Last week Megan and I hosted the first edition of our new series of Facebook Live’s discussing the state of builder web traffic during Covid-19. Thankfully, most of our clients are located in states in which building is considered an essential business, as it should be. On March 12, most of the country began efforts to stem the spread by enacting various orders to stay home. Schools were closed as were many businesses. Immediately, the ONeil team sprang into action for our clients helping them to navigate the changes that would ensue for their businesses and to communicate those changes to their home buyers. We also began focusing on web traffic and trends to help properly position our clients for the weeks ahead.
Using an aggregate pull of Google Analytics and Homefiniti Analytics we took a dive into the data to find the story of the first month of life with social distancing. There were two things that we wanted to watch: (1) what the trends for March of 2020 looked like compared to March of 2019 and (2) what did the activity look like on a weekly basis.
The story that unfolded in the data was pleasantly surprising. Sessions and pageviews for clients took a dive on or around March 12, but then the pattern that ensued was one of growth. As people grew comfortable with social distancing and a life lived mostly at home, traffic began to move back to a pre-Covid-19 pattern. Even more hopeful, the month as a whole saw a 23% increase in traffic from March of 2019. When we looked at the Homefiniti Analytics data, which is exclusively website traffic for community, plan, and spec pageviews, we saw an increase of nearly 26%.
Why the uptick at the end of March and overall compared to 2019? The beginning of 2020 was off to a fantastic start for most builders and home buyers, seeing record sales and strong traffic overall, so that momentum is there pushing people through the initial shock of the Coronavirus and its impact. As for the uptick at the end of March, as we all spend significantly more time at home, the flaws in our homes that we barely noticed or the tight spaces we once considered manageable, become glaringly obvious and provide the motivation to begin looking for a new home. Even Megan has listed her home and is ready to move!
Also, around the third week in March, the government passed the stimulus bill which provided some much needed reassurance that it would take whatever steps were necessary to keep the economy moving forward.
We wondered though, if the uptick in traffic was just people currently in the process of buying a home who were reaching out or if it was new people looking for their new home. What we found was that it was, in fact, new potential homebuyers. The increase in traffic included a 34% increase in new users compared to the previous year. And our high value form completions – a strong lead indicator, were up over the previous year, too.
So with all that positive momentum, how were people finding our clients websites and what devices were they using to visit them? 31% more people were coming from search engines than the year before; accounting for more than half of the web traffic. And mobile use was up 32% from last year; accounting for more than 60% of traffic to sites. Not surprising since most search traffic comes from mobile. Why is this important? Because now more than ever, the design and contents of your website are crucial. If you’re not taking into account what it looks like on mobile and how people interact with it on mobile, you’re losing leads.
ONeil designs websites with this in mind. We are not only making sure that points of contact are front and center on both desktop and mobile views, we’re also always working on the back end to make sure that the content and design lend themselves to search engines rankings. If you’re curious about how your own site stacks up, read our previous post about making sure your website is ready for increased traffic and use. If you’d like to watch our Facebook Live you can click here. And if you’d like to know when we do our next Facebook Live, please subscribe to our newsletter below.