Let's start with the basics. What is an AVM? AVM stands for Automated Valuation Model, and in today's marketplace, it is one of the best tools at a brokerage's fingertip to help win new listings. For years, I have heard real estate agents push back on the idea of providing consumers with automated home value estimates being worthwhile. After all, those automated home value estimates used to be way off and lead to more uncomfortable conversations for real estate agents than positive ones.
That status quo has most certainly flipped in the last couple of years. Automated home value estimates have only continued to get more and more accurate. Certainly, they will never beat an estimate given by a licensed professional able to see the house in person. However, the industry has learned how to turn a potential home seller's curiosity into a new listing. This knowledge didn't come overnight, nor did the automated tools provide these curious prospective home sellers with a real-time home value estimate.
Delta Media Group® has been in the real estate technology software space dating back to the mid-90s (1994 to be exact, when we launched the first website in the country providing live MLS data & photos). It was shortly after the company moved from Sunnyvale, California, to Barberton, Ohio, in the early 2000's that the idea for automated home value estimates started to surface at Delta. A recent review of our Delta AVM platform revealed a history dating back to 2002, when the work first began on what would eventually turn into our built-in automated home-value tools.
Back in 2002, Delta Media Group was looking for a way to bring more accurate market data to the forefront of our website visitors' minds along with reverse prospecting tools. We looked to build tools to compile automatically generated email reports and landing pages that would feature up-to-date data about market trends in specific areas around the country. Building these types of reports and then further automating them to be emailed directly to potential home buyers and home sellers was a major project that was ultimately completed and launched in 2006 under our "VMA" product — otherwise known as Virtual Market Analysis.
The Virtual Market Analysis tool allowed customers on brokerage and agent websites to complete a short form, filling out details about their own home and information about the city and state where the home was located. While filling in these details, the customer would be prompted to fill out how often they'd like to receive automated updates about the market. The VMA would then provide the customer with a real-time market report showcasing how many homes were for sale in the market their home was located in, the average asking price for properties in that market, recent homes sold in the area and the buyer interest in that market. This system would also automatically generate a lead for an agent to be able to create a true Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) and reach back out to the prospective client.
The VMA tool was a hit, generating thousands upon thousands of leads for agents using the DeltaNET® platform for years. As with most tools in the DeltaNET, development never stopped. The VMA system saw continual refinement through the years, ultimately culminating in a partnership with a long-time Delta Media Group partner to expand our VMA product.
The project to expand the VMA into a full-fledged automated home value estimate service ultimately evolved into the AVM tool we have today. The product allows website users to enter their address directly from the website's homepage and be given a return of multiple home value estimates powered by data from sources like Collateral Analytics and RPR.
Since launching the AVM tool, we have delivered over 33,000,000 home value estimate requests.
Shortly after the full rollout of the AVM, we continued the expansion of the product. We added Zillow home value estimates (Zesitmates) as an option to the service, giving prospective sellers up to three different home value estimates with calls to action, getting the person to engage and become a lead opportunity. We introduced the concept of "Door-Knock leads" to help drive new listing potential. With this new concept, a client could enter an address and see home value estimates without filling out a contact form. This still would generate a new lead opportunity for the brokerage, who could add that address to their print-mailing rotation and try to farm engagement from properties that had been looked up online.
In the past few years, we expanded our AVM tool even further — this time redesigning the entire lead capture page from the ground up. Google maps street view of the property was refined, and buyer heat maps graphically showed the prospective home seller where potential homebuyers were saving searches that matched their property. The saved search data was compared directly against the AVM, giving us the ability to introduce reverse prospecting reports. For example, if a company had 500 potential buyers with saved searches running (EG; two bed, one bath, 300k max price in a specific school district) and a prospective seller ran an AVM on their property, that seller would be able to see that more than 500 people were looking for a property just like theirs if they listed the home. On the back end of the software, agents were able to run more detailed reverse prospecting reports to see all the homebuyers in their CRM that may be able to be connected with this prospective seller should they list their home.
We didn't stop there. More AVM data sources were also connected, introducing appraisal home estimates as another option for brokerages to connect. We developed our own in-house home value estimate tool and included it in the product at no additional charge, giving us a 5th home value report. This time, we also expanded our AVM tool to be included at no additional charge for all Delta Media Group website partners as a part of our SEO platform.
Ultimately, that brings us to today. More than 20 years since we first began working on our VMA product — which was designed to give automated marketing insights and generate CMA lead opportunities for agents — we at Delta are launching our own in-house CMA product: Delta Pitch. Delta Pitch is designed to be the industry's easiest-to-use, most automated CMA builder ever.
An agent using Delta Pitch would be able to generate a "quick-build" CMA in as little as one click. Enter the property's address, and click "build." You've now got a highly accurate, engaging CMA built into an interactive flipbook with comps, recently sold homes, information about the market and more. Delta Pitch comes pre-loaded with a variety of templates to select from, the ability to create your own CMA templates (with custom pages and more) and, of course, gives agents the ability to customize all of the information in that CMA to give an accurate recommendation to win the listing.
Here's the part that's even more exciting to us. Bringing things full circle, we wanted to push the envelope even further. One of the many features baked into the DeltaNET / Delta Pitch / Delta AVM platform will give us the ability to offer fully-automated CMA's. Picture this: a prospect visits your beautiful website and sees that they can enter their address to get home value estimates. They plug in their address and see a semi-accurate picture of their home's value.
Entering this address means that Delta Pitch has automatically built an interactive CMA and emailed it to an agent who gets this lead opportunity. No manual work is needed. Your CRM platform has already responded to the customer and let them know a CMA is awaiting their review and gives them the ability to schedule a meeting with you. You're given an automated task through your CRM to review the CMA prior to the meeting, and the call with the prospect goes perfectly. You win the listing.
This is the future of real estate technology. Your website is automated. The home values are automated. The CMA is automated. You're empowered to go prospect more business and focus on winning more listings. The most exciting part about Delta Pitch, and the future of our AVM platform, is that the innovation never stops. We aren't a technology company that has built our entire company around a feature. The VMA and later AVM were just features that grew into full products of their own. We believe in all-in-one, so existing Delta Media Group partners don't have to pay extra for these features. And more importantly, unlike other automated home value products on the marketplace, your data is yours. Rest assured knowing Delta Media Group is never reselling your prospective seller's address or contact information to third-party mortgage companies.
Keep an eye out for more information about Delta Pitch, Delta's AVM product, and more in the coming months. More exciting automation is on the way.
When it comes to email marketing in real estate, looking at the numbers can help you determine what works and what doesn't.
At Delta Media Group, we service brokerages of all sizes across the United States. From independent agents to more than a dozen of the RealTrends TOP 100 brokerages in the nation. Earlier this year, I took the time to conduct a thorough analysis of the adoption rates, email statistics, and general website performance of some of our largest partners to get a gauge of what "true adoption" looks like, as well as what kind of email marketing was being done by some of the top-performing brokerages in the nation.
Let's start by looking at the adoption statistics because those will play directly into the volume of emails sent by these firms. All of the data in this report is from 1/1/2021 thru 1/1/2022. Of the 12 brokerages analyzed, they had a collective 12,000 agents within their organizations.
As I started to review the usage of our DeltaNET® platform, one thing immediately became clear to me. Some companies use technology regularly and have made it a part of their company culture. Other firms simply offer a CRM to "check the box" and are not actively promoting or pushing its use. In the last edition of our Real Estate Marketing & Technology magazine, I talked about the importance of building a healthy culture of technology. If you aren't talking about it, if you aren't sharing the wins, eventually, the technology will become an afterthought in your organization.
That's why "adoption" statistics can be tricky to analyze. Large tech vendors want to use those numbers to convince brokerages that they have the magical technology that agents will finally want to pick up and use. The reality is that no brokerage will ever have a 100% adoption rate of any technology. There are too many real estate agents that are just looking for a company to hold their license and are only in real estate as a part-time job. In a year, they'll, maybe, record one or two transactions. And that's okay; real estate doesn't need to be a full-time career for every agent. That also means it's okay to know you will never get everyone on the same page.
When it comes to our largest organizations, some saw a very healthy adoption where more than 80% of their agents were logging into the system on a regular basis (at least once a month) and having some type of activity within the system. That could be building a flyer, changing their website, or responding to leads. Other organizations saw as low as a 39% healthy login rate. The numbers varied wildly across the board, with the average healthy adoption rate coming in around 61%.
This falls in line with a concept I've also talked about in this magazine before — the "30-30-30" rule. 30% of your agents will rarely use your tools. 30% of your agents will probably use your tools but will need to be coached/trained/and motivated to use them. This group is where most training directors spend their time. The final batch of agents is the ones who are pushing brokerages to get these tools and will use them often.
The number of agents using the system will directly translate into how many contacts exist within these brokerages' CRM platforms. You need contacts in a system in order to market to them. We found in our data that, on average, 80% of agents inside these 12 companies had actually uploaded their contacts into their CRM. In total, 4.6 million contacts were receiving reoccurring marketing from these brokerages. That is huge! These larger firms had roughly 386,000 contacts in their pool to be regularly contacted.
So you've got agents using a CRM, you've got them uploading contacts, and the goal is you want to be marketing to these contacts, boosting your brand impressions, and providing something of value to the potential home buyer or home seller. The content they're receiving needs to be valuable. Things like new listing alerts, market updates, regular newsletter content relevant to their interests, or seller reports. At Delta, we have seven distinct channels of email marketing. Those are:
Homefinder Reports: New listing alerts that can run instantly, daily, weekly, or monthly.
Market Watch Reports: Market statistics updates that run weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly.
Seller Reports: Detailed statistics on how a listing is performing on the market. View counts, engagement, showings, etc. These run weekly or bi-weekly.
E-mail Drip Campaigns: Various automated touchpoints like holiday emails or buyer campaigns. They are relationship-focused and have a large variety of email volume. It could be one email a week or four emails a year. It all depends on the type of campaign.
E-cards: These are graphics-heavy emails that usually are focused on displaying information within the email and not focused on driving traffic back to a website.
Email Blasts: This is an email that is built and scheduled to run on a specific day and time to a pre-set group of customers.
My Customer For Life: Our AI-Driven newsletter contains curated content for home buyers, sellers, and general home improvement. Any contact within the CRM can receive this newsletter, which has 12 new articles added monthly. The newsletter tracks what type of content customers are engaging with and starts to become a curated newsletter of content relevant to the customers' interests.
Here is a breakdown of how these different channels of email marketing performed:
Over the course of one year, our clients sent more than 43 million emails to a total of 4.6 million contacts. On average, it appears that enterprise brokerages are hitting a contact with a little over nine emails per year. However, that number will be inflated as the home finder emails are really new listing alerts running to buyers who are actively looking for a home. If you remove those 11.5 million emails, it's really closer to seven emails per contact per year for general branded emails.
Personally, I think the best cadence for email marketing is more like 12-18 emails per year. You should be increasing your brand impressions significantly by giving these clients valuable information like our Market Watch Reports or our My Customer For Life newsletter.
Let's break down some of the findings from this data.
1 — the types of email marketing running from the DeltaNET perform extremely well compared to most online email marketing analytics. Your average open rate should be around 17%, and your average click-to-open rate should be around 6%. These benchmarks come from campaignmonitor.com. With that in mind, it's clear that there are three stand-out emails in our marketing suite that everyone should take notice of.
2 — Market Watch Reports. We encourage all agents using the DeltaNET to enroll their customers to receive these types of detailed market reports. If you have a potential buyer looking to move to a new area of town, you can enroll them to receive these reports. Or, if you're looking to keep a long-term relationship with a customer, you can enroll someone who just moved into a new house to receive these market reports. Perhaps they purchased at $240k, and a few years later, they see homes in their market selling for an average of $280k. They may be inclined to list and sell again once the price point gets high enough. These emails have a massive 65% click-thru rate. This means the customers opening these emails are almost always clicking on them to be sent back to your website. There is a huge opportunity here.
3 — Seller Reports. While this is the lowest volume of emails coming from our system, it's clear that home sellers are paying attention to them. Seller Report emails have a 63% open rate, the highest of any type of email I've ever seen statistics for. If you have active listings, your seller should receive these detailed emails.
4 — My Customer For Life. This email newsletter is clearly working. I believe it may be the magic bullet for email marketing, and we didn't even realize we had it. Our Digital Marketing team has added new content articles to this newsletter for nearly five years. To date, MCFL has more than 750 articles of content that fall into three categories: Buyer, Seller, and Home Owner. If I receive an agent's branded newsletter in week one, it will show me all three types of content. Let's say I click on a seller article. Delta tracks that. Next week when I get my newsletter, it will have two seller articles and a home improvement/buyer article. If I click on that sell article again, I am flagged in the agent's CRM as a potential seller, and now the newsletter will always contain more seller content because that's relevant to my interests.
The MCFL newsletters have a 59% click-thru rate. This is one of the best online marketing plans you could subscribe to, and the best part is that it's included in our DeltaNET platform with no extra charge. Other online marketing companies would charge anywhere from $20 to $50 per month to subscribe to a newsletter that gets that much new content each month. And it's not just for your email either. This content is also designed to be automatically shared on your social channels after you've connected your
DeltaNET to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram. You get great reoccurring social content and email newsletter content automatically each week.
As the data shows, email marketing works. Our top 12 clients saw nearly six million impressions of their brand through email and drove more than 1.6 million visitors back to their websites. If you're looking to step up your game on email marketing, the first place to start is your CRM. Make sure you have agents uploading contacts to market to. Once you've got contacts to email, you should get into a rhythm of reoccurring newsletters, dynamic email drip campaigns, and setting up market watch reports for all customers. Specialized emails like seller reports and home finder reports are great for sellers and buyers. Finally, you can use tools like email blasts to send mass notifications about things like company events.
If you'd like to set up a consultation to review your email marketing strategy, please don't hesitate to reach out to one of our Software Consultants at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Delta Media Group, our mission statement is literally: "Automate to Elevate Life," so it should come as no surprise that 2021 was a year of constant innovation for our team. Of course, this challenges us to constantly look for ways to automate processes within our business, and more importantly, automate processes for the agents and brokerages that utilize our all-in-one CRM & website platform, the DeltaNET®. With this in mind, I wanted to look at some of the biggest technology updates we saw in the real estate industry and what to expect in 2022:
First and foremost, I believe that automated marketing tools are the biggest time saver offered to a real estate agent. Building high-quality marketing designs for things like new listings, "just sold" postcards or multi-page brochures can be a huge time sink. Earlier this year, we officially launched our Creative Studio™, which allows agents to quickly gain access to dozens of flyer designs, postcards, multi-page brochures, and more.
The initial launch of the system brought new functionality with integrations into third-party printers, like Xpressdocs, giving agents the ability to see dozens of beautiful designs, select one, and then check out and order their print through a third-party printer. One of the biggest benefits of marketing systems like the Creative Studio within the DeltaNET is the ability to automate your marketing completely.
REALTORS® are busy, and even finding the time to take five minutes and choose a flyer to send off for something like an open house doesn't always fit into the schedule. So, we launched our "Automation Wizard" that allows a real estate agent to pre-select their favorite designs for categories like "New Price," "Just Sold," "Homeowner Anniversary," "Client Anniversary," and more. This means within minutes of new listing data being pulled from the MLS; a beautiful flyer design can be automatically built and sent to a group of prospects. At Delta, we typically pull in new MLS data incrementally every five minutes or less.
We've also continually made refinements to the Creative Studio over the last year. With automation in mind, we made it even easier for real estate agents to quickly select any prebuilt flyer design in the system and automatically have their company's colors and logos applied. We even added a dynamic "disclaimer" system for the designs, so in states like New York, where disclaimers are required, our NY-based clients could still use the designs. This has been a game-changer for the agents.
One last note I should add is that your marketing system should also have the ability to import Adobe InDesign files. Most marketing departments already have professionals who build amazing designs in InDesign, so we added functionality that allows you to build a design in InDesign and then import it into the Creative Studio. As a result, we have seen clients with more than 200+ options for different market flyers for their agents to use!
Going in a different direction, I believe 2021 was the rebirth of the traditional mobile apps. What was once a trend back from 2012-2015 had quite a bit of a renascence this year. Years ago, we provided dedicated mobile app versions of our client's websites so they would encourage their clients to download and use the mobile version of the site. At the time, we noted across many different mobile apps that the usage rates simply weren't there. Even if the consumers downloaded the apps, we saw less than a 5% usage rate, so we deprecated support of those apps in 2016 and thought that would be the end of that.
Five years later, the mobile app space within the real estate world has started to boom. It's not the consumer-facing website apps that are popular, though; it's applications for the real estate professionals to use to automate their business even further. In just the last two years, we've launched two dedicated agent-centric applications to great success.
The first app, launched in 2020, was our Open House Connector® App. This application allows real estate agents to seamlessly run an open house where the attendees can register, receive updates about other upcoming open houses, and leave feedback for the seller/real estate agent regarding what they thought of the property. As the app launched during the pandemic's peak, we offered "contactless" registration for open house attendees, where they simply scan a QR code to sign in and answer survey questions.
This open house app ties directly together with the agent's CRM, where they can have dynamic follow-up campaigns based on how the attendees answered different questions. For example, if an open house attendee said another agent was already representing them, we wouldn't import that customer as a contact into the agent's CRM. In another example, if an attendee said they were looking to put an offer in on a property in the near future, they could be automatically enrolled into a "potential buyer" follow-up action plan/ drip campaign available within the agent's CRM.
The second app we launched just a few months ago. For the first time, our mobile-responsive CRM system, DeltaNET 6, was now available in the form of a mobile app in the iOS and Android app store. By having a CRM that supports a traditional mobile app, it opens the door for many additional notification updates that were just not feasible with a strictly web-based CRM.
For example, let's say I'm an agent with a great website that has lead capture forms built-in. That website is automatically tied into my personal CRM, so whenever a customer fills out a form or saves a search, I get an email or text notification. Thanks to the power of mobile applications and their real-time push notifications, we can do new things like automatically notify the real estate agent whenever a customer is currently active on their site and looking at properties. We could also send a notification directly to the agent's phone if a customer has just signed up on their site or even clicked on an email they had sent. It allows the agent to get instant insights into which of their clients or prospects are truly active on their site and with their marketing.
Another significant step forward for CRM technology in 2021 has little to do with automations. Still, it is one of the more important things that brokerages should be looking for in any tech stack they may be evaluating. Beginning in 2021, the DeltaNET platform officially began customization of our actual backend tech stack. No longer was the CRM an "off the shelf" offering. Brokerages can now build dynamic dashboards, workflows, and even white-label the entire system to be EXACTLY what they want their agents to have in front of them.
I like to use this analogy to describe the importance of this type of functionality: Typically anyone can find a good-looking suit, and take it off the shelf and make it work. However, the feeling of getting a suit tailored and wearing a suit that was specifically fitted for you is a totally different feeling than just putting on something off the rack. The tailored suit will last longer, will feel better, and will look better. That's the power of customizing your CRM for your firm's unique needs.
Our thought process was simple. We build great technology, but we're not REALTORS®. Each business operates differently, with different cultures and skillsets. Rather than force every brokerage to play in the same sandbox, we gave brokerages the ability to put unique dashboards together that can differ from company to company and even office to office within the same organization. Our clients can change their navigation and brand the entirety of the system to look like it's an in-house tech system and not something built by a third party like Delta.
This has been huge, especially for our enterprise partners, as they can take our DeltaNET framework and have a beautiful tailor-made CRM solution that their agents feel like they can ONLY have with their current broker. It's become a great retention tool because even if the agent left the brokerage using the DeltaNET, they wouldn't be able to purchase that same version of the system provided by our brokerage client.
This is a perfect segue into what I feel brokerages will need to have in their business in order to stay on the bleeding edge in 2022. As it relates to customization of your backend systems, Delta is planning to massively up the ante next year. All of the great tools we have internally to build unique versions of our CRM platform will be put into the hands of our clients and brokerage admins to build and dynamically change their own system on the fly. By putting these tools in the hands of our clients, they will have even more flexibility to listen to their agents' feedback about usability and apply their feedback to the system in real-time. We feel this will boost the adoption of the system and make it easier to use.
What else is needed to stay bleeding edge in 2022?
An Intranet/CRM system that you can build for your company
Built-in learning management functionality
Cutting edge automated CMAtools
True video marketing that is more than automated slide shows of listings
I also see the future of these "all-in-one" systems adopting more training and learning
management type functionality. One of the most exciting updates we've been working on at Delta is our Training and Learning center that offers dynamic course creation, out-of-the-box DeltaNET training classes, built-in quizzes, and more. It will allow our clients to make the DeltaNET a critical piece of their new agent onboarding, as they can take assigned courses right in the software.
Of course, integrated all-in-one systems should have a built-in CMA builder as well. So in early 2022, we will be launching our much-awaited DeltaNET CMA tool. Unlike many other systems in the all-in-one space, we want to offer this as an integrated tool, not a paid add-on.
Finally, I expect to see more and more push for video content marketing. While video marketing is nothing new, I believe we will see a bigger call for even more tools that sales associates can use to integrate automated videos into their marketing packages. We've provided our automated listing video product, Properties in Motion®, to thousands of agents since 2014, and have been working on some incredible updates to that platform that I believe will blow our users away.
Many automated listing video services today include dynamic photo slideshows, feature the listing agent's information, and perhaps automatically post to places like Facebook or YouTube. Historically these products didn't offer much in the way of customization and were usually nothing more than a glorified vTour. That will change in 2022, as products like our Properties in Motion system receive updates that will allow agents to upload dynamic photos or video snippets into the automated video, have unique animations, upload their own voiceover scripts, and more. The goal is to take the static automatically generated video and give the agents tools to bring it to life.
To conclude, I'm excited about the advancements that have been made to real estate technology over the last year, but I'm even more excited about where things are headed in 2022. As a sales professional who uses these tools in my own business, I can't say enough how important these types of automations are in giving me back time in my day to focus on the more human-to-human relationships that matter so much to a salesperson.
To view past Real Estate Marketing and Technology articles and read more from the December 2021 issue, click here.
If you have seen any of the sales or training presentations I've delivered to REALTORS® in the last 12 months, then you'll know I've been beating the drum that the industry needs to "BE DIFFERENT." That's because there's growing disruption within real estate that's not going away anytime soon. In particular, we have continued to see massive movement from industry juggernaut Zillow over the last 12 months.
This is old news, but Zillow has been a licensed brokerage inside of every MLS in the country for months now. They also strategically made an acquisition of popular showing service "ShowingTime" in early 2021. I don't believe they are finished making big-time plays this year, as they also made the switch to power their property search on zillow.com with true IDX data, making it even more accurate and faster than before.
I bring this up because while Zillow's moves present clear challenges, there are specific things that both brokerages and real estate agents can do to prevent their business from being impacted by major industry players. Ironically, many of these things have been at your disposal for years. But, as the saying goes: The best time to make a change was yesterday; the second-best time is today. The change I'm referring to is fully leveraging the business automations available on the market NOW. Either with your current CRM/all-in-one solution or by taking a look at companies such as Delta Media Group® to see the impact that can be made in your company nearly overnight.
I believe very strongly in the following five concepts, which should be top of mind when looking at fully adopting your current technology or while evaluating other options. First and foremost, you want to find a technology firm that can help your brand BE POWERFUL.
What does it mean to be powerful in regard to real estate technology? There are a few answers to that question. Number one, you need a website platform that makes your brand stand out online. Something that doesn't feel cookie-cutter, something that truly speaks to your brand identity, and that you would feel proud to showcase online. There is immense power in a strong brand and a website that can fully tell your story and deliver an incredible experience for your customers when they find your site.
The second answer to the question of "being powerful" online is by having a website platform geared toward SEO or Search Engine Optimization. Having a beautiful, powerful website means nothing if nobody is visiting it. There is a major misconception in real estate that nobody can compete with the big portal sites for rankings online. Delta has been competing with and beating portal sites for phrases like "Homes for sale in
There is power in being present and dominant in the search engines. The battle for getting traffic to your site can't be won by spending tens of thousands of dollars on paid advertising, but it can be won by focusing on search phrases that truly matter in your market and getting customers to engage with you without forcing them to register on your site. Remember, Zillow is a powerful national brand, but they don't have the power and local name recognition that your business should have.
The next element you should consider is how technology can help you BE EFFICIENT in all aspects of your day-to-day operations. A phrase I hear thrown around a lot in online webinars is, "What do you have more of? Time or money?" I've consistently recognized that your time is the most valuable resource you will ever have. At Delta Media Group, our mission statement is "Automate to Elevate Life." Every day, we're looking for ways to deliver the most powerful real estate software ever built, designed to automate away the things you just don't have time to do.
When we talk about being efficient, I'm essentially talking about getting your business automated. After all, Zillow is immensely efficient at deploying new initiatives and executing them. The DeltaNET® 6 platform offers dozens of automations that any sales professional should use in their business. Here are just a few of the key highlights any CRM solution you're looking for should offer:
• Automated Drip Campaigns
(not just email, things like automated texts, automated calendar notifications, and more)
• AI-Driven Newsletters
• Automated Social Media Posts for Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter
• Automated Tasks lists created each day based on your clients' behaviors with your website or emails
• Automated instant notifications to your customers related to new listings, market activity, and more
Something else you should be able to squeeze out of a technology platform is how you can BE CREATIVE.
In my opinion, I don't believe the major portal sites have been able to create a clear identity for themselves. There is something to be said about the human element and being able to tie yourself to your business in creative ways that help you feel like a local business rather than a large corporate entity.
Within the DeltaNET, you'll find our Creative StudioTM, which offers hundreds of designs ranging from single-page flyers, multi-page brochures, printable postcards, e-card designs, and so much more. New designs are constantly added to the platform, and all of them are completely customizable with options to match your brand's identity from the first click. I've never seen such an easy-to-use system display or such incredible high-quality designs. It also supports integrations with Adobe InDesign and even print fulfillment through third-party printers. Other "all-in-one" solutions typically offer this type of creative marking center; however, I don't know of any that offer it at the base price like we do inside the DeltaNET. That's right, our entire suite of marketing materials has no additional cost, and as I mentioned earlier, the entire e-card piece can be completely automated.
The fourth "concept," I feel, is probably the most important. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released a 2020 case study analyzing data over the real estate market (and REALTORS®) for 2019. One of the many things revealed through this data is that an "experienced" real estate agent — which NAR defines as someone who has been in the business for 16 years or more —gets more than 39% of their business from repeat business. Additionally, another 29% of their business came from referrals from people they had worked with in the past.
So that's more than 68% of your business coming from the clients you've already worked to help.
Here is the other interesting element of that data. Directly after a transaction has been completed and the client has moved into the home, more than 90% of customers said they would work with their real estate agent again in the future. That means, despite those earlier numbers, in reality, real estate agents are losing nearly 50% of their future business opportunities for one reason or another. I believe the biggest reason for this is because real estate agents do not do their best to stay top of mind with a client after they have helped them move into a new home. You may feel that your clients should use you again in the future because you've done a great job with them, but the truth is those clients are getting bombarded by your competition to work with them. You have to continue to show your clients you want their business.
That is why we believe any technology platform you are looking to deploy needs to help you BE RELIABLE.
Why would a customer work with you again in the future and give you their business? Ideally, it's because you were a reliable expert who helped them navigate the largest transaction of their lives. However, your job isn't done when the commission has been paid out. You have to continue to provide value to those clients with things like real-time market statistics detailing what is going on in the neighborhood your client has now moved into. You have to provide them with automated home estimates about what the value of their home may be. Finally, you should continue to give them information about what's happening in their local community and the real estate industry as a whole. Never be stagnant.
Ultimately this brings us to the final phrase we want to impress upon you. I feel strongly that if you are POWERFUL with your brand, if you are EFFICIENT with your time, CREATIVE with your marketing, and RELIABLE for your clients...it will help you BE DIFFERENT in your business strategy and prevent your business from being impacted by the disrupters that are constantly trying to change the status quo.
At Delta Media Group, we believe that technology can empower your business and supplement all the great things you're already doing to be a leader in your marketplace. If you are looking to have your current technology solution audited or evaluate other options on the market, we have a team that can offer you a free consultation. Please don't hesitate to reach out!
When it comes to "Technology Adoption Rates," I have seen a plethora of articles from technology vendors as to what should be expected from brokers/owners. Some vendors in the marketplace boast an eye-popping 90%+ agent adoption rate for using technology tools. Other vendors settle for adoption rates as low as the 30% mark. After years of analyzing trends and data from brokerages utilizing the DeltaNET® tools, I believe that I can share what should be the honest, realistic answer.
First and foremost, we must address what the definition of "adoption" is. In the context of technology adoption, the definition provided by Merriam-Webster is "the act or process of beginning to use something new or different." The reason I bring up this definition is because you will find an abundance of varying opinions when it comes to technology vendors advertising their adoption rates. I am choosing to follow the worldwide accepted definition of adoption for this article.
I have found throughout my tenure educating real estate professionals that the word "training" has quite a strong negative connotation. Nobody wants to sit through another 2-plus hour training course detailing the latest technology being deployed by their brokerage. The fact of the matter is that real estate agents endured a bevy of technology rollouts over the last 20 years, all of them driven by dozens of factors. Asking your agents to sit through another new technology class to learn something new is an uphill battle. Our philosophy at Delta Media Group® is that technology needs to be intuitive, and it needs to work for you. The question isn't "How do I use this technology?" but "What does this technology do?"
Inside the DeltaNET® 6 CRM, which is the underlying technology I will share adoption numbers for, we've focused on innovating how agents think about technology tools. Most CRM trainings focus on the step-by-step process of conducting various aspects of the platform: Click CRM, select customers, select add new customer. Within the DeltaNET 6 CRM, that 3-step process is accomplished simply through our patent-pending "Quick Actions." Rather than the agent needing to know HOW to add a customer to the system, they can simply type into the quick actions bar "Add Customer," which will bring that feature directly onto the page they are working from. It transforms our training from a "Here's how you do
The other differentiator I wanted to share before I dig into our true adoption numbers is that our CRM is not a simple "what you see is what you get" solution. We designed our entire intranet platform to be customizable for each unique brand and brokerage partnering with us. That means if you want to "white-label" the DeltaNET to look and feel more like an internal tool developed by your organization rather than an out-of-the-box third-party CRM, that is possible. As just one example, one of our partners, Coldwell Banker Real Estate Group, based near the Chicago region, launched the DeltaNET as the "Galaxy" platform. Their agents don't just have the DeltaNET CRM; they have a version called the "Star CRM." This type of customization encourages agents to utilize the unique tools provided by their brokerage as they won't find that same experience elsewhere.
So what is a realistic and accurate adoption rate for new technology being implemented throughout a brokerage? In my experience, the vast majority of brokerages follow what I call the "30-30-30 rule." 30% of agents are begging for new tech and tools to use. They are usually a part of the younger crowd and are the people who should become your champions of tech, pushing how amazing it is through the rest of your organization. This is the group that should be primarily involved in the decision-making of any new tools you are looking to bring into your suite of services.
The second 30% of users are what I call the inbetweeners. They could really go either way. Any adoption/training strategy should focus on getting as many of this group on board as possible. They are the career real estate professionals who fall right in line with NAR's standards for a real estate agent. They do a healthy number of annual deals and are committed and focused on improving their careers. Your job as a leader should be focused on getting this core group of users excited about your tech tools, as they are the crowd that focused training strategies will really resonate with.
The final 30% of users are the group that you are better off leaving to their own devices. Even as I write this, it sounds harsh. Still, any professional in a leadership position within a brokerage understands that the reality of running a real estate company means you will have a group of agents that just will not use the technology or marketing services offered by your firm. This group of agents is primarily made up of those holding a real estate license more as a hobby than as their career. They may have a handful of transactions each year, but they are not really focused on growing their own business. Being an agent is a post-retirement career or a second job for many in this group, so taking time out of their day to learn a new technology tool just isn't appealing. You likely won't ever get them to engage.
That last observation is not in any way meant to be disparaging to those agents or to display a defeatist attitude. I believe in business there is no better way to convey an open and honest conversation than by trusting the data and having a dialogue about what it shows. Logical thinking often wins out on emotion in the realm of business.
Something that I often hear in my "30-30-30 rule" conversations is a question regarding the remaining 10% I haven't already discussed. What I've found is that the remaining 10% of agents typically fit into one of those three categories I mentioned above, but where they fit changes based on the culture of the brokerage. Many smaller boutique brokerages have a stronger technology adoption rate because they have technology spread within the company's DNA. It's a part of their recruiting efforts. Many legacy independent organizations have a lower adoption rate because the top producing agents in the organization have been using a strategy that has worked in their business for 30-plus years, pre-dating the modern tech trends.
So what is the healthy and realistic adoption rate for a new technology offering within a real estate brokerage? Our data shows that 60% is the magic number you want to push your team to achieve. If you can get 60% of your agents logging into your technology platform and taking advantage of the services you provide, then that's a win. Many CRM's on the market have key automations built in that can help all agents capture more business, but we believe automation should be defined as "the process of using something new." Our automated technologies, such as automated newsletters like our My Customer For Life campaign, automatically-generated social media posts, automated task lists driven by agents' clients, and more, all qualify as something new.
I'll conclude with some real data from one of our brokerage partners that has been using our technology within their organization for the last three years. This firm has more than 600 agents in its company and ranked in the top 150 brokerages within the RealTrends Top 500.
In the seven days before this article was written, 455 out of 653 agents logged into the platform and performed CRM-related actions (70% of total users). In the previous four weeks, 567 of their 653 active agent accounts logged in and interacted with the technology tools within DeltaNET 6. That is 86% of agents regularly engaging every month with their brokerage-provided CRM/lead generation system. Do you see those types of numbers within your toolset? If not, please consider reaching out to me for a consultation.
We talk about CRM's every single day in our business. The importance of using one, how to clean up contacts, the benefit of email marketing strategies. Having automations empowering your business with tools like our Social Media Connector for automated posts running to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter can make your entire business life easier. What I wanted to share today is how to actually utilize that type of software in ways that will deliver even more tangible results.
One of my largest responsibilities at Delta Media Group® is conducting enterprise-level outbound sales prospecting to find partners to utilize our software. Many people don't know this, but I personally use the DeltaNETTM 6 CRM software in my business every single day, and I'm not a real estate agent. Taking the time to truly USE our product in ways that many of our clients would has been enlightening for me, as I have now discovered real-world applications on how any sales associate could use our platform to find new business opportunities. At the end of the day, real estate agents who make a career out of helping people complete the biggest transaction of their lives are ultimately still salespeople.
Before you can accurately use any CRM, you need to have data in it first. Ironically, I believe this is typically the biggest hurdle that you have to clear to use any CRM. So many real estate agents I've trained and worked with have lists and lists of data. Still, it's nearly unusable to them because of how outdated the information is or the sheer amount of duplicate contacts in their database. Bad data leads to a bad experience for everyone. When you start using any CRM, you need to decide how you would like to load contacts into the platform — uploading those contacts one by one or by uploading the database files and cleaning them up manually.
One of the most useful tools I've found which helped me get started using our CRM platform was DeltaNET's "Merge Contacts" and "Clean Up Customers" tools. It allowed me to have duplicate contacts in my database import quickly flagged, so I could decide which contacts I wanted to keep in the system and which contacts I needed to delete and start fresh with. Any CRM that has tools to help you get your database clean is going to be a necessity to accurately use it for outbound prospecting efforts.
We also have an incredible feature at Delta Media Group that helps make this process even easier for real estate agents. It's a dynamic AI-driven Newsletter tool called "My Customer For Life." This tool takes all the hassle out of an agent needing to manually segment and clean out their list of contacts by tracking the interests of the customers that are receiving an agent's automated newsletter. Here's an example of how it works.
Let's say that I'm a contact that exists inside the database of my agent Charles Copeland. Charles has his automated newsletter set up to run to ALL of his contacts on a bi-weekly basis. So the first time I receive the newsletter from Charles, it contains three articles of content. One buyer article, one seller article, and one home improvement article. If I'm someone curious about selling my home, I might click on that seller article. DeltaNET tracks that click. So two weeks later, when I get Charles' following newsletter, it will now show me two seller articles, along with the other categories of content. Suppose I click on a seller article two newsletters in a row. In that case, the DeltaNET now as- signs me a label of "potential seller," and the newsletters coming from Charles will predominately contain seller content as that is the type of content I was engaging with.
On the agent end of this experience, I have newsletters with great content running every two weeks. It helps segment and build my customer groups (like buyers, sellers, current homeowners) without ever lifting a finger. We're giving the clients content they care about and helping sort and filter ALL of an agent's contacts using this great tool. One last thought to share on My Customer For Life — the agent never needs to worry about adding new content to their newsletter, either. Our marketing team at Delta adds 12 fresh newsletter articles every month to the platform. To date, we have over 650 articles inside of our platform, and that number will only continue to grow!
So now we've got some contacts in our CRM. This is when you can start to get more tactical with your marketing and prospecting strategies. Any CRM worth using will have an "email blast" or "bulk email" feature that allows you to send bursts of emails to hundreds, or thousands, of customers at once.
Let me share an example of how I use this kind of tool in the DeltaNET, and how I've seen real estate agents directly use the same tactic to generate interest in finding new listing opportunities.
In my personal DeltaNET 6 CRM, I've imported thousands of real estate professionals' contacts that I have curated and built over the last six years. These contacts are sorted into groups like "Independent brokerage owners" or "Current Delta Media Group Clients." Something I do in my sales strategies is craft an email that can run to all of my prospects each month. It might be an email talking about a new promotion we're running, or a new product launch, or even the latest REMT magazine issue. I build a great-looking email and schedule it to run on a specific date and time (I've found Tuesday mornings have the best open and click-thru rate for me). I run an email blast to over 4,000 contacts on Tuesday morning, and then I wait.
Wednesday morning rolls around, and I can now go back into the DeltaNET and look at a history of all of the email blasts I've run through the system. If you open up the history of an email you previously sent, you're greeted by a prompt showing you the total number of emails sent, how many were opened, and how many were clicked on. Personally, I then take all of the customers who clicked on one of my emails and put them into a new group that I'll use for dedicated prospecting over the next week. I've essentially used an email blast to find out who is paying attention to my emails and who was interested enough to click on one. For anyone who clicked through my email...they're now on my cold call list!
Finally, let's connect the dots on how to use this in a real estate setting. Let's say you're looking for a way to pick up new listings. You can send an email blast to all of your active clients with information that might give you a clue if they're interested in listing their home anytime soon. Perhaps plug in something related to historically low mortgage rates. Or new communities that are being built/developed in markets you service. Once you have a solid topic, send that email blast to all of your clients and come back the next day to get a list of clients who opened or clicked on your email. It's building you a list of warm prospects that you can follow up with because you know they saw or interacted with your content!
If you'd like to find more great tips on using CRM tools in your business, please like us on Facebook and YouTube, where we regularly share these types of stories and strategies!
The last several years have seen massive changes in the overall landscape of both the real estate industry, as well as the real estate technology sector. It got me thinking; looking back over those same last couple of years, what led to all of these different mergers and acquisitions, and ultimately was it the right move for their business?
The general theme of the month's issue of Real Estate Marketing & Technology is "growth." That being said, some acquisitions aren't always a good thing. Let's first take a look at some different technology acquisitions and the impact that brokerages in the real estate industry felt.
In March 2018, an announcement was made that booj/The Enterprise Network had been acquired by RE/MAX. At the time, booj was powering some of the largest brokerages in the nation, almost exclusively independent companies who were members of The Leading Real Estate Companies of the World network. Overnight, nearly 30,000-plus agents were displaced, and 40 real estate brokerages needed to begin looking for a replacement solution immediately. After all, most firms wouldn't want to be using the same technology stack as one of the largest franchises in the country with franchise brokerages in nearly every major market in the United States.
In RE/MAX's 2019 Q3 earnings report, they noted that booj had 40 clients account for nearly $7,000,000 in annual revenue. By November 1, 2019, however, they reported that only around $3,000,000 was left in the billing of legacy booj clients. By 2020, that number dropped even more significantly. This shows that within just 20 months of the RE/MAX acquisition, more than half of the clients adversely affected had already left and found new providers. As of my writing this article, I believe only nine brokerages remain on the platform that are not affiliated with RE/MAX.
To date, Delta Media Group® has worked with nearly a dozen clients to migrate from booj to the DeltaNET™ all-in-one platform. This gave us an intimate look into how these brokerages were burned by a technology vendor who decided to make an exit, rather than continue to service their customers.
Let's take a look at another technology example. In February of 2019, another major tech shakeup rocked the industry. Contactually, largely considered one of the best up-and-coming CRM's for real estate, was acquired by "technology" real estate agency, Compass. For years Compass had touted that they were a technology company first, a real estate agency second. Despite these claims, they could not develop a solid in-house solution for their CRM needs, so they used some of their raised capital (more than $1.5 billion thus far) to acquire Contactually.
Contactually's acquisition caused many brokerages to re-evaluate their options. They had just seen what happened with booj and RE/MAX only one year prior, and they didn't want to get stuck on a platform with weak support. Again, many brokerages had to disrupt their normal business cycle to conduct a lengthy search for a new technology provider. These searches can be costly, both in time and in investment.
One last "technology" acquisition that I have to mention — Zillow acquiring ShowingTime in February of 2021. This is absolutely major news in the industry. We are still in the early stages of this move's ramifications, but brokerages and MLS boards are already scrambling to find replacements for the service. Something so pivotal in an agent's business — scheduling showings of a property — was instantly disrupted by the biggest name in real estate. I believe this is only the first of many technology acquisitions Zillow will make this year as they continue to drive farther and farther into the lane of becoming a traditional brokerage themselves.
These three significant events showed me, and the rest of the team at Delta Media Group®, that there was a major need for true independent technology companies in the real estate sector who could help take care of traditional brokerages. Big money in technology is disruptive to traditional real estate firms, and we wanted to be different than the rest of our competition in this space. That's why our CEO Michael Minard has repeatedly denied raising millions in venture capital dollars, so we could continue to operate as a true partner for our clients.
After all, the majority of our growth comes when our clients share our story, and their experiences using our product, with the rest of the real estate industry. Those stories don't get told unless we deliver excellent service.
There is one tell-tale sign that a merger or acquisition is on the horizon for technology firms: Raising large amounts of dollars through VC funding rounds. The investors will always expect to see 3-5 times their money, typically within 3-5 years of making their initial investment. For many tech companies, the goal after raising money is to grow at all costs so that you can conduct a successful exit for your investors. This cycle has been repeated again, and again, and again. That's why it is so critical to know who exactly it is you are trusting a significant part of your business to.
Let's shift gears away from the technology side. Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) are widespread on the real estate side as well. I wanted to share a few snippets of acquisitions that some of our clients have made over the last couple of years. It is always a pleasure to see our clients expand and grow and I've had a front-row seat to witness the hundreds of different moving pieces that come with a major acquisition. Luckily, thanks to our automations and experience dealing with these mergers on what feels like a weekly basis, we can alleviate the technology challenges that generally come with a migration of hundreds of agents to a new technology platform.
In December 2020, one of our partners, Latter & Blum, Inc., made the blockbuster acquisition of Gardner Realtors. Latter & Blum and Gardner Realtors were No. 1 and No. 2 for market share in New Orleans, Louisiana. With more than 700 agents from the Gardner team, this acquisition transformed Latter & Blum into one of the largest brokerages in the country. Following acquisitions of CJ Brown Realtors, Van Eaton & Romero, and Realty Associates, Latter & Blum now boasts more than 3,700 agents and is the second-largest female-led brokerage in the country.
Another one of our partners, Coldwell Banker Bain, is also no stranger to acquisitions. They added to their impressive catalog of offices throughout the Pacific Northwest by acquiring Coldwell Banker Morris (100 brokers in Bend, Oregon) at the tail end of 2019. That acquisition marked their fourth office location in Oregon, giving them 300 brokers in that region. Coldwell Banker Bain also has more than 1,200 agents servicing the state of Washington and is the top-ranked Coldwell Banker brokerage in the nation by sales volume (more than $6.28 billion).
Finally, a long-time partner of ours, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty, completed multiple mergers in 2020. Homesale has more than 1,400 real estate agents across the states of Pennsylvania and Maryland. They are the No. 29 ranked brokerage in the United States for transaction sides - with 14,523 transactions in 2019. Homesale first acquired Preferred Properties Real Estate, Inc. out of York County, PA. Later, in September 2020, the team at Homesale finalized a deal to acquire RE/MAX Sails out of Baltimore, Maryland. These acquisitions marked the thirtieth and thirty-first offices opened by BHHS Homesale.
These are just three examples out of nearly 40 acquisitions completed by our customers over the last 18 months. One thing is certain; there will be no slowing down. If you are a smaller brokerage thinking of retiring or making an exit out of the business, I don't think there has ever been a better time to start that conversation inside of your business. Large enterprise brokerages are looking to acquire smaller firms and do whatever possible to gain enough size to pose a threat to Zillow and prevent disruption in their business.
In my experience, one of the primary reasons why a real estate agency would move forward with acquiring another firm is typically to gain market share or to move into a new market altogether. One of the major benefits of growing your companies into new markets and expanding your company's overall footprint is that "size matters" when it relates to SEO. The more IDX data you have on your site and the more communities and neighborhoods you highlight can directly translate to an increase in your site's overall SEO value.
All three companies I mentioned as growing through acquisitions have also seen massive growth online with their lead generation strategies powered mostly by Delta Media Group's internal marketing team. Latter & Blum has seen an increase of more than 79% traffic to their site from organic (search engine) traffic. The Latter & Blum website had more than 3.5 million visitors over the course of 2020, and this increase in visibility accounted for an increase of 20% in their overall lead generation through their site. In 2020, Latter & Blum generated more than 22,000 leads on their website.
Coldwell Banker Bain saw even greater increases in visibility and lead generation. Year over year, comparing 2019 to 2020, Coldwell Banker Bain saw a 98% increase in leads generated through their website and more than a 143% increase in search engine generated traffic to their site.
Berkshire Hathaway Homesale Realty also saw continued growth online, with a 21% increase in organic traffic to their site and a 12% increase in lead generation. Homesales' website saw just shy of 4,000,000 visitors to the site throughout 2020 and had more than 48,000 leads generated for the year.
To conclude, mergers, acquisitions, and companies' overall growth in the real estate industry will not slow down. I fully expect to see a massive INCREASE in acquisitions both in the technology sector and real estate throughout 2021. If you are a small to mid-sized brokerage, there has never been a better time to talk about potentially merging with other firms in your market. However, if you are evaluating potential technology partners for your business, I would recommend doing additional due diligence and research on who your prospective tech partner's true owners really are.
One thing I'll likely always remember is attending the LeadingRE annual conference in March of 2020. The conference theme was "Wealth, Wisdom, and Wellness," and Delta Media Group® CEO Michael Minard was hosting a seminar titled "Taking Advantage of the Roaring '20s." Why is this relevant to technology migrations? The world was caught off guard by COVID-19 the same way many brokerages find themselves caught off guard when their technology vendor suddenly decides to let their business be acquired.
If there's one major theme in the real estate technology sector over the last three years, it has certainly been mergers and acquisitions. One in particular, though, stood out from the rest. Booj, one of the industry's leading technology firms, who had made their name inside of the independent brokerage circles like LeadingRE®, suddenly became a part of the RE/MAX family. Over 60 brokerages representing nearly 100,000 real estate agents had the rug quickly pulled out from under them and needed to start reevaluating their options. That's not to say that wasn't the right move for Booj and RE/MAX, but it certainly created stress in the industry.
We also saw other major moves such as PropertyBase merging into Boston Logic, Compass acquiring Contactually, and Inside Real Estate acquired by private equity firm Lovell Minnick Partners. The fact of the matter is that unless you have something in writing with your current technology provider giving you some kind of protection in the event of a technology acquisition — like many of our clients at Delta Media Group have — then you need to be prepared to evaluate the landscape of options in this space.
Any technology provider that has raised funding or is backed by Venture Capitalists has one simple objective above all others. Provide an ROI for the company who invested millions into their business. You can see how this story has played out over and over again in the last 20 years. A tech firm raises money, and within 3-5 years they have sold their business to repay the VC. It means that there is always uncertainty for real estate agencies. That's why truly knowing who you are trusting such a large element of your brokerage's business with is so important.
So, where should you begin? There are a million reasons why it's crucial to have a good understanding of the technology options available, but what I've found is one of the key takeaways for vetting all the options is knowing what tech-stack your competitors are using. Suppose you're in a competitive marketplace where many of the brokerages are using different technology solutions. In that case, you should take the time to sit through a sales presentation of tools other agents in your market are using. This will give you an idea of how your tech tools stack up compared to the broker down the road.
One of the biggest draws to strong technology in real estate is recruiting. If nothing else, be in tune with your competitor's marketing strategies, websites, CRM tools, and more. You don't want to lose out in a recruiting pitch because your company lacks the ability to have an integrated all-in-one solution for managing leads, email marketing, flyer creation, and even managing a sales funnel.
In my role with Delta Media Group, I am routinely handling very detailed "in the weeds" conversations with large Top 500 brokerages in the country, evaluating our technology and determining what is the most important feature or tool a brokerage could be leveraging in their business. Is it a more streamlined CRM? Is it ramping up lead generation to get agents paying more attention to the tools? One thing is always clear. Regardless of the market, regardless of the size of a company, you need to know what your agents are asking for. Having agent advisory councils or bringing in a third-party consultant to help you in the evaluation process can make your life much easier.
Okay, so now the time has come to actually sit down and look at options. There are a hundred different real estate website choices out there and dozens of CRM's. Where should you even begin? Sitting through a sales presentation for various technology products can be a huge time sink and isn't something you want to do every couple of years. So, I recommend conducting a thorough review of any "all-in-one" providers working as part of the LeadingRE Solutions Group. The Leading Real Estate Companies of the World is a network of more than 550 independent brokerages across the globe who sold a combined total of $257 billion in volume over the course of 2019. They strive for excellence, and any provider who is a part of their solutions group technology program is worth your time to investigate. One thing I commonly hear in my conversations is - "What are the questions I'm not asking?" Often you don't know what you don't know, and good sales reps tend to avoid areas of conversation where they know their product or company is weak. Here are a few good topics to make sure are addressed in any sales presentation or technology evaluation you are a part of:
"Who actually owns your company?"
"What are your company's goals for the next 3-5-10 years?"
"Do you develop your product entirely in-house, or do you outsource work overseas?"
"How much have your rates increased over the last five years, and how often do you increase your rates?"
"Do you have guaranteed up-time for the website and Intranet? How much downtime have you had over the last couple of years?"
"How do you approach SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and are your lead generation strategies more focused on organic growth or paid advertising?"
Many of these questions will reveal the true culture and goals of the organization you are vetting. During an interview with another brokerage featured in this issue, the Chief Operating Officer of Northwest Real Estate Brokers Shelley Johnson shared that when they were evaluating technology partners in 2019, the most important thing they were looking for, above all else (even the quality of the technology solution) was a good cultural fit with their organization. If you are trusting the online presence for your brand, how you generate business for your company, and how your agents follow up on those opportunities with a single provider, then you better feel comfortable getting into a long-term, 10- plus year relationship with them.
Another organization that went through a technology migration in 2019 was Cutler Real Estate, a 500-plus agent brokerage that operates in many regions in Ohio and Northern Kentucky. I sat down with their President, Andy Camp, as well as their e-customer Service and Business Development manager Suzi Stepanovich to get an idea of how their technology migration process played out.
Franklin: "In the past ten years, how many major technology migrations has Cutler Real Estate conducted?"
Suzi: "Just 2!"
Franklin: "What were some of the biggest drivers to making a decision to leave your companies previous solution for CRM, Website, etc?"
Suzi: "SEO and visibility of our listings on Google, the quality of Technical Support, and general ease of use of the CRM tools."
Andy: "For me, it was the amount of functionality and tools provided by our old system compared to what we have with Delta. Another important element was the collaboration we have with your team to help us implement different ideas we have."
Frankin: "What are some of the biggest challenges you've experienced with a major move, and how were you able to solve them?"
Suzi: "I would say the biggest challenge in any technology move is transitioning large amounts of data. Customer data, saved searches, agent information, and more need to be migrated to make these seamless for the agents, and our customers. Delta worked tirelessly to help us achieve the easiest data transition possible."
Andy: "I agree with Suzi, the other area we significantly underestimated was the impact on the overall SEO value of our website and what that meant for our lead generation when migrating from one platform to another. Always pay attention to how well your site is performing and take that into account when looking at other options."
Franklin: "When designing the most recent version of the CutlerHomes.com website what did you think of the overall design process with Delta and how was it different than other website redesigns you've managed in the past?"
Suzi: "The process was quick and easy! We were up and running within six months of signing a contract with Delta compared to a nearly 3-year build out with our previous vendor."
Andy: "We really wanted our website design to be intuitive and simple for the consumer to use. Delta helped us turn our vision into reality on time, and under budget."
Franklin: "When rolling out a new CRM to your agents, how did the initial rollout go and what has the reception been over the last year since you introduced The DeltaNET™ to your agents?"
Suzi: "We were definitely at an advantage, as we have been on the Delta platform for nearly 20 years. We switched for just over one year, and then quickly switched back! The reception from our REALTORS is one of thankfulness and relief! Any glitches - if they occur - are remedied usually within 24 hours, allowing our REALTORS to continue doing what they do best!"
Andy: "I will say that now that we have the confidence of a strong CRM at our disposal, one that we can incorporate custom campaigns, we have really focused on helping our Realtors get their client data into the system and help them use this amazing tool to stay more connected than ever with their Clients!"
Franklin: "Is there anything in particular that stands out from migrating to Delta Media Group® compared to other migrations you've done in the past?"
Suzi: "Certainly, as with all technology, you will have a glitch or two….you will be amazed at how fast this support team works to correct any issues that arise. Maybe, you just have a thought on how a certain process could be improved? Be prepared for how intently they LISTEN and are willing to improve or modify their product based on your needs."
Franklin: "Last Question! What would your last recommendation be to broker owners, and other MarTech individuals considering making a switch for their brokerage technology solutions in 2021?"
Suzi: "RUN - Don't walk - make the change! With technology as sophisticated as what's offered by Delta Media Group® you shouldn't settle for less in your business."
Andy: "If you are considering a change, really take the time to identify why that is. This will help you identify your current platform shortcomings and what you really want from a tech platform. In the long run this will help with so many critical decisions with development and launch!"
I hope this interview helped shed some light on what the migration might look like if you choose to work with Delta Media Group® as a partner in the future. In the meantime, any vendor who truly wants to work with you as a partner - not just a vendor/client relationship - should be willing to sit down with you for a consultative call to evaluate their technology solutions and see if they would be a good fit as a partner to your business. If you're curious about getting started with this process, please give me a call!