Web Design Best Practices for Home Builders

Web Design Best Practices for Home Builders

Web Design Best Practices for Home Builders

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 Your Homes—Front and Center

Beautiful homes are going to be what’s compelling to your prospective clients, so put high quality, professional photography of some of your best homes right in front of their noses. 

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.

Mobile-Responsive Design

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.

If it takes more than 3 seconds (just 3 seconds!) for your site to load, more than 50 percent of visitors will navigate away from your site to somewhere else. Click To TweetKeep them on your site and off your competitors’ with a design that facilitates quick loading. 

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

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

Check out this blog for more information about optimizing landing pages.

Outline Your Homebuilding Process

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. 

Outlining your process right on your website is transparency that your clients will value, and it can head off a lot of the initial questions you frequently receive from interested parties. Click To Tweet

Don’t Over-Focus on Content

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:

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Professional Photography Sets Home Builders Apart Online

Professional Photography Sets Home Builders Apart Online

Professional Photography Sets Home Builders Apart Online

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.

Investigate Lighting

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:

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How Pinterest Can Work like Houzz for Home Builders

How Pinterest Can Work like Houzz for Home Builders

How Pinterest Can Work like Houzz for Home Builders

If you’ve read any of our previous blogs for homebuilders, you’ll know that we’re very pro-Houzz. It’s an excellent marketing tool for any homebuilder, because it’s full of qualified leads just waiting for your advice. What we haven’t talked all that much about is Pinterest. Very similar in layout to Houzz, Pinterest attracts many of the same users and followers as Houzz, making it another ideal social media platform for home builders to take advantage of. If your home building company is already engaging regularly on Houzz, it’s a good idea to take some of that great content you’re putting out, and post it to Pinterest as well.

Why Should Homebuilders Market on Pinterest?

Because Pinterest is a captive audience made up of your target buyers. The majority of Pinterest users are women, 77 percent of those users are between 18-54 years old, and 87 percent of women on Pinterest trust it as a reliable source for information. Women between the ages of 18-54 are a homebuilders target market. Most often, it’s the women of the household who are making the final decisions when it comes to building a home or hiring a contractor for a renovation. That’s what make Pinterest such a rich source of potential leads for home builders.

How Homebuilders Can Market on Pinterest

Now that it’s clear why you’d want to use Pinterest—your target buyer lives there—let’s figure out how to use Pinterest. It’s certainly a tricky one, since there’s no real linear timeline or news feed like you’d find on other social media platforms. Instead, Pinterest functions on boards and pins. You can create boards, and pin different articles, images, and blog posts to those boards. You can post to other people’s boards if they’re public, and you can invite people to pin things to your board as well. For you, the homebuilder, it’s best to start small.

Create a Board that Showcases Your Work

Whether you’ve got some stunning before and after photos, or you’ve got some killer images of a staged home you just completed, that’s all great content to put on a Pinterest board. Make sure you follow standard best practices for optimizing your Pinterest pins:

  • Link to your website
  • Include high quality images
  • Provide detailed descriptions
  • Don’t forget NAP
    • Name of your business
    • Address and city name
    • Phone number or a way to contact you

Create a Board That Draws People In

Now that you’ve got your work up there, it’s time to start drawing people in. Create a board that answers a common question that’s relevant to the housing industry, and that you know people will be searching. For example, let’s say there’s a holiday coming up. A board that puts together cool DIY projects to decorate your home for the holidays is going to draw in a ton of people, and get eyes on your company’s Pinterest.

Say you wrote a blog about 10 Classy Holiday Place Settings: pin that to your holiday DIY board, and make sure it links back to your website. This will help grow your company’s awareness, increasing the chances that you get quality leads. In addition, the more people you get coming to this holiday DIY board, the more people you’re going to have checking out your original board—the one with all the awesome photos of your past work. More eyes on that board mean more calls to your sales team about how someone can get a home that looks like the one they saw on Pinterest.

Create an Engaging Board

Finally, while you’re getting your Pinterest account up and running, create a board that engages people. As a home builder, you can set yourself up as an authority, and as a place of inspiration for those considering building a home in the near future. By creating a board that invites people to contribute, you’ll boost the number of pins your board gets, and boost your visibility on Pinterest.

For example, create a board that asks followers to pin a photo of their favorite room in the home. This invites people to get involved in the conversation, and the more people who pin to your board, the more people who are likely to see it. This boosts your authority as a place for information and inspiration, while simultaneously growing your company’s brand awareness, and reminding people that you’re an engaging, interested builder they might turn to when they decide to build their own home.

Pinterest can certainly be a bit daunting at first. It’s a bit of information overload, and it can be hard to tell what’s what when you first start. But, if you stick with it and continue to post rich, relevant content that those Pinterest users want to read, you’ll grow your following and boost your number of incoming leads in no time at all. For more information on boosting your social media marketing strategy, get in touch with the team at Evenbound. We’re here to help home builders boost their lead generation potential, and break into better markets. See how we helped one construction pro increase their average web traffic and streamline sales in the free case study below:

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Why Video Testimonials are Insanely Useful for Home Builders

Why Video Testimonials are Insanely Useful for Home Builders

Today’s home buyer is skeptical. They know there are a number of builders out there looking to make a quick dime, and they won’t even consider talking to anyone before they’ve done a great deal of research. They’re looking for a home builder who understands the type of home they want to build, and one they can trust to get the job done in an honest way. If you’re a home builder in today’s market, you’ll have noticed that it takes a bit longer to get clients on board, and you’re probably looking for ways you can close sales more quickly. One of the absolute best ways to ensure your home building company stands out from the competition is to include video testimonials.

Why Video Testimonials?

Video testimonials offer the highest level of social proof to skeptical home buyers. Not only do they serve as a great way to get positive content up about your building abilities, but they also prove that the quality service you talk about on your website is a genuine benefit of working with you. It’s a way of providing word of mouth referrals in a digital age.

Video testimonials give your company authority and credibility. Any home builder can say that they offer superior communication, and strive to build the dream homes that each of their clients are looking for. By providing video testimonials, you’re proving that your company really is that great by offering a credible third-party review to your potential clients. Video testimonials function just like the online reviews you see on Amazon, but better. If you were purchasing a new blender on Amazon, it’s likely that you’d select a few promising options, and then compare the reviews for each model.

That’s exactly how video testimonials work, but the interesting thing about video testimonials is that they’re irrefutable. Some consumers are still wary of written testimonials because, in reality, anyone could have written them. Video testimonials are much harder to fake, which makes them all that more credible. They’re especially useful for home builders because choosing to build a new home is a major investment. New homeowners are going to want all the proof they can get that your company is legitimate and honest before they even consider calling up your sales department.

How to Get Video Testimonials

It’s actually surprisingly easy to get video testimonials for home builders. If you think about it, you’ve worked closely with a homeowner for months while their home was under construction. You know the homeowners well, and you’ve provided them with the space they’ll call home for decades. Most previous clients will be comfortable talking to you, since they know you well, and as long as they’re satisfied with their home, most of them will be happy to provide a video testimonial.

To get video testimonials from previous clients, all you really need to do is ask. Think of the projects you’re most proud of, and the homes you know your clients love. Then ask if they’d be willing to help your company out by offering a short video testimonial.

It’s a good idea to encourage those giving testimonials to talk about the entire process. You want to leave the testimonial up to the client as much as possible because it should be authentic, but if they ask for a little direction, make it clear that they can talk about the process as a whole. How was it like to work with you through the building process, and of course, how did they feel about the end product? Consumers love a story, and the more information they can get on how your home building company functions throughout the process, the better.

Add Progress Photos

Your video testimonials can be relatively informal if you like, but it’s also helpful to consider putting together images of the end product and adding them into the video. This way, potential clients watching your testimonial videos can see and hear from the client but also see visual proof of the work you did for that client. It’s a great way to add another layer of authenticity and showcase the beautiful craftsmanship your company is known for.

Feature a Number of Testimonials

Be sure to feature testimonials that are relevant to each target persona. Whether you often work with doctors, wealthy stay-at-home moms, or new couples looking for that first home together, be sure to collect video testimonial from clients who fit into each of your target personas. The more testimonials you have, the better. If you start getting more testimonials than you know what to do with, make a separate page on your website that’s dedicated to testimonials. You can still feature individual videos on other pages, but it’s helpful to have a spot that’s easy to find for those potential clients looking to hear from past clients.

Where Do I Put My Video Testimonials?

Once you have a few video testimonials put together, don’t be afraid to share them anywhere and everywhere. Definitely put them on your website, consider featuring them on your blog, and share them on your social media accounts. Don’t flood every channel of your digital platform with video testimonials all at once, but consider sprinkling those testimonials in anywhere it seems relevant, in a way that’s not aggressive.

For example, you don’t want every single Facebook post you make this month to be a video testimonial, but you might consider posting one new video each week. You won’t want to have 15 testimonials on your homepage, but you could feature one or two in convenient locations, and link to the rest if potential clients want to learn more. It’s also worth considering embedding a video in your regular email newsletter. The testimonial shouldn’t be front and center, and it shouldn’t overshadow whatever helpful content you’re providing in the newsletter, but it’s a good idea to include a testimonial at the end of the email, where people are sure to see it after they’ve gotten through your helpful content.

Use Video Testimonials to Shorten Sales Cycle

If you’re a home builder looking to boost leads and shorten the sales cycle, video testimonials are one great way to do it. They offer credibility and authenticity to your home building company, and they help assuage the worries of skeptical consumers. While video testimonials alone can’t get you more sales, they’re an integral part of a comprehensive, effective digital marketing strategy for any quality home builder. If you’ve got more questions about growing your company’s online presence, or you’d like to professionally implement video testimonials to your website, get in touch.

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Optimizing your Home Building PPC Strategy for Local Leads

Optimizing your Home Building PPC Strategy for Local Leads

Optimizing your Home Building PPC Strategy for Local Leads

Pay-per-click ad campaigns are one of the best ways to generate immediate, qualified traffic and leads for home builders. They’re a top outbound marketing method because they’re amazing at getting your name out there, especially for keywords you know your target buyer is searching for. The only problem is, PPC isn’t inherently geared for local sales.

If you bid on the keyword, “quality custom home builder,” it’s likely that your ad shows up in the search results pages of a searcher in Texas, which doesn’t do you much good if you work in Michigan. Many home builders have started to combat this by bidding on keywords that include their location, like “custom home builder Grand Rapids,” but that’s just the start of a quality PPC campaign that targets local leads. To make sure you’re getting the biggest number of qualified, local leads, here are a few tips to optimize your home building PPC strategy:

Pick the right city

If you’re in home building, you know that for many builders, the city they advertise in isn’t always the city they actually build in. For example, we’re centered in Grand Haven, but many of the builders out here advertise themselves as Grand Rapids builders because Grand Rapids is a bigger city with a bigger pool of potential homebuyers. So before you even start your local PPC strategy, you need to decide which city names you want to bid on. It’s a good idea to do some keyword research first, to figure out what people are actually searching, and what your competitors are bidding the most on.

For example, if you specialize in bigger, urban homes, it probably does make sense for you to target those searching for home builders in GR. But if your niche is smaller family homes out in the country, then it might make more sense to advertise your building company in smaller area cities, like Hudsonville, Coopersville, Spring Lake, and Grand Haven. So, do some testing to see which cities get the most qualified traffic for your company, and go with those.

Choose low competition, high search volume keywords

In the same vein, you want to choose keywords that have low competition, but high search volume, as you’ll have to pay less to run those campaigns. If every builder in the area is bidding on general terms like “Builder in Grand Rapids,” you’ll have to pay a lot of money for leads that might not actually be that qualified. Whereas if you pick a long-tail keyword like, “affordable custom homes Spring Lake” you’ll pay for less clicks, but you’ll get more qualified traffic. Sure, less people are going to search for that long tail keyword, but the people who do are going to fit right into your niche clientele, and they’re going to be closer to making a purchasing decision than someone who clicks on a very general, “builder in GR” search result.

Location-based ad extensions

Google, in its infinite wisdom, continues to improve search results in favor of user experience. In their work to make searches turn up the best results for searchers, they’ve implemented location-based ad extensions, so local businesses with Adwords campaigns can display location information like address, business hours, and even how long it will take the searcher to get to your office. By implementing location-based ad extensions in your Adwords campaign, when someone searches “custom home builders near me” or some other location-related keyword you’ve bid on, your search result will come up similar to the one below, one of our own clients in the GR area:

As you can see, below the desktop ad itself, Google has placed the location of the Whitmore Homes office, as well as their phone number and their hours. This extension works even better on mobile, because each piece of information becomes clickable. So, clicking on the address would take users to a map, clicking on the phone number would dial up Whitmore Homes, and clicking on the information button would give a potential client necessary information about when the company is open, and what it is that they do. This is easily one of the best ways to get your company more local traffic from paid searches. Check Google’s site for more info on how to implement location based ad extensions in your PPC campaign.

Make your landing pages mobile-friendly

An insane amount of all internet traffic these days is conducted on mobile devices. If your PPC ads take visitors to a landing page that isn’t optimized for mobile, you’re going to lose money. By optimizing a landing page for mobile, you make it faster, more user-friendly, and better fitted to a smaller screen. This means that mobile users can navigate to, and around, that page easily, ensuring they’re more likely to convert. If your landing pages aren’t optimized, you’re going to lose leads as soon as that page doesn’t load in 10 seconds on their smartphones.

Have multiple landing pages

In addition to having mobile-friendly landing pages, you should have different landing pages corresponding to different PPC ads. Remember that not all of your visitors are going to come to your site ready to buy, so it’s a good idea to have landing pages that address each step of the buyer’s journey. Obviously, you’re looking to find people in the decision making stage, but some of the long-tail keywords you’re bidding on might target visitors who are just in the awareness or consideration stages. Make sure you have landing pages that address each of these visitors as well, so you can capture their contact information, offer them quality content that pulls them through to the decision making stage, and improve the number of leads you’re generating over time.

Landing pages should match ads

In the same vein as the above point, you want to have multiple landing pages, but they have to match the ad they’re put with. You can’t have an ad that promotes a really awesome coupon for local clients, and then lead them to a landing page where they can download an ebook on how to perfect their ideal floorplan. This will only frustrate the visitors who do follow your PPC ads, and deter them from coming back to your site. So, in addition to having multiple landing pages, make triple-sure that each of those landing pages match the ad they’re attached to. You’d be surprised at how often these sorts of mistakes happen, but double-checking is a key way to make sure you’re not accidentally losing potential clients.

Remarketing

Another very successful way to run paid local ads is to implement a remarketing campaign. If you’ve ever gone online shopping and ditched your cart, remarketing is the reason ads keep popping up on Facebook and Google for the exact things you had in your cart when you ditched. For homebuilders, remarketing can also be successful, especially if you link your remarketing campaigns to your “Contact Us” or “Request a Quote” page. This way, whenever a visitor seems ready to convert to a lead, but leaves the page before filling out your contact form, they’ll be reminded later of that decision when your remarketing ad pops up on their social media page.

It’s a great way to keep your company fresh in clients’ minds, and it’s also a good practice for targeting local leads, because it’s likely to be locals who were researching your website in the first place.

If you’ve got more questions about optimizing your home building company’s PPC strategy to generate more local leads, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We specialize in inbound marketing strategies for custom home builders, and would be happy help answer any questions you’ve got. To see how Evenbound has generated massive results for other companies, check out the case study below:

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