Inbound marketing is a new take on lead capture that uses modern media and communication tools to make the process of attracting clients simpler and more efficient.
Inbound marketing has changed the way people do business, not just in the real estate industry, but in just about every industry. Here’s how it works. Rather than cold calling or posting billboard ads to potentially unqualified leads, inbound marketing focuses on getting your message out to receptive leads who are already searching for what you have to offer. In the old process of outbound marketing, you spent most of your time sifting through cold leads. These are people you’ve never met or spoken to, who don’t know anything about your company or product. The goal is to take those cold leads and “warm them up” by convincing them that you’re trustworthy and that you have something they want–in this case, real estate listings. There are a variety of ways to go about warming up leads; traditionally, cold calling via telephone and advertising via print publications and mailers were most common.
Naturally, the conversion rate for leads like these isn’t very high. When it comes to the real estate industry, most people aren’t inclined to be sold something they don’t already want by people they don’t already know, and even if they’re willing to listen, there’s a good chance they aren’t in a position to buy. Because of this, volume in every sense of the word was key to the sales process. In a nutshell, the mantra of traditional outbound marketing might be, “shout it loud, shout it often.” Though salespeople accepted this as a way of life, the fact remains it was a costly, time consuming, and often painful process. Breaking down a cold lead took hard work and a thick skin. Watch films like “Boiler Room” or “Glengarry Glenn Ross,” and you’ll get a sense of just how difficult this could be.
The advent of the Internet, however, changed all this. Consumers now have access to all kinds of information that was previously limited to professionals, and they can parse that information without having to sit through conversations with overeager salespeople. Consequently, the flow of the entire process has been reversed. Suddenly, an effective marketing strategy wasn’t just about finding the right people–it was also about making it easy for the right people to find you. Instead of pushing your message out, you’re drawing your clients in–hence, inbound marketing. Still, this process presents its own challenges. Outbound marketing can feel like pushing a boulder up a hill, but at least you control which direction you’re taking it. With inbound marketing, you can create the path, but the consumer ultimately decides which direction to go. The task, then, is to build a path that’s smooth, straight, scenic, and most importantly, well-maintained.