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Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast Digital Marketing Podcast Hosted by Greg Bray and Kevin Weitzel

120 Marketing Doesn't Require Perfection - Melanie Gowans


This week on The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, Melanie Gowans of Shane Homes Group of Companies joins Greg and Kevin to discuss why perfection is not required to be successful in home builder digital marketing.

Digital marketing and technology is constantly changing and it can be challenging to keep up with. Melanie says, “There's people who've been working on this and other digital transformation projects that get caught up in the weeds. They get caught up on perfection and it's just not the way to go.”

It’s imperative that marketers not be intimidated to approach new ideas and processes because they fear failure. Melanie explains, “We're keeping our eye on things, but we're not afraid to try things either. You know, we kind of go into things going, well, it could absolutely bomb, but at the worst-case scenario, we get some awareness out there.”

Asking key questions can help determine whether a particular marketing strategy is working or not, Melanie says, “So, we're constantly reevaluating is the data we're receiving actually insightful. Well, I like reporting that gives me the guts of what do I need to do next? Or what are the things that are concerning, what are the things that are exciting? I want to know the bad things that are happening too. Some people don't like to report on that stuff and, you know, it doesn't mean that campaign isn't running effectively, but it helps us make better decisions.”

Melanie emphasizes, “Don't wait for perfection. You know, just go out and try these things. It's all about learning and gaining the data to make better decisions. So, if you can do that, I think you're set up for success.”

About the Guest:

Melanie Gowans is leading change throughout the new home industry in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  As the General Manager of sales and marketing for the Shane Homes Group of Companies, she is working to provide an unmatched customer experience to thousands of home buyers.

She is passionate about leading teams & executing successful sales and marketing strategies with a commitment to innovative business development & growth.

Transparency is one of the core values for the mid-size family-owned business, and she seized the opportunity to truly stand behind that value by publishing all new home pricing online for everyone to see. Launching a build and price tool was a larger challenge than most realize since they are the largest custom home builder in the province. She was determined not to let their unique selling proposition “Love it or Customize it” get in the way of giving people what they want when searching for a new home.

Melanie believes building trust with customers is the key to success and her incredibly dedicated team along with the implementation of smart tools allows Shane Homes to do just that.


Greg Bray: [00:00:00] Hello everybody, and welcome to today's episode of The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine.

Kevin Weitzel: And I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse.

Greg Bray: And we are excited today to welcome to the show, Melanie Gowans, the General Manager of Sales and Marketing at the Shane Homes Group of Companies. That's a mouthful Melanie. So, welcome.

Melanie Gowans: Thank you so much, guys.

Greg Bray: Well, Melanie, for those who haven't met you yet, let's start off and help them get to know you a little bit better and tell us about yourself.

Melanie Gowans: Absolutely. Yeah, thanks for having me. You know, I always like to say that I [00:01:00] work in the fun departments of the Shane Homes Group of Companies. We are a home builder that has been around for about 43 years. We have several divisions and I get to work with our amazing sales teams and our marketing teams along with all of our vendors that support us and our interior design teams. I've only been there about three years now, so it's a fairly new role for myself and I used to work in media.

So, it was a little bit of a shift, but when I was in media, I was working with the home building industry for about 15 years. So, I knew a lot about the industry coming in, it was a little bit of a different role in different succession plan, and probably the best decision I ever made. Partly because it's a great company, but mostly because it's really the perfect role for me. So, yeah.

Kevin Weitzel: All right. Number one, you cannot say anything about media because you already spilled those beans and where you came from, but I need to know something interesting about yourself that is non-home builder related that people will learn about you on our podcast. [00:02:00]

Melanie Gowans: All right. I'm a big nerd and I love anything about space exploration.

Kevin Weitzel: Really.

Melanie Gowans: Yes.

Kevin Weitzel: So, the rockets that land themselves that Space X is doing is probably top of mind right now I'm sure.

Melanie Gowans: Yeah. Just anything like that, and any kind of space movie. Not about aliens or anything like that, but about space itself and learning about it. I went to NASA. It was an incredible experience and anything like that. I'm just kind of a little bit of a space nerd. So, not many people know that about me.

Kevin Weitzel: That's cool.

Greg Bray: That's very cool. So, Melanie, we need to unpack just a little bit about Shane Homes Group of Companies. That's a little bit of a different title. So, what is the Group of Companies that all goes together there?

Melanie Gowans: Yeah, so we have several divisions and when Shane Homes started in 1979, they just focused on their single-family division, and they became really good at it. Later on, I can't specify the exact year, but they added multi-family. So, they have a multi-family division as well. Some shared services for sure, but [00:03:00] definitely a different division, and we also got into our land division.

So, we do purchase land and we develop it. We have other builders who build in our communities along with ourselves as well, and we are hoping to add more divisions. We've got some plans underway right now to expand even further. So, it's a really exciting time.

Greg Bray: And what geography are you guys currently serving today?

Melanie Gowans: Right now, we're just in Calgary and Airdrie, Alberta, Canada. So, not many locations under our belt at the moment, but we're looking to expand.

Greg Bray: Nice. Very nice. Okay. So, that helps us understand, and you work with all of those different companies. So, from a marketing standpoint, you're dealing with a variety of needs as far as different types of target audiences and potential buyers to work with. So, I think that probably adds quite a bit of variety to your day.

Melanie Gowans: Absolutely. I think that my experience before I joined Shane Homes definitely helped with that, and a good example would be, thinking about how to bring awareness to a new community, and we have several [00:04:00] builders including ourselves. We kind of have to take off the Shane Homes hat and put on the Shane Communities hat and look at it from a different angle on how we can get the other builders, who we're essentially competing with leads and attention as well in that community. So, it's an interesting thing to work on, but it's just all part of the role.

Kevin Weitzel: Do you find with some of your content you can wash, rinse, and repeat some of it across the different visions, or do you have to have unique content whether it be digital collateral, or just messaging for each one of your divisions?

Melanie Gowans: That's a good question. I think it depends. We've got our overarching brand messaging, but then when you really break it down, we do like to separate it out. I'd say anything that we have that could be copied and pasted might be certain content that we would put out there that might be more educational in the entire home buying process, but when it comes to digital assets and messaging, we're pretty specific to the project to the location to what we're really offering and the USP and every division has something [00:05:00] different. So, I'd say mostly not. It's maybe only 10% we would be able to reuse, so.

Greg Bray: So Melanie, tell us a little more than about how you've structured your sales and marketing team between kind of the corporate and then all the different divisions and how you guys work together.

Melanie Gowans: We've got an in-house marketing team, and there's four people on the team. So, it's bigger than some, but definitely not the biggest marketing team out there. Obviously, there's a lot of urgency with what we're doing and we need to make sure that everyone has the capacity.

So, we outsource a lot of different things that we feel we can have experts working on, and so what that would mean would be like the typical, you know, our Google ad words, our search engine optimization. Stuff like that. We can hire people who that's all they do every day, all day long.

We really like to partner with agencies and vendors that understand our business, and we put a lot of time in educating them on very detailed things that we're working on. We're very open because, and maybe this [00:06:00] comes from my background, but the more open you can be with people the better, they can help you.

So, we share a lot and have weekly touch points with all of our vendors and trades and we find it very successful because, you know, especially when we get into the future of digital transformation, there's a lot of Ecommerce type platforms out there that can definitely help us out and we've been testing a lot and it's fantastic because we don't need to do all that heavy lifting.

So, if we find someone that connects with, also even just our core values, as a business, you know, and how we're running things and our culture, we've seen it to be a really good partnership with all of our marketing initiatives.

Greg Bray: So, how have you seen, in your time with Shane Homes, the digital piece of your marketing mix change compared to where it was in the past?

Melanie Gowans: It has substantially grown over the past three years. I think that's part of the reason why Shane wanted me to come on board. When I was in media, I was part of digital [00:07:00] transformation and I worked at companies to educate them and help them understand, I guess the benefits of doing things more on the digital side compared to the traditional side, and there's nothing wrong with the traditional side. You need all of that in the mix, but there's a lot of fear with change and people just don't understand it and that type of thing.

So, coming over to Shane Homes, I think we definitely had Shane, our presedent, yes, it was named after him, you know, he's very much into digital transformation himself but admitted that he needed the right people to get it done. So, when I came on board, there was pieces of it that were attempted, and then maybe paused. There wasn't anything part of a big strategy.

The best thing about me starting when I did, there was a lot of heavy lifting upfront in the first six months and we made a lot of changes, but then COVID hit and we were in a really good position to handle running business online. We've grown even leaps and bounds from that point 2 years ago, but it's a good message to those who are waiting till everything's perfect, or they're not sure about what to do, [00:08:00] but they know they need to do it. Just do it. Just normal communications. You know, we've sold homes online and I know we're a rarity in that way. So, there's a lot of cool things happening. It's a very cool time, but it's a lot of change for our staff and consumers.

Greg Bray: Let's unpack that sold homes online just a little bit more, because I know that' s something that you guys have been out there working on. Tell us a little bit more about how you have decided to approach that and the kind of response from buyers.

Melanie Gowans: Absolutely. Way before my time, I want to say about eight years ago, Shane built a proprietary software where they could put home models online. You could make changes, you could send in your deposit and you could essentially buy online. It wasn't completely, I want to say intuitive for customers to use. It wasn't full online. It was kind of a little bit of both. So, you still needed parts of the manual process to be completed by the area managers. The idea was there, right? Like, I come into an organization who wants to do these things, so it's a little bit less [00:09:00] for me to have to convince them to do them.

Greg Bray: If I can pause, I just want to clarify, you said eight years ago?

Melanie Gowans: Yeah.

Greg Bray: Eight years ago.

Melanie Gowans: Eight years ago.

Greg Bray: Okay. So, trying to sell homes online is not brand new. Okay. All right. Sorry to interrupt, but I just wanted to make sure I heard that right.

Melanie Gowans: It's a great point. I'm glad you did because you know, I think back on why didn't it completely fly then, and I think there's a couple of parts to it. Obviously, I wasn't there for it, but I've had a lot of conversation about this. I think it was in part that our team was not ready for it, and it probably wasn't rolled out in a way that made our sales team comfortable. However, I wasn't here for it, so those are some assumptions, but I think even further to that, were people comfortable buying online eight years ago, like new homes?

You know, I think we were just getting used to buying jeans online, right? I mean, buying a new home even nowadays, the functionality is there, but we're going to see a small percentage of people do it. From my perspective, COVID definitely launched this into overdrive. We were [00:10:00] trying to do these Band-Aid solutions with our website and our website is being rebuilt right now. You always have to keep that up-to-date because technology is evolving so quickly, right? So, Band-Aid solutions got us through COVID, but now we've partnered with a local tech company out of Calgary and they're doing the heavy lifting developmental-wise to do this program, put it together.

So, how it works, not to go into too much detail, but if a buyer wants to buy from their coach or from wherever it doesn't matter, they can completely do that now with Shane Homes, and this is a really new thing for us. So, we're really excited, but we're also still testing. So, when people ask me, like, how is it going? How many people have bought? You know, the number is low. They're just getting used to it.

So, they can go and pick a community, pick a model, pick model options, pick some packages. We do customize as well, so they can get some customized packages, which if they don't spend, they get credited back. They then can make an offer. They verify their identity. [00:11:00] They upload their mortgage instructions. They place their deposit. They get their DocuSign with their purchase sale agreement and they purchase the house.

Kevin Weitzel: With furniture?

Melanie Gowans: No furniture. We don't do furniture.

Kevin Weitzel: Oh, okay.

Melanie Gowans: Maybe that's next, Kevin, I don't know. So, it's pretty substantial. It's not been done before. We're early adopters. So, we're happy to test and give feedback to this local tech company because they're essentially building it out the way that works for us, and we love being the first.

How we look at it, we're not replacing our sales team. We're not replacing any realtors that are doing business with us. Our sales teams' commissions will still be the same because I don't see the sales team, that's very administrative. The true value of what they offer is not just closing a deal. It's actually getting to know people, putting their wishes into their home, and holding their hand through the whole process.

I mean, it's an eight to 12-month process depending on what you're building and, you know, if we can make it easy and be really transparent upfront with our consumers, [00:12:00] they're going to trust us. Right? So, we're trying to build trust right off the hop. We're not trying to nickel and dime anyone or hide any pricing or anything like that. So, we're putting it all out there for them to see, and we've worked on a system that allows us to do that. Which was not easy. I'll say that, but our commitment to customer experience is real.

You know, we're not just talking about it. We're really doing these things to test it and getting the feedback from customers. So, it's been well received, but a lot of people ask me are you doing this to get rid of your sales team? I'm like, absolutely not. You know, it's another lead generation tool for them to close deals.

Kevin Weitzel: But playing devil's advocate, it is building the framework that you could, especially for like a spec product, like something like a condo. You could literally eliminate the whole commission process, the whole sales process, because people could literally check the boxes, sell the homes to themselves, commit to it, put the deposit in, sign on the dotted line, show up and pick up their keys from flunky ex.

Melanie Gowans: So, they absolutely could. You're right. I think it's dependent on the companies that are going to be using the service [00:13:00] and how they're going to be using it. That's not the way we're going to go because we're not really replacing how we're doing things. We're just adding in these additional tools, so consumers have a way to buy from us the way they want it buy from us. Right? So, even our, we used to call them sales associates, which supports our community managers, area managers. We renamed their title to new home advisor because they're there to help people.

No, one's shoving anyone into a new home purchase. People are doing all of their research online and my thought process is if we can put all the information out online for everyone to see so they can decide on their own, then that's great, but you have to have a lot of confidence of what you're selling and what you're offering to your customers to be able to do that. So, it's a scary thing to do, but we really believe in our product and we believe in the service that we offer and that's the true value that they're getting. So, people are loving it. We've got a lot of buyers this year who are moving from Ontario. They find it amazing.

So, sometimes we can't put things online because we [00:14:00] don't have all the information yet, and it's heavy lifting for marketing because they have to get all of this together and they have to really be good at communicating those things that the sales team was used to saying, we have to now put that online.

You know, we might have a new community coming online, but we don't have permits yet. You know, we've got some base information, so someone could talk to an area manager, but we can't put it on, we call it, build and price. We have people saying, oh, I really wish that was on build and price. Like, it would be so cool if I could actually just see, cause people are getting tired of seeing signage or seeing ads from the low six hundreds. It's like, well, what does that mean? Like, you know, is that high six hundreds at the end of the day or how much can I afford?

Kevin Weitzel: I'll tell you where they're not sick of seeing that sign. If you have from the low six hundreds in Toronto, I guarantee you they'd be happy to see that sign.

Melanie Gowans: Absolutely. You're right. It depends on where you looking for sure. [00:15:00]

Greg Bray: This is Greg from Blue Tangerine, and I just wanted to tell you how excited we are about our upcoming event, The Home Builder Digital Marketing Summit. It's coming up September 21st and 22nd in Phoenix, Arizona. Now, this is an event that you do not want to miss.

We're gonna be talking about websites, SEO, analytics reports, how to use social media influencers more, how [00:16:00] to improve your online reviews, how to really do everything you need to do to start selling homes online. Again, The Home Builder Digital Marketing Summit on September 21st and 22nd in Phoenix, Arizona. Go to buildermarketingsummit.com. Click register. Please be sure to join us at The Home Builder Digital Marketing Summit.

Kevin Weitzel: And I hope you don't take this that I'm grilling you cause I'm really not grilling you, but I'm coming at you with this only because you said that you're not going after the salespeople, and I'm not trying to throw you under the bus to say that you are but to use the argument that the process is still there and there they're still valuable.

Grocery stores have six auto checkouts. They have 25 checkout lines that are no longer manned anymore because they were told that this is just another convenience, but eventually there's a way to sidle that person right on out of there and not have to pay their health insurance and have to pay, you know, their commission fees, in this case. I think that a buyers should be aware that some of these processes [00:17:00] are being put in place that literally can eliminate the whole sales contingency.

Melanie Gowans: Well, so I get where you're coming from. I think it depends, like I said, on the company that's using this. For us, it's easy to speak to because we're not a spec builder and we are a custom home builder. So, we're a volume production custom builder. Like who else can say that?

So, we're very unique in that way, and that's actually a fear that came up when we rolled this out was how do we communicate that we actually customize and what you're seeing is models and some of the model options are like the tip of the iceberg, and when I say customization, I'm saying like add in complete square footage. You can put 12 bedrooms in the house. You could do whatever you want if it fits on the lot.

Let me paint a picture of it like this. So, someone comes into a show home and they say to our sales guys, and you can feel it off them. You could tell that they don't want to give you any information. They're like, well, how much for this house, in this model, in this area, and you can just tell, they just want a baseline to know what they can afford.

That is what we're replacing by putting our pricing and our models online. If people want to purchase [00:18:00] online, that's great. Chances are they're going to have full communication with our sales team as well. It's not that they're purchasing online and then all of a sudden, 12 months later they have at home. They're meeting with the area managers, and they can do it virtually. They're going through the interior design selection process, which we can also do virtually. The service and all of those pieces that happen after the contract signed still is in place.

So, for us, we mean it, that we're not doing any changes with our sales teams because that's not their value. They're talking to customers and they're finding out why they're really buying. Obviously, they're all gonna say, well, you know, we want to move, and the location's good, but how much is this, and it's like, what do you actually need? You know, let's get to know you and your family, and that's what our sales team does is they ask the right questions to understand the why behind the purchase, and once they realize some of those answers, they can say, well, I have a recommendation. You know, here, we could do this and maybe we want to add this. I've built a thousand homes, custom homes, [00:19:00] so I actually recommend this because I've seen a lot of people do it. You know, you're going to love it. It's really going to work for your family. So, that's the value. Seeing a price and seeing a home and getting your mortgage documents online and signing a contract is not what our salespeople are here to do.

Greg Bray: I love that description because it's true that sometimes we go to this whole, is it going to be an Amazon checkout process, and that's not really what I believe the buy online really will be. Rather, it will be a place to go do some of the transactional administrative type pieces when you've already made your decision, you've done your research, you're ready to kind of finalize things on your schedule, your timeframe. Do some of the paperwork stuff, rather than having to sit in somebody else's office, can do that at home, but there's still gonna be a role for that advisor to guide you because it's a big purchase. There's a lot of questions. There's a lot of nuance that comes into play.

Melanie. I'm curious to know, as you guys have been rolling out this system, have there been any moments where you were just really [00:20:00] surprised either in a good or bad way by reactions like, oh man, we thought this would work and it didn't, or we never realized how much they would love this piece of it? Anything that comes to mind?

Melanie Gowans: Yeah. Most recently, we had a gentleman who got verified and what that means is, it's for FINTRAC. So, he would have to take a photo of himself and we have a software which is in our program to purchase online. He also has to upload his license information, and what was cool about that is when you look in the background of the photo of what he was taking, he was sitting on an airplane. This dude is literally waiting for this airplane to take off and he's getting verified to buy a new home online.

So, if that isn't any indication of really meeting our customers where they are. You know, we always say you could be on your couch, but who would have ever thought if you were sitting on an airplane, you could even buy a home. Like, so that was very shocking and very cool for us to see.

One thing we did to help mitigate any kind of [00:21:00] risk and concern is I just sent a survey out to the sales team a year ago because we launched everything about last summer. So, I sent it out to the sales team a year ago and I just asked questions about what are your fears, what are your concerns, what are you excited about, how do you think this will help, and really just got to the bottom of what are the main challenges that we're going to come up against?

It was two things. It was how do we make sure that the pricing is accurate and valid at the right time, and how do we get the point across that we customize? So, the customization thing was a marketing tactic. They had to take that on, and then the pricing we gave the sales team full control over what pricing they're putting out there.

So, if we can give them that control, they're more open to using the tool. I don't know if we just got lucky or what happened, but those were the only two objections that came up and we addressed them right off the hop and it worked out really well for us. We've never been caught.

In fact, we've had customers say, before they could completely buy online, we've [00:22:00] had customers come to us and say in the heat of the market, oh, I built and priced the home online. I bought that home and I'm like, well, you didn't really put a deposit through. You didn't actually buy the home, but because they were so upset about it, I was like, well, this is great. People actually want this.

Consider people in a hot market who were just trying to get their hands on a lot, and just trying to get just a piece of the pie. They could have gone online and done it and secured that lot for them. So, we're just making it easier for people, and I think some people over-complicate the whole thing, but we're literally just trying to make it really easy for our buyers.

Greg Bray: You know, you talked about the pricing data challenge. I think that's a place where a lot of builders get stuck when they're trying to figure this out. Probably the fact that you started eight years ago helped you put some of those systems in place, you know, that allow that data to flow where it needs to be in order to keep that accurate.

I'm going to guess because the folks that are still doing it with spreadsheets and sticky notes are not going to be super successful with putting accurate pricing out on the website.[00:23:00] Has there been a lot of conscious thought on the back office system side to help manage that data to make this work?

Melanie Gowans: Yes. So, I'm not going to give away our secrets, but I'm not going to pretend that our pricing tool and our CRM is working perfectly and we have no issues because there is no such thing. We've figured out a process that works for us that's a little bit manual and a little bit automated and our hope is to completely automate it.

However, I think that if we were going to wait for it to be completely automated, it would take years. Like, it's just not something that's going to happen overnight. So, we had to make a decision. You know, do we have to wait until it's perfect, or can we have work arounds to get this going sooner than later? We went in that direction. I'm really happy we did.

You're right. There's people who've been working on this and other digital transformation projects that get caught up in the weeds. They get caught up on perfection and it's just not the way to go. So, it's working for us.

Internally in our office, when you talk about everything, not just with buying [00:24:00] homes online, but even just how a file transfers around the office and hits all these different departments. We've digitalized all of that as well, and that took well over a year to complete because we had to do testing to make sure, we weren't missing anything, and these are really exciting changes because it's just helping us be more effective.

Greg Bray: I love that idea of don't let perfect get in the way of good enough, right? That's a great point that we can try to design the perfect system that does everything and it just gets bogged down because there's so many details and so much complexity. Great thought.

Well, Melanie, as you are looking at the marketing lead generation and then selling homes, not just online, but also the good old-fashioned way, how are you tracking your success? What are some of the metrics that you guys pay attention to on a regular basis to help guide your decision-making?

Melanie Gowans: The other reason why I love this selling online capability is we get to see raw data from a customer [00:25:00] perspective and not just from what the area manager likes to sell. So, we can see monthly reporting. Well, if we can go in anytime, but we can get monthly reports to view as a team that can show what are the top models, what are the top areas, locations they're are moving from.

So, very typical data, but also, you know, what are the model options that they're putting in unbiased? So, with little direction from someone who has that experience. How many times are they revisiting? How many homes are they building? And that data is really important to us for our future marketing tactics as well.

We're trying to, I say trying to because it's a beast to get really specific with our messaging and to make people feel like the messaging is specific to them. So, that's something we're working on right now and in the future, and I think if we can get really good at that, it's gonna make a big impact.

You know, we look at obviously the typical data, but we don't overlook even just simple stats, like CTRs and bounce rates. We're looking at everything collectively. We're keeping our eye [00:26:00] on things, but we're not afraid to try things either. You know, we kind of go into things going, well, it could absolutely bomb, but at the worst-case scenario, we get some awareness out there. We're a fan of branding ourselves. I know not every builder thinks that way. We have great brand equity and we've seen the successes of continuing with that during downtimes.

You know, you don't want too much data cause then you're like, what are you doing with it, right? So, we're constantly reevaluating is the data we're receiving actually insightful. Well, I like reporting that gives me the guts of what do I need to do next? Or what are the things that are concerning, what are the things that are exciting? I want to know the bad things that are happening too. Some people don't like to report on that stuff and, you know, it doesn't mean that campaign isn't running effectively, but it helps us make better decisions. So, hopefully, that answers your question. I was all over the place there.

Greg Bray: No, it was good.

Kevin Weitzel: So, speaking of looking at projections, what are you looking at as far as trends and even outside of our industry?

Melanie Gowans: Ooh, that's a [00:27:00] good one. There's a lot that we're researching. Obviously, we're going to continue researching the research and purchasing behavior of our customers. You know, just how we can communicate better, how we can support our customers better. We're a big fan of the word of mouth still. We're a big fan of what a Google review does for your business. So, we're always focusing on that.

We have a lot of referrals and a lot of repeat buyers. We want to make sure that because you can market things to no end, but if you're not providing a good experience, that's going to affect us at the end of the day. So, we're partnering with and continuing to research several different options that will help us do that, and some of the communication tools that we have brought on in the last couple of years they're not, you know, mind-blowingly different, but they make it easy for us to achieve our goals.

So, one of them is a company called Builder Signal, and maybe you've heard of them. I don't know how big they are actually out of the states. We've been using them for about a year and a half. What that does for us is the sales team or the [00:28:00] project manager can go into the homes under construction, take photos for updates, put them right in the app, right on their phone. They can type in a little message like, oh, this tile you chose is outstanding. Your house is really coming along. This is very exciting. They can also say, hey, there's been no activity for a month. That's normal. Don't stress out. That's all normal, but check out this new coffee shop that opened in your area.

So, it's a touchpoint, right? It's really cool because at the end of the build, they have this, technically like an online scrapbook of their home being built and it's just touchpoints and reasons for us to reach out and let them know what's going on with their home and their construction. That's also a value that we provide and people want to know what's happening. Good or bad. We've gotta get better at having these bad conversations. Sometimes it's like, oh, with the supply issues, there's no mirrors in your home. It is what it is but just wanted to let you know what to expect.

Greg Bray: In the Ecommerce world, there's this concept of the abandoned cart and the ability to do [00:29:00] triggered emails and things like that when someone doesn't finish. You mentioned looking at the homes they're building, but is there a point at which you will do an outreach from a sales perspective when someone has started the process and not finished it.

Melanie Gowans: Oh, yes. We have a huge process set up. We have an OSC that is a huge part of our success with our online buying program and that is heavily automated. There's different things that obviously we can say. We don't want to be like, hey, how come you didn't buy this house?

Kevin Weitzel: You loser.

Melanie Gowans: Wouldn't you just love to say like, what did we do wrong? But there's so much education when purchasing a new home. So, they'll often reach out, and a lot of this is automated like I said. They'll have it built in saying, you know, you were looking at this model. Do you have any questions about it? They've got hours and days and weeks set up. Maybe it's just an educational article about interest rates and what can that mean for your mortgage payments and just trying to be that expert for [00:30:00] them and giving them those answers.

We have it automated, but it's not directed to, you know, you should buy right this second and we want to push you into a home. There's something keeping them from buying, and oftentimes it's because they don't understand something or they're still in research phase. So, if we can help them through that, chances are we're going to get him to buy with us.

Greg Bray: Well, Melanie, this has been a fascinating conversation, especially since you guys are way out in front with some of the buy online ideas and concepts, and it's great to learn some of the things that have been working and maybe some of the bumps you've had along the way. Before we wrap up, we want to give you a chance, do you have any last words of advice to help our audience out there improve their marketing that you wanted to share today?

Melanie Gowans: Well, I think I said it earlier. Don't wait for perfection. You know, just go out and try these things. It's all about learning and gaining the data to make better decisions. So, if you can do that, I think you're set up for success.

Greg Bray: Awesome. Well, Melanie, if somebody wants to get in touch with you and reach out, what's the best way for them to connect?

Melanie Gowans: I would say through LinkedIn. It's easy to find me. It's just [00:31:00] under Melanie Gowans. So, yeah. Reach out.

Greg Bray: Well, thank you again for sharing, and thank you everybody for listening today to The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine.

Kevin Weitzel: And I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse. Thank you.

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