The recent Housing Transformation Summit brought together homebuilder and multifamily executives across the country for three days of innovative discussions on key topics including a dedicated track for digital solutions. Our team member and marketing leader Jennifer Cooper was this year’s digital solutions track chair and is excited to share a snapshot of the learnings uncovered with industry experts and panelists she worked with over the last several months.
Jennifer states, “In order to innovate, we must challenge our current processes, adopt an integrative mindset, and understand how other industries are building upon customer experiences that drive new expectations out of purchase decision environments.”
Five sessions covered a wide range of digital topics:
- Digital transformation of the customer journey with fintech and e-commerce adding touchpoints for buyer considerations
- Leveraging digital marketing tactics to attract more homebuyers
- How to engage buyers through the funnel
- Personalization of floorplan options and generative design to innovate selection experience
- Digital Design Centers- myths to bust for future adoption
The summit offered a wide array of take aways, perspectives and learnings, but we will sum them up in a good, old fashioned “top ten “list!
- More service and technology providers need to work together to integrate FOR the industry at large. Homebuilders are more likely to adopt technology that works well with tested, built-in API’s and thoughtful data sharing abilities. Homebuilders build homes, not necessarily technology. Moving the industry is also on the shoulders of technology providers that can build solutions and integrations that support the industry’s desire to innovate even further than where it is today.
- Interactive floorplans and generative design are the wave of the future when it comes to offering higher degrees of personalized homebuying experience, efficiencies in selling, and innovating floorplan design based on consumer preferences you can track and analyze.
- Think like a Tesla! Consumers are already raising the bar around expectations on “what you can do” in other high price tag retail environments. At what point do more homebuilders adopt and win with a similar strategy of shop, build, price, qualify, decide, reserve, buy?
- Rethink your customer journey maps. We have a lot of gaps in a comprehensive customer journey thinking through how buyers not only afford a home, but how they explore financing and qualification, review insurance options, consider financing for after purchase home needs like furniture and post close planning around DIY projects, the infamous backyard landscaping and other concerns like streamlined maintenance and homecare purchases. A true customer for life model is missing from the market. The home purchase is but a spoke in the wheel of the total cost of homeownership.
- Consider how AI is playing in your world. From SEO, communications strategies and how AI can help deliver chat bot experiences on your website. It’s taking baby steps in the customer experience path and thoughtful attention and purpose to how it’s integrated is important to understand as you attract buyers in or out of your funnel.
- Digital design centers are not scary! They are practical and innovative as part of a homebuying personalization mix. Built design centers and digital design applications can live in harmony for efficiency, inspiring the buyer, converting more buyers to select your brand to build their home and for driving higher sales among design center selections.
- Facts: 72% of Gen Z want to buy a home in the next 6 years. How are you preparing to sell to an even more tech savvy future cohort of buyers?
- Homes with a 3D or virtual home tour have a 79% chance of being saved and 54% of buyers feel they are wasting time when homebuilders do not offer enough floorplan information before they site tour.
- We are seeing more search phrases emerging around predictions for 2024 and financial planning key words– buyers are searching for data and content that might persuade their decision to buy. How are you embracing the power of education in your digital efforts?
- Your budget should be heavily digitally focused – up to 20% alone on listings. If you list it, make sure it has all the assets to make it worth your while.
As you can see, there are a few quick take aways to help you focus on initiatives that can make your homebuilder more progressive digitally speaking. The industry doesn’t take one big leap at once, but we can take steps at a time. Every homebuilder company can start by doing a few things:
- Pull together a technology team. This can be folks from various departments that strive to challenge and build new processes, systems and goals to integrate technology for the betterment of the customer and the brand experience.
- Also suggest that the marketing teams form a mini-AI task force; test, try, watch and explore how AI will be growing and learning while your company is using it.
- Set goals and build budgets that allow your builder to purposefully add and upgrade technology systems (across digital design centers, chat bots, generative design, interactive site maps and floorplans, virtual model homes, sales kiosk experiences, selections processes and even into the field with training and site management applications). Assign a leader to see implementation through and use that task team to hold the company accountable to keeping technology in the board room conversations.
- Look for service partners willing to do a little heavy lifting. After all your technology partners have the people and the resources. At Focus 360 we enjoy partnerships that we can explore new ideas with and keep building for a better online experience.
- Understand what products can integrate. This takes a little work but get your vendors talking and tell them what you need to gather data, update content, and keep your website and sales experience evolving.
- Get on a board or lead a board where technology is a focused topic. Being around like-minded and passionate folks only helps our industry advance and brings together new minds combining and building on ideas.
The list of digital experience applications and opportunities keep’s going. Be sure to check out the Focus 360 Blog for further insights on the topic of innovation and VizTech to get the ball rolling with your homebuilder teams.
Technology is absolutely driving the bus for the future of the industry, and it includes how marketing teams manage the budget, listings, digital presence, customer journey and ultimately all of the tools that engage the buyer. It’s a tall order but it’s not impossible to get started. Take the first step!