By Mark Burgess, CEO of Iceberg Digital and best-selling author of The Estate Agency Revolution and Where Did My Industry Go?
Our everyday lives are tracked by all kinds of data points. Some say it is intrusive others enjoy the personalisation and convenience it brings, but one thing is for sure, there is an awful lot of data being shared with companies that you did not realise it was being shared with.
For instance, did you know that your iPhone has a hidden list of every location you have been? It’s called the Significant Locations List, and you probably didn’t know it existed!
As people become more aware of their data being shared, companies are taking more action to help keep that information private. IOS 14 stopped Facebooks 3rd party cookies from tracking people on websites leading to agents all over the country asking each other, have your Facebook ads stopped working? To combat this Facebook introduced a new function meaning that if you are an estate agent running an advert in the housing sector you can’t choose less than a 15km radius to run your ads (mainly to allow Facebook to actually find anyone for them to spend your money on now that their tracking is less effective).
IOS 15 has taken another step in privacy by blocking email tracking from seeing if you have opened the email or not. Rather than not showing the ‘open’, IOS shows all emails as opened, causing havoc for email marketing open stats.
So, what is the answer and how do you solve this as a business genuinely looking to find prospects?
To understand this, you need to first understand why they are doing this. The key issue revolves around spam. For instance, just because you once visited a website about holidays, does that give a specific holiday company that you have never heard of the right to market to you? Apple say no and I think most of the public might tend to agree. However, this is very different to if you have visited a specific company’s website or are in their existing database and they then market to you, as by definition they have a legitimate reason to feel you may have an interest in their product or service.
I first wrote about this problem coming over 5 years ago but the short-term gain over the long-term gain was too tempting for most to pay much attention. You can still solve it for yourself, but time is running out. So how do you solve this problem?
There are 2 key steps. The first is to make sure the central software that you use as a CRM in your business also has tracking and marketing functions built into it. This way you can build up your own data not just around people doing business with you now but around future prospects too. Because this is your proprietary data you WILL be able to run Facebook ads to those people (Lifesycle connects your data up to run ads to specific groups of people). Not only that, email opens become irrelevant to you as your system will be tracking what content and properties your contacts are looking at not just what emails they open.
The second step is to switch your mindset to gathering data as opposed to just looking for listings. Of course, you will still continue to look for listings, but I have lost count of the number of times I have heard an agent say ‘we got loads of leads but no instructions’ and the reason for that comment is because there is currently no point in putting that data into a traditional CRM as it won’t do anything with them, they will just be clutter. But with this mindset you need as much data on all the people that own properties in your area as possible, as at some point soon the doors to gathering that data will start to close and those that have it, will have a much easier life than those left wondering why they didn’t do it.
So in summary, every business needs to urgently be investing in uniting their prospecting software INSIDE their CRM and then actively focusing on not just new business but new data, that is theirs to market to regardless of the changes made to third party tools.