Online real estate lead generation: 1994 – 2007

Tampa, Florida — November 27, 2007

The National Association of Tired Ideas today issued a brief statement noting the death of online real estate Lead Generation. Lead Generation – which emerged on the scene scarcely ten years ago – met its demise on Saturday, September 29th at 2:30 a.m. on a template website belonging to Don “The Deal Maker” Davies, an agent who “goes the extra mile for his clients,” but rarely checks his email.

“I noticed a glitch in our lead system and found that it was trying to pass along the name “Nancy Sinatra” to Mr. Davies,” said Steve Hendstrom, the attending technician. “I tried everything I could to free up the system, but in the end, all I was able to get it to do was belch, make a clanging sound, and utter the word “Rosebud” to absolutely no one in particular … Lead Generation crashed, just like that.”

Lead Generation was born on March 22, 1994 on the website of Minneapolis agent Dale Montrose, who was able to get trusting consumers to give him their names, contact information, social security numbers and sexual histories in exchange for an offer of “FREE REPORTS”. Recalls Montrose, speaking from his vacation home on Grand Cayman, “Those were the salad days. I stacked leads in my inbox like cordwood. Thank god for my autoresponder.”

Soon, companies emerged that took Lead Generation nationwide, using it to sell thousands of agent and broker websites. In 1996, a website product called “Agent e-Generator Gold: Platinum Edition” set a new standard by using Lead Generation on no less than forty three forms on a single site. Lead Generation was the talk of industry listservs, feted at conventions and touted in real estate offices across America.

In the late nineties, Lead Generation went big time, cutting deals with several high profile internet companies. These firms worked with Lead Generation to scrub, verify, incubate and route leads – which were previously known as “people” — to eager real estate professionals. Thanks to Lead Generation, millions of homebuyers and sellers were successfully captured and converted during this period.

In 2000, Lead Generation partnered with Drip Email to deliver hundreds of millions of holiday greetings, recipes, high school football schedules and inspirational messages to consumers hungry for random information from salespeople.

But by late 2005 Lead Generation was in trouble. It was stretched across thousands of stealth websites, pop-ups and landing pages; tucked behind millions of “contact me” links and “home search” forms; and, sadly, taken advantage of by lead arbitrage outfits and black market dealers peddling synthetic, “human free” leads. By early this year, many saw the end coming.

“Nothing will ever replace Lead Generation” said Don “The Deal Maker” Davies. “Some incredibly famous people passed through my inbox over the years: Moses, Gary Coleman, Nancy Reagan, Flava Flav, Dick Cavett … those were just a few of the celebs that took the time to fill out one of my Website forms.”

Mike Nesbitt, a recent college graduate who purchased a condo in Dallas, Texas in 2004, was not so sentimental. “It took me forever to find a decent Realtor and I had to sift through so much fluff … all those dog pictures — WTF?” Continues Nesbitt, “In spite of Lead Generation, I did end up finding an agent who actually got back to me in a flash and took the time to answer my questions – she was awesome.”

Lead Generation is survived by Customer Engagement, its decidedly more social, open and confident offspring. Some industry observers familiar with Customer Engagement note that it also shows the influence of its grandparents, Relationships and Value.