Big Data Improves Marketing in a Big Way


Republished from June 2017 article in Builder Developer Magazine

Investing in a complete understanding of your buyer is the key to allocating your resources appropriately and generating more leads and sales.

By Jimmy Diffee

Picture this…

After an inspiring “Ted Talk” caliber presentation at PCBC, a marketing exec from a top builder decides to approach the stage. She patiently waits in a small line to ask the question that’s been burning in her mind. This was exactly the type of presentation she came for: Technology’s Impact on the Future of Home Building, and she took pages of notes from the impassioned speaker. She decides this is the year she stops “just being inspired” and starts making things happen. But something is missing. So as the person in front of her shuffles away, she makes her way forward and approaches the presenter. She introduces herself, and gets right to the point:

“These technologies are amazing, but how do I know which ones to invest in? I go to conferences and hear everyone talking about AI, VR, and digital disruption in the industry, but I can barely keep up with the competition on basic stuff like floorplans and photos. I know I should be spending more on digital, but I just can’t justify the cost.”

“How do I know which investments are actually helping me sell homes?”

If you’re like most builders, this storyline sounds familiar. Five years ago I set out to answer this very question. As co-founder of one of the industry’s premier digital agencies, I firmly believe in our mission to improve the home buying experience. I also believe the only way to do this is by having a clear understanding of what the buyer wants.

After a lot of digging, I realized there’s no buyer data publicly available to justify investing in one technology over another. For example, which is more important to buyers: still photos of a home or a virtual reality tour? And will it influence them to buy a home?

So I convinced stakeholders at my company to invest in research to answer these questions. I knew what mattered most to builders was the sales funnel, and it was clear that the industry needed better data about what influences prospects to convert to the next stage of the funnel. This is how the Home Buyer Conversion Report was born. Five years later, it has become a leading annual consumer report for the building industry.

So what exactly is the Home Buyer Conversion Report?

It’s a 75 page report detailing the most popular digital tools and content in use by builders today and their influence on sales funnel conversions. The annual report is conducted with buyers who purchased a new home in the past year. The study is designed by the Bokka Group and fielded by Home Innovation Research Labs (formerly the NAHB Research Center).

CAPTION: The Bokka Group’s Home Buyer Conversion Report identifies which tools and content (left side of funnel) influence prospects to become buyers. It breaks each stage of the buying journey into conversion points so builders can track conversion rates throughout the sales funnel (right side of the funnel).

Who is it for?

The report is designed to help anyone responsible for decisions about marketing and customer experience investments. It’s also a great resource for agencies or teams that design the digital experience, and want to know industry best practices.

Why does it matter?

By understanding what your prospects want and expect during the home buying process, you can focus your resources on the most influential tactics. Not only will this improve conversions to sale but it will increase ROI, customer satisfaction, and brand loyalty.

What conversion rates I can expect?

This is a question I get a lot, so I’ve put together some conservative numbers that an average home builder can expect to see. This is not currently included in the conversion report, and is based on the low end of ranges I commonly see published throughout the industry (although builder clients of ours experience conversion rates much higher than these). Some quick math can help you figure out roughly how much digital traffic you should be generating to hit sales targets.

What should I do with the data?

If you’re like most builders, you already have a pretty good idea which stage of the funnel you need the most help with. My advice is to go straight to that section of the report to find out where you will see the greatest gains.

For example, if traffic is your biggest challenge, go to the section “Tools for Attracting Buyers” and start with the most influential marketing channel. If you’re not investing in Independent Listing Sites (i.e., Zillow, etc.), you should consider adding them to your marketing mix. There are also demographic breakdowns for more specific insight into targeted buyers.

Where do I get it?

The digital version of the report is available FREE for builders here. Bound versions available for $35.

For builders interested in participating in the next study (and getting a customized report with your buyer data), visit this page to learn more.

Jimmy Diffee is VP/Creative Director at the Bokka Group where he utilizes research and user testing to help builders improve leads, sales, and customer experience.