This week on The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, Kelly Holladay of Max Connect Digital joins Greg and Kevin to discuss the importance of audience-focused of digital marketing campaigns across various platforms.
As the home building market begins to normalize after the frenzy of the last few years, home builders are reviving their digital marketing presence. Focusing on audiences has to be part of a good strategy. Kelly suggests, “…if someone was to come to me and say, Hey, we were running on all cylinders. Now we're scrambling. What do we do? Really understanding your audience and catering to that audience wherever they are.”
Kelly says that some great questions to ask about potential buyers include, “What does your perspective buyer look like? Where do they work? What other builders are they gonna be looking at and understanding all of those types of details that we can plug that into our campaign structure, so when that ad hits somebody's screen, it's there for a really good reason.”
Kelly explains, “What's interesting to see is how that path to conversion or somebody buying a home is very rarely linear. It's not a one-touch and done. So, looking at a myopic view of last-click attribution, that's only a very small piece of the puzzle, and so understanding that customer journey. What creatives helped persuade them, what messages? How many times did they visit your website, how much time did they spend on your website? So, a variety of tools like that, I think peel back the layers and help home builders and other clients really understand what resonates to their prospects, what keeps them coming back, and how did they ultimately interact with you as well?”
Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about the benefits of making audiences the center of digital marketing campaigns.
About the Guest:
Kelly brings 18 years of sales and marketing experience and is a true advocate for his clients. Creating efficiency and thriving in competitive landscapes is what drives his success. Kelly’s experience and industry insight have helped him to craft dozens of omni-channel marketing strategies and implement pathways that lead to success. His recommendations put resources in the right place. His oversight and direction yield results. Managing critical elements of expansion and orchestrating strategic marketing programs are a daily task.
Kelly is driven by and focused on the win. Annual growth and revenue, improved results and efficiencies, these are key components that make up the foundation of Kelly’s career at Max Connect Digital.
If Kelly isn’t at work you'll find him with his family or on a bike. A husband, a dad (to three daughters), and rounding things out with a girl dog and even a hedgehog. There is no shortage of female affection and/or drama in his life! When he needs to escape all of that, he turns right to the bike. Whether cycling one of the beautiful canyons along the Wasatch Front or shredding the trails on a mountain bike, “happiness begins with the first pedal stroke”.
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, Kelly Holladay. Kelly is the Senior Vice President of Home Building at Max Connect Digital. Welcome, Kelly. Thanks for joining us today.
Kelly Holladay: Yeah, thank you. Great to be here.
Greg Bray: Well, Kelly, let's start off and just help people get to know you a little bit. Tell us just a little bit about yourself.
Kelly Holladay: My name's Kelly Holladay. I've been with Max Connect since the very early stages of the company. One of the, I think I was employee number three or four. Love [00:01:00] the group that I work with. Been with them for a long time. Known some of the founding partners prior to joining the agency. Worked with them in a previous life. So, it's been a fun turn. Married 20 years to my sweetheart, and I've got three teenage daughters. Also, have a female dog and a female hedgehog. So, I'm outnumbered big time.
Kevin Weitzel: Glutton for punishment my man.
Kelly Holladay: That is right.
Greg Bray: Hedgehog? Did you say hedgehog?
Kelly Holladay: Hedgehog. Yeah, my oldest daughter, she put us in an armbar when she was coming to us saying, Hey, if I get good grades if I hold this GPA all year, can I get a hedgehog? And we're like, this totally came outta the blue, like hedgehog, what the heck you talking about? And she stuck to her gun. She nailed it, and so we're like all welcome to the family. So, we got this little critter that my dog absolutely hates. Uh, so.
Kevin Weitzel: Really?
Kelly Holladay: Oh Yeah.
Greg Bray: I gotta follow up. Are hedgehogs inside pets or outside pets?
Kelly Holladay: So, inside. She kinda lives in a little glass enclosure, and my daughter takes her out all the time and feeds her all kinds of little worms and [00:02:00] crickets, and she takes her out in the yard every now and again. She'll wander around the grass, but for the most part, she's a little inside critter.
Kevin Weitzel: Besides the work and the family, I have to know something you can expunge onto this podcast that our listening audience will learn about you personally, that doesn't involve home building.
Kelly Holladay: I am an avid biker. Really anything with two wheels. I love motorcycles. I love biking, mountain biking, road biking. I also apparently love to suffer because every year I do this 206-mile bike race that goes through three states. It's a fun time if you can call it that, with buddies. We bring our wives. Make a whole weekend out of it. It's a really fun time, but it's no easy task. I love doing it.
Kevin Weitzel: Leadville, Lotoja? What are we talking about?
Kelly Holladay: Lotoja Yep. Logan, Utah to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. So it's a long day.
Kevin Weitzel: That's some rough riding.
Kelly Holladay: Nine hours in the saddle. Yeah. Glutton for punishment. That's for sure.
Greg Bray: Well, Kelly, tell us a little bit more about Max Connect Digital, the kinds of services you guys offer, and who you're working with.
Kelly Holladay: Yeah. [00:03:00] So, we are a boutique digital agency. We're based out of Draper, Utah. We do everything in-house, so that's a kind of a unique element of how we operate. We've structured it that way, obviously, because we are trying to control the data and also leverage the different data points, the different members of our team, and really strategically put campaigns and things together that will provide the highest level of value for our clients.
So, when we look at an opportunity, from a business perspective, we loop in the team and we'll kind of sit down and we'll pull in anybody and everybody who can bring value to that conversation, that discussion, and we'll go through and dig and do analysis, provide insights, and come to the table with kind of an initial intro that really covers I think probably in a lot more detail than a lot of our prospective clients are used to.
We want to understand, okay, what are the nuanced details that you're dealing with on a daily basis from an audience perspective, from your competition level, you know, a variety of those things, and then we'll structure campaigns that are utilizing display, search, video, O T. Really any and all digital sources to [00:04:00] target and really hit ads to your specific prospective clients.
Greg Bray: Kelly, tell us then a little more about your role at the company and kind of how you got there, kind of that summary of your career, and what brought you to where you are today.
Kelly Holladay: Yeah, it's been a fun journey. Like I said, I was employee three or four with the company. We started in a thousand-square-foot office space when I started. Prior to that, they were working out of Kyle, one of our founding partners, attics. So, from that time till now, obviously, I came on from a, in a sales position and was looking to create new opportunities to go hunt and prospect, and we really had a strong foothold in automotive and a variety of other industries, but primarily automotive and really pushed a lot on that vertical, and then after about a year with the company, started branching out and looking at other opportunities outside of automotive. You know, if it's working here so well in automotive, it's gotta translate into other, you know, industries. So, began working with home building, with universities.
What's cool is just a couple weeks ago you had Michelle Byrge with Landsea Homes on your podcast. She is an incredible lady. Love [00:05:00] working with her. I reached out to her when she was at Oakwood Homes a number of years ago, and she promptly and politely shot me down. Said, uh, Hey, sorry. It sounds like all the stuff you're doing, I'm already doing, and I said, Hey, well, at least give us a shot. Let us do some free analysis. We'll do a Google Analytics audit. We'll provide some insights. If we don't feel like we can help you we'll shake hands and you got some free intel out of it, and she said, okay, sounds good.
So, we started reviewing some data, looking at how things were going on her campaigns. We said, Hey, we think there's a lot that we can do to help. She gave us a shot. She carved out a very small portion of her budget to run a little pilot with us. After about 30 days, she was like, okay, I'm seeing some movement here, so let's talk a little bit more. So, we started talking. After about 90 days, she started pulling all of our digital budgets and pushing them over to us, and so we grew that relationship.
Obviously, she was getting questions from the corporate team saying, Hey, what are you doing down there in Utah? She's well, I hired this company, Max Connect, and so we started transitioning into the corporate team. Then when she left Oakwood to go to Landsea, we started talking again, and so we've created a [00:06:00] partnership with Michelle there and her team, and she's built up a fabulous team. They obviously 2022 builder of the year. We're super proud of everything that they've accomplished there as a company and super proud to be a partner with them as well.
Kevin Weitzel: So, do you only partner up with absolute flippin' rock stars, or do you also accept other types of clients as well cause Michelle's a ridiculous rock star?
Kelly Holladay: That is the truth. We couldn't agree more, and if every client could be a Michelle, we would be sitting pretty. We'd be thrilled. She is so fun to work with. She has just great insights, but we've also got the challenging clients from time to time, but we love Michelle here. We love Landsea.
Greg Bray: So, Kelly, you know, you talk about working with builder of the year, obviously, and Landsea's done some amazing things. A lot of other builders have been on cruise control the last couple of years because they haven't had to work very hard. I know real, estate's been crazy everywhere, but even Utah, especially crazy from what I understand, but that's changing very quickly for folks. So, these companies that are gonna have to start over or relearn how to market, I think. What would you suggest to them as where do you [00:07:00] start kind of starting over? Is that a good question? Where do you start starting over? That just sounded really bad, but.
Kelly Holladay: No. It's funny that you mentioned that because it does seem like in so many cases, it was like starting over. I feel like for most builders, March 2020, it's like this craziness happens, right? The pandemic. Everybody's like just panicked. What do we do? What does this mean? Fast forward a couple of months and then business as usual. Like things are starting to progress and people can't come and visit your model homes, but they're still moving. Remote work has changed the landscape, and so all these different dynamics we're introduced. Then it was like drinking from a fire hose for a very long time where it was putting people on waiting lists.
One of the things that we had talked about and I felt like I was a broken record in saying that look, things are going to normalize. It's gonna be increasingly important to stuff the coffers with opportunities and then be able to nurture those opportunities along for when stuff does normalize when it's not gonna be like this any longer.
A couple of things at our foundation as an [00:08:00] agency really is audience-led. What if someone was to come to me and say, Hey, we were running on all cylinders? Now we're scrambling. What do we do? Really understanding your audience and catering to that audience wherever they are. We look at things very agnostically from a medium approach, from a network approach, from the different types of websites, and we really focus everything that we do on that individual user that is essentially raising their hand saying I'm looking for a home and they're doing with their keystrokes and mouse clicks.
Greg Bray: So, when you talk about audience, how granular do you usually go when you start to try and find that audience? How far back do you peel that onion, so to speak?
Kelly Holladay: Yeah, good question. So, I think as we go back to our roots as being a performance-based agency and I'll kind of throw a plug for this because I think it caters well to your question. You know, Every digital manager that we hire, every person that works in-house in our agency in Draper, is compensated on commission. [00:09:00] Certain KPIs need to be met on campaigns. If they set it and forget it, or they fall asleep at the wheel, then they're gonna feel it in their paycheck, and we're not doing that to micromanage, but really to incentivize that when we walk upstairs and we sit down with the digital manager, say, I've got a new opportunity here.
They're seeing that they're gonna participate in that upside, and if the campaign goes well, they're gonna be a similar situation like it was with an Oakwood start. Where it's, Hey, there may be piecemeal right now, but if we come in and we really demonstrate the success that we need to, then we're gonna be able to continue to garner additional budget, more resources, and they're gonna again, participate in that upside, and so as we look at some of those foundational principles of setting up a campaign, it's imperative that we get granular on and understand the specifics and the nuances of each and every community because one builder could have 30 communities and each of those communities are very unique.
Certainly, you're gonna have a similar floor plans and some consistencies across the board, but ultimately this community, that community, one may be an empty nest or one may be a 55 plus community one may be a townhome project. The [00:10:00] demographic for those individual communities is gonna be drastically different, and so we take an approach where priority even pushing go on a campaign, we want to understand those nuanced details of who's in the market for this townhome product. What does your perspective buyer look like? Where do they work? What other builders are they gonna be looking at and understanding all of those types of details that we can plug that into our campaign structure, so when that ad hits somebody's screen, it's there for a really good reason.
Greg Bray: So, what types of bumps or challenges have you seen as you guys try to roll out a strategy with a builder? What kinds of mistakes are people running into that you're trying to help them overcome?
Kelly Holladay: I think some of the things that it's a very natural thing to get caught up in, especially from a home builder's perspective, they want everything to be super polished. They want everything to be perfect and pristine and sound perfect and have the exact right message and everything like that prior to pushing assets out there and starting a campaign.
Which I agree with and understand to a certain extent, [00:11:00] but what is interesting that we see is we've run campaigns that are highbrow production, perfect, pristine. I mean, you look at it and you're like, wow, that's an incredible video, and we run that as an AB test against a video that's an interview, or a walkthrough, or a demo shot on an iPhone and realistically the relevance of the message, that's king. So, if that message is relevant to me, if I'm a prospective home buyer and I'm watching a video, sure, there's a place, always will be a place for that polished walkthrough and those beautiful interior images, and exterior renderings, and things like that for a particular community, floor plan, et cetera, but sometimes just being real with people and getting that message in an authentic way at the right moment, that stuff sticks.
Kevin Weitzel: So, not every builder has the same budget to work with. You know, not all of have the highbrow, high polish, here's a giant bucket of cash make this happen for us, Kelly. So, how do you help the builder determine what they should hire your company to do versus what they should try to tackle in-house?[00:12:00]
Kelly Holladay: Yeah, good question. So, we've seen a lot of synergy come across from our agency to our clients and even other partnerships that they have existing. Whether it be with a creative agency, whether it be with somebody who's managing their social as a contract employee, or internally. But I think some of the opportunities that we see a lot of synergy are with social. Social is one of those things that I feel like an internal team where it's gonna be organic, authentic and they're focusing on events, promotion, doing walkthroughs, demonstrations, product demos, things like that, are certainly going to be really impactful coming from the internal team who eats, sleeps, and breathes those types of things on a daily basis.
Where, zooming out a little bit, and you look at from a perspective of a client, you know, us as an agency, we're a Google premier partner. We work closely have a dedicated team at Google that works exclusively with our agency, and so when we look at from an expertise perspective, you cannot get that level of expertise running through a myopic, builder-centric, locally [00:13:00] centralized campaign. So, kinda looking out at the broad view and the periphery of the campaigns that we're seeing be successful across the country, across other industries, and incorporating those for our builders, I think are some of the things that really put them on the forefront.
Greg Bray: So Kelly, you've talked a lot about campaigns from a digital perspective, which of course that's what we want to talk about, but you also mentioned earlier that you guys do a holistic everything. So, where do you find the balance between how much is digital and how much is, I almost said old school, but that's not nice, so we're gonna, we're gonna say how about non-digital?
Kelly Holladay: Yeah. It's crazy how much the landscape has changed because back in, 2015, 2016, the aggressive, you know, strategies and some of the news coming out was saying, Hey, your budget should be 50% traditional, 50% digital, and now fast forward to where especially when looking at considered purchases like buying a home. That's not something you do on a whim. You're gonna be doing [00:14:00] some digging. You're gonna be in that research phase for maybe let's just say two, three weeks, and then maybe you're like, okay, that community looks great. Let's go do a tour of the community. Or, you found this listing and you're going to do this.
So, all those different things that are happening in the digital ecosystem now are breadcrumbs, and so as we look at, from a builder's perspective, the majority, 90% of builder budgets in many cases are going to be allocated towards digital because the digital ecosystem is so vast and people of every demographic are living in that digital ecosystem. So, it's become the 900-pound gorilla and certainly is a very effective tool. Not only from the consumer standpoint to do research, to do virtual walkthroughs, all those types of things, but also to market to those individuals in precisely the right way at precisely the right time.
Kevin Weitzel: Wait a minute. So, you're gonna stand in there and tell me that putting a logo on a squish ball or a stress ball isn't the best way to spend my marketing dollars?[00:15:00]
Kelly Holladay: Hey to certain demos, maybe.
Kevin Weitzel: Oh, okay. If you're selling to the six-year-olds.
Kelly Holladay: Yeah, the landscape has changed.
Greg Bray: Kelly, so not only has it changed, but it's continuing to change rapidly. Are there particular things that you guys are watching or trends that you're keeping your thumb on to see how they play out that you're looking ahead towards?
Kelly Holladay: Yeah, absolutely. Going from a 50/50 being an aggressive strategy to an 80, 90% digital strategy, what does the future hold? There's more and more tools, more and more technology that are just captivating people during their research, right? So, one of the things that we have been preaching and helping our clients utilize is their first-party data. All the information that you can gather on your prospective clients, what are you doing with it and how can you help maximize the impact of that data?
Once somebody has raised their hand and say, Hey, I'm a prospective buyer. I'm looking for homes in X price range, in X city, whatever it is, their keystrokes and their mouse clicks have basically indicated them as a prospective candidate. Now, [00:16:00] let's get ads in front of them for communities in that price range, for communities in that city, et cetera. Now, once they've submitted a form. Once they've reached out and talked to an agent, what are we doing with that information?
So, leveraging that to nurturing campaigns across a variety of different platforms. Whether it be text, whether it be email, drip campaigns, a variety of those types of things are gonna be a huge part of kind of the ongoing landscape. Just becoming more and more sophisticated as more tool tools are developed. Some of those things just become that much better from a consumer standpoint and from a marketer standpoint.
Also, we look, we have an in-house program that we've developed called Kudos, which leverages first-party data, and really puts out into a customer journey. It's really a marketing attribution platform, and the really cool thing about it is it takes touchpoints and digital touchpoints along that person's path to conversion. So, going back to the example of someone who is searching for a new home's X city. We lock onto them. We maybe serve up a display ad to them. They click on the display ad. Then they come back to the website direct [00:17:00] through an organic search, and maybe you remarket it to them. Then they see a video pre-roll ad on YouTube or wherever else.
What's interesting to see is how that path to conversion or somebody buying a home is very rarely linear. It's not a one-touch and done. So, looking at a myopic view of last-click attribution, that's only a very small piece of the puzzle, and so understanding that customer journey. What creatives helped persuade them, what messages? How many times did they visit your website, how much time did they spend on your website? So, a variety of tools like that, I think peel back the layers and help home builders and other clients really understand what resonates to their prospects, what keeps them coming back, and how did they ultimately interact with you as well.
Greg Bray: Kelly, just put you on the spot here, cause you've talked about a lot of different tactics, I guess, and different channels and avenues of where to go. If we've got a smaller builder, they can only do one. Where do you recommend they start?
Kelly Holladay: Ooh, that's a good question, and a tough one to answer. I'll tell you that [00:18:00] some of the things that I look at as the unsung heroes of digital are going to be a very targeted display campaign because one of the things that we see time and time again is getting an ad in front of somebody in the right moment across a wide net as well.
Obviously, you can cast a wider net with a display campaign than you could with search or some others, but getting it in front of the right person at the right time can really start to pull them out of your generic search query pool. New homes, X city? Well, how many of your competitors are bidding on those terms, and what is the cost per click for those terms?
If you can pull them out of that pool and show them a community, get them on your website where you then have videos, tours, things like that, and get them bought in that this is the perfect place for me. Then when they go back to Google, they're searching for your brand. They're searching for your community name. How much does that cost per click? Pennies on the dollar.
So, I think that's an unsung hero for many digital campaigns is to prime the pump with higher funnel, but [00:19:00] very targeted opportunities that then lead to some of those lower funnel opportunities with search and other types of campaigns can really come in and bring a lot of a great assist.
Kevin Weitzel: Where do you look for inspiration personally?
Kelly Holladay: Honestly, I would say in just about everything that I do. I think some of the most reflective thoughts that I've had have been out on the bike when I'm literally suffering up one of the Utah canyons I'm climbing and I'm like, why am I doing this? I start to think deep reflections, and then I start thinking about how this translates to this or that aspect of my life. What it means to me professionally, personally, to my family. So, I think just in meditation and self-reflection of, Hey, how can I get better? How can I be a better partner? How can I be a better husband? How can I be a better father, all those types of things? The more time you spend in your head, I think the more outcome you'll see in your life.
Greg Bray: Are there any great marketing education resources that you tap into on a regular basis that you'd recommend others take a look at?
Kelly Holladay: I feel like I compartmentalize myself a little bit in that [00:20:00] regard. What I mean by that is, as a company, we meet fairly often, and we have think tanks and we have strategy discussions and we have a lot of cross-pollination between different departments of the company and different campaigns, different industries. So, I spend a lot of time just having those types of discussions.
One of the things that I failed to mention earlier is from an automotive perspective, we quickly became a digital powerhouse in the automotive space, which is ultra-competitive. We created a name for ourselves as an agency by being results driven. We have no contracts of any kind. We're working with clients they're sticking around month over month because they see the performance. They see the results. So, a lot of the things that we have implemented and that I have talked to the digital team about testing and implementing is beta and alpha tests and things like that have come from inspiration from some of those resources.
So, as we sit in a think tank and we're talking about, Hey, this campaign that we just launched for this automotive dealer is crushing it, [00:21:00] and I'm thinking, okay. I work with a lot of home builders. How can that translate over here? So, selfishly, I spend a ton of time picking the brains of people much, much smarter than myself and trying to parlay their knowledge into opportunities and results for my clients.
Greg Bray: So, the tip is surround yourself with smart people.
Kelly Holladay: Right. That's right.
Greg Bray: Well, Kelly, we appreciate the time you spent with us today, as we wrap up, do you have any last words of marketing advice or other advice you'd like to leave with our listeners today?
Kelly Holladay: Yeah, I would say honestly, the biggest thing here is become a market and a thought leader. That could be your localized market. That could be a national brand leader, but ultimately be a disruptor in your market. Think from a consumer's perspective. What did they care about? What speaks to them? If you craft your strategy, your messaging, and keep that as your high-level goal from an opportunity perspective, it's gonna pay out. It's gonna pay dividends for you.
Greg Bray: Awesome. Great advice. Well, Kelly, if somebody wants to reach out [00:22:00] and connect with you, what's the best way for them to get in touch?
Kelly Holladay: Probably through email, Kelly, K E L L Y@ maxconnect.com. Pretty simple. Love to chat. Give some of our analysis insights. Dig into what's unique about individual markets and craft a strategy that can help you level up.
Greg Bray: Well, thanks again, Kelly for joining us, and thank you everybody for listening today to The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine.
Kevin Weitzel: I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse. Thank you.