2021 Home Builder Benchmarks – Websites & Digital Marketing

A day or two or twenty late but not a dollar short. 2021 was a WILD ride for builders and the charts agree. It started with such huge promise in every conceivable way but as the year wore on not only were new home builders dealing with skyrocketing lumber costs, labor shortages and supply chain issues, the cost of digital marketing went from the bargain basement prices of 2020 to as yet before seen CPC’s by the end of 2021. Mix all of those factors together and you can imagine that web traffic took a hit.

But then came December 25 and with it, a bit of a recovery on all above fronts. Leads and sales increased, costs for digital marketing decreased, CTR’s improved and we end the year feeling pretty pretty good.

Like I said, WILD RIDE!

What did the numbers look like overall for 2021 and how did the fourth quarter go? Read on to find out.


Search was a huge source of traffic for home builders, with over 63% of traffic coming from the likes of Google, Bing, and Yahoo. This is a 10% increase in search traffic over 2020 and points to the demand for homes to buy. The customers are out there and they want to move!

Mobile continued to gain screen shares with an almost 2% increase. This goes hand in hand with search traffic, as the bulk of that traffic generally comes from mobile devices. Sadly, even with increased search volume, the overall amount of traffic fell throughout the course of the year, leading to a total decrease in sessions of about 5% over 2020.

When lumber prices were at their highest, time on site and goal completions took a big hit and brought down the totals for the whole year leading to a 2% decrease in time on site and a 5% decrease in goal completions.

We suspect that a portion of this is related to 2 factors

  1. an uptick in in-person traffic and sales that occurred in the early summer just before lumber really went nuts
  2. the fact that inventory was so low during much of the year

Most builders that we spoke to saw an overall increase in sales volume even though revenue took a hit.


Costs rose in both Google Display and on Facebook, but they decreased on Google Search by about 9%.This amounts to a decrease in cost of 10 cents per click. Most of these decreased click costs were observed in the last quarter of 2021 when Covid was on the rise in most places and search volume for new homes was at a low point.

On Google Display and across all Facebook ad types, costs rose steadily throughout the year. A result of rising competition, more available eyeballs, and the rollout of iOs 14.5, the decline of cookies and the general populace becoming more keenly aware of privacy as it relates to digital ads.

When it comes to click through rates, Google Search and Facebook saw improvements while Google Display remained the same. For this and many other reasons, we have moved most of our builders’ budgets out of Google display and into either more search or more Facebook.

Facebook offers targeted advertising at all levels of the funnel for very competitive prices while Google Search continues to let us dial in on the customers who are further down the funnel.


We expect prices to continue to rise across these platforms throughout 2022 and suggest that budgets be adjusted accordingly. Also of note is the imminent death of the cookie which will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the costs of digital marketing.

To prepare for these changes and to combat costs there are several areas of interest on which you can focus your attention and marketing dollars.

  1. SEO
  2. Email Marketing
  3. CDP
  4. Customer Experience

Each of the above items can combat data loss, work in tandem with existing efforts, drive traffic and leads to your site, and ultimately help you reach your sales goals for 2022 and beyond.

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.