It’s that time of year! Love it (probably not) or hate it (more likely), you have to spend the bulk of Q4 putting some thought into next year’s budget. To help, we’ve compiled a list of things to keep in mind as you spread out your 2018 marketing dollars.
Digital Still Gets the Lion’s Share – It’s not news that most, if not all, home buyers start their home search online. With marketing budgets bouncing back a bit from the downturn, it may be tempting to go back to your old media spending habits and funnel dollars into more print, billboards and even television. We think there’s still a place for these efforts in your budget, just as supporting cast to your star online campaigns. We typically recommend at least 75% of your overall marketing spend go toward digital with the remaining 25% accounting for “other” (collateral, signage, print etc.) Find your starting point with our marketing budget calculator.
Don’t Forget to Give Your Website Some Love – Often times builders invest so much time and money getting their website off the ground, the last thing they want to do is make changes to it. Like a home, your website needs periodic maintenance. Budget money throughout the year to perform website updates that support marketing efforts, keep up with trends in user behavior, and simply improve overall functionality.
Let the Data Be Your Guide – Boiling down your marketing efforts to find an accurate cost per lead can be somewhat of a quest for the holy grail. But having goal tracking in place can help you make smarter budget decisions. If you have goal conversions set up in Google Analytics, take a look at the past year and which sources drove not only the most visits to your website, but the most leads. Was it paid search? Was it email marketing? The results can be solid indicators of where to put more dollars and where to pull back. Not currently tracking goals? Call us. We can help.
Spend Strategically – Adjust your monthly spend to accommodate for shifts in the market. You can’t anticipate every peak and valley, but you can analyze your lead volume, foot traffic and website data to find seasonal trends. All the money in the world probably won’t buy your prospects’ attention during the holidays, so limit your marketing budget during this time and double up during the (hopefully) hot spring market or when you’re planning that community grand opening.
Digital Follow-up – Keep in mind the long-tail buying process of most shoppers. Until homebuilding becomes an “add-to-cart” experience, it’s important to stay in front of your prospects from the moment they first interact with your website. In addition to initiatives that drive that first visit, make sure there is room in your budget for digital follow-up in the form of retargeting ads and marketing automation campaigns.
Plan Comprehensive Campaigns – Even with a limited budget you can launch quarterly or even semi-annual campaigns that leverage a broader marketing message for longer shelf life. At the start of each new campaign, we suggest investing in a third party email blast that floods your website with new visitors. After all, it’s these new users that become your next retargeting audience. If we’ve confused you with this last statement, go back to the basics with our glossary.
Don’t Be Afraid to Let it Go – Just because you’ve always allotted money to a particular marketing channel doesn’t mean that source should be guaranteed a line item on next year’s budget spreadsheet. If you’re not seeing a consistent return from a legacy marketing initiative sacrifice it for something new.