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153 Online Buying Behavior Research Study - Blue Tangerine

Online Buying Behavior Research Study - Blue Tangerine
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Show Notes


This week is a special episode of The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast where we share a recorded webinar Greg did with Susan Baier of Audience Audit. In this webinar, they discuss the proprietary attitudinal research study that Blue Tangerine conducted to understand better how home buyers interact with home builders online. 

Download the Home Builder Insights Executive Summary.


Greg Bray: [00:00:00] Hello everyone, and welcome to The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine. A special shout-out to our episode sponsor NternNow. Please be sure to learn more at nternow.com. Today we have a special episode for you that is a recording of a webinar that I did introducing Blue Tangerine's proprietary attitudinal research study that we did, trying to understand better how home buyers are interacting with home builders online. Hope you enjoy it.

Hello everybody, [00:01:00], and welcome to today's presentation. I'm really excited to be able to share with you today some of the insights we've been learning. My name for those who don't know me is Greg Bray, President of Blue Tangerine, and I'm also excited to be joined today by Susan Baier, who is the founder and president of Audience Audit. Thank you, Susan.

Susan Baier: Hi, Greg. Nice to be here.

Greg Bray: It's so great to have you. I really appreciate that, and we'll let Susan tell you a little bit more about herself here in just a second, so you guys know who we're dealing with and what we're learning today, but before we dive in, I just want to share a little bit of an experience I had not too long ago. Just something kind of personal, and I've told this before and I used to say I had a friend. I'm just going to be open and honest. It was me.

Susan Baier: Good for you.

Greg Bray: So, I'm shopping at Sam's Club with my wife a little while ago pushing the cart like a good support staff does because that's my role and I put something in the cart and I'm informed that I put it in the cart wrong. I was a little confused by that. It's like, how do you put it in the cart wrong?

But, you know, I dutifully turned [00:02:00] it around the way I was instructed and left it in the cart and we proceeded through, and then we get to the checkout line and we go through self-checkout and I have the revelation of what I had done wrong. In the cart, everything had been lined up with all the barcodes facing the proper way. So, she got out the little gun and was like, bam, bam, bam, and we were checked out. We were gone, right? Fast forward a few weeks later I'm sent by myself to the store.

Susan Baier: Uh oh.

Greg Bray: Yeah, I know. Dangerous thing, right? Dangerous, but I need to buy a bag of ice. Right? Well, ice is in the little freezer cabinet away from the checkout. But I'm like, I'm at self-checkout and I'm like, I don't know how to buy a bag of ice when I don't have it there to scan. Right. Cause I haven't done this before. So, and I get some help and I figure out there's a little menu thing and you have to do the buttons and buy it and everything else.

And yes, I'm that guy who doesn't know how to actually go to the store by himself, but I successfully navigate this self-checkout. But I've been thinking a lot about self-checkout through some of these experiences, and is self-checkout [00:03:00] really better because it created for me, a little bit of a conundrum on how do I buy ice, right?

I, I didn't quite know how. You know, of course, my wife has mastered it, and so she's much faster because of self-checkout. But some studies indicate that a lot of people don't love self-checkout or they've had problems.

Susan Baier: Sometimes it feels like a burden, doesn't it? Sometimes it doesn't feel like a convenience.

Greg Bray: Yeah, absolutely, and when you've got 67% of people saying they've had a problem, you know, is this really better for the customer? And of course, there's some fun things that people have had with self-checkout. The messages of place your item in the bagging area. Everybody's heard that one, right?

And it's just not kind of clear. It's like, yes, I've put it there, but it's not picking it up and all kinds of these problems. And then of course, the idea that if you can master self-checkout, you must be, you know, somebody really special, um, and, and even deserve some type of position at the store. So, why am I talking about self-checkout, Susan, and what does that have to do with what we're here today?

Well, at Blue Tangerine, we've been having a lot of [00:04:00] conversations over the last year, year and a half with home builders about buying homes online, and I started to kind of ponder that. Blue Tangerine, just as an introduction before we dive into that, we are a website and digital market agency, specializing in home builders.

Been doing it for a long time, over 20 years now, and so we've been having these conversations, and also wanted to do some research. So, we reached out to Susan to see if she could help. So, Susan, just tell us a little bit about you and Audience Audit and the kinds of things you do, and then we'll talk a little more about what we've been working on together.

Susan Baier: Thanks, Greg. Yeah. So, Audience Audit is a research firm. We help organizations understand their customers sort of from a different perspective. From the perspective of how they're thinking, not necessarily what they're doing, and the kinds of things that can make decisions go one way or another for them when they're choosing a process or a provider or something like that. So, and we work with agencies like you.

Greg Bray: Awesome. Well, and we are really excited because as I was saying, we wanted to find out [00:05:00] more about buying homes online. Now we know that some builders have been doing this. We know that there's been successful purchases online, but the real question was, are we assuming that just like self-checkout, that this is better, or is it something that buyers really want?

We wanted to dig in a little bit deeper and find out is this something that buyers really want, that they are looking for more digital interaction with builders. Or is it something that's kind of being pushed just because it's the cool new, you know, whiz bangy thing. You know, kind of like self-checkout for homes. So, we reached out to Susan and her team and decided to put together a research study. So Susan, tell us a little bit about how we go about putting that together and what's kind of, you know, the structure of that process and that study.

Susan Baier: Sure, Sure. We wanted a study that we knew would be reliable so that when you're doing your work with clients, and your listeners are hearing you talk about the study that everybody knows that this is [00:06:00] something that they can rely on from a strategic standpoint. It's not, you know, five people around a conference table.

So, we did a quantitative study, 500 home buyers. So, some of them have bought a home very recently. Some of them are planning to buy a home soon, and they're sort of all in this process of recently out of it. Believe it or not, 500 respondents ensures that basically, we've tasted enough of the soup to know what's in the whole pot. It gives us a very high level of confidence on these results.

So, if any of you are listening and you are a builder or real estate agent, or any of those kinds of things, if we reproduced this study, we would see the same results. Which means that you really can look at these results and think about how they apply to your business 'cause this is really what's happening out there among home buyers. Fascinating study from my perspective.

Greg Bray: And I think too, just to add into that, Susan, we did eliminate investors from our pool.

Susan Baier: We did. Yep.

Greg Bray: 'Cause I think that's important to make sure people understand is if [00:07:00] someone was buying this home, it was for them to live in.

Susan Baier: That's right. That was one of the requirements. Yep.

Greg Bray: 'Cause investors have a little bit of a different buying process and view of things and aren't quite as concerned about some of the same things that a person living in the home would be. So, as I like to tell people, Susan, this was not Greg and SurveyMonkey, you know, doing this right. This is, this is something a little more complicated and a little more in-depth.

Susan Baier: Not that there's anything wrong with SurveyMonkey, but yes. This was a professional study and it was done on a large scale. You know, again, quantitative results like these mean that we can really look at this and say, Okay, I can believe this. What does this mean for me and my business?

Greg Bray: Now we're gonna go through and share just a few highlights of some of the results and things that we learned in this study and talk a little bit about the implications of some of those insights. Susan, the first thing that was really interesting to me is the way that you were able to group our respondents into four really distinct groups. What [00:08:00] goes into actually finding these groups when you're looking at that raw data? How do you decide to categorize the responses?

Susan Baier: So, this is a process called attitudinal segmentation. It basically asks all of the respondents in our survey had to rate about 40 statements that we gave them about how they might feel, and they could agree completely, disagree completely, or something in between, and the analysis to determine the segments includes that data and only that data, Greg.

So, while we do have age information and income information on these respondents, that didn't go into determining which attitudinal segment they're in. It's all about what's going on between the ears. And another thing to note is that we don't pre-assume what these buckets are going to be. You and I didn't sit down and go, well, I'm sure we've got Builder Preferers in there and we've probably got some Worriors. We basically let the math do the work and tell us the attitudes that connect for a particular group of people in a way [00:09:00] that they don't for other people.

So, this is really organic. We didn't know whether we would have three segments or seven segments. We ended up with four, and we didn't know how big each would be or what would actually define that group. It's kinda like Christmas, you know, a box of chocolates. You don't know what you're gonna get, but there we go. We ended up with four attitudinal segments and they are very different as we'll be talking about.

Greg Bray: Yeah. Very different, but yet rather balanced. Almost a quarter for each one, which I think is interesting in and of itself.

Susan Baier: Also like just an organic result, Right? Sometimes that happens and sometimes it doesn't. So, it makes it a little easier to think about when you think about sort of a quarter, a quarter, a quarter, a quarter for the most part.

Greg Bray: Yeah. Now we did come up with the names of these groups after the fact, right? Yeah. So...

Susan Baier: We did. Yeah. We named them once we saw what they were like. We gave them a name so they're easy to sort of remember the attitudes that are defining them.

Greg Bray: Yeah. All right. Well, I think you know, the fact that we've got these groups, they weren't predetermined. Let's dive [00:10:00] in and learn a little bit more about each of these groups and what they represent.

Susan Baier: Super. So, the group that we call Builder Preferers is 22% of our total sample. These folks really place a lot of trust in and responsibility on the builder in the home buying process. So, they really want to work with the builder. They do research on builders that they want to work with because that builder is important for them in the process, and they really look to the builder to give them advice.

They want help with everything from choosing a location and a model to getting help with professional design. They want advice about the buying process and for these respondents, the builder is really that expert that they are looking to for all of this. So, they put a lot of weight on that relationship.

Greg Bray: All right, so that's our Builder Preferers. Then we've got our Researchers.

Susan Baier: Right. So, Researchers, you know, they want the process to be easy, but they want to guide it. These [00:11:00] folks do a lot of research about their plans and their options. They are looking at not only sort of home models and features, but they're looking at neighborhoods that they want to live in. They take plenty of time. They're not in a big hurry. So, they take a lot of time to make their decisions together.

Typically, they're coming to a builder already with a community or neighborhood that they want. Incidentally, they are more likely to be looking for something that's sort of a quiet retreat. So, they have a plan in mind and they're doing a lot of research around it before probably you, as a builder or an agent, ever hear from them. Then they'll come to you pretty informed about what they want.

Greg Bray: Okay, so now our third group, the Worriors.

Susan Baier: Right. Worriors, and I'm sure we can relate to this, especially with how challenging it's been to find and buy a home over the last few years. These folks feel really overwhelmed and a characteristic of them is that they just don't feel like they have anybody they can [00:12:00] trust to advise them and guide them in the process.

They literally say this is a nightmare, too many decisions to be involved in. They really don't even know what information they need to make a good choice. They don't know what they want. Although, they say they probably know it if they saw it, and the other characteristics of these folks, which affects sort of the conversation we're having about online home buying, is generally these folks worry about making major purchases online.

They have less trust about buying online in general, so that doesn't help if there's a component of that for them. You know, they've just got a lot of anxiety about this process. They feel informed and they really don't feel like they know who to go to to get what they need to help them make good decisions.

Greg Bray: I think with this group, it really stood out to me that I can't imagine that it's a good thing, that 27% of our potential buyers think that what they're doing is a nightmare. That word is just really strong to me.

Susan Baier: It's [00:13:00] really, really hard. These folks and they want to buy a home, but man, they're really struggling. So, you can see how they're really different from like the Builder Preferers who are ready to trust the builder and put their sort of fate in the builder's hands to a great extent. Or the Researcher who is doing a ton of background work and feels confident that they've got the information they need and they know where to get their questions answered. This group doesn't have either of those sort of pillars to stand on in this process. So, they do feel pretty overwhelmed.

Greg Bray: Yeah. Interesting. All right. Our last group then is our Online Preferers.

Susan Baier: This is a really interesting group to me. We actually found this group, 28%, who if they could, would buy a home with a click of a button. They really would prefer to do everything online. They want it to be painless. They say they don't even necessarily need to see the home in person as long as they can sort of see it online.

The interesting thing to me about this is that generally speaking, and as you pointed out, these are [00:14:00] not investors. These are people who are going to live in this home and yet they are still really less engaged in the whole process. They care less about a lot of things about the home, including how much it costs. So, they're sort of an interesting group, but for them, online is definitely something that needs to be at least a part of the process, and a sizeable percentage would do it all online if they could.

Greg Bray: And this is really an interesting insight, how large this group is because there's certainly plenty of builders we've talked to, like, oh, nobody will ever do that. Nobody wants to do that, and of course, we all kind of gravitate potentially to the group we fall in personally, and assume that everybody else is like us in that they're going to react to things the same way that we are, but 28% is a decent percentage of your market.

Susan Baier: It's a decent percentage. We see this group across all ages and across all income levels. We're not talking about demographics very much today, [00:15:00] but when you go and you can see all the results of this data that Blue Tangerine is sharing, you'll see like how expansive all these groups are.

So, you can't automatically assume that these Online Preferers are like kids who made a lot of money in the stock market and are 25 and ready to buy their McMansion. That's not what's going on. So, all of these groups represent a big portion of the market for anybody who's in this business.

Greg Bray: That highlight that this group is not automatically younger is a myth buster for me. There's a general assumption that age makes a huge impact in whether someone's comfortable online or not. We found with this data that that really isn't the case in the way that these broke out.

Susan Baier: Yeah. I mean, we see in other results too, in other studies that we do. You know, the younger generation has grown up with fraud and spam and bots and all of this stuff, and can often be a little more cautious about online purchasing than we [00:16:00] might give them credit for.

Greg Bray: Well, as we look at these different groups, I think for me, one of the big takeaways is that no one of these groups dominates, right? We've got four that are roughly a quarter, you know, less than a third for all of them. As we're trying to communicate with these groups, we really need to understand that different messages are going to resonate differently, and we need to find those ways to overlap the messages that hit all of the groups because we don't want to ignore any of them. All of those groups are too big to be ignored and just assume that what we're saying resonates just with one of them or not. So, as we look at that marketing communication, what goes on on the website, and the messages we put out there, we really need to tie into all of these different groups?

Susan Baier: Well, it can be tricky, like you said. I mean, you pointed about messaging. That's really how you have to reach these people because they don't look any different on paper. They don't look different based on income or some of those things that we're sort of used to using for targeting. You really have to do this in another [00:17:00] way with attitudinal insights like this and really reach them, and resonate with how they're feeling about this process. And that's what's going to be most compelling to somebody is if you can basically show them that you understand how they feel about this and you're ready to help in whatever capacity they see help being needed.

Greg Bray: Great comment. Great insights. So, I wanted to then take us through a few of the specific questions that we asked, and dive into some of the results on those. And so the first question is learning more about the online versus the in-person preferences. So, the question we asked is, if you had your way, how would you buy your next home? What did we find on that one, Susan?

Susan Baier: So, this was a choose-all that apply question. Basically, what aspects do you want to have involved in your purchase process? Not surprisingly, 74% of our respondents said that they want at least some part of the process to be in person. That might be actually going to see a home or meeting with a builder or a realtor or something. They want that as part of the process, but 40% of [00:18:00] folks say they want online to be part of the person. Much greater than we see by phone or folks who say, I don't really care. So, it's interesting because online is something that people, I think, do want as part of the process at a very minimum to help streamline things that can happen that way.

Greg Bray: Just to reiterate, the reason these add up to more than a hundred percent is because they could pick more than one, right?

Susan Baier: Exactly. Yep.

Greg Bray: Just so folks are kind of understanding that. So, 74% still want in person. That's really not surprising, and frankly, there's probably some people who, because builders have not offered as much online, some builders are better at it than others, some buyers have never really even imagined what's possible to do online.

Susan Baier: And, you know, these are the aggregated percentages. So, we do see differences between segments. The Online Preferers are far more likely to want online than some other people are, but about half of them still want an in-person component. So, it's [00:19:00] not either or, and they're certainly not all the same on that.

Greg Bray: Yeah. So, I think when we ponder what that then means for a builder who's trying to understand it really is recognizing that you can't just send them into the sales office and now it's all in-person. There has to be some back and forth. There has to be online support of an in-person process and recognizing that more and more people do want to be able to go as much as possible with the online piece and make sure that you're guiding them through that process as you put it all together.

Susan Baier: Yeah, I mean, I think the better you can integrate those things in your process and give buyers options to say, these are the things that you can do online if you want to. Just let us know, but these are options that can be online and sort of let the buyer craft their journey based on what they're comfortable with.

Greg Bray: Absolutely. Absolutely. So, the next, one we wanted to find out is a little bit more about which activities they're interested in doing online. So, we asked the [00:20:00] question, which aspects of the new home buying process would you prefer to do online? What did we find out?

Susan Baier: Exactly, and again, this is choose all that apply, right? So, 50% of our respondents said they would like to do the mortgage online. I don't know about you, Greg, but when I bought my house, I can still remember sitting and going through all of those pieces of paper and having to sign them with the notary, all of that kind of stuff there. Seems like there's a lot that I would like to do online if I could. So, mortgage is very popular.

Also, lots of people are interested in doing a 3D tour, even if they may go actually see the home. The 3D tour is really helpful, seeing the progress on a home that they're building, choosing a model, and of course getting answers. We know that most of our buyers are already online looking for answers to their questions. So, with so many interested in that as an online process, I think for builders in particular, like how can you be what they find online? [00:21:00] How can you be the resource that has all the answers that they are looking for, as opposed to going to some random site that doesn't have any connection to you?

Greg Bray: Yeah, I think the idea that mortgage topped the list was a little bit of a surprise for me. Seeing 3D tours, I mean, that's at 45%, choosing your model at 41%. That doesn't shock me at all because that's part of that learning and research, but mortgage gets into a little later in the process from the buying piece, and often it is rather painful. So, this idea that people are reacting to that and especially those that we're talking to who already bought the home, telling us, man, I wish I could have done the mortgage online. That would've been nice to have done that at home.

Susan Baier: I think people have gotten more comfortable with online banking in general. We definitely see financial services really climbing in terms of online interaction, and maybe this is just sort of an extension of that, you know?

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So, of course, visual tours is a huge part of the builder's marketing on the website. So, the idea that we [00:23:00] can ignore the visuals is just crazy. All right. So, this is just kind of backing up, I think, something we already knew, right? The tours, the animations, the great photography is still critical to the process, but builders miss out a lot on the financing content. Honestly, the financing page is one of those ones, when we're building a site with builders, that they really don't know what to put. It's like one sentence, call our mortgage broker.

Susan Baier: Yeah.

Greg Bray: It's an opportunity to differentiate. People are looking for this financing information, looking for an easier process. So, being able to make sure that we give them what they want and recognize that mortgage and financing is a big part of all of that as we educate them is a differentiating opportunity for builders to consider.

Susan Baier: Yeah, imagine if builders could even just talk to their financing folks and say, what are the questions that you get over and over and over again? And then decide which of those you can actually answer on your website for pretty much everybody. They might be about process. They might be about how do I tell when it's a good time to buy or it [00:24:00] isn't a good time to buy? What's a good rate on a mortgage? You know, those kinds of things can be generalized. If brokers are getting those questions, then those are questions you should be able to look at answering on your website and save folks a phone call.

Greg Bray: Absolutely. So, as we look then into our third one is kind of getting into more learning about what they want from the builder. So, the question we asked is, what is most important to you when you are choosing a builder? Here's what we got.

Susan Baier: This was really interesting to me 'cause we do a lot of research around trust in a huge range of categories. All of these, easy to work with, a good reputation, provides information, communication, financially stable, certainly the top four, regardless of category, is what people are looking for in an expert that they trust and somebody that they're willing to have advised them and that they're gonna listen to.

So, easy to work with, just being friendly and making the process not [00:25:00] intimidating and frightening, which this process probably by definition is. Most of us aren't expert home builders ourselves, so we have to trust somebody else in this process. So, if you're easy to work with, that's great. And then Greg, you and I know how much having a good reputation, providing information, communicating, being helpful, builds trust. Can we trust you? There's clear signals that indicate that you're trustworthy and one of them is just being helpful.

Greg Bray: Right. So, we've got easy to work with at 70%. Good reputation, the next one at 63%, providing information at 59%. I do have to joke though. I'm curious about the 30% who did not mark easy to work with.

Susan Baier: Well, you know, it's interesting because when you look at this chart in the data, that Online Prefers group cares less about any of this. Why? Because they don't expect to engage very much with the builder. Again, they're looking like, can I do it all online, and can I do it as simply as possible? But for most people, [00:26:00] those percentages are even higher than they look in the aggregate because people do care about that engagement.

Greg Bray: That's a great clarification, right? That when we work online, we're not as engaged with a person the same way. So, great clarification.

Susan Baier: And that may be a reason why somebody wants to work online. We see that with banking. I don't want to talk to anybody. I just want to get my thing. I just want to take care of my thing. So, that can be a factor for some folks.

Greg Bray: Yeah. Well, and again, 63% said that good reputation was important. So, it is all about building trust, and some of the ways that we communicate that. And of course, reviews and testimonials are a big opportunity. They have been for building trust, but it's also about that education and communication that we hinted at, right?

Trust comes from being open and not hiding things or keeping back information I need to have. And then it's also, of course, about being able to respond to questions because when I don't know what's happening, I'm uncertain. Getting [00:27:00] that information at that point with quick responses. The days of waiting days to get back to an email, you know, are long gone if you want to build trust. It needs to be very quick.

Susan Baier: Right, and I think the more questions builders can answer ahead of time, knowing that they're likely to come up, the fewer they're going to get that they have to answer over and over and over again. You know, because the answers are there for folks. So, it's a great opportunity and it's not that hard to do. These are questions these builders and their financing partners are answering all day every day, I would guess.

Greg Bray: I'm sure there's a lot of commonalities. Absolutely. Absolutely. All right, so diving into our next question, we wanted to learn a little bit more about how they're getting their information and what they're doing. So, we asked the question, what types of research did you do when you began the process of considering a new home?

Susan Baier: Again, a choose all that apply. Online listing sites takes the cake, 67% said that they started their [00:28:00] process engaging in those kinds of sites. Looking at affordability and pricing, what can I afford to get where I want to live, and doing some Googling or whatever with respect to that. Looking at models, exploring agents, and actually sort of visiting model homes in the communities that you're considering with the builders you're considering, whatever. This is all probably not terribly surprising to your listeners. I bet they hear this all the time.

Greg Bray: Well, I think the fact that 67% were at online listing sites, and just to clarify, we're talking about things like Zillow, realtor.com, et cetera when we talk about those. I think that was a little higher than I even expected. I mean, I know those are popular, but part of that is those sites do a great job with their search engine optimization and even those Google searches they're popping up near the top as well

Susan Baier: They pop right up.

Greg Bray: Of course, affordability doesn't surprise me at 62% because I can't buy a house I can't afford. I'm looking at that very early and quickly, but [00:29:00] yet we don't always focus on that as a quick and easy way to show information with the builders website. 49% still interested in a real estate agent is also important. We can't ignore our realtor partners.

Susan Baier: They're important, and actually again, for the Online Preferers, that is less a part of their journey. So, it's actually higher for the other segments in terms of working with the real estate agent. So, that's important. And again, this reiterates what we saw earlier. You can't make getting a tour of a home either in-person or online exclusive. It can't be an either-or. People really like both. So, you need to have both of those available.

Greg Bray: And as we look at those online listing sites at the top, it really is an opportunity to do better because a lot of builders still aren't really embracing this because it costs some extra money. Also starting to recognize that you have to kind of compete even there. You can't just send them your data. You have to, how do I [00:30:00] differentiate a little bit, or have a more fleshed out profile on these listing sites such as Zillow or realtor.com. And of course, not ignoring the realtors. They're still important, and when you're competing against resale homes versus the builder with a new home, getting those realtors to give you a chance and bring their buyers to you is critical, as well. So, we really want to make sure we don't forget our realtor friends.

Susan Baier: For sure. Being helpful has to happen more than just on your site. It has to happen any place someone could encounter you in this process.

Greg Bray: So, then we kind of drill down another level into what is actually happening on the home builder's website itself. We just wanted to know, what are they looking for? So, how have you used home builder websites was the next question.

Susan Baier: Mm-hmm. So again, a choose all that apply. 70%, the largest percentage, use it for inspiration. So, that's interesting to me. They're just looking at pictures and ideas and that may be happening very early in the process when they're trying to imagine the home they could get. But it could even be happening [00:31:00] later as they're looking for layouts and design options and things like that. Client reviews very popular at 52%. Looking for what communities a builder is building in, financing options obviously, and being able to visit a model home and sort of where are those options.

Greg Bray: Yeah, I think that home inspiration kind of surprised me as well at that 70% number.

Susan Baier: Really?

Greg Bray: Because we always think about folks shopping and being in the moment of trying to pick and choose, and this implies a little bit more of a just kind of browsing mentality. But yet, if you're the home that they go, wow, that's the kitchen I want. What a huge advantage to then get them to come back to you later and giving them tools to be able to save those, and kind of create a little folder so they can find them easily later. Some of these types of opportunities could be another way to differentiate. And again, it's all about big, easy-to-use photography and tours too, right, to see that?

Susan Baier: You know, we saw early on [00:32:00] what a lot of folks want from their builders is help like with professional design or whatever. So, unless you're sort of locked into what you want, being able to see some great design on a builder's site is very encouraging, I think, for folks to think about that being their builder.

Greg Bray: Of course, the 52% on the client reviews is a piece that we can't ignore. We've already talked a little bit about building trust, talked about, you know, testimonials and things, but this just shows that they're actually looking for it. It's not just something that we need to have on there, just in case. With half of them actually reading these and looking for them, you can't ignore the reviews

Susan Baier: And if I may, I mean, I think that it's very easy to say, Well, we're gonna post the testimonials that say we were fabulous, everything went perfectly. But I think there's a lot of value for people in seeing, and especially with what's happened over the last few years, supply chain issues and things get delayed, you know, I can't get that material that I want when I wanted it, whatever.

I think it can be really helpful for a testimonial [00:33:00] to say we had some hiccups because of this, but how the builder responded was amazing and wonderful, and we ended up being really, really happy. I would encourage people not to just toss out the testimonials that say, we had a challenge during this process because if the customer ends up happy, that can almost have a greater impact than somebody just saying everything was hunky dory all the way through. Which these days we kinda look at and go, okay, are you a real person, or was this something just created to up my rating?

Greg Bray: Well, and, and we've also got some of these builders that still are doing just the text quotes that they put themselves that are just, you know, John and Mary said we had a great time, and we don't have any validation that that's even a real person as opposed to the Google or Facebook type reviews where you know that it's actually a real person that has filled this out.

And so you need to have a process to actually ask for them. Some people will do them on their own, but really, most folks, you kind of need to invite them. Say, hey, thanks for [00:34:00] being our customer, our buyer, our homeowner. Please, we'd love to get your feedback here on Google or on Facebook or one of the other tools that are out there to really grow that review profile over time.

Susan Baier: Absolutely. I don't think anybody researching home buying thinks it's going to be a cakewalk. So, testimonials that reflect the reality and highlight you as a builder and your ability to help clients through those challenges can be really powerful for folks.

Greg Bray: Absolutely. All right, so we said we were going give you five, but you know what? We threw in a bonus. All right. 'Cause, there was just, you know, so many things and we're still even digging in and continuing to learn all the implications of what we've got. But again, just as a bonus, we asked the question, what are important considerations for you when buying a home? And I don't think this one's gonna surprise anybody, Susan, but what did we find? It tops the list.

Susan Baier: Yep. Location. I mean, I think people want to live where they want to live and then they're working within that context to try to find something that's affordable for them and that makes them [00:35:00] happy. So, was not surprised to see location ranked first. Home cost very closely after that, second. Durability is important, low maintenance, and here's energy efficiency, which I think is becoming more and more a consideration for people as we sort of move through the 21st century.

Greg Bray: Yeah. Again, no real surprise that location was at the top, but yet I do see some builders getting so focused on what we call lifestyle messaging. Finding out where is this home is actually a little hard sometimes on the website because we're focusing on the pool or the clubhouse or the golf course and the happy people, and we don't have the map until you get in another layer deep in the website. So, making sure that they can find the location 'cause you may the best thing ever, but if it's not in the right state where I'm trying to go, it's not gonna do me any good whatsoever.

And of course, we've already talked about finance and mortgage a little bit, but that idea that pricing and affordability, we can't hide that. We've got [00:36:00] to be upfront with that and make sure that it's easy to see and quickly judge because what do you build, where do you build it, can I afford it are some of these key questions that I'm trying to answer very quickly before I waste any more time digging into what you have.

Susan Baier: Well, and again, that speaks to the power of SEO, right? People have to find your website and unless they're one of that group that says, I'm going to get a home built by this company 'cause I love them so much that I will move to where they are building. That's, I think, a pretty rare group. A lot of folks are probably saying, who are the builders in the area that I'm interested in? So, having good, strong SEO that basically brings relevant buyers to your site is really important. You have to have stuff on the site, but you have to get them to the site too.

Greg Bray: Yeah, definitely. Couldn't agree more. All right. Well, Susan, this has been really fun. I just want to recap a little bit of some of the insights that we got, some keys to success here, just as a reminder, things we've already talked about. So, [00:37:00] again, we need to remember that they want online together with in-person, so we need to make sure that those work together.

We need to guide them through the process because we want to make sure they understand it. Again, there's people that are nervous. We don't want it to be a nightmare, right? We're trying to get away from that and make sure we're educating them in an easy-to-understand way. We also want to build trust. We've talked a lot about trust, and so that's testimonials and reviews. Again, we wanna make sure that we become a resource because that also builds trust.

We talked about the financing, including financing-related information. Trying to see if we can get that mortgage process more integrated. Next, we wanted to talk about location. All right, so where you build, what's available? We wanna make sure we're using those third-party listing sites like Zillow and realtor.com, and BuzzBuzzHome, and some of the others to make sure that we're showing up there because that's where they're starting.

And then finally, we don't want to forget our realtor friends. Want to make sure we've got that realtor outreach, and be able to get that relationship [00:38:00] built with our realtor friends so that they bring them in. So, these are just some of the takeaways that we've gotten from the data. Again, some of this, you're going to go, Well, duh, we've heard this before and I agree, but that's the power of great research, right? Is now we've got data to back it up and prove it and support it, and not just, Oh gosh, this is what Greg thinks you should do, you know, or, whatever. now something that we've got some real, you know, this is what the buyers are looking for.

Susan Baier: Well, and I know you're letting people play with the data. Then you can look at sort of how the different segments are responding on these kinds of things, but you can also look at like the age or income of the buyer and sort of start to see where there are differences. So, I think there's a lot of granularity that you guys are making available for builders to really map out their approach for all four of these segments, and hopefully really be able to respond in a really relevant way to engage with all of these folks.

Greg Bray: Well, and Susan, tell them just a little bit more because you helped create for us this interactive data visualizer, and we're going to make it available on the Blue Tangerine website. So, just tell them a little bit more about [00:39:00] how that works, and again, what they can really do with that.

Susan Baier: Yeah. So, it's really simple to use. It's embedded in your website and you can just go and walk through. It shows you all of the questions we asked and how everybody responded, and you can look at it as how did all of the respondents answer this question. You could look at it by segment, by income, by age, by a bunch of other factors. Just sort of go through and play with the data yourself. You don't have to have any special statistical training. You don't have to download anything on your website. It's just for people who like to sort of explore this in more depth. That's a great way to do it.

Greg Bray: Yeah, and you can find that at bluetangerine.com/builder-research. That's where we're going to have that data visualizer available. We're also going to have an executive summary document that you can download and read through. It'll have just some highlights. It won't have everything in it, but some of the key highlights, like we talked about today, a little bit more than what we went through in today's presentation.

But I'm really excited that we've been able to make this available in a way that lets other people play with it [00:40:00] and get their own insights out of it and not just be waiting on us to do all the interpretation. 'Cause I think there's different things that different people will look for and be able to understand. So, thank you, Susan, for really building that out in a way that we can make it easy to share with everybody.

Susan Baier: You're very welcome.

Greg Bray: Well, everybody that's going to wrap up our thoughts for today. Again, please come to bluetangerine.com/builder-research to get that executive summary if you haven't yet, and to play around on your own with the data. And of course, share that with others that you think may gain benefit from it.

A big thank you to Susan and her team at Audience Audit for helping put this together for us and thank you to you for spending some time with us today. We're really excited. We look forward to continuing that conversation. Thank you to our episode sponsor NterNow. Learn more at nternow.com, and hope you enjoyed this special episode of The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine.


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