Inbound Marketing: The Next Big Thing in Home Builder Marketing
If you’re already marketing online, you might be using tactics like blogging, sharing posts on social media, or even running Pay-Per-Click ads. While this can be called digital marketing, it’s not inbound marketing.
And inbound marketing, my friends, is the next big thing in home builder marketing.
Reading Time: 14 minutes
- Defining inbound marketing
- Why you need inbound to survive online
- How inbound works as a methodology
- What aspects of your marketing strategy need to change
- The four phases of inbound
If you'd like to read a summary of this post, simply click here.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is not a single tactic, it's not software or paid advertising. Inbound marketing actually utilizes many forms of pull marketing but fits them together like a puzzle, making it a methodology to follow.
When you’re going to take on digital marketing, adopting an inbound methodology makes you much more prepared. It also gives you a process to follow and a way to measure how well each step in that process is working. Imagine launching a campaign with the exact tools you need, in one toolbox, and an instructive map showing how they can all work together to achieve one goal: to get more leads and convert them into customers!
If you compare advertising approaches for home builder marketing, traditional marketers were more like hunters who seemed to only have one tool: a shotgun. They'd use it to blast messages out through mass media channels like radio, print, and billboards, in hopes that someone, somewhere, would be looking or listening and were shopping for a new home.
Inbound marketers, on the other hand, spend their time fishing. With an assortment of different baits, we focus on getting found by prospects who are hungry for what we have to offer. Once they're captured and become a lead, they're nurtured along through the home buyer's journey until they're ready to speak with sales. Inbound is focused on earning the attention of home buyers and getting their permission to market to them. And it makes your company a lot easier to find online.
Through the creation and distribution of content, you draw or attract people to you who are searching for exactly what you're offering. There are so many tools that can make the entire process run more smoothly. Each of them may be powerful on their own, but inbound demonstrates the methods of using them together effectively. We’ll expand on how this is put into practice later in the article.
In quick summary, the inbound methodology will mainly use tactics such as blogging, search engine optimization, social media, content and email marketing, in a step-by-step type of process.
Why You Need Inbound Marketing to Grow
We all know we’ve reached a point where, if you’re not online, you’re falling behind. Failing to adapt to changing consumer trends and not keeping up with technology is leaving the door open for your competitors to gain a larger slice of the pie in your market.
To be perfectly clear, your prospects are online. They spend large portions of their day on the Internet. But if they’re not finding you in their searching and browsing, they’re finding your competitors.
As home builders, it’s imperative to accept that the way people buy homes has changed. There’s a whole lot of “behind the screen” action going on long before you’ll interact with a potential buyer face-to-face in a show home. Over 90% of home buyers are visiting websites before showhomes.
That's why you need to look at your website as your digital sales centre. Its sole purpose is to provide your visitor with the information they're looking for, to answer their questions, and to get their permission to market to them.
Another factor that plays into inbound being the next big thing in home builder marketing is you’re now dealing with a new generation of home buyers, which are those in their mid-20s to mid-30s.
The Millenial generation are digital natives. They don't remember a time where there wasn't the internet. They expect a lot more from their experiences online then the previous generations do, which has led to a drastic change in how they make buying decisions. These are a much more cautious buyer that will conduct ample amounts of research online before interacting with a salesperson. They are the ones who come into your showhome knowing which area they want to live in, which model they want, and which options or upgrades they're interested in.
This highlights the benefit of an inbound methodology.
By design, it attracts new buyers by using helpful content in an effort to provide information and education. It's not until a lead has self-identified as being “sales-qualified” that they're handed off to sales. And this process makes closing them so much easier because they're ready to buy.
Modern buyers take their time to hunt for answers to their questions online, and they are naturally drawn to content that's relevant to them. Where they are in their home buying process also has a huge influence. They will engage with content that meets their needs at the time and provides them with truthful, valuable information. It has been this ability to seek what they want and shut out what they don't that's made these buyers much less susceptible to traditional (AKA interruptive) marketing tactics.
Not only that, the internet as a platform is heavily-saturated and instantaneous. An overwhelming amount of information is created, distributed, and shared immediately and constantly. This makes it a challenge to stand out above the noise. Evidently, it calls for marketing methods that take this into account, and calculated execution of tactics that are proven to work.
Inbound Marketing Is The Answer
The inbound methodology integrates your digital marketing tactics so they’re working together like a high-performance engine. An engine built from the understanding that today’s buyers typically travel up to 90% of their home buying journeywithout engaging with a salesperson. An engine designed to drive revenue and deliver you a worthy return on marketing investment (ROMI) and equipped to show you those results with concrete measurements.
Inbound marketers use new methods of building awareness, conversation marketing, and permission marketing to develop a rapport with leads, in order to position themselves as the trusted advisor during the home buyer’s journey. This is done using helpful and relevant content and without being pushy and sales-y.
It is this kind of helpful approach that will earn the trust of prospects in the earlier stages of their decision-making process, resulting in a stronger influence on their final decision to purchase.
So instead of paying for ads to “rent” attention from an audience base someone else has built – and interrupting your prospects in the process – you should initiate a full inbound marketing methodology that aligns with the expectations of the digital age.
How To Shift To Inbound Marketing
All aspects of home builder marketing need a fundamental shift in order to accommodate this new playing field. Your marketing strategy, your tactics, the way you seek and measure prospect engagement, and your decision-making strategies all need to be revisited
Consider the following:
- Strategy: Your marketing strategy is your overall game plan for finding and attracting customers for your business.
With inbound, the central goal is to draw prospects to you by providing them with personalized, relevant, and timely information. This is how you get found by the prospect.
- Tactics: Marketing tactics are the strategic actions you take that direct the promotion of a product or service to influence specific marketing goals.
In the past, home builder marketing tactics would take place in mass media channels (ie. a radio station) and appear in point-in-time blasts (ie. the ad running on air at random times throughout the day) in an interruptive fashion.
With inbound, you’re not trying to have an ad seen or heard in one place at one time, hoping it’ll resonate with whoever consumes it. Instead, you’re creating and distributing content through numerous media channels in a manner that allows you to get the attention and interest of your prospects and draw them into your website to gain their permission to market to them directly.
- Prospect Engagement: Prospect engagement is your connection with your leads through various media channels.
Historically, an attempt to engage prospects would be made through mass advertising to a particular demographic (ie. a billboard meant to attract women). This is a sort of a “throwing things out there” type of tactic, with the hopes that it might spark something in your ideal buyer. You might watch your website or showhomes for any possible trends or increases in traffic, but it was largely guesswork.
With inbound, everything is measurable! Your content and ads are created to directly aim at a specific person (learn about buyer personas to get a clearer idea of how to do this). Additionally, this target is defined not just by demographics but also by behavioural trends. You can then see the actual, tangible results from your campaigns. How many people clicked through to your website? How many of them gave you permission to market to them? And how many of them ended up buying from you?
- Decision-Making: In the past, with traditional forms of marketing, any indication of failures or successes could not be accurately recorded. Marketers made decisions based largely on gut instinct. For example, how would you ever know whether your magazine ad brought you any customers? How would you calculate your ROMI for that? Without measurable results, decisions about when, where, what, and how to advertise were essentially based on intuitive guesses.
With inbound, it's much more calculated than that. With a digital platform, everything can be tracked. This means you can compile data showing you the performance results of your content and advertising efforts. Evidence such as this allows marketers to now make fact-based decisions about what to focus on going forward because they can prove what's working.
We need to replace the outdated “in your face” types of home builder marketing schemes with initiatives tailored to our buyer personas and the stage of the buying cycle they’re in. You want to influence their purchasing decisions and enable prospects to engage with you, all while allowing them to take the wheel. It's all about building rapport and trust.
This can be implemented in a methodical way with inbound marketing.
The Four Stages of Inbound
There are four stages of inbound marketing that a buyer goes through. The inbound marketing framework gives you an idea of which stage your prospect is in, and what is needed to move them to the next stage.
Imagine the starting point of a person’s buying journey. No, it didn’t begin when they were introduced to a certain product – it goes back much farther than that!
It typically starts with an awareness of some sort of problem with their current home., ie: their family is growing and they've run out of space. This is when people will just begin researching what their options might be. Your job, then, is to attract these people to you!
While you do want more visitors coming to your site, the inbound methodology encourages you to emphasize quality over quantity. You want the prospects that are most likely to become leads and eventually customers, not just "baseboard kickers" coming to your website (traffic means nothing in that case). Targeting specific audiences is key.
Inbound begins with content. To get these ideal prospects to your site, you have to be putting out relevant content when and where they’re looking for it. Blogging is going to be your tool during the attract stage, and it has to be educational contentthat answers the prospects’ questions. This is how they’ll find it – they’re actively searching for it!
Social media will be your next step, as it will allow you to share all the great content you’ve created. Choose to use the platforms you know your prospects are frequently using. Remember to engage with your prospects on these platforms as well – you want to humanize your company for rapport to start blooming.
Now you’re getting more traffic to your website! That’s great, but remember that your goal is to convert visitors into leads and get their permission to market to them. The way to do so is to open the door for dialogue with prospects. Equip your website with forms to be filled out. You can ask visitors to submit their information in exchange for a downloadable piece of content, or simply invite them to send you a message through your site to start a conversation.
Once you have permission to contact them, stay engaged, answer questions, and provide valuable information to these customers. Earn the right to stay in their inbox! This is lead nurturing. It is helpful to have some way of tracking your interactions and relationships with prospects and customers to ensure you’re able to keep things personal. There is software out there like HubSpot for managing this and making it easy.
We’re getting closer! Now you need to convert those leads into customers. This is when your sales team really steps in. Having the right tools will help your team effectively close leads. An integrated process has to be in place so your marketing and sales departments are working together efficiently.
Again, for effective lead nurturing you should be tracking your customer activity and this history must be accessible to your sales team as well. Your visitors may have become leads by filling out a form and downloading more content from you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ready to become a customer.
Email marketing is a useful tool to focus on, to send relevant and personalized content, and to build trust with prospects, helping them to reach the point where they’re ready to buy. Consider the act of lead scoring, which gives leads a score, based on certain rules and actions. Again, this is the importance of tracking everything so that salespeople are able to quickly prioritize who they should be investing effort into.
Yay, customers! It’s an exciting thing to convert leads to customers, but know that the work is not done yet. The inbound methodology is based on the principle of cultivating remarkable customer experiences.
While you can’t have direct control over the perception of your customers, you can implement strategies to maintain customer relationships even after making the sale. Why? Because it’s one more crucial conversion: turning customers into promoters of your company!
You should be continuing to engage with your customers who now have a trust in you, and the more you do, the more likely they are to recommend you to others. You can also keep providing them with content; be careful, though, those who are already customers aren’t going to be interested in content meant for first-time buyers. Once again, this draws attention to the importance of tracking everything (and the beauty of the ability to do so easily in the digital world)!
Another huge benefit of tracking your progress and customers’ behaviours and interactions with you online is that you’ll be able to notice trends. You’ll see what kind of content is working and what isn’t, allowing you to then create more quality content tailored to your buyer personas.
Repeating these methods is a means to get to know your ideal buyers more and more with time, strengthening your home builder marketing strategies and turning you into a powerhouse in your industry!
This illustrates how the inbound marketing movement has catered to the change in buying behaviours. As home builders, you can make inbound work for you by creating buyer personas, educating yourselves on the home buyer’s journey, and taking what you know to effectively follow an industry-specific inbound marketing methodology, like the one we've created. This allows you to continually deliver the right content, to the right people, at the right time.
This is inbound!
Using digital marketing tactics such as blogging, sharing posts on social media, or even running Pay-Per-Click ads, is not the same inbound marketing. As opposed to using outbound digital marketing tactics, sitting back and hoping for the best, an inbound methodology will use tactics such as blogging, search engine optimization, social media, content and email marketing, in a step-by-step type of process with a way to measure how well each step in that process is working!
As a homebuilder, if you're not focusing your marketing efforts online, you're falling behind. That's where your prospects are. With over 90% of home buyers visiting websites before they even step foot in a show home, you need to start looking at your website as a digital sales centre. Modern buyers take their time to hunt for answers to their questions online, and they are naturally drawn to content that's relevant to them. It has been this ability to seek what they want and shut out what they don't that's made these buyers much less susceptible to traditional (AKA interruptive) marketing tactics.
By incorporating the inbound methodology in your home builder marketing tactics, you'll be able to attract new buyers by providing information and education. It's not until a lead has self-identified as being “sales-qualified” that they're handed off to sales. And this process makes closing them so much easier because they're ready to buy.
In order to make the shift to inbound, your marketing strategy, tactics, the way you seek and measure prospect engagement, and your decision-making strategies all need to be revisited. You need to replace the outdated “in your face” types of home builder marketing schemes with initiatives tailored to your buyer personas where they're at in their home buyer's journey. You want to influence their purchasing decisions and enable prospects to engage with you, all while allowing them to take the wheel. It's all about building rapport and trust.
The four stages of the inbound methodology consist of the following:
- Attract - Attract prospects to your site by creating content relevant to them (your buyer personas). By taking a quality over quantity approach, your prospects are much more like to become qualified leads and eventually, customers.
- Convert - Convert prospects into leads by getting their permission to market to them such as asking them to fill out a form in exchange for a downloadable piece of content. From here, be sure to nurture them by keeping them engaged.
- Close - This is where your sales team steps in order to convert those leads into customers! Lead scoring and tracking offered by the inbound process will help your sales team follow up with and close leads.
- Delight - Because the inbound methodology is based on the principle of cultivating remarkable customer experiences, you'll be able to implement strategies with your existing customers in order to keep engaging them (i.e. with content). This way, they're more likely to recommend you to others - making them promoters of your company!
There may have been some big changes to the marketing game, but you can still stay on top by developing your online presence. Click below to download our free ebook, The Essential Guide to Building a Powerful Home Builder Brand and learn how to stand out from the crowd.