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THE LYONS & SUCHER BLOG
Digital

For Builders & Developers, Good Online Marketing Starts Off-line


Do people often buy new homes online?

Your gut response to that question is mostly likely “no”. When you think of buying online, you think of shopping for clothes on Macys.com. You might think of shopping for, well, anything on Amazon. Purchasing flowers for Mother’s Day. Ordering a book your kid needs for school. These are the very simple, easy things we have grown accustomed to shopping for and buying online.

Then, there are things in life you are just unlikely to buy online without actually experiencing it in some physical way. Buying a home fits into that category. You may start your research online. You may talk to a real estate agent first. You may drive through nearby neighborhoods. However, there usually comes a point where you’ve narrowed your search, and you’re ready to visit those homes & communities for that in-person experience.

As David Brooks thoughtfully opines in a New York Times article, the decision on which home to buy is “more emotional than coldly rational”. It’s a lot like online dating. You can flip through a number of different options, but ultimately, you need that emotional spark that an in-person meeting can ignite. Somethings simply cannot be easily replicated through online research alone.

How do real estate marketing agencies help builders communicate all of the emotion, amenities, and benefits of their new community to prospective home buyers when they are doing online research? How do they encourage prospects to come visit for that in-person experience?

There is nothing about home buying that is strictly digital, yet digital marketing for many agencies is largely confined to digital processes. For L&S, the difference between a GOOD online marketing campaign and a GREAT one is the amount of offline work we do before the campaign generates its first click. Our digital process begins with some very foundational strategies. To better understand what story you’re trying to tell, and see your community through the eyes of your first (of many) home buyers.

We Ask Extensive Questions

“No one has ever asked me that before.” – this is a response we often get from our clients.

What is your story? What animates you?

For us, here is where the work begins. Far too often, other agencies believe in fitting your business goals into a cookie-cutter model for digital advertising. That’s never been good enough for our clients. We believe delivering superior results means creating a custom-made digital strategy formed from the answers to questions like “what are the top 3 things you do best, that are important to your buyer”. Our initial conversations with you inform a direction that will ultimately become the foundation for your online marketing campaign. Each community is unique, so each campaign should be unique.

What makes your property exclusive, and better, then your competition?

The feedback we get from you effects every piece of the ad campaign, including the copy we write, the images we use, and the way we target your potential customers.

According to data from Integral Ad Science, the majority of digital display ads are only viewable for one second. Click-through rates for search ads are greatly affected by your ad copy. We take the time to learn about every detail of your homes, community, and your target audience, so we can effectively communicate your important differentiators.

Who is your target home buyer?

First-time home buyers in their early 30’s use the web differently than empty-nesters in their late 50’s looking to downsize. Understanding who your target home buyer is and what they’re looking for allows us to build campaigns that will both reach AND resonate with them.

Every Place Has A Love Story to Tell

One of the biggest challenges in real estate digital marketing is to convey the emotion, impression, and experience that often comes with seeing your new home for the first time. For us, conveying what it’s like to walk the streets of your new community starts with actually walking the streets of the community. The breathtaking view of the nearby river cannot be put into words unless it takes our breath away. The true essence of the bustling urban streets outside a home need to be experienced to be appreciated, and then communicated to others.

Every piece of land has a story. Though the inspiration for the stories we tell for our clients comes from many different places, they simply would not be as effective without experiencing the community the way your prospective buyers will.

Once buyers start moving in, we’ve made a point to set up coffee and other events with them and gather as much feedback as possible. What were they looking for in their new home? Where did they go to find your community? What types of impressions did they get before and then after they visited the models for the first time? Talking to the residents provides a first-hand account of what made them fall in love with your community. Very often we get brand-new insights that can then be used to attract others to your project.

Our Own Meticulous, Hyper-Local Approach to Research

A large portion of marketing is knowing and changing opinions. The information we glean from focus groups and other research methods help us do just that.

A client of ours was redeveloping a parcel behind some big-box retail and wanted input as to the street feelings and architecture. We solicited feedback from four local demographic groups: realtors, military and their significant others, residents, and renters of a nearby community. The idea was to get a strong sampling of the local community, and the people who would be most interested in the coming development. The sessions were filmed, and notes were taken. The insights were compiled into a report, that the client later used to re-examine and refine the development’s plans and architecture.

This part of storytelling unlocks things numbers alone simply cannot. Sure, we estimate keyword search volumes and look at the target audience size within a given location and demographic, but that data alone isn’t enough to determine what story to tell. Taking the time out to listen during the planning phases of your community and marketing campaign narrows the focus. It lowers the number of variables you need to test to get to the most effective digital campaign possible. The better your planning, the quicker you’ll reach your goals.

What’s Your Story? We’re Ready to Tell It

From business models to decorated models, our knowledge and the offline steps we take enable us to create and optimize great online marketing campaigns that tell your story and accomplish your goals at the same time. Tell us your story, and let us do the meticulous planning and execution it takes to deliver buyers from their online research to that in-person experience, and ultimately, a new home purchase.