Homefiniti & Beyond S3 E1 – 3rd Quarter 2021 Digital Marketing Benchmarks | 2022 Budget Planning

As our premiere episode for Season 3 of Homefiniti and Beyond Megan joined me to discuss 3rd quarter 2021 digital marketing benchmarks for homebuilders and 2022 marketing budgets for homebuilders. Both hot topics after the doozy of a year that has been 2021.

An explosive January led to a strange Spring in which we actually had builders ask us to remove forms and limit lead sources. We then tumbled into Summer and stumbled through Fall, all while still seeing improvements over the last normal year on record, 2019. Overall, the 3rd quarter was a bit of a preview of what’s to come and was the perfect topic to pair with 2022 budgets. 

3rd quarter 2021 saw increased marketing costs, decreased leads, and a focus on data collection as a way to offset third party data loss. The overarching third quarter trend was the importance of properly allocating your marketing budget across your funnel and finding the right channel to achieve your goals at the best price. 

Using what we saw in the third quarter is a great jumping off point for planning your future marketing dollars. Read through or watch the video above to see what I’m talking about.


Throughout 2021 we have seen declining session data, less time on site, and fewer goal completions overall. Mobile held steady as an overwhelming source of traffic. What we saw in the data mirrored what we heard from builders, there are fewer buyers right now but those that are buying need their hands held and want to establish a strong relationship with their home builder of choice. This is the first trend that we covered from 3rd quarter that is an indicator of the budget items home builders should consider in their marketing budgets for 2022 – ways to use your website to establish trust and provide lines of communication for your home buyers.


Facebook told the tale of rising expenses, increased competition and data loss from adoption of Apple’s ATT on iOs 14.5. While Apple has increased advertising profits a whopping 60% since the rollout of 14.5, the rest of us have seen increased costs. This is in part because marketers are opting out of advertising on iOs and instead buying up Android and desktop ads which is driving up the costs. Combined with a loss of tracking ability, and increased competition, ads on Facebook cost over 100% more than they did a year ago.

The good news is that they still only cost about $.60 a click and the CTR is over 2%. More importantly, Facebook is a space that can accommodate all parts of the funnel and delivers strong conversion metrics. In other words, its a great bang for your buck and we will forever beat the drum of moving ad dollars into the Facebook space as a strong business decision.


Google Search Ads, which we typically think of as mid to bottom funnel efforts actually got more affordable, however CTR fell by 2% indicating that the same data loss problem is affecting the performance of search ads. It also may be a sign of declining search volume surrounding new homes. Another  cause could be the after effects of cutting budgets earlier in the year. When you pull back on top of funnel efforts, eventually you see a decline in mid and bottom funnel results as well. Less brand awareness means less googling of brand terms.


Google Display numbers followed the Facebook trend and saw increases in the cost per click with decreased click through rates. Google display ads are primarily used for top of funnel efforts and over the course of the third quarter we have shifted our strategy on how heavily we rely on this network, especially when we compare it to the costs, click through rates, and conversion metrics of Facebook. 


Certainly 2021 will have a not insignificant impact on how homebuilders budget for marketing in 2022. Between supply chain problems, labor shortages and the monumental lumber costs incurred, concerns abound. Add to that mix the fact that mortgage rates will continue to rise and you’ve got quite the laundry list of reasons to believe that your sales goals won’t be on par with 2021. On the flip side, there’s still quite a bit of demand on the part of home buyers.

So what’s a home builder to do? Take stock of the current state of affairs as it applies to your website. Use data to your advantage. And consider the ways in which your homebuyer’s journey has changed over the last 18 months. 

A home builder’s 2022 marketing budget will need to take into account not only rising costs of digital marketing but also the data loss that will be escalating from a slow leak to a full on waterfall. The data loss may be fueled by moves from the likes of Apple, Google and Facebook, but your home buyers are into it. The only way to overcome the loss is to build customer relationships and take ownership of the data that once came from the tech giants. 

Building trust can be accomplished in myriad ways and will require not only a strong sales team but also the employ of new website features and an arsenal of developers at your fingertips. From updated photography, creative use of video to building out new features like buyers portals, your website is the core of your brand, your vision, and your relationship with your buyer. Make sure that at every turn, their needs are met, they feel heard, and that the resources they want are available on demand. On the back end, start familiarizing yourself with first and zero party data, customer data platforms and the tools required to execute on them.

The second half of your priority list should be establishing the balance between top and bottom funnel marketing that you’d like to achieve. Work with your marketing team to discover how much traffic needs to go to your website to meet your sales goals and work backwards from there to finalize your media spend. Remember, it’s become more expensive each quarter to reach your potential customers on Facebook and Google so if you don’t increase your budgets you can expect to see declines in traffic and leads from paid sources.

Molly White

Molly White

I am a passionate early adopter. At ONeil Interactive I help clients put their best technological foot forward while generating high quality leads with digital campaigns that consistently beat industry averages.