Homes are often the biggest investment people make in their lifetime — not just financially, but emotionally. Choosing a contractor is a huge decision, and one that homeowners don’t make very often or take very lightly. In the crowded home construction marketplace, marketing can be the difference between getting hired or losing business to your biggest competitors. What does it take to make your company stand out?
Silverback Strategies recently launched a study on how customers choose home service providers, from the initial discovery of a problem to spreading the word about their new home renovation. As a business owner, this insight into consumer behavior is invaluable to your home construction marketing strategy. Our study revealed not only what your future customers are looking for, but also where they’re looking so you can invest in the right resources to meet them on common ground.
In this blog, we’ll chart the home construction buyer’s journey, from realization to advocacy, to help you make strategic decisions to reach your target audience.
Step 1: Realization of a Home Construction Need
Whether your customers are looking to build a home from the ground up or remodel their current property, the first stage is realizing they have a home improvement problem to solve. Once they recognize the need, our research shows 44% of buyers start their search for a solution online. In fact, going online was the top-ranked way for homeowners to search for contractors, and has become much more common than asking a friend or family member for a referral (26%) or calling a previous provider (27%).
There are some interesting differences to note across demographics. Boomers were much more likely to call a previous provider (39%) than millennials (15%), for example. But across the board, our study shows that going online was a common first step — meaning residential construction marketing requires investment in an online presence. Ensuring that your company’s website is visible through search engines (a method called “SEO optimization”) is the first step to being discovered online by buyers, particularly millennials and Gen Xers.
Step 2: Education on Contractor Options
In the second phase of their journey, the buyer’s focus is education: What companies are out there and how can they solve my problem? Homeowners most often gravitate toward search engines during this phase, with 26% reporting they start research on Google or a similar platform. But that’s not the only avenue they take. About 20% of buyers still ask for word-of-mouth referrals from people in their network.
Although social media is a less popular tool in this industry, with only 10% of buyers using it as part of their research, it can still differentiate your brand. Including past work on social media can help buyers see the creative solutions you ‘ve provided for past customers so they can narrow down their options. Facebook is the most popular platform among homeowners, with 70% saying they used it at least once a week. Posting often on your Facebook business page and even investing in paid advertising can be useful home-construction marketing tactics to increase overall brand recognition, promote your past work and stay top-of-mind with your customer base.
Step 3: Evaluation of Home Construction Companies
After exploring all options, buyers start to evaluate and compare the different contractors they researched in step two. It’s during this phase that they often begin calling businesses, looking at reviews and taking a deeper dive into the past work of top companies.
Unsurprisingly, homeowners at this stage signal they care a lot about previous work you’ve completed as well as the experiences of your customers. Buyers rank their primary concerns when evaluating a contractor as past performance (43%) and ratings and reviews (41%). An important residential construction marketing tip to differentiate your brand during this phase is ensuring customers can easily find examples of your work via a portfolio on social media or your website. A testimonials page and strong ratings and reviews across platforms, like Yelp and Google, can also help you stand out against the competition.
Step 4: Selecting a Contractor
Finally, it’s time to make a decision. Unlike many other home services industries, home construction buyers are more likely to call around to speak to a company representative in person. In fact, almost 40% of buyers called two contractors before making a final decision, while 35% called three or more. When a customer calls, you or an employee should be ready to promote your company.
It’s vital to have a strong sales pitch at the ready, taking into consideration your customers’ pain points. In home construction, these concerns might include reliability, timeliness, trustworthiness, experience with a particular kind of project and quality of work, among other factors. During this process, listen to your future customers’ needs and reinforce the differentiators and key messages appearing in your digital marketing.
Step 5: Creating a Future Advocate
Even in the digital age, home construction advertising is still largely driven by customer advocacy. In the residential construction industry, 48% of buyers report leaving reviews for their past providers, with 51% saying Google and Facebook were the review platforms they used most often. You can increase the likelihood of a customer leaving a review via incentive programs and text or email reminders after a service is complete. Incentive programs are particularly useful for referrals — remember, 20% of buyers still rely on word-of-mouth to find their next provider!
In Marketing, Knowledge is Power
To attract customers, you need to know them: where they search, how they spend time online and what they want in a contractor. At the end of the day, the foundation of home construction marketing is a strong digital presence. After all, in order to hire you, customers need to find you first. With knowledge of the buyer’s journey in hand, your company can invest in marketing techniques to help you reach and convince future customers.
If you are a business owner in the home services industry and want to learn more about consumer behavior, Silverback Strategies can help. As a leading provider of digital marketing services, we invest in research to help our clients make smarter marketing decisions in their industry. Check out the full Home Services Buyer Research report here.