Incremental Innovation is a Giant-Killer

Innovation is not revolution – but the former can fuel the latter. Sometimes, it’s not a question of reinventing the wheel – but adding the rubber tyre certainly made life more comfortable.

There are examples everywhere of how small tweaks have revolutionised industries – and using Performance Marketing, giving South Africa’s estate agents the opportunity to take control of their marketing budgets on digital listing portals and own the information they glean from these portals – are two changes that are going to shake the property industry to its core. Proptech is here to democratise online property sales.

Slaying with small changes

There are examples everywhere of how small tweaks have revolutionised industries. In the US, Blockbuster Video was a physical store-based video rental behemoth worth billions of dollars, with a loyal customer base. An upstart called Netflix built a model which removed one element from which Blockbuster made a substantial portion of its profits – late fees. Netflix allowed people to select the DVDs they wanted, online, and couriered them to their homes. The only caveat was that the DVD be returned within a reasonable timeframe, without the threat of late fees.

That simple shift sent major ripples through the market – and when Blockbuster responded with a new model of their own, fledgling Netflix found themselves on the ropes. So they started a streaming video service – and today, they have 243 million subscribers around the world. At its peak in 2004, Blockbuster operated 9 094 stores and employed approximately 84 300 people. Today there is one franchised store left operating in the world in Bend, Oregon.

A more recent example is one spurred by the WhatsApp privacy debate. When owners Facebook announced changes to the WhatsApp platform’s privacy policy, plenty of its 2 billion users lost their minds and started seeking alternative messaging platforms. Many migrated to Signal and Telegram, which offer essentially the same suite of services, but promise more privacy for users.

Facebook eventually toned down the policy, but many had already jumped ship – though it remains to be seen if they completely left WhatsApp for other services, and whether the less invasive privacy model will see them return to the platform. With so many users, it’s inevitable that WhatsApp will still play a major role in communication. The alternatives are unlikely to kill WhatsApp, but the point is that the challenge to stalwarts starts with tweaks to the fundamentals.

Proptech is evolution, not revolution

Similarly, Proptech is taking the South African property industry into the 21st century, evolving the process, rather than reinventing it. People still need to find homes, experience them and complete the reams of paperwork required to make their chosen property, their own. Proptech hasn’t changed the path, but it’s changed the process.

Performance Marketing systems like FlowFuel put the right properties in front of the right people on the social media platforms they interact with regularly, while interactive video tours are helping people safely visit properties – even on the other side of the world. One day soon, blockchain technology will exponentially speed up the paper-driven process of buying a home or getting vetted for rental credit.

No late fees

FlowFuel operates with three principles which are set to change the face of the South African property industry – its own ‘no late fees’. These changes are possible now because tech enables this and it allows companies to better serve and innovate, rather than revolutionise:

  • Portal exclusivity & brand building
  • Lead data remains the agency’s
  • Segmenting what matters

Owning leads

Products like FlowFuel are democratising lead generation processes and helping agents take ownership of their marketing spend, as well as building their brands in the digital space.

FlowFuel’s Branded Lead Page (BLP) builds estate agents a home for leads generated by the power of Performance Marketing. The BLP leverages agents’ hard-won area expertise and trust and puts the agents and their listings online, on the social platforms of people who are looking for particular properties in specific areas – or looking to sell. It replaces the machine gun with the sniper rifle – advertising is more targeted and spend is reduced and laser-focused, while brands are built and boosted.

Leads arrive on a branded, owned page – it’s an agency page, not a property portal page – so the prospective buyer or renter sees the agency brand associated with the listing, not an aggregator’s brand.

Harness the power of data

People used to search for properties in newspaper classifieds. Property portals then sprung up and effectively digitised those classifieds – meaning that you still had to know what you were looking for, to find it. The marketing spend on those platforms was dedicated to raising the profile of the platform, not the prominence of the listings.

Part of the new vanguard of digital marketing like FlowFuel means that the agent now owns all the digital data that comes with it. That data,  like cookie and session data, can be used for analysis, retargeting, developing a content strategy across other platforms – and far more.

Segment for better leads

Segmenting what matters is also becoming increasingly important to help deliver better ROI for marketing spend. FlowFuel allows for ultimate segmentation – both in terms of the leads you want to generate by targeting the right people, on the right platforms, at the right time and in terms of your listings themselves. It gives agencies the chance to decide how they want to segment their hunt for leads, accelerate or focus specific listings – per agent, suburb, property configuration or sole mandate – or even the listings of specific agents.

The real power of segmentation in the property space is the democratisation of listings. On a portal, agents fight for prominence in a sea of listings, with a premium paid for the ‘privilege’ of being listed at the top – but that’s an option open to anyone with a budget. Powered by Performance Marketing, FlowFuel’s BLP completely democratises listing because prospective clients see the properties from an agency’s inventory that directly match their requirements, first.

In the agency environment, this means that every listing is a featured listing because the properties find the right people. There’s no need for agency principals to decide to focus on a particular agent, area or property price range over a specified period at the expense of the other – in effect, each agent, price range or area gets its own time to shine, depending on who visits the BLP.

FlowFuel is all about unlocking value and putting control of online listings back in the hands of agents. It’s a seemingly-small change that will have a seismic impact on an industry begging to be taken into the real digital world.

I’ve mentioned it already, but will end this piece affirming that Proptech really is here to democratise online property sales.