In this age of social media and digital dominance, you might think that when it comes to leads — the lifeblood for contractors — the web would be king. But you’d be wrong.

That’s according to results from the 2015 Remodeling 550, an annual survey of top replacement contractors across the nation. When asked to name the most productive lead generators, those contractors named old horses such as referrals over new-fangled methods such as Angie’s List. Here’s a look at the 10 most productive lead generators and the percentage of contractors who ranked them in each spot:

  1. Referrals: 43%
  2. Previous customers/repeat customers: 32%
  3. Company website/search engine optimization (SEO): 28%
  4. Events/home shows: 27%
  5. Word-of-mouth: 19%
  6. Television/Cable TV: 18%
  7. Door-to-Door Canvassing: 17%
  8. Internet pay-per-click: 13%
  9. Direct mail: 14%
  10. Internet referrals from social media, including places such as Houzz, Angie’s List, and Porch: 11%

 The fact that referrals top this list actually shows that these contractors are doing their jobs — and recognizing that successful replacement contracting doesn’t follow the same rules as other business, says Bill McGowan marketing consultant for Save Energy Company.

“What contractors experience is the need for real relationships — not virtual ones,” McGowan said. “When a homeowner is asking someone to work on his or her prize possession, looking someone in the eyes, talking with them in person and shaking their hand is what is ultimately important.”

While that may be true, contractors could be relying too heavily on “old-school” referral methods, says Mike Damora, general manager at K&B Home Remodelers LLC. He said it’s particularly telling that homeshows/events are nearly tied with SEO. “SEO is better than any shows, or event, hands down,” he said. “The challenge is most home improvement firms are skeptical, if not downright ignorant of technology, SEO, review sites and the entire concept of inbound marketing.”

Phil Isaacs, owner of California Energy Consultant Services, says his firm has worked hard to “crack the code” of SEO, (Click to read the rest of the article.)