In today’s market, you likely don’t have an issue with lead generation or creating demand for your homes – we are living in an exceptional and exhausting time for new home sales and marketing. While this market comes with its challenges, who would have thought that we would be dealing with the issues of relentless prospects, limiting sales, supply and land shortages, rising costs and prices (everything is more expensive), all happening amongst a time when our personal lives have seen significant disruption. Whoa … someone put on the brakes!
Whether we have reached a peak or not, we know that this market can’t sustain itself. Heck, WE can’t. But how do we improve? How do we gracefully manage a return to consistent lead flow, consistent sales and growth, all while maintaining both our sanity, profitability, … and our brand!
Preparation and personalization.
What we have learned from the last 12 months is that consumers are demanding a better digital experience. Builders were forced to meet the consumers where they were already comfortable … online. And quite honestly, providing richer content and more information on the website helps the prospect (more self-service/independence, which is what they want); and the online sales group gets a more qualified/informed prospect when the prospect registers (win/win).
But what does a personalized experience really mean? As consumers, we want to feel a connection and we want a frictionless experience – ‘let me do things the way I want, find the things I want, and when I’m ready I’ll reach out.” Think about your own shopping experience – you often start online, research, review, you shop different options, and typically you don’t ‘sign up’ to be contacted until you are further along the buying process and you have specific questions or want to discuss your options. When new home buyer goes back to a website or even visits a model home, the ability to pick up where they left off, is appreciated. Instead, are we forcing them to start over again for each communication channel they choose to use? Who wants to keep starting over in today’s world? We are all too busy for that.
A personalized experience can start by simply ‘speaking’ to the buyer personas – whether it’s first-time buyers, empty-nesters, move-up – visually providing them with the confidence that you have what they are looking for.
Great content, coupled with a personalized experience. Simple!
The following are 8 ways that you can provide a better personalized experience for today’s buyer:
- Easy-to-find, non-gated content: Today’s buyer doesn’t want to have to register on your website to find basic information. You need to earn their trust, their desire to register. Having the right content in an easy-to-find way, is the key to success. Don’t make them register (they won’t), instead encourage them to want to register and engage with you.
- Interactive content trumps static. Can they interact with your plans and elevations and “build” their home? Can they get an idea of the prices of your homes by adding options? What you build, where, and what choices they have may be more important than your builder story (at least early on). Your content is their roadmap. You are helping them navigate. Let them enjoy the scenery along the way and make it a comfortable ride.
- Make it easy to get serious. The car-buying analogy is used a lot – consumers are building out the car they want online. They still go to the dealership for a test drive, but they are arriving at the dealership when they are serious to buy. New home buying is similar!
- Promote the educated buyer. Today’s home buyer wants to be more in control of their buying experience and when they arrive on your doorstep and register, or call in, or make an appointment … be prepared for a much better-educated buyer who is further along the buying process. Your sales process should reflect that!
- Experiential marketing. We have shifted from a traditional marketing approach to an experiential marketing approach. Experiential marketing focuses on making a connection with the buyer and is a more personal approach. Less features and more lifestyle and relatability. Learning from the buyer’s online behavior helps you customize communication and be positioned as the trusted advisor.
- Marketing and sales. Sales and marketing. A unified approach. Marketing doesn’t stop at lead capture. You must be focused on providing a personalized touch throughout the entire buying process. Marketing now owns the buyer experience. Sales and marketing have never been more closely tied.
- Omnichannel over multichannel. How is the transition from online to offline? Does it start all over or where the buyer left off? Buyers are using a variety of different channels and they expect their experience to be connected. This is often referred to as an omnichannel experience. Can their online experience be taken offline? Interactive content that can be shared online.
- Be transparent. Costs are soaring, supply is limited or non-existent, lead volume is at an all-time high. Being upfront, honest and set clear expectations goes a long way in this market … and quite frankly, any market.
The most important thing to remember is to always look at the customer journey through the lens of the buyer. Coach your teams to be empathetic to your buyers and to be their trusted advisors. Provide the technology, tools, and collaboration to continually improve the buyer experience. A good customer experience can’t happen without a cohesive team. The companies that empower their teams and provide the support and infrastructure in place will be leaps and bounds ahead next year.
About the author…
Angela McKay (yes, the former Lasso Angela!) is now the VP, Customer Experience at Anewgo. Anewgo is the parent company of Rendering House, the leading provider of interactive content for home builders. Anewgo provides web apps to enhance the buyer experience; and a data insights platform to equip builders with shopping behavior to match new home buyers to their perfect home. Reach out to Angela at email@example.com. She would love to talk with you about the buyer journey!