5 Recommendations for Home Builder's 2021 Marketing Strategy

The way we do business in 2020 has changed. Within the homebuilding industry, we’ve witnessed a fundamental shift in how home builders approach their marketing and sales operations. Priorities have switched to improving the online experience, as we’ve seen the adoption of website technologies—IFPs, virtual tours, chatbots, etc.—to support people staying at home. Meanwhile, new lines of communication have been adopted to coordinate teams and reach customers in the current environment.

So, with the new year right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about ways to improve your marketing strategy to best prepare your team for 2021. Although marketers can’t predict what will happen in the new year, we can use what we’ve learned so far to improve our marketing strategy to prepare as best as possible.

In this article, we will discuss 5 marketing strategy recommendations to consider when planning for the new year, let’s hop right in!

RECOMMENDATION 1: Continue to Plan for Online and Semi-Virtual Experiences

Unfortunately, the stress of adapting to contactless experiences brought on by COVID-19 won't evaporate overnight.While we hope the end is coming, we will likely be well into 2021 before we return to some sense of normal. So, for at least the next little while experiences like chat, home showings, sales appointments and other forms of connecting “face to face,” will likely remain online.

As marketers, it is our job to view this as an interesting opportunity to think outside the box, rather than an irritating problem. If nothing else, the current situation is pushing our industry towards the place where home buyers have been for years—online.

Finding new ways to connect can lead to opportunities to reach customers you might not have had otherwise. These may be home buyers that are relocating or simply aren’t able to stop by your sales centre during operating hours. So, by investing in these digital experiences, your business will mitigate some of the challenges of the ongoing pandemic as well as begin a long-term investment into your online experience.

As we are nearing the end of 2020, it’s time to put our thinking caps on and find new ways to make the online home buying experience memorable and deliver the same level of service in the digital space as we do in person.  

RECOMMENDATION 2: Invest in Technology on your Website…. it’s the New Standard!

The pandemic not only forced many components of our lives online, but also transformed our homes into so much more than a place to rest. But rather, they became our offices, classrooms and gyms. With people spending more time at home and online than ever before, the expectations we have for our homes continue to rise, along with our expectations of online shopping experiences.  

In 2021, it’s time to think of your website as your virtual office and showroom. And in this digital age your website needs to make the right first impression. As home buyers are needing to do a majority of their home search on their own and online, your website should be stacked with tools and resources to support their journey.

Technologies such as virtual tours, interactive floor plans and interactive furniture planners that were once a luxury on a home builder's website, are now the new standard. These visualization resources allow home buyers to experience what it might be like if they lived in a certain home, and With the majority of home buyers unable to visit your show homes due to the pandemic, these tools are the perfect place to start in creating a positive online home shopping experience. Visualization technology greatly impacts the buyer journey, so we recommend that builders make this investment a priority in 2021!

RECOMMENDATION 3: Invest in Website Personalization

Across every industry, online shopping and personalized recommendations go hand-in hand in so why not when shopping for a home? Buying a home is the largest purchase that most people will make in their life. It can be an exciting but very nerve-racking experience. If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s how important the online experience is. But even more than that, it’s shown us that despite the experience being online, home buyers still want to feel like their home buying journey is catered to them. That is why, we recommend that home builder marketers invest in website personalization.

Website personalization is the practice of building a customized website experience for each visitor that comes to your page. Rather than displaying a single, one size fits all experience, a personalized website displays a unique view based on a visitor’s characteristics. Website personalization and recommendations are commonplace for many industries, most notably entertainment (ex. Netflix’s recommendation platform) and retail (ex. Amazon). This technology has seen great success and has set a new standard for the online experience. While this may feel like a daunting task for many builders, at OpenHouse.ai we offer a website plug-in that allows you to add personalization to your existing website.

By using artificial intelligence, the OpenHouse.ai platform delivers a personalized website experience for each unique visitor. As a home buyer engages with your website, our AI technology learns with every click to adapt the search results to their unique preferences and offers personalized recommendations. Now, when shoppers are browsing online for their new home, it feels as though a member of your team is there with them, every step of the way.

With 2021 around the corner, investing in website personalization is a surefire way to separate you from your competition and create a superior online experience for your customers.

RECOMMENDATION 4: Evolve your Content Marketing Strategy to Align with Customers Needs

As marketers enter 2021, the marketing saying “content is king” will continue to ring true. Content marketing is used to organically improve your website SEO, bring attention to your overall brand, and help establish trust with your clients. While most marketers have jumped on the bandwagon, a lack of customer focus remains in many organizations when curating their marketing strategies.

In a survey conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, 43% of respondents noted that their organization’s content creation process follows a project-based approach. This means that their content is developed based on internal requests for content. Whereas only 30% of responders take a persona-focused approach, and a mere 12% take a customer journey-focused approach.

While producing content is great, if it isn’t following either a persona-focused approach or a customer journey-focused approach, the content will likely not perform. It is critical that your customer is at the core of your content strategy to ensure they find value in what your marketing team offers.

So, for our fourth recommendation, we believe all home builder marketers should evaluate their content marketing strategy to ensure they follow a persona or customer journey-focused approach. The best way to ensure your content is following these approaches is by speaking with your customers and developing a deep understanding of their buying journey. By learning about their pain points and moments of influence, your team will be able to develop content that best supports your home buyers at every stage.

RECOMMENDATION 5: Don't Rely on Paid Advertising

Due to fast changing policy changes, the tried and true method of digital advertising should not be marketers only strategy when entering 2021. Over the past few years, there has been consistent changes in privacy and anti-discriminatory measures on digital advertising platforms. In 2019, we saw Facebook make changes to help prevent discrimination in ads that offer housing, employment, and credit opportunities. This year, Google followed suit and released their advertising policy that prohibits employment, housing and credit advertisers from targeting based on demographic information (gender, age, parental status, marital status and zip code). And in early 2021, it appears that Apple will be making their own changes to protect the privacy of their users and will also drastically alter the digital advertising space.

What these changes might mean for 2021, is that relying on digital advertisements to reach your customer segment may not be the most sustainable option. Instead, marketers will need to diversify their marketing strategy in order to reach their customer segment effectively. This means going back to the basics and refining messaging and mediums to advertise to customers. For many marketers this also means investing in data and analytics in order to develop a deep understanding of customers’ needs, wants, and motivations. By leveraging a data-driven strategy, marketers can feel more confident in their decision making in 2021.

SUMMARY

The year 2020 has been like no other. Home builders were forced to adapt to the digital space as nearly every component of our lives shifted online. This unexpected, and dare I say unprecedented year, forced home builders to adjust and ultimately step far outside their normal operations to accommodate for the reality we now find ourselves in. But, in 2021, we have the opportunity to better prepare for all things digital. From investing in IFPs and virtual home tours to website personalization, home builder markers are able to create a positive home buying journey, even online. At OpenHouse.ai we are passionate about the customer experience, and empowering every builder to create more home buying success stories. We hope these recommendations will better equip home builder marketers to prepare for the year ahead- we can’t wait to see what innovations 2021 will bring! To read more marketing tips for 2021 and beyond, check out our hot takes from this year's ad world.

- The OpenHouse.ai Team

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