Brendon Skipper is the CEO of New Zealand’s number one property portal realestate.co.nz and says the company’s strong focus on data analysis will further refine its business strategy.
With the most properties for sale from every real estate brand in New Zealand, realestate.co.nz receives 1.1 million unique browsers each month, which translates to 25 million page impressions.
Skipper, who is a speaker at PPW Bangkok, believes that leveraging data to drive strategic focus and improve the user experience is crucial.
“Over the last two or three years we’ve built up our understanding of the property market and our users through data,” says Skipper.
“Through the use of our data we can now better understand how our users and clients engage with our platform, which allows us to make informed decisions on how to improve or enhance our products,” he explains.
Skipper says data, particularly the term ‘big data’, is a big buzz word at the moment, but many companies don’t even get to the first stage: collection.
“It’s amazing how many times I come across a business that has data as part of their company strategy, but they don’t know what data they’ve got or what to do with it,” Skipper says.
“Everyone talks about data, but I think the first thing any business needs to do is start collecting it and understand what they’re looking at,” he notes.
Late last year realestate.co.nz employed a Data Scientist who has been tasked with digging deeper into the company’s data, then feeding the relevant information through to everyone from the product team to the marketing department.
“There’s no area of the business that cannot learn and grow through data,” Brendon insists.
But becoming a data-first organisation didn’t happen overnight – or by accident.
“It’s taken a few years to get our heads around what we need to do, what technology and what investment we need to put into it to actually get the returns,” he says.
Because the portal is working with such a vast amount of data, it’s not always obvious what trends will emerge, but Skipper says this uncertainty can be exciting and is all part of the process.
“We see these opportunities and we initially don’t know whether the focus is going to shift from a product development/improvement direction or if it’s going to lead to a change in reporting,” he explains.
“What we’re finding as we go through is that once we understand what we’ve got, we can package it up in so many different ways.”
Skipper says that once data has been interpreted in a meaningful way, it can then be used to target a particular customer persona; a process that he finds particularly intriguing.
“I think that’s the most exciting part,” he says. “It’s about understanding who is actually engaged with your product and how you can create targeted content that the customer would be interested in instead of blanketing them with display adverts.”
While realestate.co.nz are leaders within the data space in New Zealand, Brendon insists there is still plenty of room to grow.
“It’s been a really interesting journey and one that will no doubt continue. The more we learn, the more we discover and the more we can do with it,” he says.