Messenger Bots: Can They Help My Real Estate Business?
Bots are a big deal in 2017. Global brands like Microsoft and Facebook are investing heavily in customer support solutions for businesses of every size, but how can a messenger bot help real estate professionals?
Real estate agents are always pressed for time. Between listing consultations, prospecting, your day job, website maintenance, and a hundred other important tasks, valuable opportunities to engage with potential homebuyers and sellers can easily get overlooked.
Local homeowners researching the housing market online, and visitors who discover your website through a search engine (i.e. Google) or referral, can visit your website at any time, day or night, while you are busy. Often, the lack of engagement at the moment of discovery can turn a hot lead dead cold.
Tech-savvy real estate professionals who appreciate good marketing should consider the advantages of installing a messenger bot on their website or blog to improve their engagement and capture more leads. Professional marketers are excited by the technology’s ability to drive cross-selling and up-sell opportunities for big brands, but there is significant value for real estate professionals as well.
The concept of a messenger bot may be entirely new to you, and may even seem intimidating if you’re not the most tech-savvy agent. But there are, in fact very easy, cost-effective messenger bot apps you can customize and install on your own website or blog with little technical expertise.
In this article, we’ll explain what a messenger bot is, how it works, why it’s so cool, and recommend some very practical solutions for real estate agents to apply this fascinating technology.
What is a Messenger Bot?
A Messenger bot is a virtual assistant that uses artificial intelligence to engage with online visitors. It combines instant messaging technology, live chat, and artificial intelligence to engage consumers at the point of discovery.
The messenger bot can be programmed to activate seconds after a prospect visits your website, and directs its questioning based on analysis of the visitor’s behaviour, preferences, and browser history. Responses and conversations by the messenger bot can also be customized to mimic human behaviour.
Benefits of a Messenger Bot for your Real Estate Website
So why is a messenger bot such a cool idea for real estate agents?
Because you can install a virtual assistant on your website or blog to interact with visitors while YOU are absent or occupied. Visitors to your website can interact with the bot to find information, ask questions, book an appointment, or connect with a live person.
Instant messaging is really convenient for consumers because they get immediate support at the moment they first discover you, but it’s also an amazing real estate tool for 5 key reasons:
- Reduced labor costs – no need to hire an assistant
- Boosts online engagement – operates 24hrs while you are out, asleep, or otherwise occupied
- Real-time responsiveness – can be automated to activate within seconds of a visitor’s arrival to your site
- Supports customer on-boarding and retention: initiates conversation to determine needs and intent of each visitor, and recommend solution (According to Facebook, 53% of customers are more likely to do business with a company or brand that has instant messaging)
- Higher efficiency – provides accurate answers and recommendations suited to a visitor’s preferences
You’ll be able to engage virtually with multiple visitors at the same time. Each visitor will feel like they’re actually having a conversation with you, which will make you look like an attentive, responsive agent who cares.
Best of all, a messenger bot can operate twenty-fours a day without a coffee break. Messenger bots don’t give out potentially incorrect information, because they don’t get tired, and they use contextual data from a user’s browser history to determine your visitor’s intent.
So, instead of spending valuable time fielding questions from a visitor who is nowhere near ready to buy or sell, you can focus on booking listing presentations with qualified prospects.
How A Message Bot Works
Let’s say a prospective condo buyer has visited several real estate listing websites featuring new downtown condominiums over the last three days. At 1am, the prospect discovers your website through a friend. On visiting your site, the visitor is directed to the downtown condo developments listed on your website.
A messenger chat window pops up on the visitor’s screen with a friendly greeting. Using sophisticated A.I. programming to mimic your responses, the messenger bot can be engaged to initiate a conversation and book an appointment with the visitor. If the visitor declines, the bot can be programmed to offer an alternative such as a subscription to your mailing list for future updates regarding condo properties. Cool, right?
Even better, visitors can actually hold a conversation with your messenger bot using artificial intelligence. Visitors can ask questions and the bot will search the web or your website for relevant answers.
Instead of sounding artificial, you can literally program a bot to answer any question using terms and phrases you prefer. “I’m here to help”, “I’ve got a lot of experience with this…”, “Cool, no problem, let me show you what I have available”, are just some of the phrasing ideas you can program to make your messenger bot feel more personable to people.
2 Messenger Bot Solutions For Agents and Brokers
New messenger bot solutions are being rolled out every week, and the market is projected to explode over the next few years. But we have a couple of solutions that are super user-friendly, and relatively affordable for most start-ups.
If you’re a new agent with budget limitations, or a broker trying to provide your team with more support and stay within budget, here are 2 basic solutions to get you started:
Intercom: Customer-Messaging Platform
Intercom is a popular messenger bot that’s extremely user-friendly for business owners and reasonably priced, especially for start-ups. User intelligence and behavioural targeting technology are seamlessly integrated to provide you with a highly responsive virtual help staff. It’s suite of customer support solutions can either be segmented or acquired in their entirety. Annual subscription or monthly billing is available, and it’s suitable for either Mac or PC.
- Live Chat and Help
- Behavioural Messaging
- A/B Testing, A.I. Automation, In-app messaging
- Real time metrics
- Detailed user profiles and data
2. Facebook Messenger Bot: Messenger-Bot Developer Tool
What makes the Facebook Messenger Bot unique is the fact that it actually learns from each conversation it has with a visitor. It can potentially improve its conversations over time, and convert those conversations into meaningful data you can use to understand your prospects.
Should I Hire A Developer To Build My Real Estate Bot?
A messenger bot can be created and launched in minutes, but there’s a lot of fine tuning needed to customize the programmed responses and conversations. You’ll also want to expand your bot’s capabilities over time to fulfill a wider range of customer service functions.
Partnering with a developer will definitely get you up and running faster. It will also help you down the road as you make adjustments and improvements to your messenger bot.
Upwork is a great resource to find an experienced, freelance developer. Make sure to ask specifically about their experience with messenger bots, and specific examples of their work. Expect to spend approximately $1000 USD for a developer to fulfill the initial setup and launch of your messenger bot.
If you are considering ways to capture more leads, a messenger bot could help you capitalize more effectively on your website traffic. For relatively low cost, real estate agents can install a messenger bot on their website or blog to engage prospective homebuyers and sellers at the crucial moment they discover your website. You’ll also gain further insight into your prospects through the valuable analytics and customer data your bot will generate. Partner with an experienced developer to create and launch your messenger bot, but prepared to spend time tweaking and experimenting with your bot in order to create a more personable experience for your visitors.