Consumers wade in before taking a deeper dive.

Shopping for a new home builder starts with surfing the Web. Prospective home buyers poke around, testing the waters on a wide range of builder websites—some that were referred to them, and others that showed up in an organic Web search.

At first, these browsers are merely wading. I call this the “shallow dive”. They don’t necessarily care about the location of your communities. Yes, in spite of the “Location! Location! Location!” mantra, your prospects are first skimming the surface and often ignore location based information. These people are skipping rocks, getting a feel for your business. They look at your site to see if it looks professional, or just something slapped together so you have some “presence” on the Web.

The shallow divers will spend a little time poking around on your website, trying to get a feel for you as a company they might want to do business with. Is it clear that you are committed to personal service and quality home building? Do you effectively portray your value proposition—the factors that differentiate you from the other builders vying for their business?

Before you answer, put yourself in their mindset, put your ego aside, and then take a look at your website. A website that can’t engage a shallow diver hurts you, so be honest with yourself.

Look at the color, the design, and the photography. Re-read the content, making sure it’s interesting, current, and (very important) error-free. Make sure it’s easy for a newcomer to navigate through your site to get to the content that is most important to them. Again, this is often not community or location based information – but home designs, included features, and lots of amazing pictures or videos of your best work.

The home buyer who is shallow diving is primarily looking to weed out some of the prospects. They’re looking more for blemishes that will eliminate you from the competition than for reasons to keep you in.

Once you make the browser’s short list, be ready for the deep dive. The home buyer now plunges into your website to gather up information. They want to see photos—lots of them, from every angle—and videos. They’ll now take the time to follow one virtual tour after another, to read every paragraph and download floor plans and elevations, because they’re looking for those extra-special features that resonate with them. It could be as simple as a backsplash or an entryway, or perhaps a phrase about your process that reels them in.

The deep diver should be able to find testimonials from your happy home buyers, learn about your preferred lender, and understand how you manage the building process. You should answer questions they haven’t even thought to ask yet.

What does your site communicate about your business? Take an objective look. Ask trusted advisors to do the same. How does your homepage welcome both the shallow diver and the deep diver? Are they getting a quality view of your operation? Can they easily find the information they want—and plenty of it? Remember, if your shallow diver can’t comfortably dip into your site, then you won’t have the opportunity to make a big splash with the deep dive later.

You can watch the video above or click here to view on YouTube.

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