DIGITAL TOOLS THAT INFLUENCE BUYERS DURING THE RESEARCH PHASE
It is estimated that between 1-3% of web site visitors engage on a home builder web site by subscribing to a newsletter, requesting more information, scheduling an appointment, or other form of opt-in. That means that for every 1,000 people who visit your site, as many as 990 leave the web site without any opportunity for a sales person to engage, qualify and nurture that lead.
Online tools that engage buyers and provide high-quality information valuable to a potential home buyer’s research process increase the amount of time a visitor spends on a builder web site, as well as the likelihood that a buyer will register for more information.
So which tools do buyers most rely on when researching a home builder’s web site and how do we create engaging online experiences that move buyers through the sales funnel?
We asked recent home buyers to review six of the most popular home builder web site tools and tell us which one(s) they considered important during their new home research.
The six tools included:
- Photo gallerieS
- Interactive floor plans
- Interactive Feature Changes
- 3d Interactive Tours
- Virtual Reality Tours
Many of the tools were considered important by buyers during the research phase of
the home buying process. New to the list is Virtual Reality Tours (requiring special VR goggles), which is gaining in use among builders and buyers, although it is not yet as widely accepted.
Since so many of the tools are considered “important” to buyers, how should builders
prioritize when on a limited budget? Photo galleries clearly rank as the most important item to invest in, across every demographic.
PHOTO GALLERIES: Builder photography should be of the highest quality and include multiple perspectives that invite buyers to learn more.
INTERECTIVE FLOOR PLANS
INTERACTIVE FLOOR PLANS allow prospects to visualize/customize plans they are considering. With different options, plan configurations, elevations and photos, users can save their plan to bring into a sales center. This adds value to the experience for both buyer and builder.
INTERACTIVE FEATURE CHANGES
INTERACTIVE FEATURE CHANGES: Current technology allows home shoppers to customize features of the home such as kitchen/room configurations and see high-quality renderings of their changes before committing to purchase.
3D INTERACTIVE TOURS
3D INTERACTIVE TOURS: These are web site tours controlled by the user. The user has the ability to navigate from room to room and look around 360 degrees, as if they were inside the home.
VIDEOS: As online video has become the norm, users of all ages expect to see video on a builder’s web site (or YouTube channel). Videos are a good way to keep visitors engaged with web site content, instead of expecting them to read large amounts of copy.
VIRTUAL REALITY TOURS
VIRTUAL REALITY TOURS: With technology such as Google Cardboard, virtual reality is now available to anyone with a smartphone. Builders can create virtual reality versions of their homes and models for prospects to tour without leaving their own homes.
SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE: When considering how to invest in social media, builders should first consider which phases of the home buying experience are most important to the customer.
SMART PHONE USAGE: Designing experiences for mobile should also consider the context in which users are using their phones. When conducting user testing for mobile experiences, it’s best to start with the phase considered most important to the customer.
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