Have you heard about chatbots? Well, probably you have, unless you have been living under a rock the last year. Real Estate Chatbots are a great way for Real Estate Agents to get highly targeted, qualified leads on autopilot and in this blog post you will learn how and why real estate chatbots are so great.
In this post I will cover:
- What are real estate chatbots?
- Why should I use a real estate chatbot?
- How do real estate chatbots work?
- What functions do real estate chatbots offer?
This is a pretty long post which is why I included a summary. If you don’t want to read the full post you can find the summary at the end of this post.
Real estate chatbots are chatbots specifically built for real estate agents, their clients and the niche that they serve. They can reduce the real estate agent’s workload by gathering leads and pre-qualifying them. They can for example ask standard questions like “Are you thinking about buying or selling?”, “What type of home are you interested in?”, “Have you been pre-approved by a lender already?”, “What would be your budget?” and so on and so forth.
All these questions need to be answered before a real estate agent can start doing his or her actual job. The problem though is that a lot of people are only “window shopping” and do not really intend to buy a new home – which results in additional work for the real estate agent without ever having the chance to get paid for it.
Real estate chatbots can ask all these questions and guide the prospect further down the funnel to the point of eventually becoming a client but they can also offer valuable information or promote open houses, specific listings, etc.
This is all done by utilizing a chat platform like the Facebook Messenger.
If you are a real estate agent looking for way to get more clients – buyers and/or sellers – real estate chatbots are a great way to get them.
But why is that the case?
Being available 24/7
According to this post 51% of people are on the opinion that a business needs to be available 24/7. And in today’s world were people work longer and/or within different time ranges (night shifts, for example) compared to 20 years ago this makes quite a lot of sense.
If you are not available 24/7 you might loose a great client that went to somebody with “better availability”.
Even if you offer people the chance to sign up on your website to get additional information and your autoresponder is set up to send some information immediately this will still not serve the website visitor in a way he or she would really appreciate:
This post cites a Facebook speaker saying that “53% of users say they are more likely to do business with a business that can message.”
“Why is that though?”, you might ask now.
I will talk about why chatbots – and especially real estate chatbots – are better than emails further down this post but for now stick with me on the availability-thing here.
What would it cost you if you had an assistant working for you 24/7 who would answer all those messages coming in from website visitors that may or may not be interested in working with you? No matter what the exact number might be, in short it’s probably “too much”, right? Especially if nobody sends a message in the night the money would have been wasted. Well, the cool thing about chatbots is that they work 24/7 for you without asking for more money no matter how many questions they have to answer 😉
“What about using a call center?”, you might ask now.
Yup, definitely possible. But still more expensive and people still won’t really like waiting in line for half an hour until they find out that they won’t get the information that they were looking for on this number. Nothing I would call a “great customer experience”. Chatbots answer immediately in 99.9% of the time (0.1% of the time the servers might be down but once they are up again the bot will answer again, too).
“Okay, I get that, but I am using email marketing and emails can be sent out immediately after a lead signing up for additional information at any time.”
Good call! Which brings me to my next point:
Why chatbots are better than email marketing
People don’t want to read emails in their free time anymore. They have to cope with a bazillion emails every day at work and don’t want to deal with them in their free time, too, because they might end up doing stuff for work again.
But what they love to do is sending text messages to their friends.
If you are sending out emails to new leads (which you hopefully do no matter how bad they perform compared to chatbots) you probably already noticed that only a few people ever respond to them. In a lot of cases this is due to most real estate agents doing email marketing simply the wrong way. But even those that do a great job only see a small amount of people actually responding to those emails.
According to this post only 21% of all emails are opened in the real estate niche – if at all. For the average real estate agent it’s probably even less. Links in those emails are clicked even less frequently: Only 1.9% of links get clicked.
Now, what are the typical statistics for chatbots so far?
98%! Nope, that is not the percentage of people who’s jaw will drop after reading the following number. It REALLY is the average open rate for the first message sent by chatbots!
And click through rates are even more impressive: According to Neil Patel – an internet marketing specialist – chatbots are currently seeing a click through rate of about 56% on average – some even higher numbers. That is more than 28x more potential clicks that you could get.
People love texting and messaging.
“Yes, we all know people love their smartphones. That’s why we published an app for our listings to get more leads.”
Well. “A+” for your efforts. But – sorry for being so honest – “F” for your marketing skills… =( You should have done some research first:
“49% of smartphone users don’t download any new apps in a given month”
That’s a fact mentioned in this study published by Comscore. Still some real estate agents try to market their “new” apps where people can find listings in their area.
The good news is:
You can actually do the same with chatbots and people don’t even have to install an app for that but rather use the same messaging app that 1.2 billion (YES, BILLION!) users are using already anyways: Facebook Messenger.
As you already know: People love texting and messaging. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that they love it more than sex (although according to this post by Kim Garst 10% of surveyed people would indeed rather give up sex than texting).
Facebook and Whatsapp process 60 billion messages each day which is probably one of the reasons why – according to a press release by Twillio, a messaging service provider – 66% of the surveyed people prefer to communicate with brands through messaging.
They simply love the personal touch of texting which they are used to by texting with their friends and family all the time.
A chatbot can mimic a normal chat conversation by using everyday language, short messages, etc. and overall create the feeling of talking to a real person.
In general I suggest making clear that the person is actually talking to a chatbot right now just to make sure that he or she won’t think you are a little bit weird if something unexpected happens – in the end it is still just a piece of software that will always have some issues every now and then. However, chatbots have become really stable and their advantages clearly outweigh the small possibility of maybe having a problem at some point in my opinion.
Combined with Facebook it gets even more powerful, which brings me to my next point.
Why should I connect my real estate chatbot to Facebook?
People spend 50 minutes on average on Facebook every day. And Facebook’s user base is still growing – which means more potential customers for you! 😉
But the more important reason is: You can immediately personalize the user experience and thereby connect to your prospect because once connected to Facebook you get the first name of the person that is currently talking to your real estate chatbot. This makes the whole discussion more personal and eventually the prospect more likely to become your client.
You can also connect your chatbot to your website after connecting it to Facebook to offer a “customer service chat” where people get answers immediately without having to call you or signing up for your newsletter – and without you having to buy additional software, services or pay for assistants answering those questions.
Facebook makes it easy for your website visitors to understand why you know about their name by using the Facebook Messenger Icon for the chat. You can always try it out simply by talking with my chatbot on this page.
Another reason is that you can link your chatbot to your Facebook ads (which you are hopefully already utilizing – if not: check out my post about why you should definitely use Facebook ads as a real estate agent). This way you can increase their effectiveness by providing immediate answers to the questions that they might have.
“This is all great, but how does that work?!”
Good question, let’s get into that.
Chatbots work by setting up text blocks that represent messages. Those messages should be short to create those short “chat-like” messages people love. This way they feel more comfortable interacting with your chatbot and it makes the whole conversation more personal.
After setting up those text blocks you have to set up a set of rules when to show which text block. This can either be done by using AI – artificial intelligence – and/or NLP – in this case: natural language processing – but this is still in a stadium where results might not look very professional which is why I usually prefer and suggest the second option: Quick Message Buttons and/or normal buttons.
Quick message buttons are buttons that appear after your chatbot sent a message. They offer “possible answers” which the user can choose from. By clicking one of them the other options disappear, the clicked button turns into something that looks like a normal message from the user and the conversation goes on.
This way you can analyze your customer’s journey through the chatbot to learn more about their problems and how to improve the whole process to have an even better customer experience.
Another way, as already mentioned, are buttons. Those buttons are usually only used to make the user take specific actions like visiting your website or the page of a specific listing, call your office or message you. Those buttons are directly attached to messages and do not disappear after clicking them. This way people can always scroll back to that message if they want to call you again but don’t want to scroll through their “called numbers” list on their phone, etc.
You can also ask people for additional information like their email address or phone number which will then be saved to the chatbot internal user profile.
If you connect your chatbot to your CRM software you can even automatically add prospects and their details (like the before gathered email address, phone number, etc.) automatically. This can be done by combining JSON queries, and the “Get user input” functionality, but this post is not made for programmers but real estate agents like you so I won’t bother you with technical details here.
“This all sounds nice but what can real estate chatbots actually do for me and my clients?”
Great question, again! I will cover that now.
First and foremost real estate chatbots can provide a lot of value to your prospects and clients by promoting your newest blog posts, where you give them detailed information on how to buy a new home, where to buy it or whatever else you might think your audience needs to know.
Chatbots can provide information about typical processes needed when buying or selling a home.
You can also let the chatbot ask your prospect specific questions about their preferences. Then you send them to your website with listings that would fit those preferences or show them directly in the chatbot itself so that they don’t even have to leave the chat. Or ask them for details about their current home to send them a (free) home valuation – manually or even automatically by connecting it to an online service.
There are so many possibilities that it’s simply impossible to cover all of them…
You can even set up sequences which basically work like email sequences: Those that were talking with your chatbot automatically get messages after a specific period of time set in the chatbot backend.
When connected to your website it can even provide additional information about specific listings, the buying/selling process or whatever else your website visitors might be interested in.
When offering valuable information, tips, tricks and help people will eventually think about working with you. You can then gather their email address of phone number and send it directly to your CRM so that you can connect with them. The chatbot works like a landingpage in this case.
Prospects talking to your chatbot can even decide whether or not they want to directly talk to you from the chat. This is covered in more detail below.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post already chatbots are great when it comes to reducing your workload. If set up correctly people can go through a series of questions so that you can find out where in the home buying/selling process they currently are. This way you or the chatbot can tell them what they will have to do next.
You can also learn more about what they are interested in and how you can help them in the best possible way without having to ask all those questions yourself.
This is extremely cool because you can even gather and pre-qualify leads during your vacation because chatbots can do that 24/7 365 days a year for you 😉
Providing Information On How To Get In Touch With You
As already mentioned people talking to your chatbot for a while might end up wanting to talk to you in person.
Your chatbot can offer different ways to connect with you, for example with a:
- “Call Dustin Now” button, this way people can directly call you from the chat
- “Chat With Dustin” button, this way a personal chat with you is started and you can answer questions in person
- “Book An Appointment” button which would send the user to a page on your website where they can book an appointment with you (if you don’t know how to set something like this up don’t hesitate to contact me and I will happily help you with that)
- and so on…
People love messaging and hate emails in most cases. By using a chatbot for gathering leads and pre-qualifying them you reduce your own workload and can increase your advertisement’s effectiveness.
Automating standard processes like asking pre-qualifying questions, informing prospects about specific processes and so on is another reason for why real estate chatbots are an amazing tool for real estate agents.
The possibilities are almost endless.
If you want to see a demo of a chatbot I did for one of my clients or if you are thinking about getting your own chatbot click the button below: