“A website as a “virtual model home” is a valuable solution for shoppers who are inconvenienced by the innate limitation of interactions that occur in the physical world.”
~ Erin Fitts | Executive OSC Shared Drive
All established businesses understand that a website is a crucial piece of their marketing puzzle, but for home builders, they’re even more important. Buying a new home is a huge commitment and investment, and people don’t half-heartedly walk into the decision – your website must show them why you’re the company that will offer them not just the home they want but the buying experience they want, too.
If your website isn’t getting at least monthly updates, if not weekly, you need to question if you’re letting potential buyers slip through your fingers. Here’s why your website matters and what it needs to be effective.
A home builder’s website is important because…
Your website is often your first point of contact with potential buyers, so it needs to grab their attention and tempt them with the vision they have for themselves and their new home. Your website is your opportunity to start building value in what you’re selling immediately, and all the information there will act as the foundation for your future sales.
Remember that people now expect to be able to find information about your location(s) and homes online, and if you gatekeep this information by asking them to complete an action before they’re even sure if they’re interested or not, you can lose them. This information establishes trust between you and the buyer and sets expectations on what you’ll be held accountable for. If you haven’t updated your website in a while, outdated information can be your downfall.
Of course, one of the biggest benefits of your website is that it’s open for business 24/7. When a buyer wakes up in the middle of the night because the neighbors they’re sick of have revved their engine, they can find your website at 3 AM and even reach out to you there and then if they’re motivated. Your website isn’t restricted by the physical limitations of working hours.
Don’t forget that your website is also one of your primary opportunities to proactively protect your business’s USP, values, and reputation, so you need to reassure people with plenty of information.
Your website can be a huge asset to you, but you’ve got to leverage it.
The website is one of the most important tools for an OSC
An OSC (Online Sales Concierge) is limited by the number of touch points they’re available to offer during working hours, and so there will inevitably be times when your website needs to be able to pick up the slack and get your OSCs the initial contact that will then allow them to work their magic.
Your website can also be a resource your OSCs can point to when buyers ask questions that can be answered better and in more detail on your website. The website can also provide discussion points and visuals so your buyer and OSC can discuss possibilities and explore options in real time.
Features of a home builder’s website that are crucial for the OSC
There are countless features that could benefit the OSC, depending on the resources at your disposal. However, the 5 most crucial are:
- Home finder filters – they allow buyers to find out what’s available to them and if you have suitable homes available
- FAQ page – the more frequently asked questions you can answer, the more time your OSC can save and it gives them a resource to point to so buyers can educate themselves on the process
- Path to purchase – homebuyers need to know what to expect and this is another resource OSCs can point to reassure prospective buyers
- Area maps – if buyers can’t see the location and what plots are taken, the whole idea of buying a home from you will feel conceptual
- Chat feature – a chat feature gives OSCs a direct line to chat with interested buyers, make a good first impression, answer those early questions, and entice them to find out more
A home builder’s website different from other businesses websites
The biggest difference between a home builder’s website and any other local business is that a home builder’s website should be primarily geared toward awareness and education; it’s not designed for account management or to provide buyers with some retail therapy.
A home builder’s website must be designed to convey information that captures that initial interest, educates, and turns that interest into an opportunity for conversion. Most buyers put a lot of effort into researching a possible home purchase months before they consider reaching out to a realtor or home builder, and a website full of helpful information about what’s possible for them will give you a chance to wow them with your user experience which will develop trust. While it doesn’t always make sense logically, if we see a website that’s lacklustre or fails to give us enough information, we assume the company will be the same to work with. Your website is your chance to show buyers you’re the right home builder to work with.
It’s worth remembering that a home is a huge purchase – while you will get some visitors to your site who are merely window shopping, most people coming to your site are on the cusp of making a big decision and want to be sold. Your site should tell them immediately whether or not they’re in the right place by showing them exactly what you can offer them.
Tips for Keeping Your Website in Tip-Top Shape
If your website hasn’t had a lot of attention recently, I recommend you give it an audit and see if it’s doing all the powerful things we’ve discussed thus far. Once your website has a strong foundation of information, you should:
- Test forms and links monthly – even just one broken link can lose a lead
- Have someone audit the accuracy of your website’s information daily (just as you do the presentation of your model homes)
- Develop a process for your sales and marketing teams (including your OSC) to communicate about what’s on the website and track updates so everyone knows what information is there and what’s not
Your OSC will be affected if the website is not kept up-to-date
They can lose credibility
Your OSC is often the first team member your buyer comes into contact with, so they need to know what’s on the website and the website information needs to reflect the information they have. Remember that trust is a delicate thing, and if your OSC tells a buyer one thing and they’ve seen another thing on the website, your OSC will lose credibility.
Set up to fail
Your website and your OSC set your buyer’s expectations, so they need to be accurate. For example, if the pricing on the site is inaccurate, the buyer may be deep into the discussion with the OSC before they realize that there aren’t actually any suitable options available for the buyer. In some circumstances, information inaccuracies can mean your OSC gives your buyer information that can set the sales team up to fail, rather than succeed.
A lack of effective CTAs on a website will result in missed opportunities to fully utilize the OSC’s skills. A healthy site, with quality CTAs and healthy links and contact forms, will allow buyers to take the next step and contact your OSC at any time.
Your website affects the onsite sales team too!
Your website sets the tone of your company, and without consistent information between your website, OSC, and onsite team, your customer will become mistrustful. By the time a buyer meets your onsite sales team your buyer should already have had the opportunity to learn all about the process through your website.
Your onsite team shouldn’t be tasked with not only showing buyers the model home and discussing their options but also talking them through all the minutia that could be answered online. Of course, you want your sales team to be happy to answer any question, but they shouldn’t have to.
If your website is subpar or has inaccuracies, your website can even create a negative experience that your sales team then has to overcome to reassure the buyer that you are a company that pays attention to detail, meets expectations, and delivers quality. That’s something you don’t need to do if your website has done the hard work for you.
The right website can support your buyer and your entire sales team, including your OSC, streamlining the sales process which then enables you to offer the best customer experience possible. For more help from me on ensuring your website’s doing all, it can see this article: How an OSC Sees Your Website Differently.