(This is Part 5 of a six-part series. Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 6.)

If you’re not up-to-date on today’s technology, your business may be gradually eroding away. To avoid going the way of the dinosaurs, it’s imperative that you update your technology tools now.

Our last four articles examined how demographic, digital, economic and Web trends will influence your business in 2007. Today we look at the technology tools designed specifically for the real estate industry.

#13: New tools for lead conversion, not just lead generation

Currently, almost 50 percent of online consumer inquiries go unanswered. Until recently, agents and companies had to figure out ways to incubate Web leads using drip e-mail campaigns or auto-responders. Sorting through the leads and qualifying them was a time-consuming process. Today’s new technologies provide a variety options to automate the lead follow-up and lead-conversion process. For example, companies such as Point2Agent.com, Sharper Agent and Top Producer provide multiple campaigns that make lead incubation virtually painless. The latest innovation in this area is that some of these systems will text or call you when a “hot prospect” returns to your site for a second time.

Opportunity: Most Web site visitors do business with the first agent who contacts them live. Staying in touch electronically with an invitation to visit your blog, enter a drawing or provide some other item of value will allow you to stay top of mind until the lead is ready to become a serious client.

#14: Scrubbed Leads

Many Web visitors are tire kickers. Spending money or time on them is a waste. For teams and companies, LeadQual.com charges about $15 per lead to qualify (scrub) the lead. People making inquiries online are connected to a live person on the LeadQual fast-response team. The fast-response person qualifies the lead and if it’s viable, then sends the caller’s information to the agent(s) designated to receive leads. If the agent agrees to take the lead, the call is handed off to the agent. The process takes two to five minutes. Today’s consumer demands immediacy; this is one of the most effective ways to meet that demand with a minimal cost.

Opportunity: Using systems like LeadQual can dramatically improve lead conversion. They also can hold costs down since you follow up only with pre-qualified leads.

#15: Push-to-talk technology

For individual agents who prefer to receive leads on their own schedule, another great alternative is “push-to-talk” technology. The branded version of this for the real estate industry is www.RealPing.com. When a Web visitor wants to speak to you, he/she clicks the RealPing button on your Web site. The system then notifies you with a text message or phone call that there is a live visitor on your site who wishes to reach you. Using the numbers on your cell phone, you can actually show the Web visitor MLS listings as well as any other relevant information on your site.

Opportunity: Combined with their MyHomeManagementClub.com product that offers what may be the best consumer newsletter in real estate, the RealPing product gives you the capability to respond immediately to Web inquiries as well as track and stay in touch with consumers who are not interested in doing business right now.

#16: Analyze analytics

Very few agents track where their leads originate. Even fewer track where their Web leads originate and how many they convert. While this may seem like a pretty geeky activity, working with Web analytics can help you spot where to invest your money as well as to identify what is not working on your Web site. Since Google still produces the most real estate Web searches, the Google analytics program is probably your best choice, especially since it’s free. Point2Agent also has an interesting analytics program that lets you track how many page views a specific listing has had as well as where those page views originated.

Opportunity: Analytics can be a very powerful tool when working with sellers. For example, if your listing appears on 12 different Web sites and has generated 2,400 page views, there’s only one logical conclusion about the property — it’s overpriced. The statistics objectively demonstrate that you have created plenty of exposure for the property. This is a powerful tool for obtaining price reductions.

What other trends will influence your business in 2007? See next week’s article to learn more.

Bernice Ross, national speaker and CEO of Realestatecoach.com, is the author of “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters” and “Who’s the Best Person to Sell My House?” Both are available online. She can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com or visit her blog at www.LuxuryClues.com.

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