Personalising outreach to build new audiences for online real estate auctions

Doubled

potential attendance
at auctions

Automated

onboarding and support
to end users

212%

boost in mobile
app downloads

At an auction, the more bidders, the better. But multiple auctions can be held at the same time or in remote locations. To boost live auction attendance, Gavl enables real estate agents and buyers to stream auctions in real time via an app. And to help new users get started, the company is using automated coaching campaigns.

Challenge: Bringing property auctions into the digital age

Whether you’re a first-time buyer about to step onto the property ladder or a homeowner looking to upsize, few things match the excitement — or the stress — of house-hunting.

Michael Artup, General Manager at Gavl, explains: “Real estate auctions represent around 20 percent of annual property sales in Australia. These events are great opportunities both for sellers and buyers — but running them effectively can be a challenge.”

Leith Donaldson, Chief Technology Officer at Gavl, continues: “Agents spend large amounts of time, effort and money marketing their auctions, but relying on traditional methods like leafleting makes it difficult to attract the best prospects to each event. Traveling to an auction is also a substantial time commitment, and many otherwise interested parties are unable to attend all the events they want to participate in.”

Gavl — a digital startup based in Melbourne, Australia — saw the chance to disrupt the industry by enabling real estate agents to stream auctions in real time and prospective buyers to participate remotely through its digital channels.

“The more interested viewers of an auction, with more potential buyers, the more likely a sale becomes,” says Artup. “Our mobile app empowers buyers to browse listings, shortlist the properties they’re interested in, and participate in the auction in real time — all from the palm of their hand. Because Gavl effectively allows you to be in two places at once, our service can help double the live auction attendance for real estate agents.

“Furthermore, through our in-house video production and marketing initiatives, we have generated almost four million views of our produced video content. The end result is far greater exposure for a Gavl auction than has ever been achieved through traditional auctions.”

As Gavl expanded its user base, it realized it would soon outgrow its existing approaches to customer engagement. To solve the challenge, the company looked for a scalable digital marketing platform that would enable it to focus on its core business.

“We serve a broad variety of B2B and B2C customers, all with their own unique needs,” comments Donaldson. “As well as delivering a seamless experience for house-hunters, we need to onboard, coach and nurture our real estate agent customers to use the app effectively. The aim is to inspire them to make our service an integral part of their sales process.

“In the past, we relied on multiple siloed systems to reach out to our customers via email, SMS and push messages through our mobile app. Because the systems weren’t integrated, it was difficult to build a single view of each user’s individual needs, and the manual work involved in building tailored campaigns made them difficult to execute at scale.

“We knew that supporting our users during the all-important onboarding stage of their journey was vital to encourage them to embrace the Gavl platform. To drive our growth, we looked for an automated approach to digital engagement.”

Solution: Enabling responsive, scalable customer services

To achieve its goal, Gavl selected an analytics-driven platform for customer engagement: Acoustic Campaign (formerly Campaign Automation). The solution enables Gavl to use its customer behavior data to define and reach out to fine-grained segments, and select the next best action for each customer based on contextual triggers.

“Our customer base ranges from small estate agencies with ten employees to large companies with thousands of branches,” says Artup. “As our business grew, we knew we needed intelligent and orchestrated automation to be able to offer responsive support for everything from help downloading the app to in-depth assistance with technical issues.”

Donaldson adds: “One of the things we appreciate most about Campaign is the way it brings together all our channels on a single, scalable platform. For the first time, we know our marketers can create multi-wave, multi-channel onboarding campaigns without assistance from our technical team. Crucially, Campaign brings together all our customer data in a single repository — enabling us to define fine-grained segments for highly personalized outreach.”

To accelerate its deployment process, Gavl engaged the expertise of Acoustic Solution Partner TIOBE.

“The TIOBE team possessed the ideal mix of experience and competence to help us transition to our new approach to digital engagement,” comments Artup. “Working with TIOBE, we rapidly migrated our email and SMS data and templates to the new platform, and transferred our push messaging shortly after.

“Throughout the deployment and beyond, the quality and responsiveness of support we’ve received has been excellent. TIOBE ran an all-day workshop for our marketers, which covered a comprehensive range of use cases such as importing data, building segments and uploading email templates, as well as testing and sending the resulting campaigns. Without a doubt, these sessions helped our team to hit the ground running with Campaign — and we were very impressed with how smoothly the transition went.”

“One of the things we appreciate most about Campaign is the way it brings together all our channels on a single, scalable platform.”

Leith Donaldson, Chief Technology Officer, Gavl

Results: Driving international growth

With Campaign driving its customer engagement processes, Gavl can provide agents, buyers and sellers with the help they need to broadcast and bid on live streaming real estate auctions.

“Our estate agent customers are our face to consumers across the country, and our communications strategy aims to equip them with the tools they need to get the most out of our service,” explains Donaldson.

“In the past, onboarding was a manual process that relied heavily on phone calls and face-to-face meetings — and as we added new customers, maintaining our responsiveness was a challenge. Today, we are designing automated onboarding journeys tailored to each customer’s unique needs.”

He continues: “For example, if we onboard a new estate agency, we can now share a welcome email with all their employees automatically, with links to instructions and videos showing how to get started with Gavl. If some employees haven’t installed the app after a week, we can use that contextual trigger to send another message to remind them. Our solution can even learn the preferred channel for each customer based on previous interactions — helping us to ensure we’re reaching out to everyone effectively.”

Based on the success of its automated onboarding process, Gavl is using the Acoustic solution to drive its international expansion.

“As we prepared to launch in New Zealand, we wanted to offer a tailored, country-specific experience to all our users — and Campaign has been a key enabler of that goal,” says Artup. “To drive traffic to our site, we created targeted campaigns for estate agencies across the country. The results were extremely positive, and we have already boosted our mobile app downloads by 212% since going live with the Acoustic solution.”

With a scalable platform at the heart of its digital business, Gavl can continue its fast-paced growth while maintaining high-quality services.

“Push notifications for our mobile app are particularly important for homebuyers, because they enable us to send timely reminders that an auction is about to begin,” adds Donaldson. “Our previous approach to push messaging lacked the reliability we needed, which increased the risk of buyers missing out on an auction — but today, that’s all changed. Thanks to Campaign, we can send in-app push messages at scale with the confidence that they will be delivered successfully.”

Continuing its close collaboration with TIOBE, Gavl is enhancing its approach to engagement with Acoustic Exchange (formerly Universal Behavior Exchange) and Acoustic Analytics (formerly Customer Experience Analytics).

“We see that Acoustic’s product development roadmap aligns perfectly with our long-term communications strategy, and we’re eager to embed cognitive capabilities into our platform,” says Donaldson. “We are currently in the testing phase for Analytics. The solution will enable us to track and measure the success of our campaigns and automatically detect when customers struggle to complete a journey — enabling us to make proactive improvements to deliver better customer experiences.”

Artup adds: “On the marketing side, we are very interested in the potential of Exchange to help us gain more insight into the ways house-hunters discover and interact with our brand.

“For example, if someone watches one of our auction highlights videos on Facebook and then clicks through to see more information about the property on our website, we can identify that individual user’s past engagements with any of our channels. By mapping out journeys in this way, we will be able to identify opportunities to make service even easier to use.”

As its business continues to grow from strength to strength, Gavl is helping more customers than ever to find their ideal homes. The company is currently in its series A funding round, and has recently attracted an investment of $2.4M AUD — increased its funding total to $4.9M AUD.

Artup concludes: “Our goal is to help estate agents connect interested buyers with properties they love — and thanks to Acoustic and TIOBE, we’re making Gavl the go-to destination for watching and participating in real estate auctions digitally. We see great potential for growth, and with intelligent automation driving our customer support there’s no limit to how large we can scale.”

About Gavl

Founded in 2015 and headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, Gavl digitises every aspect of the property auction process so that buyers can browse listings, shortlist properties, watch, bid, and buy — all from the palm of their hands. Tailor-made for the real estate market, Gavl employs livestream auctions in real-time to potential buyers around the globe.

About TIOBE
Headquartered in Melbourne, Victoria, TIOBE is a specialist provider of consulting and solution integration services. An Acoustic Solution Partner and an expert in the Acoustic portfolio, TIOBE helps its clients to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of their customer engagement processes. To learn more about services from TIOBE, visit: tiobe.com.au.