I recently gave an inbound marketing presentation to a group of highly skilled and experienced managing brokers. My goal was to demonstrate that investing in a well-planned lead generation program will successfully turn strangers into clients (and generate an impressive ROI).

The information was extremely well received, and funding for the program was virtually unanimously approved. However, some in the room did feel a little uneasy about making the investment.

“I’m kind of old school,” one of the managing brokers told me a couple days later. “But what you said seems to make sense, so let’s go for it and see what happens.”

I appreciated my colleague’s honesty because our discussion underscored for me how things are rapidly changing. I believe real estate companies are moving ever closer to a crossroads of sorts where an unavoidable question must be answered: Can we remain competitive over the long term without advancing an online lead generation program?

Consider these three simple points that are causing real estate marketers and companies to shift their thinking and adapt new strategies:

  • According to NAR, 90 percent of homebuyers searched online during their homebuying process, and real estate-related searches on Google.com have grown 253 percent over the past four years. The first phase of my presentation to the group focused on building awareness strategies that cause companies and consumers to meet for the first time. These trends show where the low-hanging fruit resides.

Over the next 10 years do you believe these online trends will continue growing? Over the next five years do you believe your competitors will capitalize with lead incubation strategies?

  • According to NAR, 52 percent of buyers turn to the Web as their first step in the homebuying process. This piece of data is really amazing. The majority of people buying homes today spend time searching, learning and absorbing information on somebody’s website before they even think about speaking with a broker.

Are you interested in meeting consumers at their place of origin in the homebuying process? Do you have a strategy to connect with digital consumers and stay top of mind until they’re ready to buy?

  • Ultimately, companies that attract the best brokers will have the greatest success. The ability to offer more quality leads might not be the only consideration for brokers, but it certainly adds a compelling element.

Are you seeking to attract and retain the best in the business? Do you believe brokers are more inclined to partner with companies that provide a higher number of quality leads?

I’m not asking anybody to become a point-and-click company or attempt to beat Trulia and Zillow at their own game. In this industry there will always be a need for high-quality, personalized, full-service buying and selling support.

However, there is simply way too much lead generation opportunity to keep ignoring. I say, embrace the digital mind shift or you might get left behind.

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