You've probably seen Buzzfeed advertise it to you before - 'What Disney Princess or Prince am I?' or maybe 'Choose some strange things and we'll tell you which Stranger Things character you are'. These types of quizzes have become total clickbait in the internet world - but as users, we don't even care because they're fun.
What do personality quizzes have to do with the marketing and selling homes?
Will Duderstadt, Vice President of Digital Marketing for M/I Homes shared with us a recent successful social media campaign that played off of the internet’s obsession with quizzes. It turns out, these types of quizzes can be very fruitful for home builders, too. Born out of his own interest in taking online quizzes, Will wondered to himself, ‘how could we leverage this medium and relate it to our business’? The overall theme M/I Homes used was a play on Valentine’s Day and the idea of falling in love with a community or having a ‘community crush’. Each of M/I’s communities offer up different vibes and amenities, and the quiz allowed M/I to gather info on what potential homeowners might be looking for in a community based on their answers. Most of all, Will points out, is that he was hoping to get a good laugh out of those taking the quiz. When the questions are engaging - silly even, users have more fun and are more willing to take the quiz.
So what’s the result of these quizzes and what do they have to do with social media?
This quiz was heavily promoted on Facebook and Twitter through paid placement and boosted posts, with Facebook outperforming Twitter by about 2 to 1. The net result was an extremely low cost per click - typically around 10 cents or less to start the quiz. And the number of quiz participants that converted to a lead was also very low. Impressively, the M/I sales team was able to track a number of home sales directly back to the quiz. However, the downside to these types of social media campaigns is they typically take place at the top of the sales funnel. So for those leads that did convert to sales, they were looking at a 6-8 month sales cycle. Cheers to Will and the entire M/I Homes team on the success of their quiz campaign - which led to an award at Maryland Building Industry Association for Outstanding use of the Internet.
What if you’re looking to generate quality traffic and leads that have the potential to convert to sales more quickly?
My visit with Meredith Oliver of Meredith Communications spoke to just that - she and her team focus on using social media as a tool and channel to drive builder website traffic. She found that the best social media channels in terms of quality traffic are Facebook and Instagram. When speaking about social media marketing on these platforms we’re talking primarily about paid ad campaigns. While organic content can do a great job of getting word out about your brand and buzz building, if you want to drive significant traffic to your builder website, you need to have a paid strategy. I asked Meredith if it’s the content that’s driving traffic to their clients’ website and while she confirmed that content is important, it’s really more about the ad set-up that will get you the traffic and leads you're after.
Here’s a pro-tip Meredith shared: if you’re trying to DIY your paid campaigns, you can actually set up a free 30 minute appointment with a Facebook ad specialist to learn as much as possible about setting up successful ad campaigns and learn some of the best practices on audience targeting (which isn’t all that intuitive). For example, when picking out your demographic, you can target by behavioral interest such as ‘house hunting’ or ‘zillow.’ While these are important, you shouldn’t stop there. You can layer on location targeting by setting a pin on a map and setting a radius of where you want to target (Facebook no longer allows you to target specific zip codes). To take it a step further, the default set-up logic for these campaigns is ‘Meets any criteria’ that you’ve set, but you can actually change this to ‘meets any criteria and …’ For instance, say the community you’re building has a golf course featured as an amenity. You can add ‘...and golf’ as a targeted interest for someone house hunting, living within a certain radius of an area, and is interested in golf. This is really going to increase the chance in quality leads for your sales team. Give it a try.
Don’t forget about realtors
As we all know, realtors can be a great asset to builders looking to get move-in-ready homes sold. And you shouldn’t overlook them when setting up targeted ads on Facebook on Instagram. You can create specific realtor ads whose job title says ‘Real Estate Agent’ or whose employer is ‘Century 21 or ‘Keller Williams’. If realtors are important to your business and you want them to bring you homebuyers then audience targeting on job titles could certainly be something worth considering.
Establish clear campaign goals
Here at Bokka Group, we led a successful sponsored campaign on Facebook for our client, The Jones Company, who wanted to push move-in ready or QMI homes (quick move-ins). The focus was 100% on selling product. Not brand awareness, not website traffic, just converting qualified leads to sales for customers interested in moving into a new home, and quickly. We ran an A/B test with two different messages - one based wholly on featured product with a concise message of 'Move in Now' vs another brand related message of 'Stop Pinning, Start Living'. The results of cost per click were pretty shocking for us - our test featuring move-in now came in at just 12 cents a click, while the brand message came in closer to 90 cents per click. Lesson learned: start with your end goal, and work backwards to ensure that your team - from copywriting to creative to media and strategy are all aligned so that you can produce the greatest results for your business or client.
The rules are always changing
Meredith stated it perfectly when she said ‘you can have the best content and video but if you’re reaching the wrong people then your social media strategy isn’t working for you.’ And depending on the scale at which you’re running campaigns, you should definitely consider either outsourcing the work or having someone run the campaigns as their full-time, in-house gig - especially if your budget is over $1,000/month.
One of the reasons you’ll benefit from working with a pro is that Facebook is constantly changing the rules of the game. In just the past couple of months, we’ve lost some of the targeting criteria (like age, income, and zip code) for legal reasons. The loss of income was a huge loss to the home building industry (no one wants to try and sell luxury, million-dollar homes to someone looking in the 250k range). But with that said, there are workarounds through audience targeting with interests that correlate to income. It's very difficult for most builders' in-house marketing to keep up with.
You've figured out how to best target your audience - but what type of ads are the best on Facebook?
We sat down with Laura Stortz, Kendall Rossi, and Chelsey Keenan of Group Two, a new home marketing agency for home builders to discuss exactly this. They shared with us some fantastic insight into how they are able to most effectively use Facebook ads to reach their clients' customers. There are multiple options for Facebook ad formats, making it a bit overwhelming to get started. A few months back, Group Two shifted to publishing collection ads for their clients rather than carousel ads and they've seen overwhelming success as a result of this change. Facebook originally created these collection ads with e-commerce in mind, but it turns out, they work pretty darn well for home builders, too. Ultimately, the collection ads were seeing significantly more click-throughs to the website than compared to video, which came as a surprise to their team. Be sure to run A/B testing on your ads. The results may surprise you! Some of our collection ads with static images outperformed ads with videos!
Mobile first is critical
Most of us know the importance of mobile first when it comes to designing websites (for more on that, read: Using Mobile First Design to Improve your Sales Center Experience). However, have you thought about 'mobile first' in terms of media? Perhaps one of the reasons Collection Ads perform so well is they are catered to mobile first, where carousel ads really are designed for desktop. Facebook is onto something here. When you click on these collection ads, rather than taking you directly to an external site, the featured products take up the full screen on your phone giving the user more information about the product and a more interactive user experience of scrolling through different products. Many home building marketers are seeing increased conversions on their websites directly correlated to these ads.
What about using Social Media for event marketing?
Anyone working in the home building industry understands how important it is to get potential home buyers into model homes to see the product in person. Grand Opening events are one of the best ways to do just that and Denim Marketing recently had a hugely successful social media campaign that resulted in a fantastic turnout for a new community grand opening event. I spoke with Carol Morgan, President at Denim Marketing, to get the inside scoop.
While they publicized the event heavily with a lot of organic posts that reached their existing audience, they pushed paid ads on Instagram and Facebook. When attendees were asked how they found out about the event, nearly 95% pointed to social media. If you aren’t promoting events on Facebook, according to these stats, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to engage with potential homebuyers.
Quick tips to remember:
- Choose a hashtag - whether your promoting an event or building brand awareness, assigning and promoting a hashtag and is a great way to get your attendees promoting your product for you! Make sure the hashtag is visible at the event.
- Craft your content! Make sure you choose images of your homes (interiors and exteriors) that are going to drive engagement and ultimately drive foot traffic to your event.
- Have a live video the day-of. This doesn’t mean you have to professionally video your entire event - but you can ‘go live’ on Facebook and show live clips from your event and tours of the homes for those who wanted to be there but weren’t able to make it in person.
At the end of the day, if there's anything you take away, it should be the importance of staying up to date on the ever-evolving world of social media.
All of these strategies are excellent ways to strengthen your own social media strategy. Don’t be afraid to try new things on social - take risks and try new things and don't be afraid of working with the pros - it's their job to know the ins and outs of each platform available to you. Without doubt, social media is one of the strongest ways that home builders can connect with customers and begin building a relationship before they ever set foot in a sales or model center.
At Bokka, we specialize in strategies for improving leads, sales, and most importantly, customer experience. If you'd like to learn how we can build a winning strategy for your home builder marketing and sales program, just get in touch. We'd love to hear your story.