What Does a Modern Home Builder Marketing Strategy Actually Look Like?
Many home builders across the country still don't have a foundational, long-term marketing strategy to operate by. Not only does this make it hard to understand the impact marketing is having on revenue, it makes it even harder to see how each campaign fits into the bigger picture. But with the right strategy in place, your marketing efforts become a consistent and reliable source of generating leads for your salespeople.
So what does a modern home builder marketing strategy actually look like? You'll learn that and more in this article.
Reading Time: 15 minutes
- Understanding the purpose of going digital
- How to attract your ideal buyer
- How to align your content with the home buyer's journey
- Understanding the marketing and sales funnel
- The importance of engagement and relationship building
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A "surefire strategy" sounds great, but can be defined as one that is assumed to bring success based on expected results.
You might think of a powerful chess player who has developed a longstanding strategy, making them an expert of the game. What has always worked continues to work. But what about when the game changes?
The home building industry holds a lot of history, but the fact of the matter is, the game has changed. The modern home buyer doesn't involve a salesperson until they're most of the way through their home buyer journey. Easily 90% or more of the leads that come into your sales centre have already visited your website. And if they're ready to talk to a salesperson, they likely know which community they want to live in, the model they like most, and the options or upgrades they want.
Where do you think all of that happens?
It happens online. At your virtual sales center, AKA your website.
To construct a home builder marketing strategy that works today, a builder has to take the fact that they're dealing with modern home buyers into account. The way people buy homes now is incomparable to how it was done even five years ago.
Doing Things Digital
Digital, in this case, means online and being website-focused. You know your website is your virtual sales centre. It's where modern buyers now complete the majority of their “buying process” without even interacting with a salesperson (#ThanksInternet). To establish yourself as a modern home builder and to keep winning in your market, you have to adjust your marketing strategy to be buyer-focused. That means it's designed to make it easier for buyers to buy, how THEY want to buy.
Gone are the days prospective home buyers had to physically travel to a sales office or show home to question a salesperson to get more information. Modern buyers are now able to fire up Google and find the answer to just about any question in the comfort of their own homes. Sure, some may still prefer face-to-face interactions, but this is often inconvenient, especially when they’re nowhere near ready to buy a home and are just wanting to scope out their options.
What we see now are cautious buyers who want to conduct research on their ownand at their own pace, before taking the step of seeking out a salesperson. They have questions they want answers to, and the internet allows them to easily find it.
The key, then, is for you to be the source they’re getting their answers from! They're going to find their information online anyways, shouldn't they get it from you?
Attracting Your Ideal Buyer
Positioning yourself as a helpful resource for new home buyers is going to be your ticket to attracting visitors to your website. The way you do that is through content marketing. Content marketing is exactly what you’d think it would be: marketing using content (such as blogs, ebooks, infographics, video, etc.).
Would you guess that your goal, then, is to create loads of content to attract as many website visitors as you can?
Actually, that’s not exactly what you should be after!
While a steady stream of visitors to your site is a good thing, it’s not the most valuable thing. What you really want is to attract the right visitors.
Your goal is to attract visitors who are most likely to become leads and, eventually, happy customers. Having a huge number of visitors isn’t going to equal success if they don't convert to leads. This means you need to know the type of content that's going to draw in those ideal visitors – and that they'll be willing to give you their contact information in exchange for it.
This brings us to the necessity of knowing your buyers.
Developing Buyer Personas
In order to know your buyers, part of your digital home builder marketing strategy should be to create home buyer personas. These will be fictional but realistic profiles that represent your most ideal buyers. By gathering real data on how their demographic thinks, their values and motivations, their challenges and pain points, and whatever else you deem necessary to know as a home builder, you can begin to paint a picture of who these people are.
Since the data you collect needs to be real (and not based on assumptions) you’ll need to conduct surveys and interviews, have forms ready to be filled out on your site, and ask for personal information from both current and prospective buyers.
And, to truly know your buyer personas, it goes beyond collecting demographic data. You also have to pay close attention to behavioural trends. Marketing automation software such as HubSpot is useful in this case to track online activity.
By seeing how your prospects behave online and how they're engaging with your website, you’ll be able to refine your home builder marketing strategy. Learn what types of content they seem to be interested in and create more of it. Then determine where they are spending their time online, and promote and distribute your content there.
Aligning With The Home Buyer’s Journey
Alright, so you know your buyers and you’ve started creating content relevant to their needs and wants. This is fantastic, but it’s only one side of the coin. You also want your content to align with the home buyer’s journey.
What is the home buyer’s journey?
Basically, it's a progression of stages home buyers typically go through from the point of realizing their current home isn’t working for them anymore to the point of purchasing a new one.
The stages can be categorized as follows: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.
The Awareness stage is when prospects are just becoming aware of their housing problem (i.e. my home is not working for me anymore) and they’re seeking out information. This is when high-level, educational, and informative content is appropriate. These people are not ready to be sold or even marketed to. You need to help them better understand their problem and what options are available to them to solve it.
During the next stage, Consideration, prospects are starting to learn more about their options. They're one step closer to the decision to purchase, they still have a ways to go. The Consideration stage is the longest stage of the entire journey. These would be people who are more seriously considering buying a new home but are still weighing their options. Content that contains some light marketing and positioning is good, but be mindful that your content must still be educational in nature.
Finally, when your prospect is ready, they’ll enter the Decision stage – they are ready to buy! When you’re sure a prospect is at this stage, you’ve got the green light to hand them off to Sales so they can work their magic.
The point is, the content you're going to offer prospects should be adjusted, depending on where they are in their journey. Your strategy should involve tracking prospects’ activity to determine how best to interact with them.
Focus on Your Funnel
Another way to understand where your prospect is at and the best method of engaging with them is to focus on your funnel stages.
You may already be aware of the traditional sales funnel that sees a lead come in, a salesperson qualifies them as a legit opportunity and then attempts to convert them into a customer.
For a modern, digital, home marketing strategy to be effective, your funnel needs to evolve. It can't only take the sales process into account any longer. It must integrate with your marketing process.
As we’ve said, people are going to spend a lot of time researching and seeking answers to their questions before putting themselves in the position of being sold to. The new marketing and sales funnel extends things upwards. More people come in the top, and therefore more come out the bottom. It's all a numbers game.
A marketing and sales funnel recognizes visitors to your site are not necessarily leads (remember, entering the Awareness stage means they just want information). After a person fills out a form and shares their contact information with you, you can then consider them a lead.
But, not so fast! In the marketing and sales funnel, these people are still at the top because they’ve only become “information qualified leads” meaning they’re not quite ready to be marketed to, and definitely not ready to be sold to. As you continue to nurture these leads with helpful content, contacts will move further down the funnel as they warm up and become "marketing qualified leads" and, eventually, “sales qualified leads”.
This method is absolutely essential in a modern marketing strategy as it forces Marketing and Sales to work together as one powerful "revenue generation" team responsible for the generating and closing of customers.
Some people might enter the funnel and quickly move through the three stages, coming out the bottom as a new customer. This is typical of first-time buyers who tend to have a shorter sales cycle. Others can get stuck in various parts of the funnel. It’s your job to be attentive to your leads at any stage and utilize the tools in your marketing strategy to help nudge them along by providing a clear and logical next step for them to take.
Engagement and Relationship Building
By now it should be clear your digital home builder marketing strategy should be built on creating content that assists buyers in their research. Positioning yourself as a helpful resource gives you the opportunity to connect with prospects in a meaningful way and start to build rapport early on in their buying process.
When that happens, they’re going to see you as a valuable, trustworthy source as you lead them through your funnel. Developing a relationship with your prospects in this way opens the door to a sales conversation when they're ready to have one.
Wait – a relationship? Are you telling me I should befriend my prospects?
This strategy works because it is a repeatable, step-by-step process.
Imagine for a moment passing a stranger standing in their driveway and immediately stopping to tell them their house is worn-down and they should buy a new one… oh, and they should definitely buy it from you. I’m sure you can also imagine what kind of reaction you’d get.
That's how traditional marketing has always worked – an interruptive, assumptive, “in your face” tactic. We’re flipping that on its head with this strategy. The idea is we want to start by presenting educational content (that is not sales-oriented) to entice visitors to move along the funnel and submit their information in exchange for more content they’re interested in.
Now that they’ve given you permission to market to them, it’s an opportunity to get to know them better to really understand what it is they need, then to accommodate that.
Engaging with prospects in this way is nurturing a relationship of trust.
Now imagine the scenario when a person decides on their own terms that they’re ready to buy a home. As they consider their options for builders to work with, who do you think they’re most likely to choose? One they just noticed plastered on a billboard on their way to work? Or you, the builder that engaged with them online, answered all their questions, and shared valuable content – the one that built a strong rapport?
The answer is obvious!
So answer those questions in the comments on a social post; send out emails with relevant content and respond helpfully; do anything you can to show your prospects that you care about their personal needs and that they’re not just another commission cheque.
Make Your Site Work For You, Too
We’ve mentioned how your strategy should be website-focused since it's your marketing hub and your digital sales centre. You already know your website should have an appealing design – but let’s dig a little deeper into why.
Your website is going to be the platform where your visitors come looking for information and to see where you build and what you build. It needs to be 100% focused on gaining their permission to market to them after they leave your site. It must be easy to navigate, have exceptional visuals, and provide all of the information they're looking for. This is a huge part of creating a website that's designed to drive revenue.
Did you know your website design can increase your customer engagement?
It’s true! Capturing attention, striking an emotional chord, and encouraging the viewer to take action are things that can be achieved with thoughtful design.
Start with visuals, choosing fonts and colours that complement one another and appeal to your target audience. Grabbing their attention isn’t enough though, you need to make sure your copy is well-written and provides the information your buyer personas are looking for.
Finally, make sure each page of your website has a clear next step to take. Use effective calls-to-action to drive them further down the funnel. Make sure they are clear and concise and don't require any thought.
As you can tell, a polished and user-friendly website design will make a huge impact on the effectiveness of your online marketing. But don't forget you need to be interacting with your prospects on your website as well – you can't rely on the machines to do all the work. Even in the digital world, it will be the human connection that closes the deal.
It's a Process!
Based on what we've covered here, your home builder marketing strategy must include all of the elements: designing a quality website that acts as a polished information and lead capture center; identifying your buyer personas and gaining an understanding of the home buyer's journey; utilizing this information to give form and function to your funnel; staying actively engaged with your prospects and customers to build rapport, and keep it.
This is the kind of strategy that's going to transform your marketing and position you as the go-to home builder in your market. The one that modern buyers are looking for.
And it all starts with strategy. But it doesn’t stop there. The Home Builder’s Guide to Effective Digital Marketing can help you take your digital marketing to new heights!
For your marketing to be effective as a modern home builder, you're going to need a modern strategy. But the question is, what does that look like?
First and foremost, it's necessary to realize and accept that the way people buy homes has drastically changed in the past 5 years. The customer has the power now, not the seller. In the time leading up to making a home purchase, prospective buyers have loads of questions – but they're no longer searching for a salesperson to provide them with answers (seller in control). Instead, they're searching for the answers directly on the Internet (buyer in control); just a few clicks through Google lets them do that now!
This means your strategy needs to be digital, and more specifically, website-focused. Like we've mentioned, your website is like your online sales office and your marketing efforts should draw visitors there.
Marketing by creating content – such as blog posts, ebooks, videos, and more – and distributing it will turn your website into a magnet that attracts your ideal buyers. Your content, therefore, should be informational, valuable, and relatable to the buyer personas you've developed and needs to be the answer or solution to their questions and problems. This will position you as a trusted resource, giving you more influence over their future buying decisions.
To set a strong foundation for content marketing, you're going to want to focus on your funnel. This involves knowing the steps your prospects take before they make the decision to buy – in other words, the home buyer's journey. By designing your marketing and sales funnel so it aligns with the home buyer's journey, you can begin to understand what stage your prospect is at and what type of content is best suited for them at that time, to bump them to the next step in the process.
One prospect may be just becoming aware of their need for a new home while another is making serious considerations like which neighbourhood to live in. This type of context will help determine how far into the funnel the prospect is; are they an "information qualified lead," a "marketing qualified lead," or a "sales qualified lead"? With this in mind, you can adjust how you approach each particular lead. Each requires different kinds of content to move them from one stage to the next.
Ultimately, this type of strategy goes far beyond just advertising. It's all about engagement and relationship building. Toss aside interruptive marketing tactics like sending blast emails to your entire contact list or paying for untargeted ads. Modern buyers tune this out, and it's time to take it personally. If you're not being focused and segmenting your marketing to specific audiences, you're wasting your marketing budget.
Engage with your prospects on your site, through email, and on social media in a way that is highly personalized. Luckily, doing things digitally makes this easy because you can track a person's online activity and your interactions with them. From there, you can continue to nurture a relationship with your prospect that feels genuine for them. When you earn their trust, you gain the opportunity to have some influence with them. You get to become their guide on their home buying journey.