This is a two-part series that will cover the initial marketing process, followed by the integration of sales and internal operations to maximize success.

For today’s home buyers, the customer experience does not always start in the sales center. In fact, many customers have likely already researched your company online before they visit you in person.

To help your company stand out and make sure the customer experience is as seamless as possible, it’s important to look at the experience funnel as a whole and think about what each step of the process looks like and how they will interact.

Attendees at The Customer Experience Funnel: Best Practices for Profitability Master session during the 2019 International Builders’ Show learned the ins and outs of this process from speakers Will Duderstadt of M/I Homes, Inc.; Chris Hartley of Dunhill Homes & Nathan Carlisle Homes; and Kimberly Mackey of New Homes Solutions Consulting.

Generating Leads

The flurry of activity online (think: 204 million emails sent every minute — and that’s just email) makes it impossible to capitalize on every digital opportunity available. So how can home builders maximize their access to such a broad base of potential customers?

To start, Duderstadt recommends defining your key digital channels and the goals for each.

“Define what your major buckets are,” he noted, referencing his own preferred breakdown between search (organic and paid), referral sites, social media (organic and paid) and email. “It doesn’t have to be an equal mix, but a good mix will keep traffic flowing.”

Goals should follow the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based) strategy so they can be tracked, analyzed and revised as needed. For example, he shared, “Using social, I will increase community leads by 10% in the next 12 months.”

Key strategies for each outlet include:

  • Organic and paid search: Think like your customer. Target search engine optimization (SEO) keywords your customers will actually use (e.g., “new homes Atlanta” vs. “I would like to buy a new construction home from a reputable builder”).
  • Referral sites: Find sites whose missions and audiences match your own, and form partnerships with them.
  • Organic and paid social media: Make your customers feel something — whether through personal images or clever sales messages — so that they notice and engage with your posts.
  • Email: Start a conversation with your customer, including a clear call to action, rather than sending a blanket marketing message or flyer.

Builders can start by testing out a few ideas, and hiring an analyst to see what sticks based on predetermined key performance indicators (KPIs). Continue to revisit these KPIs and revise approaches to maximize performance.

Stay tuned for part two of this series, which will explain how to integrate your sales and internal operations to maximize success. Or, visit NAHB’s 2019 IBS Education On-Demand Library to purchase a video or audio download of the entire session. Additional handouts from the presentation are also available online.