Your website is a critical part of your business, but it’s also the part that most home builders get wrong, because while you’re a master of construction, HTML and CSS are not your area of expertise.
81% of your clients will research your company online before deciding whether they want to do business with you, and if they don’t see a clear value right away, they’ll either demand a lower price or simply move on to another home builder. This ends up costing you a lot of money, both in terms of sales volume and profit margins. Can you afford that loss?
The good news is these mistakes are easy to avoid with the right knowledge, hard work, and planning, and I’m going to help you with that by sharing 5 of the mistakes I commonly see on home builder’s websites.
Designing for themselves instead of home buyers
It’s easy to get caught up in all the things you want to share with your visitors. You probably want to show them all the industry awards you’ve received, tell them about your recent accomplishments, and make it clear how awesome you are, right?
The problem is that besides you, no one else really cares about any of that yet, and they never will unless you can hook them emotionally first. Moving visitors through the buying process requires you to show them how your homes will make them feel and help them envision the new memories they’ll build in their new home.
Does this connect on an emotional level? Does it inspire you to contact them? Nope. I’m sure Mike is a great guy, but his website is killing him!
You can only connect with potential home buyers once you’ve invested the time to truly understand them.
What I would do is call 20 or 30 recent clients to find out:
- what they think you’ve done well
- what they think you could have done better
- why they chose you
Next, do the same with 20 or 30 previous prospects who had chosen one of your competitors over you. You’ll probably have to sweeten the pot for this group—you could try throwing in a $100 gift card to their favorite restaurant, but the information you collect will be well worth the investment!
Here are a few questions you might ask:
- What about our homes do you like most/least?
- What about our service do you like/dislike?
- What do you think we do better than competitors?
- If you could ask us to do anything differently, what would it be?
- What products/services could we add to become more valuable to you?
- What products/services could we eliminate to become more focused for you?
- What do you think our competitors do better?
The more information you can collect, the more effectively your can tailor your website to appeal to the emotions of potential home buyers. That means you’ll be able to sell more homes, faster, with a smaller marketing investment.
Using low-quality media
You’re selling a highly-visual product that is chosen based largely on emotion, so you need to engage with visitors using high-quality media.
Sorry, but a few quick photos you snapped on your iPhone won’t cut it. That means large images and video, shot and edited by a professional.
Professional photographers and videographers have the equipment, software, and training to produce far better results much faster and more efficiently than you can. Believe it or not, there is a lot more to it than just a pretty picture. A professional who does this for a living knows exactly how to present your homes in a way that triggers the kind of emotions necessary to move your prospects through the buying process more quickly and efficiently.
Not updating their website regularly
There’s a common misconception that your website is complete once it’s been published. In reality, that’s only the beginning.
Today’s digital world is noisy and competitive, so you need to continually produce new content to engage with your audience. That includes:
- blog posts
This is essential to earning new business because it:
- improves your organic search ranking and traffic,
- creates more exposure through all digital marketing channels,
- helps potential clients get a better feel for your values, quality, and experience,
- and creates more exposure by giving people something useful to share on social media and/or link to from their website.
Every piece of content you produce should add value, build expertise, authority, and trust, and display authenticity.
You need to produce content that is valuable to your visitors. This means skip the self serving “10 Reasons Why We’re the Best Home Builder for You” type of content. No cares about that garbage. Instead, create content that:
- Explains industry-specific terminology in a way outsiders can understand.
- Prepares them for the home building process. (Choosing a builder, planning, documents, financing, etc.)
- Teaches them how to perform home maintenance/improvement tasks.
- Shares design trends, inspiration, and resources.
- Identifies common home building mistakes to avoid.
- Teaches them how to save money in the home building process.
Here are a few examples of different types of content. These weren’t all produced by home builders, but they are all exactly the type of content that will work for them.
- 4 Simple Tips to Keeping Your Wood Floor Looking Brand New
- Common Terms New Home Buyers Should Know
- The Top 7 Mistakes To Avoid When Building A Custom Home
EAT (Expertise, Authority, and Trust)
Each piece of content you produce gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise, which over time, helps you to earn authority and trust. This is essential for:
- conveying your value
- converting visitors into buyers
- earning mentions by the media
If you’re a small contractor who places a huge priority on your relationships with clients, then you need to own that, because it’s exactly what separates you from the huge impersonal home builders. Don’t try to pretend you’re something you’re not because you’ll attract the wrong kind of prospects and will have a tough time building rapport with clients.
Not designing for mobile
Do you know what percentage of visitors are viewing your website on a mobile device? I guarantee it’s a lot higher than you think.
I was talking with a local home builder here in Tampa a few weeks ago who insisted that none of his visitors were on mobile devices so he didn’t need to worry about a mobile responsive website. “That mobile stuff is just for kids on Facebook.”
I knew he got far more traffic from people on mobile devices that he thought, and fortunately, I was able to prove it by simply having him log into his Google Analytics account.
He was more than a little bit surprised to learn that over 65% of his website traffic was coming from mobile.
Responsive design isn’t just another digital fad that’s going to die in a few months. It’s the direct result of the explosive growth of mobile technology, including both smart phones and tablets. Today, there are more mobile devices than people, more Google searches take place on mobile devices, and mobile traffic even exceeds desktop traffic in general.
It’s not just a matter of determining whether you currently get enough visits from mobile devices to justify the time, money and effort needed to create a responsive website though, because it’s already a huge factor in Google’s algorithm. In fact, they recently announced that they are transitioning their search index to mobile-first.
So what does that mean?
It means that if your website does not utilize responsive design, Google will rank other websites that do above it, resulting in lower ranking, less exposure, and reduced revenue for you.
Responsive design is no longer just a convenience—it’s a necessity. Without it, Google will stop sending you organic traffic, your PPC costs will climb, and the few visitors you do manage to draw in will leave, frustrated by your outdated website.
Not properly qualifying leads
Most people know that the fewer questions you ask on your contact forms, the more leads you’ll get. Since we all want more leads, the obvious solution is to ask fewer questions, right?
Well, not quite.
More leads is usually good, as long as they’re qualified, but opening the floodgates for a deluge of unqualified leads just wastes valuable time—time that your sales team could more effectively spend closing qualified leads.
Some of the qualifying questions you may want to ask could include:
- When do they plan to purchase?
- When do they need their home completed?
- Have they arranged financing?
- What is their budget?
- What inspired them to contact you?
While it’s important to ask a few qualifying questions to screen out the tire kickers, it’s equally important not to go overboard because then you risk turning legitimate prospects away. 2-5 qualifying questions is plenty in most cases.