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SavvyCard is a new mobile website ecosystem that promotes sharing and interaction. Is it ready for real estate?
What is SavvyCard? To hear David Etheredge, co-founder and CEO of SavvyCard tell it, it’s a wholesale reimagining of the mobile experience for small businesses that want to engage customers wherever they happen to be. Which these days, tends to be on their mobile phones.
Yet the hard part is simply this: SavvyCard does a lot, and it’s hard to describe in a simple elevator pitch. To start with, it’s an electronic business card with a built-in lightweight CRM.
It’s also a method for small businesses (read that as Realtors®) to instantly create a mobile site that is optimized for Google and might even appear at the top of the search results.
SavvyCard • Mobile Web Platform • Free for Agents
You could even say that SavvyCard creates instant referral networks between professionals who may use it cross-market their services. Think of an agent with dozens of contractors in her network. SavvyCard can enable an agent on the platform to send referrals and track results.
But wait, there’s more: For real estate associations that choose to offer SavvyCard to their members, the platform creates an instant mobile site for each member, and affords those who utilize the service’s IDX feed to spit listings found on their websites to consumers’ mobile phones.
Probably the best way to think of SavvyCard is an ecosystem of mobile services that enable businesses to connect to their customers, and profit from their vendor/referral relationships.
So what does that mean to you? Simply that you may stand to profit from SavvyCard, because for now, the electronic business cards are free and easy to set up.
Cards that Count
SavvyCard starts with a deceptively simple electronic business card. It’s easy to create, and you can even customize the background via a downloadable Photoshop template. Add in your social accounts, contact information and a few other bits of profile information, and you’re ready to start marketing your card.
What’s important is to claim your URL with care (e.g., savvycard.com/tracyweir) since this will be indexed by search engines, as well as SavvyCard’s internal database (“CardFinder”). The system will automatically create a QR code for your card, which you can add to your marketing materials if you wish. While there are some naysayers that posit that QR codes are on their way out, it’s still handy if QR codes work for you.
You can also create multiple versions of SavvyCards. For example, if you wanted to create a card for your real estate business and another for a side business, SavvyCard makes this easy.
SavvyCard also utilizes something called a SavvyDeck, which is a built-in, lightweight customer relationship management system that allows you to associate other people’s cards with your own. Etheredge says this adds to the viral nature of SavvyCards, because they’re intended to be collected and traded, just like baseball cards.
Easy to Share
Once you’ve created your SavvyCard, it’s easy to share it with anyone you like. Just click the giant “share” button on the home screen of your SavvyCard. You can send it via email, text message or QR code. If you’re logged in, SavvyCard will try to prefill the sharing forms with your account information.
In an interesting twist, if you’re not sharing your own SavvyCard, but someone else’s, you can choose to share the recipient’s contact information with the person who owns the card. For example, if you refer a roofer who has a SavvyCard, you can instantly notify the roofer of the prospect’s name and contact information when you send the referral.
Card? Or Mobile Website?
Etheredge says the secret sauce of SavvyCard is that each card is really a tiny mobile website, built in minutes for the cardholder.
Etheredge says that SavvyCard is an HTML5 application that is rendered on the fly in the device’s browser. That means there’s no app to download. Everything you need is right there, on the first screen when you open a card.
“What’s important is that consumers are doing business 70 percent of the time on their phones,” Etheredge explains. “They make a decision in 15 seconds as to whether something is worthwhile to them. They don’t want to download another app.”
That’s why SavvyCard’s sites are stripped to the basics, with enormous buttons that are easy to see and use. Although they may feel a little clunky at the moment, Etheredge says future iterations of the buttons will be more sophisticated and customizable.
Regardless of how the buttons look, they’re useful — you can share your SavvyCard, initiate a call, send a text or compose an email, right within the SavvyCard.
Etheredge says that SavvyCard’s mobile websites rank better for search because they promote engagement.
“Google’s most recent updates value interaction and engage more than inbound links,” Etheredge explains. “When you have a SavvyCard that enables the user to click a button to interact with a telephone number, Google sees that as engagement.”
On traditional websites, users typically don’t interact with a phone number — a visitor will simply go to the site, enter the telephone number they need on the homepage into their cell phones, and leave without a single click on the page.
Google may treat this as a bounce, although for the site’s owner it’s a win. Yet in the game of search engine ranking, such views don’t help sites rank, and in fact, may detract from overall organic search engine placement.
Since everything on a SavvyCard site is meant to engage, Etheredge says this gives his sites an edge.
Larger Vision: Associations
Etheredge envisions an entire ecosystem of SavvyCards for people and businesses. Within real estate, he’s particularly interested in working with real estate associations, where he can instantly create and deploy SavvyCards for all members.
Etheredge says that the member functions of SavvyCard’s platform are ideal for MLSs and associations, as well as large brokers.
SavvyCard’s first client in real estate was the Miami Association of Realtors. Etheredge recalls that he was attending a conference for association executives, where he met Teresa King Kinney and Deborah Boza-Valledor, respectively the CEO and COO/CMO of the association.
Both Kinney and Boza-Valledor saw the potential of SavvyCard to serve as a mobile website for each of their members and affiliates. [To hear a description of how this relationship came to be, go to 7:00 in the SavvyCard video at the top of this article.]
Etheredge says that the Miami Association of Realtors was attracted by SavvyCard’s ability to enable comprehensive search into each member profile on the platform.
One of the more interesting pieces of SavvyCard’s integration with associations and MLSs comes in the IDX feed. When an agent builds a website with a SavvyCard IDX feed, it’s possible to build a SavvyCard for an individual listing that can be sent instantly to the mobile phone a website visitor. [For a demo of this feature, go to 19:00 in the video at the top of this article.]
The property card includes a complete description of the property including directions and pictures.
“We enable people to network with each other, and our platform is viral,” Etheredge says. “When agents can easily interact with each other, affiliate members and their customers, it’s a win.”
The post SavvyCard Wants to Be Your Mobile Website. Should You Let It? appeared first on Eight11.
If your brokerage isn’t a well-oiled machine, a crack in your operation may open a trickle of departing agents that soon turns into a stream emptying your talent pool. If that’s the case, you need to find ways to quickly seal the leak. Agents are leaving, but they don’t have to go if you solve some issues.
Problem: Imposing Fees
It’s not unusual for brokers to charge a fee for some services, like maintaining a mobile listing site or featuring listings on realtor.com®. And while some agents may prefer paying a fee over doing it themselves, others, particularly younger agents, may prefer to do the work, said Max Pigman, senior vice president and chief ambassador at realtor.com®.
“On the Gen Y spectrum, those agents already have those techniques and habits down,” Pigman said. “They would see it as a negative to charge them a fee for what they’re already doing on their phone at Starbucks.”
Solution: A Choice to Opt-In
Instead of imposing a fee for all agents, develop a system where agents can opt-in to certain services. For example, instead of hiring an administrative assistant to handle the back-end work for every agent, let the agents decide if they want to pool together to cover the service fee needed to hire a shared assistant.
“It creates a neat way to retain agents,” Pigman said. “If they like the services being provided, they certainly don’t want to create that wheel somewhere else. They think, ‘I can’t take that assistant with me.’ ”
Problem: Unnecessary Overhead Fees
A large brick-and-mortar office building may seem impressive, but the overhead fees required can dig into bottom lines, and you may not even need one. Big office buildings used to evoke a sense of pride and accomplishment––kind of a proof of success, according to Pigman. Older agents may value it, but younger agents may not care as much.
“Many younger people don’t care about or want a big company. It’s nice to have, but the majority of
If your large overhead fees are squeezing agents out, you may want to consider downsizing, then putting that saved money into online real estate.
“If I were a broker owner, I’d be looking at how do I create a place that’s functional but not have this huge monthly rent,” Pigman said. “I would spend that money on SEO and SEM so I have a great perception online, and shift those offline marketing dollars to online spending.”
Problem: Not Bringing in New Talent
As Pigman noted, bringing in new and younger agents is vital. And not bringing in new talent is a problem, even if your current agents aren’t leaving.
If you are having a problem recruiting younger agents, your brokerage might not be technologically appealing to the younger demographic, or you might not be offering the right services.
Solution: Getting Plugged In
Figure out what kind of technology you use and what you might be missing. Consider offering virtual meetings and paperless operations or adding cutting-edge email services, like BombBomb, which allows your agents to send video emails to clients and provides analytics on client responses. You can also manage lead activity and maximize conversion ROI with FiveStreet.
However, anticipate the possibility of pushback from agents who may not be technologically inclined.
“There are a number of things that agents don’t want to learn but can’t ignore,” Pigman said.
If this applies to your agents, consider offering training and hiring an IT professional to assist with day-to-day issues.
“I’ve seen lots of brokers do this to show older generations. They do this, and they realize their agents won’t go anywhere,” Pigman said.
By providing support for common tech problems before they happen, agents are less likely to become frustrated, and more likely to learn the new system and feel like a valuable asset.
When Brendan Farrell moved from one apartment to another in Los Angeles a couple of years ago, the Caltech applied mathematician was dismayed to find that his new home was a lot noisier than he expected due to a 24-hour car wash down the street.
His apartment faced the front of the building, and it was much noisier than those that faced the back of the apartment complex. His landlord didn’t think to tell him — but he found out the first night he moved in.
Although Farrell ended up living in the apartment, he realized that he could do every city dweller a favor if he put his math skills to work and created an interactive sound map of North America, starting with his hometown of Los Angeles.
“Noise is a huge issue, and when we started there was no good way for anyone to know exactly how loud a place actually was,” Farrell explains. Before Farrell, now the founder and CEO of sound mapping company HowLoud, started charting the universe of noise, the best someone could do was go to a place and listen for themselves. Although some sound studies existed about freeway and street noise, they were accessible only to professionals.
No simple tool existed to measure exactly how loud a place actually is — which, as Farrell explains, is not an easy thing to objectively measure.
Noise Isn’t Objective
“Noise isn’t just measured in decibels,” Farrell says. “Humans perceive noise based on intensity, time of day, proximity and even pleasure. That’s why birds chirping, even if they’re very loud, can be a whole lot more pleasant than a car repair shop down the street. Or a jet taking off is worse than a low thrum of a distant freeway.”
Farrell wanted to solve the problem of noise measurement by using physics to propagate noise models across the environment. For example, restaurants, auto repair shops, freeways, car washes, street traffic and flight patterns all influence the urban sound profile. His 3-D noise model rolls all of those sounds into something called a SoundScore, which gives a numeric rating to a specific location. A lower score is louder; a higher score is more peaceful.
It’s a lot like a WalkScore® for noise, and Farrell says it’s so accurate that he can faithfully predict which units of a building will be quieter based on their orientation to the street, or floor. He filed a patent application for the HowLoud system in March, 2015.
Farrell started in his hometown, Los Angeles, and has also mapped Orange County. To date, he’s mapped over four million buildings between the two counties. To see how it works, go to HowLoud.net and enter this address: 3209 Descanso Dr., Los Angeles, CA, 9039
Popular Kickstarter Campaign
He’s also mid-way through a popular Kickstarter campaign (having raised about half of the $38,000 project goal). The project has become a staff pick of the Kickstarter team, giving it additional exposure. He intends to use the proceeds to map the rest of the United States and Canada, and has 31 days to go until August 12, when the project closes.
If you become a Kickstarter backer at $300 or more, you can get a custom widget for your site as Farrell rolls out HowLoud’s mapping across the country. He plans to map Massachusetts next. He’ll also throw in 20 single property detailed noise reports, or a large building report, for a year, starting in September, 2015.
For now, searches on HowLoud.net are free for Los Angeles and Orange County. Farrell plans to introduce a widget that agents, brokers and MLSs can use on their sites that will provide a SoundScore to each listing. Although Farrell hasn’t set pricing yet, he says that it will be competitive to other lifestyle tools in real estate.
Farrell also plans to sell more in-depth property noise reports to homebuyers and developers that provide a list of noise sources and decibel measurements along with a heatmap of the neighbhorhood.
For REALTORS and brokers, HowLoud could help mitigate client complaints about noisy neighborhoods before they arise. Yet the downside is that not all noisy neighborhoods are bad; for some, the crush and noise of a congested city block is part of the attraction. And, HowLoud’s technology is still evolving; not every neighborhood is fully mapped, and Farrell’s team is constantly adding new sound parameters to improve the accuracy of the SoundScore.
Yet if HowLoud can become the de facto standard for noise measurement in residential real estate, Farrell will have achieved his mission.
“No one wants to find themselves living in a really noisy area, especially by accident,” Farrell concludes. “If we can help people live where they want because they know about the area in advance, HowLoud will be a success.”
The post Just How Noisy Is it? HowLoud Aims to Map the Universe of Noise appeared first on Eight11.