Promoting Product Benefits

8 Tips for Great Home Marketing Websites

  1. Simplify Your Message: Trying to speak to too many people about too many things in the same space is confusing, cluttered and guaranteed to deter customers. What is the point of your website? Do you need a separate website to appeal to homebuyers who are not interested in your other business? How can you make it easiest for the buyer to find what they want to know about? Look at Santa Fe nonprofit Homewise’s site at www.homewise.org for an example of a clean, consumer-oriented home page.
  2. Think From the User’s Point of View: When people come to your home page, what are they looking for? If what you do as an organization is to help people buy, rent or repair a home, could you feature prominent buttons with those titles on your home page rather than internal department titles?  Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership has a separate website for its homeownership program – www.andphomes.org This website – that is completely oriented to the homebuyer with a relevant, easy-to-navigate menu and search tools.
  3. Reflect Back the Image Potential Buyers Have of Themselves: Does your website treat people like they are deficient? Do you talk a lot about income restrictions and solving problems in neighborhoods and people? If so, how do you think your potential buyers will identify with the message? Will your description of target neighborhoods make them feel confident about living there?
  4. Get a Memorable Logo and Start Building Your Brand: A key visual image and color that are always present on all your marketing materials, including your website, starts to make people connect the dots on all the places they’ve heard your message. That reinforcement helps messages stick. The former Columbus (Ohio) Housing Partnership went through a rebranding process to make the organization more responsive to consumers, and became Homeport. www.homeportohio.org. With a new logo that is reinforced throughout their marketing materials, they are attracting a broader range of buyers and building excitement about the neighborhoods in which they build homes.
  5. Feature Testimonials from Happy Homeowners: Successful customers are a very credible source of information to new customers. Photos and stories about them will be attention grabbers on your website. HomeHub is a new name and brand for a consortium of affordable home developers in the East Bay are of metro San Francisco. Their website prominently features success stories about their buyers – check it out.
  6. Make it Easy for Buyers to Act Immediately: People browse websites at all hours, and your office may not be open when they are looking. Opportunity Homes in Cleveland, Ohio has an online application on their website. Take a look.
  7. Consider Adding Video: Short videos are becoming easier to record, edit and produce. They can give buyers an immediate look at your homes for sale, introduce your staff, review the purchase eligibility and qualification requirements, and present the process of application or homebuyer education. According to web video expert Dave Kaminski, 65 percent of people watch online videos to completion (less than 10 percent read a text-only site to completion). The average length of time spent on text-only sites is 60 seconds, versus 6 minutes for sites with video. But keep it short and high-quality – by 30 seconds into an online video, up to 33 percent of viewers, on average, have moved on; at 1 minute, 44 percent leave, and almost 60 percent have abandoned by the 2-minute mark. (TMG Custom Media) Homeport includes short videos on its website.
  8. Optimize Your Search Engine: Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine's users. For maximum impact, consider hiring a consultant to review your website code and suggest changes. Basic suggestions include:
    1. Submit your website to several search engines.
    2. Keep your content fresh and changing regularly.
    3. Use keywords throughout your site that are the same ones a customer will search for.
    4. Create an archive of your content and place links back to your own archives.
    5. Create a sitemap so search engines’ “spiders” can navigate your site easily.
    6. Make your URLs (the addresses of your website and web pages) more search-engine-friendly by naming them with clear keywords – and keep in mind that you can have multiple domain names that all lead back to your website. For example, in addition to www.anytownnonprofit.org, you might have www.homesforsaleanytown.com, www.affordablehomesanytown.com and www.downpaymentassistanceanytown.com.
    7. Add captions to your photos so the spiders can read them.
    8. Use social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter) to place links back to your web content.
    9. Get a link to your site posted on other websites.