As we near the end of 2020 and start thinking about what 2021 has in store for us we thought it would be a good idea to go over websites, budgets for 2021 and the KPI’s you should be thinking about when you analyze your site. Your website is such an important tool in your marketing toolbox. It can also be an expensive one so how you allocate the dollars for it and what you should be thinking about when it’s time to redesign it are as important as the design and functionality themselves.
First and foremost, how do you figure out what your marketing and website budgets should be? There’s a handy calculator available here. Plus there’s this calculation: Annual revenue (or number of homes sold/year x average base price x 0.125). We’ve also written a blog post about budget planning previously, which you can read here. You’ll see that if your website is more than three years old, it’s time to seriously consider a refresh. You’ll also notice that if it’s younger than 3, there’s a line item for website maintenance to help keep your site as current as possible. This does come out of the marketing budget, but a website redesign does not. This is because a new website is not an inexpensive endeavor and pulling money away from marketing efforts can be detrimental to lead generation. Your website is your marketing hub but it doesn’t drive leads, it only helps to convert them once they’ve arrived.
If your website is coming up or is already past that three year mark, what are some other indicators that it’s time to update? What we often encounter as a leading indicator is that a builders website was not built on a platform that’s specifically designed for home builders. Just as Shopify exists for ecommerce, so too do custom home builder platforms, like our Homefiniti product. Using a product like Homefiniti not only provides more continuity in user experience for prospective home buyers, but it also makes it significantly easier to maintain listings on the back end as well. You might want to ask your sales people how they use your current site and if they like it. Another item that might make you consider a website redesign is asking if they talk to other systems. In other words, does your current website connect to your CRM? What about feeds? Does it send an XML file to Zillow for you? Homefiniti does all that and then some.
A newer consideration in redesigning and updating your website is your site’s accessibility. Last week in The ONeil Edit, I mentioned that the Dallas Cowboys Pro Shop was being sued for a lack of accessibility. This is going to be increasingly important in all web design and will lead to an increase in traffic and potential customers over time.
While you’re in this consideration phase, we suggest that you take a look at what your Google Analytics are telling you. How much time are people spending on your website? How many people are visiting? How many pages are they viewing and how are you capturing those who show interest in your homes? Establish a baseline so that when the time comes for an upgrade, you’ll be able to judge the success of a new design. These Key Performance Indicators are important to understand the usefulness of your site.
Other KPI’s to take a look at are the events that you use as goals. Too often we see people using time on site and other items as goals. While those KPI’s are important, they aren’t something we suggest using as goals. Goals should be reserved for lead generating events on websites. Doing so will help both Google and Facebook (if the Facebook Pixel is installed and set up properly) to understand what actions they should be generating from users seeing ads from their sites.
Let’s say you’ve assessed your site, tracked your KPI’s and decided it’s time for an upgrade but your budget won’t allow it. What can you do to extend the life of your old site until you’re able to allocate budget for a redesign? The most comprehensive bandage is to port your site to Homefiniti. Yup, you can totally do that! Also remember that short term website improvements should already be in your marketing budget. You can concentrate on smaller fixes too, by improving the landing pages that your digital efforts are going to. Improvements such as providing clearer Calls to Action and more opportunities to convert can also help extend the life of an older site. Also make sure all of your photography is top notch. You’d be surprised how far that can go.
When the time is right and you’re ready to redo your website, we often run into two issues on the first pass of a new site design:
1) All of a sudden it becomes glaringly obvious that your brand is outdated and needs a redesign too. Brand designs don’t often stand the test of time and even companies like Starbucks and Dunkin’ have refreshed theirs from time to time. Good news, we can do that too!
2) The shiny new site can shine a light on your not exactly awesome photography. As I said above, great photography of fully decorated models with landscaped yards and a few lifestyle shots can go a long way.