Can automation be a bad thing?
Eh? Excuse me…
Isn’t Imprev a company that provides Marketing Automation? Why would we even be arguing that Marketing Automation could be a bad thing?
All kidding aside, automation can be a double-edged sword without a solid foundation, and its perils are rarely discussed. When considering automation services, be wary of falling prey to the dark side.
“Technology is, of course, a double-edged sword. Fire can cook our food but also burn us.”
– Jason Silva, futurist
You’ve Acquired Superpowers. Now What?
Superpowers are defined as the capacity to perform beyond normal human ability (being superhuman). We can all remember our favorite heroes and their virtues: flight, strength, speed, and intelligence.
In the world of real estate, brokerages and agents can appear to have superpowers thanks to the power of automation. Superhuman feats include accomplishing more tasks in a day, auto-responding to messages while we are sleeping, or sharing relevant information regarding a showing without interrupting our day.
With Marketing Automation superpowers, a brokerage’s brand experience is now conveyed to the client as if it were running on high-octane fuel. An agent supported by Marketing Automation is now a superhero — a super agent — as they communicate with customers and clients faster, provide a consistent experience, and serve more clients than ever before.
Choosing Good over Evil
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
– Uncle Ben, Spider-Man
We must remember that Marketing Automation powers come with great responsibility: responsibility to your agents and their clients. Innovators in real estate tech have looked at recent developments in AI and machine learning and foresee a future where end-to-end transaction technology is possible. However, when we automate the entire journey and remove the agent from key events, are we doing a service or disservice to consumers?
It’s tempting for brokerages to automate as many processes as possible, trying to control every step of the relationship and transaction. This control mindset could lead to villainous behavior as your company grows and remove the humanity and authenticity out of relationships.
It’s imperative not to bypass your agents — your ambassadors — when automating tasks that interact with clients. Agents are the tangible part of your brand. Trust them and empower them to convey your message consistently during the home buying and selling experience. Your agents will feel out-of-touch with the client’s real time needs and pain points if communication is always completely automated. This could create distrust between agent and client, leading to less referrals and ultimately a decrease in business.
Think of maintaining an authentic relationship with your agents (the brokerage’s true customer) when implementing any type of automation, and don’t ignore the customer journey, which encompasses all the experiences clients will have as they seek to buy or sell their property. Real estate is both a logical and emotional process, requiring human empathy to guide a buyer or seller’s ultimate decision.
Recognizing the Heroes and Villains
When does Marketing Automation fail to save the day? Some marketing automation services in the real estate industry are disguised as heroes. These tools provide a solid method of automating a marketing task – but will they actually save the day?
Automating your marketing tasks becomes detrimental when it builds perception that your brand is:
Consider the following situations:
- Realty Brokerage Business rolled out a tool that automatically sends real estate content in a newsletter every month to a database of past clients. The professionally-written articles cover how to buy and sell a home effectively. Despite eliminating the time it would take to write these articles and send them every month, this automation did not help the brokerage build their business. Respondents opted out of further communication because the content was irrelevant to them. Most had recently purchased a house, so they weren’t looking for information on buying or selling; the brokerage failed to segment their audience properly!
- Homes Brokerage Company set up a process that automatically prints and mails coupons to a list of contacts with a call-to-action encouraging referrals. However, the tool didn’t verify the location of the customer, making the local coupons useless to clients that live outside the brokerage’s local radius. The poor data in this tool was incorrect for the goal the company wanted to achieve.
- Brokers & Agents Inc. implemented a service that automatically and consistently posts real estate content on all of their agents’ social media profiles. However, it turns out that every agent in that brokerage was sharing the exact same piece of content, at the same time, on the same day, in the same market. This made each agent’s unique value indistinguishable from one another, and did not generate any new leads because the content felt inauthentic.
“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates
Reject the dark side. Become the hero. Automate tasks that will increase efficiency, and look for tasks where your agents may be frustrated or spending too much time achieving.
- Try automatically generating the listing marketing materials like flyers, websites, and cards. Agents don’t need to spend time re-uploading photos, re-typing marketing remarks, and re-checking details like square footage for every single marketing piece.
- Increase professionalism by automatically updating those pieces for your agent each time the listing is updated in the MLS. No need to remember all the different assets that need changing – automatically update them.
- Are your agents in such a hurry to get everything ready for their open house that they leave tasks to the last minute? Automate their marketing materials specific to their open house to be triggered when the open house date is added in the MLS. No need to remember to submit a design request form or build those materials themselves.
“There’s a lot of automation that can happen that isn’t a replacement of humans, but of mind-numbing behavior.” – Stewart Butterfield, Slack CEO