The house buyer journey has changed. Typically lasting between 12-18 months – it’s a long time, but presents many opportunities for developers and property marketers to attract and engage prospects with a well planned property marketing content strategy.
(This is Part 2 in our series of posts about digital marketing for property companies, developers and agents.)
The New Buyer Journey
Search engines, listings websites (such as Rightmove in the UK or Draft.ie in Ireland), YouTube, social networks, forums, mobile apps, maps – these are the new tools of house buying. The range of channels used to conduct research has become diverse, and the sources people turn to for advice at each key stage of their journey has grown complex. Buyers hop around like crazy between channels, using multiple devices simultaneously to piece together their knowledge of potential areas, agents, developers, prices and financing options.
Content is the Key
Content is the key to reaching buyers at each stage of their journey. By creating content that provides the useful information people are looking for at each stage of the buyer journey, you are positioning yourself to capture buyer attention.
“90% of homebuyers start their search online.”
NAR/Google ‘Digital House Hunt’ Survey, 2014
Start with Buyer Personas
The most important task with any inbound or content marketing activity is to define your customer. Are they:
- first-time buyers
- young professionals
The content you develop should match your project and be anchored by crystal clear buyer personas. Writing them down and sharing them with your marketing and channel partners will ensure your content, communications and marketing collateral all lines up.
Types of content
Content creation can be labour-intensive so it is critical to take a carefully planned approach to content creation that allows you to make efficient use of your content ‘assets’ over time. Some of the content you will create will be evergreen, and some will be campaign specific (i.e. only relevant to your latest property development project).
Evergreen content can be reused:
- General area/region information
- House price guides/data
- Environmental ratings guides
- Buying Guides / Selling Guides
- Finance & Legal information
Project specific content is often less reusable:
- Architectural visualisation of interior/exterior concepts / plans / layouts
- Building features & USPs
- Interactive tools
- 3D walkthroughs & fly-overs
- Area information that is specific to your current development only
- Schools and transport information
Mapping content to buyer stages
With a clear idea of the top-level stages of the house buyers journey, and an idea of which types of content we have at our disposal, we can begin to see that early stage content will often be evergreen and can be reused for multiple campaigns and projects. Depending on your website strategy, you will want to house your evergreen content on a site that will be around for a long time, and your campaign specific content on your microsite/campaign website.
What information do buyers want at the consideration stage?
- General property market information (usually from the media)
- High-level area guides
- Identifying types of houses that could fit their needs
What information do buyers look for at the online research stage?
- Detailed area guides (schools, amenities, transport)
- Features and approximate pricing
- Financing options
What information do buyers look for when doing active research?
- Pictures / concepts
- Virtual tours & 3D walkthroughs
- Detailed pricing
- BER / Environmental ratings
- Hyper-local selling prices (“the house next door”)
What information do buyers look for at the transaction stage?
- Recommendations on good agents and advisors (‘How to choose an estate agent’)
- Help understanding the process of buying / what to expect
- Project management & logistic help and advice (moving tips!)
- Reassurance and testimonials from others who have been in their position
What information do buyers look for at the post-sale stage?
- House price information, is their house going up in value
- Home decor & design inspiration
- Ideas for improving the re-sell value of their house
In this age of ‘digitally informed buyers’, the key to attracting and engaging prospects across long buying cycles and multiple channels is through useful, high quality content. A carefully designed property marketing content strategy will power search engine visibility, social media, email marketing, lead generation, nurturing and can support your sales processes from start to finish.
The shift in consumer behaviour towards online research is powerful, and cannot be ignored. It presents clear challenges to agents, developers, marketers and advisors – but those who can rise to the ‘content challenge’, will create sustainable competitive advantage, drive traffic to their websites, converts visitors to leads, and enjoy loyalty and referrals that their competitors can only dream of.
- Content allows you to communicate with buyers at each stage of the journey
- It powers lead-capture, nurturing and customer engagement
- It provides a competitive advantage