Sunday, December 17, 2006

Email Marketing Bad Words

When emailing contacts, especially when you mass email a contact list, there are certain words and phrases you should try to stay away from using. Its hard to promote your new home community without using these phrases.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Does your website generate leads?

This post is targeted toward the new home sales agent.

Are you getting leads from your company or new home community website? Before you answer that question, let me ask you the following questions. What is defined as a website lead? Do you ask everyone that comes in the door of the sales model if they have been to your website? If you get a phone call, do you ask that person if they have visited your website? If you are not getting any leads; walk-ins, phone calls, or email leads, your website may be the problem.

My first action would be to test the contact form on your website and make sure it works. I have seen a lot of forms that do not work or have the wrong email address plugged in for the contact. Sometimes the email service provider is actually blocking the leads. Next, make sure your phone number, address and driving directions are easily found on the website. See if the website is getting any Internet traffic. You may have to ask your manager or marketing director to get you this information. If the site is getting traffic, some website modification may increase lead generation. If the site is not getting any traffic, its time to review the Internet Marketing Plan.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Email text links on your website

One way to guarantee that you get on a spam list is to put your email address on a website or webpage. Spammers have programs which spider through web pages, looking for email addresses contained in mailto: HTML tags. One way to prevent this is to use web forms with spam filtering tools.

Here are some examples of new home websites with spam prevention methods on the contact form:

Monday, December 11, 2006

Can't be found on Google!

Have you ever been frustrated with not being found on Google?

There are a lot of reasons why you may not be found.

One thing to consider, is your site completely designed with images or programmed all in flash? If it is, you will probably have a hard time getting Google to index your website.

Look at the image above, imagine it being a website.
You can read the text, but because of the way it was created google can't read it and does not know what to index in its database. As far as Google is concerned, it it simply an image and it will probably be ignored. If Google can't read the image, the text on the image will not help you get indexed. Text like this above should be entered as text and not shown as an image.

Other factors contribute to being indexed, this is just one thing to consider when having your website designed and built.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Training classes for New Home Marketing

Are you a MIRM? The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the National Sales and Marketing Council (NSMC) offer several classes to assist new home sales and marketing professionals. With successful completion, you can get designations like MIRM.

The Member, Institute of Residential Marketing (MIRM) designation is the fourth and most prestigious designation given by the Institute of Residential Marketing. The MIRM is the top-level achievement for professionals in new home marketing.

Get access to the IRM directory here

There are 4 classes required to get the MIRM, all are offered at the upcoming International Builders Show in Orlando in February 2007.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Hits and Visits - What do you want?

Do you understand your tracking reports?

Do you want hits? Do you want visitors? Once you get the visitors, do they stay on your site or just generate one page view and leave? Does your tracking reports accurately show you that information?

When you visited this page, you generated 1 site visit to this page, you show up as 1 Unique Visitor (UU) in the Traffic Log File. You generated 1 page view in the traffic log file. If you see the 7 images below, you generated 7 hits on the server just for those images, add all the images in the header, the page itself, and you will probably get over 20 hits just for this one page view.

If you come back to this page at a later date, you will probably show up as a repeat visitor, unless you are using a dyamic IP address like those used by the dial-up service America Online, then I will probably incorrectly assume you to be a Unique Visitor. With special software I can drop a cookie on your site and then I would be able to tell if you had been here before.

Depending on how you have your browser set-up, you may or may not generate the additional 20 plus hits on a repeat visit, if all of these images are in your temporary Internet Folder when you come back, the 7 images below may not need to be reloaded from the server, thus I would not see the additional hits logged to the traffic log.

Now the next time, your webmaster says you are really getting the hits, ask him how many visitors you are getting.

hit hit hit hit hit hit hit

Should you bid on PPC ads?

PPC stands for Pay Per Click - You pay every time someone clicks over to your website from your ad.

A lot of home builders and new home community developments are showing up on google adwords and yahoo sponsored search. I am often asked is it worth it? "Is it worth it to pay $1 for a site visitor to my website selling new homes in a specific community?"

With all marketing expense decisions, you need to know the numbers. What is your cost per website visit? How many visits does it take to get a lead? How many leads does it take to get a traffic unit to the model? How many traffic units does it take to get a sale?

Let's say you paid $1000 to get 1000 visitors to your website and 10 of those people filled out a lead form and let's assume your on site agent was able to get 2 of those people to the model and 1 of them bought a new home from you. If the sale price of the home was $150000. Then you spent $1000 to get a sale...that's less than 1% of the sales price. I know a lot of builders that would gladly pay only 1% to sell out their subdivision. Many of them are spending a lot more than 1% on advertising costs.

The problem is the limited availability of searches and the bid strategy. Sometimes it is very hard to get 1000 quality visitors to your website for $1000 looking for the your product or new home. It may cost you $2000, you may have a location or product that is not in demand. Picking the right keyword phrase is a big challenge.

If you are building condos in atlanta, simply bidding on the word 'condos' may not be cost effective. 'condos in atlanta' may be be too expensive. Bid on the keyword phrase 'new homes flowery branch' and you could probably get traffic for only $0.50 a click, but with so few people searching that phrase, it would probably take you an entire year to get 1000 people to click on your ad.

How about 'Intown atlanta condos'? You will probably get good quality traffic to your website, but if the search is only being performed 200 times a month, you can't rely on the search engine to help you sell many homes. With the scenario above, it would take you 5 months to get 1 sale.

My recommendation is to get someone to help you with this type of marketing. It is not a waste of time or money and could get you some incremental sales at a very effective cost.

Monday, December 4, 2006

In the Beginning...Consider Internet Marketing

Are you involved in the marketing of new home communities? Unless you are bound to a certain name of the subdivision or project, my recommendation is to think about Internet Marketing of your project before you lock into a name.

Generic names or often used names are going to be hard to get your site to come up in the search engines. Often used names are probably already registered so getting a good domain name will prove difficult.

Do a google search for the community name and see what comes up. Most website design firms try to stay away from Guaranteed Results on Search Engine rankings. Some general good practices and proper planning should make it pretty easy to get your website to come up on the page for the community name.

Example Searches on Google; Talley Street Lofts - Carpenter Village