The Workhorse Website:
A r t i c l e
Making the Web Your “Killer App”
the first iterations of most home builders’ websites were slim
creations: at most, online transpositions of their corporate brochures.
As the Web has evolved and homebuyers have become more
tech-savvy, builders have done their best to keep pace. Many builders’
sites are now in their second, third, or fourth generations and are now
much more elaborate information- and media-rich destinations. With
homebuyers using the Web more and more in their home search and
selection, builders have recognized that the Web can play a major role
in the company’s success.
While now more expansive, flashy, and appealing, however, many builders’ websites are still in essence
just ornate brochures. While they look great and help sell homes, they are missing out on the full potential
of the Web. Used strategically, your website can become a workhorse, accelerating sales, saving labor,
gathering intelligence, and creating loyal, happy customers. This article explores some of the ways you can
take your website to the next level.
Use Your Website as a Hub
The first step to leveraging your website more effectively is to stop seeing it as a standalone tool and to
start understanding it as a unifying hub. Your website should be the front door to your organization: all
paths should lead to it, and it should be the main entry point to access everything your firm has to offer.
Most builders see their website as part of their marketing toolkit, but it can be much more than that. Your
website can act as center point for all of your marketing activity, tying together online and offline channels.
Most builders’ online marketing is not limited to their own website. Many promote their homes on third-party
websites and online listings services, and they may also use banner ads or pay-per-click advertising.
These online programs can be excellent lead generators, but builders need to make sure that leads from
disparate online channels don’t fall through the cracks and receive equally rapid follow-up as direct leads.
By funneling leads brought in by other online lead-generating sources through the builder’s website and
using simple tracking mechanisms, builders can ensure all leads enter the same pipeline and are followed
up upon promptly and consistently, while still gathering source data.
Although many builders are investing more and more of their efforts in online marketing, most continue to
use traditional marketing channels such as direct mail, print advertising, and billboards to some extent.
Unfortunately, the effectiveness of these offline channels can be hard to measure. But by directing interest
generated by these media to specialized web pages that capture leads and record the source, builders
can track the returns on these marketing efforts as effectively as they can their online activities.
Using your website as a hub goes beyond channeling visitors from different sources to a single location;
it’s also about what links into your website from the back end. Many builders have invested in their IT
infrastructure, implementing applications and systems that help streamline their processes and organize
their data. By tying some of these systems into their websites, builders can extend the value of these
IT investments and make their website a critical front end for their marketing, sales, and customer
Use Your Website to Build relationships
The Web can’t compete with face-to-face interactions for relationship-building … or can it? While online tools
may never replace the human touch altogether, properly applied they can go a long way toward building
customer relationships, and in many cases they can be more effective and methodical in gathering and
applying customer and prospect data, at least up to the appropriate point for handoff to a live sales agent.
This article was previously published by the National Association of Home Builders as a business management resource.
Pivotal CRM | Article 1
By tying marketing automation and customer relationship Again, the secret is to integrate customer care tools
management (CRM) systems to your website, you can directly into your website. Allow homeowners to log into
use the site as a systematic intelligence gatherer and a secure online customer care center and access their
relationship-builder. Rather than generating a one-time profile, which is fed by the rich customer data you have
lead, you can create a prospect profile that can be built out accrued in your CRM system throughout the marketing
over time. When a prospect visits your website, encourage and sales process. Enable homeowners to easily refer to
them to register to receive value-added information, such data relevant to their home (such as warranty information),
as in-depth PDF brochures or community updates, by update their profile to keep your data clean and up to date,
simply entering their name and e-mail address. Enroll the search knowledge-bases for helpful pointers and answers
prospect in an automated lead-nurturing e-mail stream to common questions, and log issues for service-agent
that asks them a few key questions at each interaction. follow-up. Using your website this way enables you to
This enables you to collect information cumulatively as provide 24/7 support and service very cost-effectively and
the relationship develops, avoiding long, imposing online give customers ample resources for self-service. Many will
registration forms that act as barriers to lead generation. thus be able to answer their own questions without ever
contacting a service agent.
The more sophisticated marketing automation programs
will automatically increase the depth of personalization with For those issues that do require follow-up, logging issues
each communication, building upon the latest information electronically allows them to be quickly and easily routed
gathered to continually increase relevance. For example, to the appropriate customer care agent or sub-contractor
if the prospect indicates that their primary hobby is for follow-up, escalated when needed, and tracked through
golf, the system can automatically send a golf-oriented to resolution. Web-based customer surveys can also be
communication, or a profile of area schools, if the prospect integrated into the service process to ensure issues are
has children. Each step builds prospect intelligence, being resolved to customers’ satisfaction and identify areas
while also pre-qualifying contacts. The system can route for improvement. Similarly, marketing automation systems
leads immediately to the appropriate salesperson when tied into the website can continue to nurture relationships
the prospect is at the right stage for live follow-up, and well after home purchase, promoting second-home or
the salesperson is delivered not just a lead but in-depth holiday-home sales and offering web-based referral
information about a pre-qualified contact that is ready to programs and incentives.
make a purchase.
take Your Website Beyond “Brochureware”
In this way, your website can take on much of the pre-sales Don’t be afraid to ask your website to work a little harder for
lead generation, nurturing, and qualification duties that you! By tying your website more closely to your online and
would normally require significantly more effort, time, and offline marketing activities and back-end IT infrastructure,
overhead, while also gathering richer information you can get more value not only from your website, but
and delivering a more consistent customer experience. from your existing technology and marketing investments,
while also increasing customer satisfaction and lowering
Use Your Website to Streamline customer care costs—a winning combination by any builder’s standards.
You website can play an important role in the marketing
and sales process, but its usefulness need not end there.
Post-sales customer care is critical to keeping customers Steve Lewkowitz is Professional Services Director, Home
satisfied, maintaining a strong brand reputation, and Building and Real Estate, for CDC Software’s Pivotal CRM, a
generating high-quality lead flow in the form of customer leading line of customer relationship management solutions.
referrals. But delivering great customer care can be E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our
costly. Using your website for customer care can bring website: www.pivotal.com.
down the cost while increasing customer satisfaction—
an ideal combination.
For more information or a complete list of our worldwide offices, please visit www.pivotal.com.
Copyright © CDC Software 2008. All rights reserved.
The CDC Software logo and Pivotal CRM logo are registered trademarks and/or trademarks of CDC Software.