Do Home Builders Need a Website? 5 Reasons We Say Yes.
July 16, 2019
Here’s a true story: We reach out to home builders all the time while looking for new partners, and this process includes searching for builders’ websites to get a feel for who they are as a company and the kinds of projects they work on. But, more often than we’d like, we can’t find a trace of them online — save for maybe an unclaimed Google My Business listing.
And it always reminds us that even in 2019, websites still aren’t seen as a necessity. Yet, for local businesses, they should be.
Chances are if you’re a home builder who doesn’t have a website, you’re small- to mid-sized and don’t build on a national level, and maybe you believe that word of mouth has gotten you to the level you’re at now, so why change? But consider these points as you think about marketing for your business and the opportunities you could be missing.
A website helps you control the narrative about yourself
Our first point is simple but it’s an important one. Without a website, you’re leaving the story of your company up to Google, Yelp and other review pages. And it’s one thing if you have glowing reviews or you actively manage your online reputation, but it’s another if you’re not even aware of your online presence, or don’t have a process in place to respond to negative reviews.
On average, local construction businesses get about seven reviews on Google. That’s not very many reviews, and it would only take a couple unsatisfied customers to negatively skew your results. (Keep in mind Andrew Thomas’ stats on Inc.com: A customer with a negative experience is far more likely to leave a review than a customer with a positive one, and it takes roughly 40 positive customer experiences to undo the damage of a single review.)
And if reviews, or the lack thereof, are all people can find of you online, they could be getting an incomplete look at who you are as a company. This is where a great website can really work to your benefit. You’ll be able to clearly lay out your services, your brand vision and your work, and it’s also a place where you can showcase positive testimonials from satisfied partners and customers.
A website makes you more competitive in a digital world
Did you know that 46 percent of all Google searches are looking for local information? And that 97 percent of people learn more about a local company online than anywhere else? Hubspot has gathered 16 important stats, and we think they make a pretty compelling argument about what you’re missing out on if you aren’t online.
Word of mouth is great, because we tend to trust the opinions of our friends and family over strangers, but we also really like to Google too, and the only thing you’re losing by not being online is potential customers.
We won’t go into the weeds right now (that’ll be for a later post), but your website isn’t just to provide basic info about yourself, it also serves to act as a passive lead generation tool when set up correctly (again, more on that later).
But, still, a website lets people know your basic info
Tell us there hasn’t been a time when you were searching for contact information for a business online and you couldn’t even find a phone number. And then tell us you didn’t walk away from that experience thinking poorly of the company.
Websites make it easy to provide people with your most current contact information from a trusted source (after all, you should know your own hours, phone, email and etc., which can’t be said for unclaimed yellow page and Google listings).
Websites also help to ensure people that you’re a legitimate business and that you’re still in business. There’s nothing like the doubt that sets in when you’re pretty sure a business exists but you can’t find info on them anywhere.
A website allows people to do their research before they contact you
Studies show that 70 to 80 percent of people research a company online before visiting with the company or making a purchase. And we’ve already established that people really like to search online in general. So, give them the tools to research you first.
Because we get it, higher visibility can mean having your time wasted by home buyers or developers or other partners who aren’t seriously interested in what you offer. But you can let your website do part of the work in weeding out bad customers by being clear upfront about the types of projects you’re interested in working on.
For instance, if you’re a custom builder who specializes in new luxury homes, you can make this clear on your website to reduce the chance of hearing from someone who’s primarily looking at new development production homes.
A website gives you an opportunity to show off your work
Speaking of the work you do, show it off! The importance of quality images in real estate can’t be overstated, but we’ll try for a sentence or two. The Center for REALTOR® Development found that homes with high quality photographs sell 32 percent faster and — for homes between $200,000 and $1 million — often for $3,000 to $11,000 more. While the link we shared is clearly geared to realtors, it’s useful information for anyone selling and marketing homes.
Think about your own experiences renting and buying. Would you even give a company the time of day if they weren’t showing you their product?
Okay, I want a website. Where do I start?
Good news. Creating a website is not the money dump or time suck it used to be. Check out Site Builder Report for good, free website builders if you’ve got someone with a little website know-how and an eye for style on your team. What’s great about many of the free websites is that they’re modular in design so you can add the elements (like a large lead image or photo gallery) that you need while excluding elements you don’t need.
Websites built with WordPress are also a great standard, so if you have someone with the technical knowledge on your team (or a young, tech-y relative looking for an extra buck), it’s easy to start there. You can sign up for both free and paid plans.
All of these services will walk you through creating or purchasing a domain name and provide you with what you need to know about hosting services.
But we know not everyone’s tech-savvy, so you can also consider searching for paid services provided by companies that specialize in making websites for home builders.
Do you have any website tips to add?