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The Digital Evolution of Real Estate

In today’s evolving real estate market, online resources have become a staple of home shopping. From interactive floor plans to personalized customer service, there are many tools home builders can utilize to attract online home shoppers. By mastering the digital strategies spoken about in this panel, builders can significantly enhance their ability to attract and retain prospective buyers in an increasingly competitive landscape.

Mastering ZMOT in Homebuyer Engagement – Melissa Morman

Melissa Morman, the Principal at Built4F, led the discussion with an overview of the changing landscape of homebuyer engagement, emphasizing the shift away from traditional marketing in a new era driven by digital engagement. “Today’s buyers do extensive research online before contacting a builder, making the ‘Zero Moment of Truth’ critical,”
The Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) is a concept developed by Google that describes the moment when a consumer researches a product online before making a purchase decision. A strong digital presence is now essential, as buyers expect transparency, instant information, and self-service options.

In line with this, the real estate market has seen a drastic increase in buyers putting down offers on homes without ever stepping foot inside. A statistic from December 2020 shows that 63% of homes were purchased online, a trend that emerges as more Millennials and Gen Z buy houses. Builders are urged to embrace digital tools to meet the evolving expectations of buyers, highlighting the necessity of digital transformation in today’s market.

Capitalizing on Market Trends – Scott Rohrig

Representing Zillow’s New Home Construction, Scott Rohrig expanded on Morman’s points by providing his perspective on the current marketplace. He explained that the new construction market has had a lot of momentum in 2023 and 2024 and emphasized the importance of capitalizing through the use of market trends. By understanding and responding to increased activity in new construction, businesses can optimize their strategies to better meet the needs and preferences of buyers, ultimately driving success in the market.

Zillow’s annual Consumer Housing Trend Report surveyed 6,500 recent home buyers to understand their preferences and priorities. key findings from the report noted that budget consciousness is at an all-time high among new construction buyers.
Smart home technology and immersive online tools like 3D tours are desired by 72% of home shoppers. Pets and family-friendly features play a significant role in purchasing decisions. We encourage you to take a look at the report here. Aligning with these trends enables builders to better meet buyer expectations and enhance their market appeal.

Personalization and Interactive Content – Anya Chrisanthon

Anya Chrisanthon from Anewgo built off of Rohrig’s insights about the importance of personalization and interactive content when marketing to online home shoppers. It is important to tailor the consumer experience through interactive tools, making the process more immersive for the customers.
Interactive content like mortgage calculators and exterior visualizers benefits a consumer’s experience. These tools create an emotional connection for buyers and increase website engagement. Conversational eCommerce and the role of AI in home building were discussed, emphasizing the importance of incorporating interactivity through chatbots and virtual assistants. It was noted that information should be accessible to AI search systems, with a caution against gated interactive content.

Reviews and Reputation Management – Tim Bailey

Next, Avid Ratings’ Tim Bailey brought the conversation into the world of digital reviews and reputation management within the homebuilding industry. Reviews play a pivotal role in today’s consumer decision-making process. A study by Northwestern University demonstrated that a product with only five reviews can experience a 270% increase in conversion rates compared to a product without reviews.
Tying into the panel’s focus, the importance of reviews and reputation in attracting online shoppers was emphasized. In today’s consumer landscape, where online research is paramount, reviews play a critical role in shaping purchasing decisions. Actively soliciting and responding to customer reviews is beneficial in attracting and retaining online home shoppers, ultimately leading to increased sales and customer satisfaction.

Maximizing Marketing Activities with CRM – Monica Wheaton

Monica Wheaton of ECI Software Solutions elaborated on the critical role of customer relationship management (CRM) when maximizing marketing activities to attract online home shoppers. She highlighted ECI’s comprehensive suite of products that are tailored for the building and construction community. Wheaton stressed the importance of leveraging interactive tools and personalized experiences on builder websites to engage prospective buyers effectively.

CRM can be used strategically, with tools like 3D tours, configurators, and chatbots. CRM systems are capable of capturing and observing leads effectively, citing statistics that show a 15-20% increase in win rates when using CRM implementation, which can be used to track individual prospect activities, capture lead sources, and create personalized follow-ups.
CRM adoption has a massive potential impact on home sales, for example, a modest increase in win rates can prove to create substantial profit gains for builders, allowing them to effectively capitalize on new marketing opportunities in the digital age.

Aligning Marketing with Consumer Priorities – Roxanne Musselman

Roxanne Musselman of KB Home highlighted the consumer’s desire for reliable and attainable homes, emphasizing the need for builders to align their marketing efforts with these priorities. Builders must meet the expectations of a digital customer by providing photography, videos, flexible interactions, and a quick response time.

Internet leads are not only leads but potential customers who require proactive engagement and personalized follow-ups. A builder’s website should be like that of a virtual community, requiring daily attention and improvement. When an online business is executed effectively, it can provide the game-changing competitive edge needed for builders to see significant revenue growth .
Additionally, the importance of a 15-minute response time for inbound leads cannot be overstated. Rapid responses significantly enhance the likelihood of converting a lead into a sale. By diving deep into key performance indicators (KPIs), builders can maximize their inbound lead process. This includes monitoring response times, lead sources, and engagement metrics to refine strategies continually and ensure every lead is nurtured efficiently and effectively.

Navigating the Digital Landscape for Success

Leveraging digital tools is essential in today’s online home market. Interactive strategies are key to navigating this digital landscape and converting interest into sales. By focusing on customer preferences, builders can ensure they are not only drawing attention but also fostering meaningful engagement and trust. This approach not only enhances customer satisfaction but also strengthens the builder’s reputation and market presence, providing a significant competitive advantage in the real estate market.

Watch our discussion on “Attracting Online Home Shoppers via Interactivity, Pre-sale Personalization & Customer Reviews” here.

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