you need to spend money marketing on the masses, hoping a few are interested. Instead, you can focus solely on those select few. You can target the most valuable potential leads by knowing their age, gender, interests and interactions with your brand. Using insights from your own analysis and social networks’ pools of big data together, you can create highly targeted lead generations where your audience are already pre-qualified. Got a property that is in a catchment area for a desirable school? Great, you can focus on targeting parents.

Not only can you be highly targeted when reaching new customers, data can also help you keep track of those who’ve browsed but not converted. Consider all the potential buyers who have hovered at estate agents’ windows displays who may have gone on to look elsewhere. If they browse online, you can get them back thanks to retargeting.

Hyper-personalised house searches

Currently, online property portals allow you to search by the features of the house (location, number of bedrooms, price range) but what about the features of the person?

Big data, covering everything from social media to browsing history, could create ‘psychographic’ profiles of property viewers and point them towards the house that matches their mindset. Not only would this data result in a better match of a property, but could also change what buyers pay. Enders Analysis’s report suggests that the data could be used as a bartering tool and trading access to this to mortgage brokers could then result in lower estate agency fees for the buyer.

If this concept sounds a little futuristic, it is – it’s not expected to be around until the 2020s. However, the next decade is only a few years away so it’s important for all estate agents to stay aware of the trends and be prepared for the changes ahead.

Big data is not something estate agents should ignore. Right now, the incremental changes may seem small but they can still have a big impact on business.  It won’t be long before it becomes an industry standard. Understanding what big data can offer you is the first step in ensuring your business is future-proof.

To find out more about our solutions for estate agents, read about the services we offer the property sector here.

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