The customer journey for anyone buying a home has shifted almost entirely online in recent weeks. Virtual viewings, online valuations and even exchanges have progressed. The easing of lockdown and restarting of the housing market makes physical viewings possible once more, but a large part of the discovery process will continue to take place online for the foreseeable future.
People are still buying homes. Others are preparing their home for sale or working out their finances. There is strong evidence that there is demand for new homes in particular. In a press conference broadcast by Property4Media this week, Zoopla’s Director of Research and Insight, Richard Donnell, said new homes enquiries had bounced back more quickly and identified “a real opportunity” for housebuilders.
Customers are out there but they will need your help to navigate new ways of buying. So how can you help?
Let them know you’re open for business
The industry has reopened. Whether or not you have a physical sales presence open at the moment, permission to open and host viewings is a major step forward.
Now is the time to be clear about your offering – the homes you’re selling, your USPs, how customers can contact you and how they can view your homes. Are you open for viewings? How can a customer book an appointment and what happens when they get to site? What is being done to ensure their safety? Tell the story of how your brand is adapting and reassure customers that you are there to support them through this new way of buying.
This is not a time to by shy. Yes, the tone and content of your communications should be carefully considered, but we know your customers still want to hear from you and that they’re more likely to buy from a company that has kept in touch with them during lockdown.
The media has an appetite for news about property. Your PR and social channels and your database have never been more important. Ensuring your audience knows how and why to buy from you will give you the best chance to capitalise on their interest once they’re ready to make their move.
Talk about forthcoming development launches. Demonstrate the quality of your homes, the desirability of the locations where you build, the people behind the business, the new processes you are adopting.
Make sure you can be found
It may seem obvious, but if you’re not visible online, leads will be lost. Putting your house in order with SEO is a basic first step.
“SEO is one of the most efficient and cost-effective marketing channels. That’s because with the right approach, it will attract targeted traffic.
“SEO is more than just optimising websites for Google. It’s also about improving the overall website user experience. Fast, organised and well-structured websites encourage website visitors to stay longer and engage more.
“In an industry where competition is intense, you need your name to stand out. When you’re competing with other local housebuilders with similar offerings, speed can be your ally. SEO gives you momentum. By optimising your website for search engines, you can attract potential customers faster than your rivals.”
Just as organic social content is important, so is your social media advertising. If your customers are there, you should be too, with carefully considered messages.
If you haven’t already, review your Pay Per Click messaging. Are your calls to action up to date? Prepare new content to go live as sales offices open.
Make the online experience the best it can be
While developers have been sharing and collating videos and virtual tours, consumer expectations of their online experience have changed. More than ever, a seamless journey through the website is needed to retain your visitors’ interest.
Video and imagery were the first areas addressed by most and there will be further opportunities to create new assets as we ease out of lockdown. But this isn’t the only way to implement a cost-effective fix to improve your customers’ online experiences.
Chris Kiely is Sales Director for New Homes at Prospect Generator, a proptech offering within the Property Pathways group which helps customers to find their affordability limit and provides opted-in leads to housebuilders. The technology has been designed to sit within the developer’s existing website.
Chris said: “We have seen a big change in working practice in recent weeks from all developers, whether that be location of working or how sales are driven and nurtured, or how viewings are arranged and delivered. Future sales and working processes will no doubt be reflective of this ongoing with virtual tours, remote viewings and booking of calls and video calls being the norm as sales offices reopen.”
Prospect Generator has identified modest reductions in the average deposits available to first-time buyers and homeowners between March and April, yet leads from the platform are up 60 per cent.
Chris added: “We have seen very clearly with our clients all over the UK that brands that provide useful information that a prospect wants without any fuss, are much more likely to achieve better results, by acquiring more customer contact details and opt-ins. Prospect Generator plays a significant part in the journey of engaging potential buyers and understanding so much more about these people.
“The interest is still there and pent-up demand still needs to be serviced, if remotely.”
The phrase ‘new normal’ already feels over-used and cliché yet the reality is, that’s’ what we are all adapting to. Having a voice, being easy to find online and improving customer experiences on your website will vastly improve your chances of attracting and generating leads.
Email email@example.com to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation to help get your communications on track as the industry gets back to work.