Okay so it has been a while since my last blog. I have been busy, life is like that sometime. At point we have released our sms/text messaging notification system. We are calling it “Real Alerts”. Cute. Our members can now have certain events trigger text messages with prospects phone numbers straight to their cell phones. Consumers expect a response within 4 hours and now our members can make it happen. This stuff is in beta and all our members can access it to some degree. Even our standard members that are paying nothing. We are paying for the text messages. This leads me to my next point – Limbo.
Talk about cute names. Limbo, how low can you go? This is a neat new service that takes advantage of some of the intricacies of text messaging. For all incoming SMS messages, an additional per-call charge can be levied Did you know that when all those teenagers text for their favorite idol it costs them. For example, voters for American Idol were charged 10 cents per SMS vote; AT&T received 8 million SMS votes during the second season. Fees can go as high as 50 cents per vote or even higher. This per-call charge generates revenues, can help to hold down high call volumes, and can qualify callers so they have a genuine interest in the product or event.
However, it can also do something else, as in the case of Limbo. Limbo is a service that holds “auctions” where people can “bid” on items. The lowest unique bid wins. I.E. the lowest bid that nobody else also bid, hence “Limbo, how low can you go”. Bidders can bid any where from 1 cent to whatever they desire. The catch is that the bids have to be sent in via SMS. This generates revenue for Limbo. Recently someone lucky texter won a Hummer for $36.65! This means they texted in the number 3665 and that was the lowest unique bid. I wonder how many people texted in 20, 500, 2000 or even 3000, likely many. I bet Limbo made quite a bit more then the cost of the Hummer on this one.
Interesting stuff, I would like to hear people’s thoughts on this one.
Here is the link: http://www.limbo41414.com/
So here are some facts for you. 65% of consumers expect a response to an online request within 4 hours and 65% don’t even get a response within 12 hours and fully 45% never receive a response. This from a Homestore secret shopper survey of a very substantial amount of Realtors. I just don’t get it. I have a story a little closer to home to illustrate the point.
Sometime in 2002 when we were working toward our product launch we had hundreds of local agents and brokers come through our office. We demoed our product and gave the pitch, we listened, we talked, we joked. Each of these sessions usually lasted between an hour and four hours. I remember being so sure that agents NEEDED a website. One particular broker was always very candid and forthcoming with our team. Wayne Zuk on of the Western Canadian Franchise owners for realty executives offered to undertake an experiment. One morning he emailed all fifty of his Realtors in one office telling them that if they returned his email or called him by five that day he would give them $50 bucks. At the end of the experiment I think he was only out $150 bucks.
That has always bothered me. I knew, and still know, that almost without exception all the agents in Wayne’s employ were diligent and there to serve the consumer. Because I use and depend on my email day in and day out I assumed that everyone else would too. That fact of the matter is that it wasn’t the message that caused them not to respond but the medium. Many agents might only check their email once or twice a week and most probably not more then once or twice a day.
I don’t know why it took us so long to come up with the solution. Instead of sending messages to the Realtor by email why not send them over a device that almost 99% have come to know and love, mainly the cell phone.
Well that is just what we are doing with our new SMS stuff. Oh and one more reason to be fast. Here is the results of a NAR study about why consumers choose their Realtor.
Fastest Response: 57%
Most Qualified: 56%
Best Prepared: 49%
Seemed Responsive: 36%
Most Knowledgeable: 23%
Lowest Commission: 10%
We build a lot of functionality and some of them have benefits that are easier to see then others. A recent bit of work is currently in beta. It allows our members, real estate agents, to set triggers for certain events that happen on their websites and receive them as SMS messages sent to their cell phones. Where it gets neat is when you see it in action – or read about it as it were.
One of our beta customers, Jay Thompson had this to say: “This is great, a client recently said to me ‘Wow, I just sent that email three minutes ago. Do you just sit by a PC waiting on email?’ When I told him I was actually on a bike ride, he was pretty impressed.”
This is the kind of comment that makes it all worthwhile.