One of the main attractions at Inman News’ Real Estate Connect NYC was the focus on online lead generation. Where are the leads, how do you get them and what should you do with them? Here are the top 10 takeaways we identified at the close of the conference:
1. Internet leads are abundant, with companies who’ve been at the online lead game for some time saying they have much more than they can handle, and those who aren’t already in the lead game scrambling to get in.
2. The $11 billion spent annually on real estate advertising is just beginning what is expected to be a massive shift from print classifieds to online channels.
3. However, three quarters of consumers now start the home search process online, while only about 11 percent of advertising dollars currently are on the Web.
4. Search engines have emerged as leaders in online real estate lead services, with paid advertising services through Google and Overture significantly increasing in usage. These two will continue to play a huge role, as their local search features grow more sophisticated.
5. Brokers and agents who entered online lead generation early are drilling down to more specific issues such as lead-response time, lead management and conversion tracking.
6. The innovative lead and technology companies are adapting to broker and agent needs, rather than trying to disintermediate them from the real estate sales process altogether. Online lead companies and brokers offering leads to agents are taking more steps to qualify leads before handing them off. Looking ahead, lead buyers will dictate how qualified they want their leads before purchasing them.
7. Sources for online real estate leads are endless. Mix it up, just as you would with offline marketing – using search, affinity partners, advertising and private labeling. Affiliate marketing programs, which use marketing affiliates or a virtual sales force specialize in driving traffic to agent and broker Web site. There are groups, software and Web sites dedicated to helping manage a whole network of these folks. LinkShare is one example.
8. In the hunt for Web leads, experts advise realty professionals to try everything, track effectiveness and immediately dump what’s not working.
9. The Web is pulling more brokers into the lead process–previously, many took a more hands-off approach. Technology is empowering brokers to turn online lead generation into profits.
10. There’s a fine line between managing a long-term lead prospect through e-mail campaigns and spamming them. Always give the opt-out option and pay attention to removal rates.
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