Home builders have reached a pivotal moment, specifically at a time where the new-home industry has finally started to catch up to today’s buying trends. Technology for 360-degree tours, self-guided models, and live chat boxes were already in the works at many companies pre-COVID, but the pandemic quickly pushed those ideas into practice when the world halted almost two years ago.
As builders launch these new tools, marketing data and successful trends have started to emerge. In a recent webinar, Mollie Carmichael, principal at Zonda, presented her consumer insights research and how builders are updating their marketing tactics to cater to today’s digitally focused buyers. See her nine trends and tips below for 2022 and beyond.
1. Convenience is everything: As people continue to shop in new ways, there’s a big focus on convenience, says Carmichael. Virtual access and online home buying puts the ball in the consumer’s court and allows them to compare locations, prices, and design features on their own time. According to recent Zonda data, 61% of Gen Y, 53% of Gen X, 40% of boomers, and 36% of silent gen would buy a home online.
2. Consumers will return to comfort: While virtual options were ideal during pandemic peaks, Carmichael believes potential buyers will return to enjoying some of the process in person. Thirty-two percent of Gen Y, 35% of Gen X, 24% of boomers, and 18% of silent gen would prefer to buy their home entirely online after a model and home site walk.
3. Do it their way: Traditional sales and marketing channels, such as phone calls and emails, are starting to fade. Builders are putting their efforts into social media, texting, and live chats, as buyers’ preferred methods of communication change. For Gen Y, the top source for finding homes is on real estate websites, while the top source for boomers is home builder websites. Regarding social media, top social sources are Instragram and Facebook. And the top media device for Gen X and Gen Y is phone, but boomers and silent gen prefer computers.
4. Engage them: Using interactive maps, videos, Matterports, or virtual fairs give potential buyers the option to explore more than their new home, as the home’s location plays just as big of a role in the purchase as the actual product. In larger master plans, Carmichael has seen examples of virtual tours of amenities, drone technology that showcases a bird’s-eye view of the community, and interactive fairs with info sessions.
5. Package items in tangible bites: Some potential buyers already have a dream home in mind when they start their search. In order to help them create that dream, Carmichael suggests to have everything, from elevations and floor plans to exterior selections and interior design styles, packaged and readily accessible online to let the buyers explore the possibilities of designing their home.
6. Be memorable and informative: With the rise of TikTok and Instagram Reels, some builders have taken advantage of trending songs and sound bites to create memorable, but informative videos on the popular social channels. In a few short seconds, marketing professionals can show home tours, how-to processes, or key team members to intrigue viewers to click to learn more.
7. Deliver more transparency: Everyone knows the saying “kill them with kindness.” Here, buyers need to be killed with information. From price breakdowns to listed monthly payments, give potential buyers all the pricing information they would need up front and how it may change if they select the premium design package over the standard.
8. Make emotional connections: No one is looking for a sales robot in today’s market. Carmichael suggests connecting with customers utilizing compassion and understanding. Blog and social media posts that showcase real life, such as five ways to make a bedroom feel like a luxury retreat or six 30-minute meals to cook on a gas range, add authenticity to a brand.
9. Measure everything: Whatever the team decides to incorporate into the strategy going forward, Carmichael advises to track everything, including impressions, web sessions, registrants, participants, live chat questions answered, etc. It will allow the marketing leaders to analyze what’s working, what may need improvements, and what’s not worth the time or money.