FloorPop -  Internet Marketing that Works, February 4, 2004

Vol. 3, Issue 11 - Do a colleague a favor and forward them this newsletter. Subscribe to this newsletter

Copyright (C) 2003 Blair Kuhnen.  All rights reserved. May be reproduced in any medium for non commercial purposes as long as attribution is given.

Think About All Your Website Users

To make your website effective, you need to start by identifying your users and their goals. If your users can accomplish their goals, you're more than half way to succeeding. But, who are your website users?

I want you to turn your website visitors into leads and sales. Home shoppers are important, but you have one other very large website user group. I'm talking about your home owners. Home owners are probably your second largest website user group. What are you doing to serve this group?

Next time you are considering upgrading your website, you might consider how you can help serve the needs of these customers. Most large builders provide some website services to their home owners. It may only be a service request form, but even this is a great way to begin serving this important group of users. The table at the right shows which of the top 15 builders provide an online warranty request capability (that I could actually find) without logging in somewhere.

Providing services to your home owners on your website will not only provide better customer service, but your home owners might even tell their friends about their good experience. Of course, some builders provide more services than others.

Leading By Serving

One example of a builder that is doing much more is Shea homes. I am impressed by the high J. D. Powers customer satisfaction scores Shea Homes attains for their website. Their customers think it's a great website. Granted, it is an attractive website and has all the bells and whistles one would expect of a leading builder. But, what was it that drives high home owner satisfaction with a builder website? I believe Shea's "Home Owner Services" section is an important contributor.

On Shea's website you will find not only a customer service form, but a number of additional features including manuals, customer service surveys, and home care tips. I asked Kellie Swank-Prince, who heads Internet marketing efforts at Shea Homes, why they had put so much effort into this part of their website. "We identified our website customers and wanted to make sure we kept all these customers in mind."

Other builders may provide similar services within a private website, but could there be value in providing home shoppers with a peek of what might be available when they become home owners?

Changing Attitudes

Home owners use services more than many anticipate, "We get a huge number of warranty requests through the Web. In Southern California, we believe it is close to 90 percent of all our service requests," said Swank-Prince.

A large, complex website can be expensive to develop. Shea Homes felt the home owners section was a very easy portion of the website to develop since it tends to be more static. Over time the section has grown to include floorplans and other content that home owners can refer to even after the community has closed out.

Some builders are concerned that if they provide an easy way for home owners to request service, they may be inundated with requests. I asked Swank-Prince about this concern, "Frankly, it's not a valid concern. People have to remember that home owners are important website users too."

Recent Popular Internet Marketing Articles for Builders

- Benchmarking and Sharing Best Practices to Improve Performance
- Online Surveys to Improve Business Results
- Managing "Coming Soon" Interest Lists Online
- 9 Ways to Drive Internet Leads and Sales
- The Online Sales Counselor
- The User-Centered Web Site (pdf 127k)
- Drive Leads with Permission Marketing

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FloorPop is published on the first Wednesday of each month.  We welcome your comments, thoughts, and questions.  Please send them to blair@luxsolutions.com.

Blair Kuhnen is the owner of Lux Solutions, an independent consultancy serving the homebuilding industry by providing Internet related sales and marketing solutions.  He can be reached in Fort Worth, Texas at 866-923-4026 or via e-mail at blair@luxsolutions.com for a private consultation.