Have You Shopped Yourself Lately?

Jul 29, 2010

Looking to increase conversions? Think like a customer.

O.K., so you’re a successful homebuilder. Fantastic. And you’re marketing online—and maybe even taking advantage of an Online Sales Counselor to increase prospect interaction, response and conversions. Even better.

Still, you’re probably starting to realize it’s no longer O.K. to just sit back and wait for homebuyers to come a-knocking. Today’s online marketing technologies evolve and improve almost hourly, so if you want to make sure you’re focusing your online marketing efforts in the right areas, it’s critical to keep up with what your competitors are up to, as well.

The alternative? Being left behind in a huge cloud of technology dust. Here are a few quick tips that every marketing manager/OSC should be doing on a regular basis.

Google new homes in your areas—and see how you stack up.
In a few seconds, you can do a quick Google search for “new homes [your town]” and see how you rank in the search results (or if you rank at all). You’ll get a glimpse of your competitors’ offerings—and maybe even discover some new options for listing properties in other areas.

Just keep in mind: results and rankings change almost constantly, so make sure you constantly optimize your site for easy access by Google and other top search engines.

Don’t trust third-party sources for accurate, up-to-date listings.

Do you list your homes on third-party sites like NewHomeSource.com, NewHomesDirectory.com, Trulia.com? Again, search these sites for homes in your area as if you’re a customer to make sure your listings are current and accurate. Try searches in different areas and investment ranges. These websites don’t have time to keep up with everyone’s inventory—so make sure you check back with them often to make sure your listings are up to date and correct.

Try to “break” your website with a critical test-drive.
Curious how your site performs when a potential customer is searching for a home? Again, put yourself in their shoes—or at least in their web browser. Fire up your site with a critical eye, as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Then, ask yourself:

  • Is the navigation intuitive?
  • Are communities and floorplans easily accessible?
  • Are any of the links “dead”?
  • Are any of the pages—or listed properties—outdated?

Nothing is more frustrating to a prospect than an outdated website. That means one of your most important online marketing jobs is to MONITOR AND UPDATE EVERYTHING constantly. At the same time, make sure your company’s important features and promotions are properly highlighted—and that navigation is part of the solution (instead of a sales-blocker).

Don’t forget to keep track of competitors, too.

It’s easy to become complacent and think that the online homebuilder marketing universe revolves around you. Don’t worry; it’s just human nature, but it’s also one of the great barriers to expanding your horizons—and your success. Keeping an eye on your competitors’ sites is one of the best ways to learn about new features, programs and marketing strategies you may be able to leverage for your business.

Submit a request—to your OWN company.

O.K., so you send out hundreds of emails a month. But are you on the receiving end of your own marketing campaigns? You should be. Just remember the old phrase “Out of sight, out of mind.” Make sure to include your own contact information in all your marketing campaigns—automated or otherwise—to make sure your messaging is concise, properly targeted and correctly delivered. In your new “consumer” mindset, you may realize you don’t like the tone, phrasing or even the overall content of the communications you’re sending out to represent your company.

Conduct period reviews of the online marketing landscape.
Over time, for various reasons, web-based programs and processes for marketing your business online will break down and stop working. By far, the best way to check your entire web-marketing ecosystem is to regularly conduct new-home searches via your own site—as well as those of your top competitors. Just make sure that SOMEONE in your organization is the “point person” for periodic reviews of the online marketing landscape.

Remember, today’s web-savvy customers are already comparing you to your online competitors—so you might as well be aware of what they’re seeing. That way, you can proactively plan new programs and quickly react to competitive developments.

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