There are some general best practices for modern web design, which you may already be aware of. But there are also some web design best practices for home builders to implement in their website design to ensure that their sites are reaching their ideal clients and converting them to leads.
Images of gorgeous homes are going to be attractive to your website visitors, since what they want to see, and ultimately, what they want to purchase, are gorgeous homes.
Good photos of the homes you build should be the center of your design, and your content should support that, rather than the other way around. Plus, images are easy to share on social media platforms, which is the new word-of-mouth.
Social Media Integration
Ensuring that your site integrates social media can increase the buzz about your homes and can make your site more user-friendly. People are going to want to share images of your homes via social media.
Make sure that you not only have those attractive, high-quality images, but also social sharing buttons. Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Houzz are all possible mediums that visitors might use to share your photos.
Additionally, if your company is on any of these social media platforms (and it should be, especially Houzz!) they should be integrated into your site so users can easily navigate to your company’s profile on any of those platforms so they can engage with you there.
Any site in 2019 needs to be mobile-responsive. More than 60 percent of all web searches are done on mobile devices, which means that there’s a big chance that your website visitors are looking at your site on a smartphone, tablet, or other small screen.
If your site is difficult to navigate for mobile users, you’ll miss out on a lot of valuable mobile traffic. Google penalizes sites that aren’t mobile-friendly, and mobile-friendly sites are easier for users to share, getting your name in front of more potential future clients.
Quick Loading Time
Since people are going to be visiting your site on mobile devices, on the go, a quick load time is essential. While your visitors are going to want to see gorgeous images of your homes, they don’t want to wait for tons of pictures to load.
Explain Who You Are and Why You’re Different From the Competition
If there’s something you can do to ensure that your site isn’t just generating leads, but quality leads, it’s to explain who you are, what you do, and why your company is different from the other home builders in your area.
Your niche and market need to be clearly outlined on your website. If they’re not, you’re going to miss out on calls from your ideal clients—and get a bunch of calls from people who aren’t good fits for the homes you build, such as people outside of your location or looking for a home that’s not in your price range.
If you’re a luxury home builder in the Grand Rapids area, make sure you specify that clearly on your site in a place that’s impossible for site visitors to miss.
Calls to Action
Calls to Action (CTAs) are crucial design elements for home builder sites. Why? Because you want visitors to your site to take action… by getting in touch with you. CTAs make it easier for people to do just that.
CTAs are usually bright-colored buttons that invite website visitors to click on them. They usually have text that asks a user to do something specific, like “Request a Quote” or “Schedule a Consultation.”
Landing pages are pages where a visitor “lands” after clicking on a CTA or a digital ad. It restricts their navigation options and allows the visitor to complete a form with their contact information in exchange for information that you provide them.
That information needs to be something of value to your visitor, to make giving you their contact info worthwhile. Things like ebooks and guides offering information about “How to Design Your Dream Home” or “Everything You Need to Know About Home Design,” motivate visitors to convert by completing the landing page form.
Landing pages are a critical design feature for home builder websites because they can help you:
Convert qualified visitors to leads
Direct visitors to information relevant to them
Build your authority and credibility by providing valuable information to visitors
Track where visitors are coming to your site from
Capture analytics that you can use to determine marketing ROI and optimize your digital marketing efforts
Also, explain your process. Prospective home buyers are going to want to know how you build homes, how long it takes, and what else they should expect before they will put down any money on their new home.
Content definitely matters, on any site, and we’ll always say that, but content shouldn’t be the centerpiece of your home builder site. Images and calls to action are going to be center-stage on your site, so don’t write 2,000 word essays for each and every page.
Using good SEO practices and keyword optimization are essential, of course. But long blocks of text are going to turn away site visitors who don’t need to read in so many words that you build homes—they need to see what your homes look like, and know how to request a site plan or pricing.
As a home builder, your website is your digital portfolio—it’s what potential clients look at to see if your houses are what they’re looking for. If you don’t have a stunning website that’s image forward, let’s chat. We can build you a site that’s not only beautiful but also functional.
And if you’d like to know more about our experience with home builders and real estate developers, be sure to check out the case study below:
An effective email marketing strategy is very important for home developers looking to sell lots and fill developments quickly. Email marketing functions for developers in two ways: 1) you can let consumers know about your development before you even break ground, making the selling process much smoother for you, and 2) it allows you to hold on to consumers who may not have been ready to purchase a home in one development, but who may be perfect buyers for the next.
When done properly, email marketing has wonderful potential to get your company in front of the right consumers, at the right time. It’s a wonderful addition to any inbound or outbound marketing strategy because it speaks directly to your target buyer. Here are a few key things to know about starting an email marketing campaign for your real estate development company:
Know Who Your Ideal Buyer Is
The first and best way to email your subscriber list effectively is to know who they are. It sounds basic, but you’d be surprised at the number of weird spammy emails the average consumer gets in a day. Know a little something about who you plan on sending that newsletter to, and you’ll see better results all around.
Create buyer personas. For most real estate developments, buyer personas are actually pretty easy to pin down. You already know most of the information: the average income of your typical buyer, the average age, marital status, etc. Pool all of that information into two or three buyer personas, and then segment your email lists accordingly. That way you’re always sending out relevant content to the right buyer persona. That will help keep your number of “unsubscribes” low.
Remember that you can’t make everyone happy. When you start sending newsletters out to a list of email addresses, you’re bound to get a few “unsubscribes”, and that’s okay. Not everyone is a perfect fit for your real estate development, and your goal should be to keep the ones who are a perfect fit on your email list. If you’re selling a real estate development for empty nesters, you shouldn’t be upset about a 20-30 year old unsubscribing. They weren’t a good fit anyway. Instead, focus on creating emails that speak directly to those empty nesters your community is built for.
Speak Solutions, Not Services
Email marketing campaigns that get ignored often have almost nothing to do with the buyer. If you’re just talking about how wonderful your development is, most consumers are going to hit the delete button before they even make it through the headline.
Successful email marketing campaigns are ones that consumers actually want to read, and choose to stay subscribed to.
Yes, you build wonderful homes, and your developments are gorgeous and highly exclusive, but think of that from your buyer’s perspective. Why would they want to move into your development? What problems do they have that your developments solve? Do you offer maintenance-free living? A community center? Close proximity to a golf course, lake, etc?
Instead of talking about your development directly, think about the problems your development solves for the people who live in it. Put those solutions in your email campaigns, and you’ll start to see better subscription and bounce rates.
Though your email marketing campaigns are meant to convert people to make a purchase, you have to talk about something more than the homes you have for sale if you want to convince people. Your homes might be beautiful, but so are a lot of others — what makes your development or community stand out for the residents? How do your homes improve their quality of life?
Keep it Low-Key
Don’t email too much, and don’t email too often. Keep emails short, sweet, and helpful. Play your email campaign casual. It’s no surprise that the decision time for purchasing a new home is long, and for most consumers, no manner of persuasion will get them to buy a new house before they actually have the money to do it. Instead, keep yourself on their radar by continuously providing helpful content that they actually care about, in a way that’s not pushy.
Definitely keep your CTA at the end of every email and newsletter you send out, but try not to send out more than one email a week to regular subscribers. If you’re following up on a lead, that might warrant a few extra emails a week, but if they decide they’re not ready to buy, don’t continue to harass them.
Instead, add them to your regular newsletter, where they will occasionally receive delightful content about choosing the right home, decorating a new home, or knowing when it’s time to purchase a new home. When they do decide to buy a home, you’ll be the first person they call, because your name will be fresh in their minds from your consistent, but casual, emails — emails they genuinely liked!
In the end, an effective email campaign is all about being pleasantly persistent, but not pushy. Keep offering up content that your buyers genuinely want to hear, and they’ll know that you’re truly there to help them — rather than just sell them something.
If you want your home building company to stand out online, professional photography is the first step. Your buyers are already online, and as they’re flipping through photos of houses on Zillow and Trulia, you want them to stop on your property. How do you impress them? With awesome, high-quality photos of your amazing work. If you’ve been considering professional photography for your home building company, but just aren’t sure it’s worth the investment, here’s what you need to know:
Why Should your Home Building Company Hire a Professional Photographer?
Professional photography is an absolute must when you’re building out a professional home builder website. Whether your website already exists and you’d like to update, or you’re thinking about getting a website for your company, one thing you definitely shouldn’t skimp on is photography. And really, it makes sense — most people buy a house because of the way it looks. Sure, most people want a home that’s structurally sound, but 9 times out of 10, the real deciding factor is what it looks like. Professional photographers are a must for any home builder looking to drive quality digital traffic, and here’s why:
Draw in More Qualified Buyers
The better your pictures look, the more quickly people will convert. If you’re putting your best foot forward online — on websites like Trulia and Zillow, as well as on your own website — it’s easier for potential buyers to picture what their own lives will look like in your houses, which makes it easier for them to pick up the phone and call.
Highly Shareable on Social Media
Another great benefit of high-quality home photos is they’re highly shareable on social media. People on almost every social media site — from Pinterest to Facebook — love a great photo of a breathtaking home. And if they really like your photo, then they’re likely to share it, which means your home makes it onto more people’s social media feeds. This expands your digital reach, and can help increase the number of qualified leads you have calling in, as it simultaneously expands how many followers you have on social media.
They’re More Attractive
The bottom line is that a high-quality photo is simply more visually attractive than a grainy photo someone took with their smartphone. Consumers love to look at really beautiful homes, and professional photography ensures your homes fit in that category. With professional photography, you ensure your business, and your brand, appear visually attractive and professional across all platforms. This is key for home builders, especially if you’re trying to break into a higher price point. Professional photography can convey the class and elegance you need to represent to attract buyers willing to make a larger investment.
So, it’s pretty clear why professional photography is so great — it positions your company as a professional, high-quality builder who can put out elegant homes — but how do you hire a professional photographer you can trust to convey that vision of elegance?
Hire an Architectural Photographer
First and foremost, it’s important to hire a photographer who has experience with architectural photography. There are tons of photographers out there who have experience doing work for realtors and housing developers, so be sure to choose someone who knows how to do the photography you need. Taking photos of houses is a little bit different than taking family portraits, and an architectural photographer will know just what to do to ensure your staged houses look like someone’s future home.
Before you hire any architectural photographer, be sure to look at the portfolios of some of your top candidates, and pay special attention to the lighting in their sample photos. Does the lighting they’ve used make the homes look larger, or smaller? Does the light seem warm and inviting, or too dark on the edges, and overexposed in the center? Quality lighting is absolutely key in architectural photography. Many homes are much bigger than the lens can capture, so quality photographers know how to play with the light, and add in additional lighting in places with really high ceilings, so the home doesn’t look smaller than it actually is. Be sure to take a good look at your professional photographer’s portfolio before finally making a hiring decision.
Know Your Rights
The last thing to do before finally hiring your photographer is to know your rights. There are tons of different intellectual property and copyright licenses you can purchase from your photographer, but it’s good to know that most home builders usually don’t need exclusive rights. If you think about it, you’re probably only going to use the photos you have taken for a year or so, until you sell the house you’re advertising.
So, it doesn’t really make sense to purchase all the rights to every photo you have taken (it can also be very expensive). Talk to your photographer about purchasing the temporary rights to the photos he or she takes of your homes. That can be much cheaper, and then you won’t have to keep paying for those photos long after you have a use for them.
High-quality photography is one of the key ways home builders can set themselves apart online. The homes you build are your product, and they’re your best advertising resource as well. If you invest money in making your homes look good, you’ll be investing in your company’s professional image. Best of all, you can share those photos to get people excited about the work you’re doing, and grow your digital following at the same time!
Still not sure where go with your home building company’s digital marketing strategy? Evenbound can help! We often work with custom home builders and home developers to boost online traffic, and increase ROI. Check out the case study below to see how we helped push one senior care residence to the top of the market:
When you’re marketing your housing development, you’re not just selling homes. The key to getting buyers interested is selling them on a place and a community. A physical home is just one aspect of purchasing a house, and for most buyers, it’s not even the most important. Sure, any buyer wants a roof over their head, but in most cases, it’s not actually the house you’re selling—it’s the experience of home.
More than anything, buyers are looking for a place to call “home.” A place to raise their kids, a place to grow old, and a place to start a life. If you’re building a housing development, that sense of place is your strongest marketing tool. Use content that speaks to your housing development’s story and sense of community to bolster new homeowner’s confidence in your development. The best way to get eyes on your site and pull homeowners through the buyer’s journey?
If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a hundred times. You need a blog. That’s all there is to it. Without a blog you’re in the same boat as every other Joe Shmoe out there with “new homes for sale” signs stuck on every street corner. A blog not only helps you define your community vision, but it helps you reach qualified buyers more quickly. Think about it:
If you were going to buy a new home, would you drive around looking for “for sale” signs, or would you Google available properties near you?
Unless you’re really stuck in the 20th century, you’re probably going to pick the second option. It’s quick, it’s easy, and you can do it while you’re sitting in your pj’s eating breakfast. Since that’s what the majority of your housing development’s qualified buyers are going to do, it’s important to make sure you come up on that list of search results while they’re looking for a new home. How do you do that? Blogging.
So, start your blog, and consider posting about the following topics to create an alluring sense of place sure to draw in buyers:
Talk about local events and activities
We’ve already established that your target market is going to Google your area for new homes. They’re also going to want to know what’s happening in your town. They’ll want to know what community activities and events go on regularly, and they’ll be looking to see if they can get a feel of the town before they actually scope out homes or make a move.
If you’re regularly posting about those activities, whether they’re festivals, farmer’s markets, outdoor concerts, or any other sort of community gathering, you’ll start popping up in those search results. The more you post about local happenings, the better you’ll rank for local searches, which means you’ll start to become a go-to source of information for those people who want to know what’s going on in the area. That means you’re also the first place they turn to when they do decide to move.
What does a weekend in your town look like?
Like we mentioned before: when you’re selling a home, you’re really selling potential homeowners on a place and a feeling. They want to know what their life is going to look like if they move to your development. So, post about what life is like in your area. A weekend itinerary is a really popular blog style that consumers love:
Imagine you were visiting your development’s area for just the weekend. What would you do? Where would you eat? In a blog like this, you can highlight both activities and restaurants, giving people a more holistic look at what it’s like to live in your town. Is there a block party going on? Are local breweries hosting live music on Friday night?
Writing a post like this is another great way to drive relevant traffic to your website, while simultaneously creating that sense of place that draws new homeowners in. If you think about it, if you were visiting a new area for a weekend, wouldn’t your search query read like “what do do in “town name” for the weekend”? By answering that question in your blog, you’ll get more eyes on your site, in addition to helping some newcomers learn more about your town and your housing development.
Consider making regular “best of” posts:
What are the best restaurants, breweries, bars, ski hills, hiking trails, etc. in your community? Whether someone is new to the area or thinking about moving, these types of blog posts are the most searched, and the most helpful. They work to position you as an authority on the subject, and as more and more people come to you for their weekend suggestions, you’ll probably also be the one they look to when they finally decide it’s time to purchase a home.
Don’t be afraid to talk about what it’s like to live in your community!
All anyone wants to know before they move somewhere new is what life will be like. If your area or community has local quirks, share them. If there’s something really great about the people in your community, share that too. The more knowledgeable a person feels about your community, the more confident they’ll feel when purchasing a home.
In the end, marketing a housing development really means marketing a community. While a home buyer certainly wants a nice house, it’s intangibles like a welcoming environment and a warm community that really seals the deal. Show your potential residents what your community —not just your floorplan—has to offer, and you’re sure to be at the top of your target buyers’ list.
More questions about marketing your housing development? We’re here to help! We’ve worked with a number of developers, and know what it takes to fill homes and sell lots. You don’t have to take our word for it though: check out the case study below about the results we produced for a previous development client.
Creating a content calendar that fills houses and sells lots:
If you’re a housing developer, you know that any marketing strategy you use has to be time-efficient. You need to fill homes and sell lots quickly to see quality returns on your investment. If you’ve been considering content marketing as a part of your digital marketing strategy, but aren’t sure if it’s an effective use of your time, we hear you. It’s not always easy to write blog posts regularly, get them posted, and then promote them. That said, content marketing is one of the easiest, most cost effective ways to get eyes on your site. All it really takes is time.
But, if like many housing developers, you’re a little short on time, know that you can still have the best of both worlds by creating a content calendar. Content calendars help take some of the work out of creating a regular blog posting schedule by outlining the topic, description, and keyword for each upcoming post. We develop content calendars for each of our clients at the beginning of the year. We outline exactly what it is we’re going to write about and when, and then we give the calendar to the client for approval. That way, once it comes back approved, all we have to do is write the posts for the year. There’s no guesswork or question about what we’re doing, and when it needs to go out.
Content calendars outline the topic, description, and keyword for each month’s upcoming posts.
A content calendar is a great solution for busy home developers, because it allows you to stick to a schedule, and it makes it easy to hand off the blog writing to whoever has a little extra time that month. Since the topics are already created, any decent writer can write the blog. So, how to create a content calendar that draws in qualified leads?
First, think about who you’re writing to
This goes back to that target market we’re always talking about. To whom would you like to sell your homes? Are you developing a community that’s largely centered around seniors? Or are you building homes for young, growing families? It’s important to pinpoint who your target buyer is before you start developing your content, because the age range and general lifestyle of that buyer will influence the types of content that you put out.
Then, pick three categories
After you’ve identified your specific target buyer, it’s time to start creating content, or at least topics to write about that speak to your buyer. To make sure your content calendar doesn’t become stale or boring, we recommend picking three or four categories to center your content calendar around, and alternating between categories each month.
For example, one of our developer clients is working on filling a sustainable mountain living community near Asheville, NC. Our content calendar revolves around three major topics: things to do in Asheville, home ownership, and lifestyle blogs that focus on the activities that their target buyers most enjoy. For them, that’s biking, hiking, kayaking, and backpacking—outdoor activities that encourage appreciation of the natural world.
By segmenting our content calendar into these three categories, we’re able to reach the client’s target buyer in more than one way. We’re appealing to the sense of place that their development offers, we’re drawing in potential buyers who like to do activities that the other residents like to do, and we’re also targeting the thing that’s most relevant to the development, which is home ownership.
Your content calendar can focus on similar topics.
What is interesting about the location of your development, and what’s happening in nearby cities?
What content will homeowners in your area want to read about?
What activities are your target buyers interested in?
By filling your content calendar with topics that aren’t always the same, you’ll have a number of different, interesting blogs that will work to draw new people to your site. By writing content about your area, you get the added bonus of identifying your location for both search engines and consumers, making it more likely that you’ll pop up in local search results.
Remember that your content strategy is never about you. Rather, it should be a resource for your target buyers. You want them to love the content you’re putting out so much that they subscribe and never miss a post. The only way to do that is to create content they care about, which isn’t going to be monthly updates on how the development of your community is going.
While creating the topics is definitely the hardest part of any content calendar, don’t just stop when you have the right number of ideas. A content calendar should also include a keyword, title for the post, and description of what you meant when you came up with the topic. To save yourself extra time, consider adding in your call-to-action.
Save yourself additional time by writing your CTA into the content calendar.
This is often a tedious part to write at the bottom of your blog post. It talks about how great your community is, and where people can find you if they’re interested in one of your homes. Add that right into your content calendar now, and you won’t have to worry about it later.
Once you’ve got the calendar fully filled out, create a publishing schedule. Put a date on each post, both to give yourself a deadline, and to make sure you don’t have any long gaps between posts. With a posting date, it’ll be clear when you need to start writing, and you’ll have something holding you accountable to get that content out into the world.
When your content calendar has a posting schedule, topics for every month, descriptions, keywords, titles, and CTAs, you’re done!
Well, done with the content calendar at least. You’ll still have to write the posts themselves if you’re looking to draw in those qualified buyers, but you won’t have to worry in the future about deciding what to write, and getting it out in a timely fashion. With a schedule and plenty of topics already set to go, writing a blog post is easy.
Content calendars are a seriously handy tool for any housing developer short on time. If you want to create one, but still aren’t sure what to write about, or how to go about getting started, get in touch. We’re sort of content calendar experts, and would love to help you optimize your content marketing strategy for success. To see how we’ve helped other housing developers boost revenue and sell homes, check out the case study below:
If you’ve been working on the website for your housing development, and just don’t seem to be filling homes or lots at a rate that seems right, landing pages can help. They’re an ideal way to get hold of the contact information of qualified leads, and when done right, they can move a site viewer who was just looking, to a site viewer who’s legitimately interested in your development. So, how do landing pages increase conversion for housing developers, and how can you make sure your landing pages are working for you? Let’s start with a refresher course on landing pages.
Landing Page Refresher
A landing page is a page other than your homepage, where site visitors first land when they click to your site from another website (typically this is a search engine like Google, but it can also be social media sites, or a website where you’re promoting an ad). It’s also possible to have landing pages that site visitors can get to from your own site. We have a contact landing page that people can click to at any point if they’re interested in seeing how we can help them. Landing pages work to softly direct your site visitors into giving your their contact information, usually in exchange for an offer, like a guide on becoming an awesome homebuyer, or pictures of your housing development.
How a Good Landing Page Generates Leads
Now, there’s all sorts of landing pages out there, but not all of them are good. A quality landing page does the following things:
Provides relevant information: It tells people who you are, and what you’re about in a way that’s relevant to the link they clicked to get there. If you have a paid ad that says “spacious 2 bedroom apartments with vaulted ceilings and hardwood floors” don’t send people to a landing page about the development’s adjacent golf course and restaurant. That will confuse and frustrate. A good landing page provides content the viewer expects to get after clicking on a certain link.
Offers content or access potential clients want: The best way to capture contact info off a landing page is to make them an offer they can’t refuse (sorry, couldn’t help it!). But really, people are far more likely to give up their email address if they’re going to get awesome pictures, drone footage, or floorplans of your development in return.
Gets you contact info of qualified leads: Probably the best part of a great landing page is its ability to get you qualified leads. If your page is relevant, provides the right information, and adds value for the site viewer, it should get you contact info that you can use to further pull those potential leads down the sales funnel.
How to Make a Landing Page that Converts?
Now that you know what a great housing development landing page does, it’s time to make one of your own. We’ve got a ton of resources on creating killer landing pages, but for a crash course, make sure your housing development landing page follows these 6 key guidelines:
Take away the navigation menu on your landing page. This works to “squeeze” people through, and softly push them to convert. When there’s no menu, there’s less distraction, which means site visitors are unlikely to navigate away unless the offer really isn’t something they’re looking for. Then, you’re only really losing traffic that wasn’t qualified in the first place.
Keep your content short and sweet. Try to limit yourself to just a few sentences that tell site viewers who you are, and what you can do for them. You know that your development is awesome, but don’t just tell people that, show them why it’s awesome, and why they’d be lucky to live there.
Viewers shouldn’t have to wonder about what they’re going to get when they click the “submit” button. Make it obvious what they’ll get when they fill out your form, whether it’s pictures, blueprints, or information about your development.
Studies have shown that people actually do care what the button that says “click” looks like. First of all, “click” and “submit” might not be the best choices. Choose something that’s more relevant to your offer, like “Sign up now” or “get access to photos.” This will remind viewers what they’re getting, and provide incentive for following through and clicking the button.
Don’t make your forms too long. The longer a form is, the less likely you are to get conversions. Only ask for what you actually need, like name, email, and maybe zip code. Sometimes it makes sense to have a longer form for landing pages that target people who are almost ready to close, and want a price estimate, but other than that, keep your forms short and sweet.
Finally, remember that today’s consumer is highly visual and has a short attention span. Your landing page should be eye-catching, easy to read, and feature high-quality photos. You’ve got a beautiful development, right? Use photos of it to your advantage on your landing page.
In the end, any quality landing page is almost guaranteed to increase conversions for housing developers, so long as they have traffic coming to the site. They’re a great way to capture information about potential clients, while also providing an incentive for people to come back and consider your development.
If you’re still struggling to perfect your landing pages, know that Evenbound can help. We’ve worked with a number of housing developers, and have cracked the code to creating marketing strategies that fill developments and sell homes. To see just what we’ve done to deliver results for our housing development clients, check out the case study below: