If your marketing and lead generation relies on automation, you’re stuck in the wrong decade.

Most real estate agents use automated dialers, funnels, and chatbots as their primary tactics to get clients. And, let’s face it. It’s annoying AF:

I get it; those strategies have produced results. But those same strategies hurt your brand and repel a lot of business, whether you want to admit it or not.

Just like everything else, marketing evolves. The way you were doing things is going away. It’s changing—and that’s good. Because no one wants to make 3,000 calls a day.

Let’s look at the biggest opportunities to grow your real estate business by decade—so you can step away from old-school strategies and put more attention on modern marketing.

2000-2010: REO Foreclosure Era

Everybody could get a mortgage in the first half of the 2000s, and home values were skyrocketing. Agents got instantly busy, and converting leads became easy. No one had to focus as much on lead generation or marketing because business was flowing in.

Obviously, the end of this decade is clearly defined as the era of foreclosures. If you had a deal with Bank of America and access to Equator, you were in really good shape. Agents started leaving the industry in droves. Many who lasted during these years focused their attention on foreclosures and short sales.

And by the way—people still do foreclosures. They still do short sales. But I bet it’s not their main thing anymore. I bet they can even live without doing any at this point.

And that’s the key. Because you can live without your platform, too…

2010-2020: The All-In-One Platform Era

Entering the 2010s, agents had to develop new ways to generate leads. Consumers weren’t as quick to transact as they were in the early 2000s, so follow up was essential. This became the platform era, with the majority of marketing efforts focused on creating ads and funnels for some of the biggest platforms: Facebook, Google, Instagram.

This led to teams and agents building their entire brand around automation and outsourcing lead generation efforts. It started with emails and funnels and has since expanded into just about every aspect of business.

CRMs became all-in-one platforms where agents could automate every touchpoint. The platform era calls for an extreme amount of follow-up as a way to get clients. In other words, it’s chasing leads.

The next step became hiring ISAs and using A.I. chatbots. Everybody wants to outsource lead follow-up as fast as possible. Why?

Because it’s a terrible job. And with a 99%+ fail rate, it’s hard, too. More people hate you than want to hear from you.

This worked in the 2010s. And it still works, to a degree, today. But I’m arguing there’s a real cost—to all those people who get annoyed and those who don’t become an appointment.

No one wants to receive spam calls or deal with an incoherent chatbot. In the same way unwanted mass emails are marked as suspected spam, phone numbers that make a high volume of unanswered calls are tagged now, too.

Agents are already starting to see this happening, like when past clients inform them their cell phone number shows up as suspected spam when they call.

I’ve been predicting that would happen. Phone carriers know the source of those calls. Think of it like email. If enough people mark you as spam, Gmail will automatically put your material in the spam folder. This same thing is happening with dialers.

So, where does that leave us now?

2020-2030: Content Marketing Era

The platform era is the industry that was. I hope it’s not the industry that will be.

The industry’s average conversion rate of internet leads is way below 1%. So you’re already failing. Why not try going two for ten instead of one for one hundred?

The biggest opportunity to grow your real estate business for the next decade will be through content marketing that builds your personal brand. By creating things that actually make people smile, generate buzz, and make people stop and think. Most people haven’t figured out how to do that yet, but it’s coming.

When I see what agents like Matt Lionetti, Brad McCallum, Taya DiCarlo, and Glennda Baker are doing, I call it modern marketing. It’s clearly different from the old-school approach because it’s based on attracting leads, not chasing them. I bet Glennda Baker isn’t calling 100 leads a day. 

People executing on content marketing today will be so far ahead of people who are only building funnels because they’re building their brand, their following, and the trust needed to be seen as a thought leader.

The only path is not automation. Another approach is hand-crafted—and that’s where content marketing comes in.

Create a Content Strategy for Everything You Do

So, how do you create a content strategy? Here are some tips to bring you into the content marketing era.

  • Instead of chasing, focus on attracting. Start by reading Seth Godin’s books about permission marketing and commit to using video and social media. To be fair, this can be just as hard as being an ISA. It takes time and commitment.
  • Analyze your social media posts. Go back to everything you’ve ever posted on your Facebook and Instagram. Sort your posts by the most popular, and find your top five most popular organic posts. (Ones you did not pay for.) Now, put some money behind those posts to get them in front of more people who don’t already know you. 
  • Beta test. Start creating content organically, and post it on Facebook (or wherever you get the most organic traction) as a beta test. Once you know what performs best, start posting and boosting it on other platforms.
  • Invest in ads for content, not for capturing. Most people only spend money on ads that drive people to landing pages. The quickest, easiest advice is to start investing in ads to build awareness around your brand.
  • Create a content strategy for every lead generation strategy. No matter what type of lead generation strategy you use, you need to pair it with a content strategy. If you are going door knocking or making calls, tell the homeowner you work with Zillow as a Premier Agent. Explain that you are collecting data to find out who agrees with their Zestimate. Provide them with their Zestimate and some comps of recently sold properties in the area. This value add is an example of how to modernize traditional strategies.

Are you ready for the future of real estate marketing?

I envision a future where the industry isn’t annoying. And I think A.I. pretending to be a person or having a bot create all of your market reports for you is lazy.

The real estate industry is so obsessed with set-it-and-forget-it, but it’s a dangerous spot to be in when every touchpoint is either automated or outsourced.

Start implementing modern content, and just see what it does for your business.