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Measuring Marketing Effectiveness: The Basics of Web Analytics

Education & Training with BuilderRadio.com

This week we speak with Paula Huggett, The Bokka Group.

You’ve just dropped a wad of hard-earned cash on your website. Now you just sit back and watch the leads roll in…

True, your website is your most important marketing vehicle today, but it’s not enough simply to ‘show up’, even on the search engines.  Are homebuyers compelled to click on your site when they find it?  If they do, do they immediately find what they need?  How long do they stay… and do they do what you want them to do – click on you ‘contact’ button, or better yet, pick up the phone and schedule an appointment?

You probably already have the tools in place to answer most of those questions.  Most basic website hosting packages come with a form of a web tracking and analytics. It’s important that you know how to get web analytics and see those reports.  If not, then Google Analytics is free and it’s very robust.

Why do you need to be familiar with your website analytics reports, and how will these help you sell more homes?  Paula Huggett’s company, The Bokka Group, helps builders get the most from their online marketing.  Below are excerpts from our interview with Paula:

Reading Analytics Properly

There are plenty of tutorials out there to help you to understand those numbers once you see what’s going on and knowing what those number mean. Seeing how many visitors you’re having, where they are coming from, what referral sites are driving them to yours, how long are they staying on your site, how many pages they are looking at or if they going to the home page and leaving. If that is the case then you need to look at your home page and see what’s not grabbing them and making them want to find out more about the product or my company.

It’s almost like a virtual focus group; you’re not getting real-time conversation, but their actions speak much louder than their words.

Using an analytics program you can track where people are coming from. If you have tracking on your offline marketing materials you can see what’s effective and start looking at your marketing budget from a complete perspective. It gives you a much larger overview if you can use your website as the hub of all your marketing tracking and then have your analytics define the things that are working and the things that are not.

You also get to see what paths users are taking within your site – where they are going and what pages they are dropping off from. What do you want them to convert? Do you want an email address or do you want them to follow you on Facebook? You can look at what conversions you’ve set up and why they’re not converting.  Do you have too many questions on your form? Is your incentive enough for them to answer it?

By looking at the paths people are taking on your site and optimizing the entire conversion funnel to get more people into your database you’ll figure out how to convert them into an actual lead.

How to put analytics to use.
You need to find the right partner in the industry that can help you make it work.
Builders build homes, Realtors sell homes, and you need to find someone that’s great at making your site convert. You need someone that not only understands those analytics, but who knows what it takes to make that conversion happen.

Find someone who can help you set up realistic goals for your site based on what they’re seeing with their other partners and that is relevant for the industry. It’s a completely different scenario when you compare the entertainment industry to someone buying a home. It’s the single largest investment that they are ever going to make and there are so many other questions going through their head.

Benchmarks within the Industry
It’s all very local, depending on what the audience in that area is doing online. But there are some benchmarks that we have put in place based on what our other partners out there in the industry are doing.

We try to move towards industry averages but it all depends on what your ultimate conversion goal is. For homebuilders it can be the desire for someone to climb up the interest list. One goal should be to have a follow-up list that people can sign up for then that shouldn’t be a conversion goal. However, if you’re not going to follow up with a messaging program like an email campaign, then why should they give you their email address?

A couple of years ago Mike Lyons produced a fantastic book called “From Browsers to Buyers.” In it Mike outlines very clearly a lot of things that need to happen. He did some research though the builders that he has worked with over his network and got some great numbers. Some have been using those as averages, but even in the book he specifies that it is very local.

Changing to Make a Difference
We look first at their web stats for the last year to see where their users are going on their sites or also where they are not going. All of that starts at the home page.

The Home page is the portal into the rest of the website. Is that web page intriguing to the customer and is it moving them into the funnel that our client wants them to be in? Is it moving the process through to the next step?

A lot of builder/developers/Realtors try to put everything on the homepage. Everything has the same hierarchy. That is not how the consumer views it. I have the saying “If you throw somebody one ball they’re going to catch it, if you throw them ten balls they’re not going to catch anything.”

You need to make sure that your homepage is single main messages at a time. Once you’ve solved that on the home page, then you can move them through.

Having secondary messages on the homepage is fine, because the consumer can read those, too. But when you have them all at the same level the consumer feels that they are being shouted at and that there is so much going on that they just want to leave.

Checking those web analytics will show you how many people are actually clicking through to the next message and how many are showing that they are seriously interested. The home page is the beginning of that.

Consumers are looking to find a community and buy a home. But even with our developer clients, their site visitors are clicking to see what homes are available in that community. Although the developer may be branding that community as a location, they’re also helping the builders sell homes. So we always want to make sure that the most clicked on section has additional tools built in to help them to convert.

When they go into that next section, now they’ve taken two steps, so what is the next conversion step?  Do you want them to come to your model center or to an event?  Now that you’ve got them interested you can ask for them to take the next step.  But the chance of them coming to your homepage and right away signing up on your interest list is very low. They want to learn a little bit about you before they give you that information.

Increasing Conversion
There are two main things that we have found increases conversion. They are two simple things that really anybody can implement.

  1. Personalize the conversion tool. Try adding a button that says: ‘Ask us a question.’ People are afraid of being spammed. Add a human element to the whole process. Personalize it to make them feel more comfortable. But then, you need to have someone on the other side ready to answer those questions within 5 minutes. If you are a smaller business without someone doing this, then make sure the auto responder takes care of it quickly. Make them feel as if     they are not just another name on a list.
  2. Shorten the form. You don’t need to ask them 25 personal questions. All you really need is their name and a way to contact them. You need a way to start the conversation to get them to convert. Open the means of communication.

Those are two things are easy to implement and really remove any of the intimidation associated with signing up and giving their email address.

Investing in Analytics
Marketing, Sales and Operations departments should all want to look at analytics because it tells them about the customers. It tells them about what they’re doing and how the website is performing. From it you know that 20 people registered on your interests list. Those now go to sales. Sales can report back and say that they did something with those leads and now have appointments in place. They should all be interested in what those numbers say for different reasons.

Contact Paula Huggett, or get more information on the marketing services provided to builders by visiting www.BokkaGroup.com

Listen to the audio interview.

Deanne Olivas
eXp Realty - Gilbert, AZ
Your Home Matters

Jerry, thank you so very much for all the information you are providing in your posts. They are so well written and are a great source of "just what I wanted to know" for me

Nov 09, 2010 08:13 AM