About the Author
It’s been another incredible year in the home building industry, so we asked some of the top industry experts for their thoughts and advice on tackling 2023. Everyone wishes they could get inside the head of those who have already succeeded in their industry to learn the hidden secrets behind their success. We have asked the best of the best in residential home construction for industry tips and tricks regarding marketing.
Use these tips for the trades, by the trades, to make 2023 the best year yet for your business.
President | RHC NoviHome
Don’t Wait Last Minute on Year-End Reconciliation
In 2021 and early 2022, the demand for new housing heavily outweighed the number of homes built. For this reason, builders' marketing efforts were not focused on promoting or advertising new homes, lots, or communities. There was little need to generate interest as there was an excess of prospective home buyers in the market. In April 2022, we saw a rise in interest rates, which has continued through today, shifting the new home market. Many buyers who were once qualified for a new home can no longer afford that home. Homes are no longer selling in days but rather in weeks or months. Marketing efforts have had to return to promoting spec homes and specific communities, trying to get as much exposure to that content as possible.
Sending email blasts is a long-used technique for marketers that produces results but sending out push notifications via a personalized builder app is the next generation of target marketing. Push notifications can be blasted directly to a prospective buyer's phone. Push Notifications have a 90% open rate which outperforms traditional email marketing. In addition, push notifications can target specific groups to receive the marketing based on what the buyer has viewed while exploring the builder's custom app. These targeted groups can also be exported and plugged into the builder's CRM and hit with an email blast in addition to the push notification.
As the economy shifts, marketing teams must look for ways to use technology to engage buyers easily and quickly deliver updates. More importantly, marketers need to look for ways to leverage data and analytics to meet buyers on their playing field, giving buyers the information they need in a relevant and timely manner.
VP Business Development and Sales | Outhouse, LLC
Work Smarter, Not Harder
I often run into builders that want Interactive Floor Plans, Virtual Tours, Visualizers, etc. Yet, they often struggle to supply the assets required to create “wow.” Typically, these issues consist of CAD files without roof plans and Community Site Plans with little to no knowledge of what home plans can be built in said community. There’s also the dreaded no set corporate identity, such as established color codes that were not kept up to rapid recall standards. A thorough assessment of your back office and digital asset library will make the pathway and process of adding wow to your website seamless. An organized digital file system will make your life so, so, so much easier and make a turnaround on your projects much faster, too.
Chief Marketing Officer | Shared Drive
Branding Shouldn’t be an Afterthought – it Should be Your First Thought.
Coming into the next few years with a shifting market, a new wave of buyers, and general uncertainty for many people in our country, one of the most cost-effective ways to stay on top of the market is to evaluate your branding. Millennials and Gen-Z buyers are quickly becoming the strongest subsection of the buyer's market. Many large corporations (such as Amazon, Google, Apple…etc.). a.re recognizing that these new buyers don’t necessarily value the same things that previous generations do.
Millennial/Gen-Z buyers value your brand first. These buyers look for authenticity, trustworthiness, ethics, and a great culture. These traits must be accessible and easily recognized on your website, social media, and anywhere your brand is visible online or in person. People crave a unique personal connection with the brands they buy from; if this isn’t present, then it’s an instant “NO,”, especially from a millennial buyer.
Six Ways To Optimize Your Branding:
Managing Partner | Do You Convert
Don't Pack Your Baggage
I recently started working with a well-known home-building organization. They have a brand that others look up to and respect — for a good reason. As we dug into their marketing data, it became clear that certain aspects of their digital approach were outdated. However, due to their sales success over the last two years, they were very hesitant to make any improvements because "that's now how we've done it in the past." But 30 days after they decided to take on a digital approach, at the end of October '22, their lead volume had increased by over 25%, and they had saved approximately $15,000 by running things more efficiently.
Refrain from packing your baggage from prior markets into the new one. When things change rapidly around you, take the time to rethink everything from the first principles. The danger is to remain focused only on the result something could or has produced in the past without fully understanding each part of it. Doing that well is challenging and mentally exhausting work, so most avoid it and instead look for silver-bullet answers. Innovative new solutions come from those willing to put in the work of reconstructing everything for today's market and today's consumer using all of today's tools.
CEO / Founder | Evolution Marketing
Scarcity is a Mindset
As the future of our industry in 2023 has several elements of uncertainty, homebuilders must look at factors they can control, which puts the feeling of scarcity and “media-supported doom and gloom” at bay. Like self-growth, change and reflection can happen when we are forced to pause. Slowing down offers the chance for builders to re-evaluate the following action items:
Slowing down allows the things that maybe get pushed under the tide of prosperity to surface.
Marketers can use this time to understand what a true lead-to-conversion path looks like. Can your team spend time learning new skills or understanding where you can absorb previously outsourced services? Having worked through several ups and downs in the multi-family and single-family industries, I’ve learned that we always come out of the downhill part of the roller coaster. It’s how we use the time in the downturn and plan to go out of it where we can look for opportunities to improve. Scarcity is a mindset. Embrace the power of the slowdown to fuel your future.
Founder/President | Denim Marketing
Create Helpful Content
The content becomes more critical than ever with Google’s Helpful Content update.
This new algorithm that Google uses to rank websites looks for high-quality content and helpful information while penalizing low-quality or unhelpful information. This is of utmost importance for home builders, developers, and others who blog or post news updates.
So, what’s helpful? Well, that’s relatively easy to define. Valuable content is original content written for a specific home builder or developer website. It is written for humans to read (not search engines), and generally, it should be helpful to the reader. Think about what content applies to you. Content that asks and answers a question. Content that educates or provides a newsy update.
Helpful content is not content that can be found on lots of other websites. This means if your blogs or news contains the same information as a home and garden blog or a local news site, it might not be helpful to your site visitors. Coming up with topics for blogs should be pretty straightforward. Write about what you know. Write about the trends you see. Write about your unique perspective and your company.
Still, trying to figure out what to write? Here is a laundry list of ideas:
Digital Marketing Director | Group Two
Be a Resource on Social Media
Social media is a great place to show off your product, available homes, and incredible team, but it’s also the perfect place to prove to prospects all you have to teach! Everyone is trying to navigate this market, from first-time homebuyers to downsizers, and if you’re there as a trusted resource, that will build your trust and loyalty with them!
There are endless topics to discuss, from financing your new home to the design process and getting in front of your buyers on social media and teaching them about these things BEFORE they even submit their contact information can decide if they choose you or another homebuyer. We have been recommending a hybrid solution of gated and ungated content. Record videos, write blogs, have live Q+As, and post them across your social channels to help your potential buyers with their homebuying woes!
President | Blue Tangerine
When Sales are Slow, Don’t Stop Marketing!
During slowdowns, it’s a natural business reaction to look for ways to reduce expenses. However, it’s the wrong time to eliminate your business’s marketing. During times of uncertainty, there is a real opportunity for you to generate more awareness and capture market share when your competitors are pulling back on their outreach. Studies show that brand awareness builds over time, and today’s marketing messages often plant the seeds for purchases in the months ahead. Yes, your marketing team needs to be more focused on tracking campaign results, be faster in reacting to opportunities, and be more prudent with their budgets, but don’t hamstring them by taking all their resources away. You should consider giving them, even more to work with! There are still buyers out there, and the ones actively searching and shopping in today’s environment are more qualified and ready despite interest rate uncertainty. Make sure these buyers can find you online and are aware of what you have to offer. Keep Marketing!
CEO | UTour
What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There
With the arguably best new home market in history in our rearview mirror, new home expectations in 2023 will be great, while resources may be few. The demand of “I need more traffic!” will be shouted at many Monday morning sales meetings, while budget cuts and pressure for marketers to do more with less will be prevalent.
Many organizations will try to advertise their way to prosperity — which will undoubtedly produce more lead volume — but may not successfully translate into more sales if other areas are ignored (and it's expensive).
My advice for 2023 is three-fold:
The organizations that will win in 2023 will have to sharpen their problem-solving skills and resourcefulness in all areas of sales and marketing. As new home marketers, we must embrace this challenge as an opportunity, and in the famous words of Jim Rohn, “Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.”
Director of Online Sales Coaching/Builder Marketing Manager | Group Two
Meaningful Advertising and Customer Communications
A new kind of customer has emerged in 2022. They are doing more research, looking at more options, and taking more time to make a buying decision. They’ve adopted a holistic approach that focuses on the whole brand experience.
We all know the fundamentals of follow-up are essential, and we stand by our long-standing recommendations but encourage builders to expand upon the basics. With a longer cycle and a shift in buyer expectations, we must provide a comprehensive strategy to reflect that.
The good news is that we have the tools to capture the data required to influence meaningful advertising campaigns and customer communications. Armed with your insights, you can refine and align strategies on everything from OSC follow-up and a targeted audience for digital advertising to educational content and events that build trust.
As builders update their strategies, authenticity and consistency will be critical. We recommend that builders look at every aspect of the customer journey—from the first engagement on social media to the day they get the keys to their new home.
To summarize, if you focus on these five things, you will see results that help you stand out from the competition.
President | Atlas RTX
Recession Proof Your Marketing
Avoid Across-the-Board Cuts
An all-too-common response to a reduction in demand is to engage in across-the-board cuts in marketing. It’s quick, easy, and mostly painless in the short term, as it tends to consist of cutting tools and events rather than people. However, it can be a significant mistake that is difficult to recover. Marketing isn’t optional; it’s an investment or “good cost” to attract homebuyers and stand out from your competition. An unfortunate adage about marketing is: “Half of my marketing budget is wasted; I just don’t know which half.” More challenging market conditions provide the opportunity to understand the investments yielding sufficient results vs. those simply piled on during prosperous times. Focusing on ROI rather than what something costs will recession-proofing your marketing.
It’s easy to panic when reading headlines or looking at year-over-year homebuilder sentiment index comparisons. 2021 was a very unusual year historically, so any comparisons from the second half of 2022 to last year will appear awful. It’s important to remember that interest rates have been at their current rates before, and everything was fine. It’s essential to keep a long-term perspective (three to five years at least) rather than make knee-jerk responses to today’s conditions. Maintain a commitment to your multi-year strategy, and you’ll grab market share during the downturn, which will be maintained for years to come.
Every lead counts
In 2021, homebuilders didn’t have to worry about leads, and salespeople didn’t worry about losing a sale to the competition. If there was a home to be had, it was going to sell without a great deal of effort. Conditions have changed quickly; now, we’re back to a time when every lead matters, although all leads aren’t created equally. Marketing and sales leaders must focus their investments on the tools and strategies that deliver the highest qualified leads at the best ROI. Use this downturn to analyze your marketing investments surgically invest more in the winners and cut ties with the underperformers.
Founder | Meredith Communications
Leads are so 2022
You don't need more online leads. Wait, what? You read that right! Generating "leads" is so 2022. The key to increasing sales in 2023 is to convert more website clicks into conversations. Adding thousands of names to a VIP List, for example, is lead generation, and in a hot market, these types of leads are enough to fuel sales. However, home buyers are paralyzed by the market and economic fears in a slower market. Your digital marketing and sales process should be focused on generating as many conversations as possible that reassure and push back on “it's a bad time to buy” narratives. This will allow you to demonstrate the exact value of building and buying a new home from you.
Director of Homefiniti Experience | ONeil Interactive
Is an Email Really an Email if There’s no Call to Action?
In all likelihood, as a marketer, you’ve been creating marketing automation emails and mass emails for a long time. For many years, there was a focus on open email rates, and marketers proudly boast about their 20%+ open rate. The open rate is no longer the success indicator. With changes to how some browsers and Apple iOS display images in email, open rates are often over-Inflated and not an accurate measure of engagement.
What is relevant is what the recipient does with the email — how they engage. Make 2023 the year you ask yourself, “What do you want the recipient to do?” And review and check every single email for a strong call to action. Whether it’s an enticing link to a relevant article or content, an opportunity to schedule an appt online, book a self-tour, or provide helpful resources for first-time buyers. This is the time to monitor EVERY SINGLE engagement and click within your emails. I promise you will find gold when you focus on clicks.
Now that you’ve read through what all our builder experts have to offer when it comes to improving your marketing strategy, which ones will you implement today? Don’t let all this valuable knowledge go to waste. Make it part of your 2023 strategy before the new year.
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About the Author