For those who have never consulted one, the Magic 8 Ball is a “fortune-telling” toy that’s been around since the 1950s. The user asks a question, then turns over the Magic 8 Ball to see its reply: a simple phrase that translates to yes, no, or maybe.

Of course, the toy isn’t actually clairvoyant nor is the answer rooted in any sort of data. Yet the Magic 8 Ball is somewhat reflective of how the real estate industry has traditionally conducted new business development. We contact people at random times, ask if they are interested in buying or selling, and often get the Magic 8 Ball’s most famous answer: ask again later.

Thanks to the innovations on the digital front, now there’s a better way – one that uses big data and offers better results. “Predictive analytics” is the high-tech crystal ball that industries around the world are using to determine future buyer behavior.

Predictive analytics looks at behavioral patterns and data modeling to better inform decisions, removing much of the guesswork regardless of the industry. Consider these case studies from IBM:

  • In Japan, the city of Ishinomaki has revitalized the local fishing industry by analyzing big fish data such as species and location
  • In France, the town of Toulouse uses big social media data to prioritize citizens’ most pressing concerns
  • Here at home, the National Football League translates big game data into compelling schedules of best team match-ups on best days

Now it’s our turn to step away from the Magic 8 Ball of the past and bring these visionary business practices to the real estate world.

At ERA, a new CRM platform called Zap uses predictive analytics to help agents know which customers are ready to transact. Zap analyzes a complex array of home buyer and seller activity. It then assigns each customer a unique score. That Zap score allows agents to provide the right message at the right time, creating personalized and streamlined service.

This industry-leading technology platform trades out “magic” for “metrics.” Zap is a new way of doing business, and it’s already proving to increase productivity. In just one year, we’ve seen a direct correlation between the number of log-ins per week and overall success. The agents who are most engaged in Zap saw the highest average increases in productivity. Early adopters are also seeing greater growth increases.

While it may not be a real crystal ball, Zap offers ERA agents and brokers something better: a futuristic way to conduct business. Right now. But the technology only works if people embrace it and engage with it.

There’s no guesswork here; we know that true adoption yields needle-moving results. We also know that changing business habits is hard. It takes constant commitment from agents to master the technology on a daily basis. It also takes equal commitment from ERA to provide support – to answer questions, deepen understanding, and increase proficiency.

Predictive analytics provide the information, and together we can create the results.

With big data insights being leveraged across many industries to create enhanced and personal approaches, ERA’s Zap technology is a smarter approach to real estate.

Is it worth the effort to change? Even the Magic 8 Ball says, “Yes.

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Chris Trick joined ERA Real Estate in 2012 to oversee ERA marketing and business development initiatives. He is responsible for all advertising, marketing and product development for the brand on a global scale. A solution seeker with a proven track record of building marketing programs that enhance brands from the inside out, he is focused on meeting the organization’s growth goals.