Selling new homes is more complex than ever in our digital era. Today’s home shoppers expect seamless online-to-offline journeys, personalized content, and interactive experiences.
For marketing and sales teams, this environment demands data-driven strategies to engage audiences. Builders must fuse technology, visuals, and creativity to attract and convert modern buyers.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover:
- The evolving new home sales and marketing funnel
- Challenges of the traditional model
- The PEDALS methodology for data-driven marketing
- Why MarTech is critical for marketing success
- The synergy between data, AI, and visual content
- The future of new home sales and marketing
Let’s explore how leading builders are using technology, automation, and design to revolutionize the home shopping journey.
The Traditional New Home Sales and Marketing Funnel:
For decades, new home sales and marketing followed a fragmented, linear model:
Attract Audience → Engage → Nurture → Convert
Marketing handled top-of-funnel activities like ads, brochures, billboards, and basic websites to drive general awareness and traffic. Sales owned the rest – on-site tours, buyer meetings, model home presentations, customization, contracts, and closes. Data and systems were siloed. Marketing focused on broad outreach. Sales handled personal relationships and transactions.
This traditional funnel created several pain points:
- Generic, static messaging: Marketing content was generic, focused on community-level information. Builders couldn’t personalize experiences.
- Seller-centric model: The process centered around sales and builder priorities rather than buyer needs.
- Offline dependent: Marketing drove people to sales offices rather than an end-to-end online experience.
- Language barrier: Builders spoke in industry jargon rather than translating to buyer-friendly visuals.
- Data disconnect: No unified view of buyer behaviors and preferences across touchpoints existed.
- High drop-off: With opaque pricing and specifications, high percentages of buyers dropped off before closing.
Modern Marketing and Sales Methodology: Omnichannel, Personalized, Data-Driven
Today’s consumers expect ultra-personalized, digital-first shopping journeys similar to retailers like Amazon. This requires a data-driven, omnichannel sales and marketing strategy:
Omnichannel: Reach buyers across multiple online and offline touchpoints in a unified manner.
Personalized: Use data to tailor content and messaging to individual buyer preferences.
Data-driven: Collect behavioral data across touchpoints to optimize marketing and sales.
Visual: Focus on rich visuals, videos, 3D models, VR, etc. that bring homes to life digitally.
Educational: Translate complex specifications into digestible content on the buyer’s terms.
Transparent: Clearly communicate pricing, construction timelines, customizations, and steps to purchase.
Interactive: Allow buyers to customize homes through visual configurators and select options.
Bi-directional data flow: Seamlessly connect marketing platforms, CRMs, ERPs, and other siloed systems.
With this model, marketing handles more mid-funnel nurturing while sales focuses on closings. Online sales consultants (OSCs) become the glue, capturing leads and nurturing them through design and buying phases.
Rather than a linear sequence, the modern funnel becomes an ongoing loop tailored to individual buyer needs. Data connects experiences across channels and touchpoints.
This methodology depends on MarTech tools to:
- Drive personalized lifecycle messaging across media platforms
- Track buyer behaviors from awareness to close
- Enable interactive 3D home customization and VR tours
- Provide real-time pricing and buying options
- Automate workflows to hand-off high-value leads
- Analyze data to optimize conversion activities
Why MarTech is Critical for Modern Marketing:
To orchestrate personalized experiences, marketing and technology must converge. Hence the rise of MarTech – the use of technology to achieve marketing goals. Consider that 91% of the world’s data has been created in just the last 2 years. Sophisticated algorithms can detect patterns and make recommendations human marketers never could.
Yet many builders still rely on intuitive “art” rather than leveraging data as science. This leaves opportunity on the table.
MarTech capabilities like:
- Website personalization
- Shopping algorithms and product recommendations
- Interactive visuals and configuration tools
- CRM and sales automation
- Marketing and email automation
- Attribution and funnel optimization
- Predictive analytics and lead scoring
All allow builders to take the guesswork out of marketing. With MarTech, teams can surface insights like:
- The optimal mix of customization options by home type and buyer segment
- The lot locations, architectural styles, and price ranges generating the most interest
- Which buyers are most likely to convert based on behaviors
- The average path buyers take from awareness to close
- How pricing and incentive shifts impact demand
This is how leading retailers design highly calculated, personalized experiences. Homebuilders must apply these same data-driven principles across the entire shopper journey.
The PEDALS Methodology for Data-Driven Marketing:
PEDALS provides a blueprint for orchestrating data-driven marketing across channels. It stands for:
Walking through each component:
- Use data to tailor messaging and offers to individual buyer segments and behaviors.
- Create relevance by serving content based on interests, demographics, or intents. Example: Recommend specific community content to buyers who viewed similar model types.
- Serve up visual, interactive content across channels to capture buyer attention.
- Get buyers to interact, ask questions, take action, share content.
- Capture behavioral data during engagement to inform personalization.
- Collect first-party data through interactions on your owned channels (website, sales centers, etc.)
- Connect data across platforms with UTMs and CRM tracking.
- Build a unified customer data layer across all systems and touchpoints.
- Identify trends and patterns in buyer behaviors using reporting and analytics tools.
- Slice data by various factors like source, content type, buyer segment etc.
- Optimize your mix of content formats, channels, and targeting based on insights.
- Nurture identified prospects with relevant messaging to move them down the funnel.
- Automate lead scoring rules and trigger sales team hand-offs based on behaviors.
- Personalize nurture paths based on interests and demonstrated intent.
- Continually refine messaging and offers to improve conversion rates.
- Provide sales teams with insights to better personalize 1:1 buyer interactions.
- Update content and experiences based on common sales objections and friction.
Driving this flywheel leads to greater personalization at scale, more qualified leads, and ultimately increased sales.
Combining Data, AI and Visual Content:
At the core of modern marketing is the combination of data, artificial intelligence (AI) and visual content. Data provides the intelligence about customers and prospects. First-party data paints a detailed picture of behaviors across channels. External data adds context.
AI extracts insights from the data through techniques like:
- Predictive analytics and lead scoring
- Content and product recommendations
- Natural language processing for chatbots or market signals
- Automated secondary and tertiary actions based on behaviors
Visual content brings ideas to life in a format buyers love. Interactive 3D home models, animated graphics, VR tours allow prospects to engage and personalize. Together, data, AI, and visuals create an intelligent layer connecting systems, channels, and touchpoints. This is key to orchestrating personalized experiences.
Let’s walk through an example…
A buyer lands on a community website from a digital ad. As they browse models, the AI tracks their engagement, notes preferences, and assigns a lead score. When they customize a 3D home, it captures all selections. Recommendations for additional content pop up based on interests.
Behind the scenes, their actions fire marketing automations and CRM updates. The sales team sees their lead score rising and gets notified when they hit the threshold. Across the journey, messaging stays personalized while data informs every interaction. Connecting data across channels should be a top priority. This provides the foundation for transitioning to data-driven marketing.
Designing Compelling Digital Experiences:
Virtual experiences must mirror retail and eCommerce sites customers enjoy browsing daily.
Follow these best practices for creating engaging digital content:
Leverage visuals – Studies show we process visuals 60,000x faster than text. Interactive 3D models, photo galleries, videos, and floor plans allow buyers to explore homes digitally.
Tell a story – Use visuals combined with descriptive copy to walk visitors through a narrative of life in your homes and communities.
Highlight lifestyle – Showcase spaces and features through the lens of how homebuyers will use them. Focus on emotion and experience.
Emphasize uniqueness – Provide insider facts about the community’s history, architecture, and local flavor that set it apart.
Simplify language – Avoid industry jargon and technical specifications in favor of friendly, easy-to-understand descriptions.
Make it interactive – Allow buyers to customize and save floor plans, choose finishes, take 3D tours, learn prices, and visualize homes on lots.
Optimize for search – Incorporate keywords throughout relevant content to help prospects find your pages through search engines.
Show don’t tell – Let vibrant imagery and videos capture attention rather than blocks of salesy text.
Personalize content – Vary images, videos, and text displayed based on the buyer’s profile and behaviors.
Call buyers to action – Include buttons, CTAs, lead gen offers, and clear navigation to drive leads.
Simplify navigation – Break information into digestible chunks with easy paths through the customer journey.
Highlight credibility – Weave in homebuilder awards, years in business, and other trust-building proof points.
Play up exclusivity – Tout any unique or limited amenities to create urgency around buying.
Optimizing Content Across Channels and Platforms:
With an omnichannel strategy, buyers may encounter your brand across many online and offline touchpoints. Content must stay consistent yet tailored.
The Future of Data-Driven New Home Sales and Marketing:
While homebuilders have made great strides, most have only scratched the surface of data-driven marketing. Expect exponential evolution in the coming years through:
- Advanced interactive content like augmented and virtual reality
- Lifelike digital twins of home and community models
- Expanded use of product configurators and visual design apps
- Predictive analytics identifying buyers earlier in their journey
- More automated hand-offs between marketing and sales
- Next-level personalization with machine learning and AI
- Further online migration of the home buying journey
- Easy at-home 3D tours and AR furniture visualizations
- Complete online buying without ever touring a physical model
- Referral incentives for buyers who share community content
- Builder collaboration on shared data pools and predictive models
The possibilities are endless. While change can feel daunting, builders who embrace this data-driven approach will gain a lasting edge over the competition.
- With rising digital expectations, homebuilders must adopt savvy MarTech strategies combining creativity and data.
- Using platforms like CRMs, CDPs, and marketing automation tools provides the customer data foundation.
- Methodologies like PEDALS orchestrate personalized cross-channel experiences.
- Interactive content, AI recommendations, and visuals make experiences shopper-friendly.
- Ongoing testing and optimization will improve conversion performance over time.
- Companies that leverage data and technology will propel new home sales into the future.
The modern homebuyer journey demands engagement through data-driven content and digital experiences. Builders that embrace this new model will see their strategy as key to long-term success.