CHATBOT… put your hand up if you’ve heard this term lately.
Chatbots are all-the-rage in REALTOR® marketing so far in the first half of 2018. While the real estate industry is abuzz, we Ninjas are left wondering
“Are Chatbots our helpful friend? Our robotic foe? Or the latest marketing fad?“
While it’s too early yet to FULLY answer that question, we believe Chatbots can be very useful when it comes to modern lead gen — IF used correctly!
Let’s start from the top…
What is a Chatbot?
In simplest terms, it’s a robot that chats!
In terms of real estate marketing, a Chatbot is a Live Chat plugin that lives on your website and engages your website visitors with questions and relevant dialogue.
Usually a Chatbot will appear as a little badge on the bottom right or left corner of your site, popping open to initiate automated convo (or popping open when clicked on.)
The objective of the Chatbot is basically to pre-qualify website visitors & convert them into leads. Then hand them off to you to close them.
In most cases you can directly step in and take over a chat as it’s happening, or you can wait until the Chatbot has captured a lead’s information and follow up with them sometime shortly afterwards.
Most Chatbots claim to be built with Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, so that they can intelligently and accurately respond to your website visitor’s inquiries.
AI technology is in a [somewhat scary] way an evolving and growing organism. A lot of the AI Chatbots I investigated while writing this article were apparently learning from convos, and applying their learning to future chats!
NINJA-NOTE: Most Chatbot companies are still using decision-tree logic and not actual artificial intelligence. An example of decision-tree logic is, IF a visitor types “Listings” into the chat, THEN the bot will send a message containing your active listings. Chatbots that posses actual linguistic and language learning capabilities are still scarce. When we use the term AI in this article we are referring to both decision-tree based bots and true linguistic/language learning capable bots.
A few months ago, in an article he wrote about Artificial Intelligence and the real estate industry, our Co-Founder Ramin Sabour mentioned:
“Yes, the Robots ARE Coming for Your Job… (But Only the Boring Parts)”
Chatbots are a great example of this already beginning to happen! Instead of you having to pull out your app and chat with every visitor on your site, you can now hand this “boring” task off to a robot…
… Unless you don’t need to or want to…
Do I Need or Even Want a Chatbot?
Obviously all REALTORS® don’t share the exact same business needs.
A brand new agent who has ZERO leads and lots of time to drum up business has different marketing priorities than the 30-year veteran agent who gets enough referral business alone to be successful.
Luckily, there are so many different types of Live Chat tools and Chatbots, that there is something out there for veteran agents and newbie REALTORS® alike.
So to that end, what I’m doing today is:
- Identifying the different types of agents.
- Identifying the different types of Live Chat models.
- Reviewing 15 different Live Chat apps, and pointing out what agent each chat app is perfect for!
1.) Identifying 3 Types of REALTORS®:
- New or Idle Agent: Prospects and leads are few to non-existent, they have no hired assistants and have not hired any third party companies to help with marketing… mainly because they’ve made no money yet (and have spent a TON.) These are agents who have more time to promote their business and engage with active visitors of their real estate website <– which might I add should be one of the first marketing expenses new agents incur!
- Intermediate Agent: Been at it for at least a few years, has consistent prospects and leads generated through various marketing efforts and channels. Often gets referred by other agents and past clients. Will be able to take some of the more VIP live chats from the site, others will get assigned to team or assistant.
- Veteran Agent: Extremely busy real estate professional, doesn’t have time to chat with website visitors in real time nor does their assistant or team mate. Looking for an awesome real estate website that makes them look great, and also hands them a few new – and qualified – leads every month. Will likely not be able to chat with anybody in real time, nor will assistant.
2.) Identifying 3 Types of Chat Apps:
- Basic Live Chat: Connecting REALTORS® with visitors on their site in real time, through a chat plugin.
- AI Chatbot: Visitors speak to a customized robot on your website, and can request to be contacted by the REALTOR®.
- Hybrid Model: Visitor speaks to a Chatbot, which pre-qualifies them to some degree, then patches the REALTOR® into the conversation.
Looking at the 3 different types of chat apps, you can already see how each one might pair up with a specific agent type.
For example, a Veteran Agent probably isn’t going to get as much value out of a Basic Live Chat app (no time to take on all the conversations.) Instead, they would be more likely to opt for an AI Chatbot that can do the talking for them, then drop the lead into their CRM for followup at a later date.
Point being, there is a Chat tool out there for every type of agent reading this article…
I’m here to help you find out which one’s perfect for YOU.
Which Chatbot or Live Chat Tool Do I Need?
For your convenience, I’ve taken the time to review some of the most popular live chat apps in the real estate industry, and in the marketing world in general.
For instructions on adding any of these live chat apps to your RealtyNinja website, go here.
NOTE: We have not tested each of these products ourselves. We are gathering information from the web and displaying it here for the convenience of our readers. If you have your own experiences with any of these apps, PLEASE let us know so that we can update the review to include your feedback.
The Messenger Platform’s customer chat plugin allows you to integrate your Messenger experience directly into your website. This allows your customers to interact with your business anytime with the same personalized, rich-media experience they get in Messenger.
Category: Simple Live Chat
Perfect For: New Agents, agents with limited prospects
Pros: Totally free, already one of the top messenger tools in the world, pretty much everyone uses it and has the app on their smartphone, clean interface, allows for transfer of rich media, stores your chat history in Messenger.com, can chat through Facebook Page or native Messenger app.
Cons: Generic, isn’t built for real estate, isn’t created specifically to qualify or capture leads, still in Beta, website integration is a bit more challenging than others.
Use the power of smart chat to drive conversions. roof.ai automatically engages with your website visitors and converts them into your best customers 24/7, 365.
Category: Hybrid Model, AKA “Smart Chat” as they call it
Perfect For: New Agents or Intermediate Agents looking to increase engagement with potential leads on website
Pros: Built for real estate industry in North America, equipped with MLS® Integration (not sure which markets.)
Cons: Website contains very limited information.
Hi, I’m Aisa Holmes. I’ll be your personal lead assistant. You interact with me just like you would a real assistant. I’ll respond to your leads within 1-2 minutes and take care of the initial qualifying conversation for you.
Category: Hybrid model, where an AI takes the initial qualifying questions and then passes it off to you for followup, or to directly takeover the chat.
Perfect For: Intermediate or Veteran REALTORS® who get lots of traffic on their website, and are too busy to follow up with chat requests immediately.
Pros: Responds to your leads within a minute, will use emojis and other engagement tactics in conversations, is apparently empathetic to visitor needs, responds to leads from a variety of different platforms (facebook, zillow, website, etc.,) great knowledge-base full of resources.
Cons: Quite pricey, with plans ranging from $179 – $499 per month.
ReadyChat’s real time chat software and live agents engage website visitors, and turn website traffic into qualified leads by providing exceptional customer service. Learn how ReadyChat can make your website a more engaging lead generation machine.
Category: Chat software for your website, monitored by a 3rd party team of real estate savvy live chat agents 24/7.
Perfect For: Busy real estate veterans who have no time to qualify leads that they receive through their website. Need someone to pre-qualify the leads and send them a list of people to reach out to.
Pros: Very easy to customize to match your branding, no contracts, they claim to convert 80% of chats into leads, don’t have to worry about robots misunderstanding your visitors as it’s powered by humans.
Cons: Seems quite pricey… You pay a monthly fee of either $199, or $399 for premium, you also have to pay a $299/$399 start up fee, and then you ALSO have to pay for each lead they send you (over and above what’s included in your plan)
Apartment Ocean develops artificial intelligence based chatbots to help real estate companies to increase customer-generated revenue, reduce customer-related costs and increase user engagement. Once installed, the AI chatbot will be shown as a virtual assistant and it’s ready to go to work.
Category: AI Chatbot model, totally automated artificial intelligence chat robot that will send you a transcript of conversations.
Perfect For: Intermediate real estate agents who are keeping busy following up with leads, but who have an appetite to automate some of the lead generation process.
Pros: Quite affordable, only $49 per month for up to 250 leads – $179 per month for up to 5,000 leads! Claims to increase leads for agents by up to 98%, customizable chat window, asks a lot of lead-qualifying questions, leads can be exported to excel and google sheets.
Cons: Nothing obvious! Again, they are USA company (in case you prefer doing business with Canadian companies exclusively) but that’s not a con.
Chat with your website visitors in real time to answer questions and alleviate concerns more easily, building relationships with your visitors and helping them become customers.
Category: Live Chat App, does not include any AI chatbot, simply a chat widget for your site.
Perfect For: New Agents and REALTORS® looking to drum up more business. Agents who have enough time to dedicate to their website visitors in real time.
Pros: You can use this tool completely for free for up to 1 user, capture email addresses of visitors who start a chat with you when you’re not there, includes targeted auto-messages for times when you’re offline, includes notifications, read receipts, user avatars and conversation history, speaks 6 languages based on the visitors browser settings, switch between web, desktop or mobile and pickup / takeover chats on any platform.
Cons: Not a specific real estate tool, built more with e-commerce in mind than other industries.
Make your business human with the world’s simplest live chat software. Real-time reporting. Automated messages. Team management. Olark offers a wide range of customizable features that let you control the chat experience for your visitors and your team.
Category: Live chat app that can take messages for you when you’re not available to talk!
Perfect For: New REALTORS® and agents who are looking to connect with more of their potential customers, and looking to create more business opportunities.
Pros: This is the live chat software we use at RealtyNinja, and we love it! If you’ve ever spoken to us via live chat, you’ve seen Olark in action from the visitor’s side. You can fully customize the look, feel, colours, avatars and more. Provides real-time reporting on chat volume, busiest time of day, visitor ratings on your chats, and lots more. Create automated messages based on visitor behaviour on your website. No limit to number of monthly conversations. Per-agent pricing. Searchable transcripts allow you to find conversations based on keywords. Includes a free plan for 1 agent up to 20 chats per month!
Cons: Not a real estate specific app.
With Drift on your website, any conversation can be a conversion. Instead of traditional marketing and sales platforms that rely on forms and follow ups, Drift connects your business with the best leads in real-time.
Category: Chatbot that qualifies visitors of your website for you, then hands them off to you.
Perfect For: Busy Intermediate and Veteran agents looking to automate and enhance website engagement and lead qualification.
Pros: Drift can book appointments into your calendar for you, ask your website visitors a question to initiate the conversation, provides detailed metrics in a dashboard, pricing starts at $0 for individuals, goes up to $1,200 per month for more advanced Enterprise features.
Cons: Not a real estate specific tool, seems that the only objective for the bot is to book a meeting or a call and not to engage, pricing model is super complicated, essentially a “smart form” more than it is a Chatbot or chat app even (not necessarily a con… depends what you’re looking for.)
ArtiBot is a smart chat bot that’s designed for service-oriented websites with three main goals: Capture Leads, Schedule Appointments & Collect Payments. In just 30 seconds, you can add ArtiBot to any website as a widget, or embed ArtiBot on any page.
Category: AI Chatbot, totally automated artificial intelligence chat robot that uses a conversational flow that you design.
Perfect For: Busy Intermediate and Veteran agents looking to automate and enhance website engagement and lead qualification.
Pros: ArtiBot will handle the entire conversation for you, and guide your visitors to find what they are looking for on your website. ArtiBot can integrate with your other tools and do things like book appointments into your calendar for you. You can customize the conversational flow for ArtiBot, so that it’s asking the right questions and providing thorough feedback. ArtiBot will send you an email, text, or even send your leads to your favourite CRM. Best part is, most of the features in ArtiBot are available to you for FREE!
Cons: You do not have the ability to step into the conversation and take over. Some of the features might not necessarily apply to real estate agents, such as the ability to collect payment directly.
Other Live Chat tools you might want to check out on your own time:
If you have experience using any of these, or other live chat apps or Chatbots, please leave us a comment below or email our team with your feedback. We’d love to include your notes in this ever-growing guide to real estate Chatbots!
Still with me? I have a QUESTION for you….
At the beginning of this article we asked if Chatbots were friend, foe or fad…
Having read through this entire article, you should have an idea of what Chatbots are and what they can do for different types of REALTORS®. You have also looked over some of the best Chatbots and Live Chat Apps around.
Pairing this newfound Chatbot knowledge with your experience and intuition in real estate, we want to know:
What are your thoughts on Chatbots?
Please let us know by commenting on this post, or sending a quick email to info [at] realtyninja.com.
Look forward to hearing what you think, Ninja!