19 Mar 5 Key Elements of a Successful Home Builder Website
These days, having a stellar online presence is a necessity. Gone are the days of “brochure websites”, sites that were lacking in information and interactivity. Even if your new business largely comes from word-of-mouth and other referrals, your prospects will certainly stop by your website to find a phone number, contact email or your address. You want that initial view to be positive and reinforce their decision to consider doing business with you. If your website photos are from 2003 and your site is built in Flash, you better believe you are losing new business. Why you might ask?
Look around any public space and everyone is looking down at their phones, they are on websites, social media sites and their email. And if you’re in the business of home building, your website can be the difference between, “Let’s keep looking,” and “OMG, check this out.” Here are your must-haves:
Artistic Appeal and Curb Appeal
Any home builder website worth its weight will appear streamlined and professional while still providing the wow factor. In short, your site should be clean yet elegant. This isn’t an Etsy store—you’re not selling homemade candles. High quality visual representation of your homes inside and out is crucial so that potential buyers see exactly that—potential. It doesn’t matter whether you build condos from the 100s or million-dollar custom homes. The important thing is that they can see themselves being proud of buying their first (or third) home from you. If your homepage features a portfolio slide show, for example, you’ve just done the work for the buyer. Without having to navigate the menu, your customer is treated to stunning photography that highlights the very home in which they’ve envisioned themselves. Don’t make the portfolio or interactive floorplan difficult to find; it should be center stage.
This one’s a given, however, since so many businesses continuously fail to make this very basic necessity a priority, it bears repeating. Every home builder website should be fully viewable on both desktop and mobile applications, in fact Google announced that on April 21, 2015 they are going to use mobile-friendly as a factor in search result ranking. A study conducted by the National Association of Realtors revealed that nearly one half of homebuyers who used a mobile device to search for homes went on to map the location. That was in 2012. Can you imagine what that statistic looks like today? Adding a simple Google Maps widget to your site allows a buyer to take another literal step toward a home purchase. Your home purchase.
Content, Content, Content
This goes beyond basic SEO goals of ranking higher on Google searches—you want to attract potential customers with your website content with topics that are relevant and they are searching for. For example, if you build custom homes, then content like “8 Ways to Know You Need A Custom Home” can be used. If you do renovations, “6 Must Have Features for Your Kitchen Renovation” could be an effective title. Then you’ll promote this content on your website and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Houzz to make it easier for your customers to find you as they search for their social media platform of choice. This will make you accessible and relatable and begin to position your company as a trusted source of information.
Make it easy for your potential customers to stay in touch, add social media icons should appear on your site’s sidebar or in the footer. Add an option to “subscribe” to blog posts or an email newsletter, you’ve done the work to get them to your website – now give them an option to make it easy for you to stay in touch with them. Even if your followers don’t engage—and a large majority of them won’t—they’re comforted knowing there is another channel for communication along with pictures, blogs, etc. This is a free resource that successful home builder websites employ to remove the “corporate” element from their business and invite living room conversation.
Home Buyer’s Toolkit
Your toolkit can go by a different name, but essentially what you’re doing here is answering your buyer’s questions before he asks them. Here you can provide warranty information, what to expect for new builds (several sites break them down stage by stage), even financing details. This is valuable because it minimizes the need for buyers to contact you unnecessarily. When your voicemail and inbox are clear of customers asking repeat questions, guess who those calls are going to be from? Folks who are ready to buy, that’s who. Put a detailed spin on an otherwise boring FAQ page and give homebuyers what they want: information. Attention spans are much shorter these days than they used to be, so when you can anticipate a buyer’s needs upfront and keep those buyers on your page, you’re a step ahead of the competition.
Behind The Scenes
Sure, you need call-to-action tabs on your site. Yes, you need a lead generator. You already knew all that. At the very least, obtaining buyers’ contact information allows you to gather customer data to measure your Return of Investment (ROI). However, practical Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools are arguably more important because it’s what you do with your leads that counts. Also essential to any home builder website are Content Management tools. In the fast paced digital world, you want to be able to update your website at a moment’s notice—especially if it’s for something as basic as posting a new listing or photograph. Your website may appear perfect from its launch, but if you walk away thinking you’re done, you’ve just wrapped your digital masterpiece in a big red bow and thrown it in the garbage. Remember the animated movie Space Jam (trust me, it’s fine if you don’t…) starring Michael Jordan? Space Jam has not updated its website since 1996. Lesson? Stay in front of—and more importantly—behind your home builder website at all times.