For years the housebuilding industry has relied on traditional and local media outlets to promote new homes. However, with the Liverpool Daily Post closing its doors last year due to both falling advertisement revenues and circulation figures - housebuilders are undoubtedly considering alternatives.
The fact that digital marketing techniques are on the up and up is pushing more and more businesses to rethink their marketing output and adapt their strategies when targeting, pursuing and converting new home buyers.
In the past, we have seen regional papers work wonders in attracting new buyers, however, with our local publications depleting at a rapid rate there's never been a more opportune time to investigate alternate ways to advertise and promote housing schemes.
What is the best form of advertising for housebuilders?
Housebuilders face more options than ever before when it comes to promoting their properties and choosing the right ones can be understandably daunting. While there's no such thing as a silver bullet for all your marketing woes, each platform comes with its own strengths and weaknesses.
Targeting people's online inboxes has long been a favourite technique of housebuilders, but you'd be missing a trick if you used it in isolation. The one-stop portal of listing a property and promoting it via an email campaign should now be part of a much larger mix. With the emphasis not only on displaying a property, but also informing, engaging and creating relationships with current customers and possible new buyers.
To do this, housebuilders first need to employ various search engine optimisation tactics for their own websites, with Google Adwords, a mix of property portals, targeted email, social media platforms and a greater reliance on images and potentially video.
Rightmove has been dominant for so long on the market and today it still takes the largest slice of the advertising cake for housebuilders. Its success has inspired as agencies and advertisers look for greater value in targeting the same audiences via online assets and social media channels.
Recent research has found that mortgage costs are still only 17% of the average income. Considering that the long-term average is 24%, we are looking at double digit increases in opportunities for homebuilders over the next five years.
Jumping on the online marketing bandwagon
While the principle is simple, it's by no means easy. Success lies in the use of clever online marketing strategies and tactics that utilise a range of assets working in concert.
The main benefit of digital marketing is that there are tons of ways you can do it without accruing a heavy cost and still reach key audiences. On the other hand, you'll largely get out what you put in and it's not a great option for those who don't have the time and resources necessary to devote to it (or the option of outsourcing).
According to a new study by Rex Briggs,big companies waste 40% of their marketing budgets on local press and advertising, rather than focusing their campaigns on what their customers actually want.
First things first
Ensuring your website is kept fresh and current is going to be key. As research has found, the future is a much more a mobile web. So having a website which is optimised for local and mobile device-friendly is imperative when targeting key audiences browsing properties on the commute to and from work.
Get Google's attention and start blogging
It is no secret that at RDPR, we believe blogging is one of the best ways to get Google’s attention and there is plenty of good reason for that.
According to HubSpot, active blogs draw 6.9 times more organic search traffic and double the amount of referral traffic to your website than any other marketing format.
Why does Google reward homebuilders for writing blog posts?
Google has changed a lot since it came to us (with a bang) back in '97, but one thing remains the same. Google indexes pages and tries to connect the most relevant pages to search queries people type in. The more pages you have, the more chance you have of someone coming across your website.
Blogging has been driving traffic to websites for years, but there has been some recent fundamental changes in the way Google operates giving high quality, freshly updated, blogs more authority in search results.
Google looks to reward quality and quantity more than ever. Spam websites are getting punished and this has opened up an opportunity for those businesses with a canny content strategy. Blogging has a higher, more demonstrable ROI (return on investment) than ever before and will make a valuable weapon in your online marketing arsenal.
It's pretty obvious how more traffic from search engines will help you to acquire customers. However, all sorts of interesting people in the home building industry will also come across your website if it's a hub for genuinely interesting and relevant content. That includes investors, reporters, politicians, procurement departments, consultants, lawyers, and your competitors.
A social shift
Social media is another useful tool to use, as it will help you enhance your brand’s perception, improve customer service, educate and engage with your audiences.
It is a surprise that few housebuilders are actually engaging effectively through social media. Are you monitoring your brand mentions online? How about keywords such as ‘buying a new home’ or even just investigating conversations which include the keyword ‘new home’? What housebuilders should be doing is listening into online chatter and targeting their audiences with relevant content that directs them to their website.
We all know that the way in which we use digital marketing tools has changed significantly over recent years. Housebuilders should now be using social media to provide useful information, listen to feedback, and answer questions and also to provide insight into the latest property news to a network of targeted followers.
Social media allows housebuilders to engage with their audiences more effectively and efficiently. Unlike the local newspaper in your region, social media encourages potential customers to check availability at your nearest development or simply to ask for advice when purchasing a new home with you in a natural and intuitive way.
Video killed the radio star
Videos are also a useful asset for housebuilders as they allow you to build on your follower count and improve that all important engagement level. Engaging video content can help to significantly increase Google ranking driving traffic towards your website through social shares.
Viewers can tune into your very own online TV channel and can watch a range of visual content on all things related to your business and homes. It is also particularly useful when featuring customer feedback on their own experience of purchasing a home with you.
We'd love to hear any comments you have below. What do you think about the shift on advertising and have you been personally affected? Do you think the ever-dwindling local press will continue to have merit or will you be plunging more resources into the web in the coming years?
We've also condensed all of our top tips on online marketing into a guide specially designed for residential developers, so be sure to check it out now:
Images courtesy of Mike, David Newman, Ureka Marketing, Increased visibility, Do it marketing and DM Hosting solutions.