What do many housebuilders NOT do?

The digital landscape will always change, from creatives to PEST, from tools to skills. Do housebuilders keep up, adopt, or execute the strategies needed to respond to these opportunities?

Persona planning is an often overlooked or badly executed process. Building variable personas allows marketing planners to develop communications to address different needs/desires and buying stage targets. Personas help direct communication styles, advertising targeting, look-a-like audience definitions and inform designers what should be built, or how show homes need to be presented.

Some housebuilders seem to have little evident persona intention in their product or communication. Others have developed diluted, catch-all personas which will be inadequate in directing digital activity. Then there is the long list of attributes for each persona, or a set of eloquent, crafted paragraphs; equally pointless.

How do companies get personas wrong?

  • No demographic research of enquirers, buyers, or geographic audiences (the people already living in the surrounding area).
  • Basing views on inadequate numeric research (small samples, badly written) and not including qualitative research.
  • Anecdotal, “its who we have always sold to”, power of senior opinion.
  • Ignoring the personas around the failing audiences/leads that don’t buy.
  • Not enough…too many….
  • Letting agencies drive the process through “ideation” instead of data.
  • Marketing or agency-driven results lacking involvement/buy-in from all aspects of the business (The Designers, the Sales team, Marketing, Customer Service).
  • Fail to recognise half the issue is the pain points…not just the happy places.

PEST… Political, Economic, Social and Technology issues…

Housebuilders digital strategies are frequently playing catchup.

  • Changes in GDPR and data handling are presenting issues that are decimating many email lists used by some housebuilders due to the third-party ownership of their data (check your contract with the agency/platform!).
  • Failing to recognise the impact of major, heavily previewed changes such as Core Web Vitals (CWV), First-Party cookies or mobile-first is evident across many housebuilder websites. Even agencies seem to be unaware/dismissive of the potential impact. I wonder how many will be aware of the reverse decision on cookies, and by when?
  • The social change of “at home” consideration (driven by the Covid-habits of remote interaction) puts considerable demands on the house buying process. Appointment bookings are for remote, streamed walkthroughs. Options selections are made via VR/3D processes, finance discussions are via Zoom. Are these the primary CTR’s of every housebuilder website or do they still focus on “enquire” and “book an appointment”?
The new house buyer customer journey

Skills

Housebuilders like many businesses use third parties for expert input…. but the level of knowledge/skills in-house is frequently insufficient to make qualified judgements about the advice given. Consequently, the blended benefit of expert input to strategic and tactical decisions is lost. Some indicators of vulnerability in a team include:

  • Reporting that fails to identify CPA, ROI or 3rd party site measurements.
  • A team reacting to the weekly demands of Sales and Directors – not making the strategic calendar the priority.
  • Emailing decisions based on volume and frequency, not on nurture and actions.
  • No test budget in any sector of marketing activity.
  • No project flow system (3rd party).

Summary

Many businesses fail to accommodate issues such as technology changes or create effective personas (and use them!). The key is ensuring adequate planning and flexibility, allied to skills and habits to take advantage of digital marketing opportunities.

If you want to explore how to better develop your digital marketing habits, question the strategies being sold to you and enhance in-house skills, then perhaps a call to Braid is in order?

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