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In one of the most competitive industries in the world, real estate professionals can adapt to the times to find the right clients and reach them in the right way. It’s no longer just a matter of “trusting your gut.” If you’re looking for trends to push your business to the next level, you can pursue big data opportunities.

What Exactly Is Big Data?
While this term is thrown around a lot—often attached to phrases like the “internet of things”—it’s really just what it sounds like. Big data refers to large amounts of data that have been collected over time, specifically on the internet. Since becoming publicly available in 1991, the internet has been a cache for information about people, whether that’s preferences and hobbies (social media), shopping history (coupons and purchases at stores or online) or even your credit and financial information (the credit bureaus). This creates some opportunities and challenges for the world of real estate.

Why You Should Rely on Big Data
In a world where people are being bombarded by advertisements, how do you get your marketing initiatives to the top of your clients’ minds? More importantly, how do you know that the process of reaching out to clients you’re trying to attract is really the best use of your time and resources?

Big data provides some insights on this. In a break-out session at the 2016 National Association of REALTORS® conference, licensed REALTOR® and CE instructor Carrie Bey-Little explained that this information provides the following opportunities for real estate professionals:

  • It shows hidden trends and patterns.
  • It uncovers new insights.
  • It helps you understand which information is important, and which is not.

Not only this, but real estate agents aren’t the only ones who have access to this information. A large portion of data on the internet is free, and that means it can be accessed by your clients, specifically internet-savvy ones. As Bey-Little explained, while “We have more access to data—quicker, faster, real-time—our customers are finding answers to questions faster than we can.”

Bey-Little went on to say that this information is often easier to find than we think. Simply doing a Google search can uncover enormous amounts of data.

Big Data and Where to Find It
The overall purpose of big data, as Bey-Little described it, is to capture leads, choose target markets, build relationships through marketing opportunities, and meet the needs of the savvy consumer.

There are plenty of big data, or predictive analytics, companies throughout the world, whether you’re using them for purchasing data, discovering insights in your own data or looking at trends in your marketplace. Companies like Realist® from CoreLogic®, SmartZip and Infosparks are great options for offering interactive data visualization, meaning you can see the data that’s important to you, and then act on it.

Using Data to Advertise
Once you have a service that helps you make sense of your data, you can use this information within the different marketing channels (social media, email and direct mail), all of which have their own targeting and opportunities.

Using Big Data with Social Media
When big data is discussed, it’s regularly in close connection to social media. Many advertisers are flocking to social media sites because large amounts of people— especially the 18-35 demographic—are on these platforms. How can you be sure that you’re reaching the right people?

Paid advertisements on social media platforms offer some decent opportunities for targeting specific clients using big data. You can go to Ads Manager on Facebook and Instagram and promote your post to a specific audience, whether that’s through a custom audience that you’ve been building for years, an audience of people who’ve triggered a pixel on your website, or an audience based on demographics.

Before you jump on Facebook and begin spending money to target your neighbors with ads, it’s good to be aware of the realities of targeting with social media. While it’s easy to get clicks and engagement on social media ads, it’s more difficult to get buying customers. It can be easy to mistake clicks for conversion.

As for the other social platforms, such as Snapchat, there are some engagement opportunities, but their advertisement abilities are still evolving.

Using Big Data with Email
While not seemingly as trendy as social media, email has perhaps the best and most profitable opportunities for remarketing, especially when it comes to engaging previous clients. Once you’ve paid for the email service, your emails aren’t costing you much (or anything). This is much different than Facebook, where you pay for each result. And sure, paying $.20 per click may not seem like a lot, but once you have a few hundred clicks, it adds up.

You can begin optimizing your emails to get the best possible results. Start by creating a welcome series that encourages people to engage and react. If your data shows that no one clicks on the links in your email, perhaps your copy needs to be tweaked or improved. If no one opens the email, perhaps you should change your subject lines. Even if half the people who get your email open it, still work on optimizing your copy. You’d be surprised what changing a few words or adding an image can do. Use your big data insights and act on them.

Once you’ve started to optimize your emails, you can segment data and create a clear path for your clients. For instance, think about people who’ve purchased homes. From the data you have and the insights you’ve gained in your industry, you may deduce that people in your areas are more likely to buy another house after a certain number of years.

This information allows you to use email for two things: first and foremost, you can continue engaging this population before they’re ready to buy. Send them helpful tips or recommend products or services that would be beneficial. Keep your name at the top of their mind.

From there, when your data shows that the likelihood of them moving increases, hit them with another email. Not everyone in your email population will need this service at this exact time. But by foreseeing it, you’re getting in front of this audience before any competitors.

Using Big Data with Direct Mail
Direct mail is still a relevant form of marketing. As Bey-Little explained, “Buyers come from the internet and listings come from the mailbox.” To make the most of direct mail, you should consider reaching out to the credit bureau Experian, which has a mailing list database that includes fountains of data. Not only can you find addresses of clients, but there’s also home value, homeowner age and income, and even Census data to track information (such as the number of children they have). Now you can start to segment your own data, find the attributes of clients who are more likely to buy, and then target similar clients. This can be a powerful opportunity for real estate professionals.

Interweaving the Data
In today’s information-saturated age, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by big data. This information shouldn’t be a cause for anxiety. It can be a life raft for your most precious commodity: time. The most successful way to use this information is to find a service that provides data analysis and visualization. From there you can dive into the details and find attributes of the best clients for your business goals. Then, you can take that information, target people with social media, email and direct mail, and pursue these clients with the most effective marketing.

Have you taken these steps to make big data work for you?

This was originally published on Quicken Loans’ blog, Zing!

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