Buying an off-the-plan property is, without a doubt, one of the most significant experiences any buyer goes through.
After all, investing in real estate isn’t just a national pastime, it’s a huge decision and a major financial commitment – the biggest of a person’s life. It’s an all-consuming process where prospective buyers dedicate countless hours to research, combing through articles, exploring developer websites, social media pages, and forums to ensure they are making the right choice.
We now know that the average customer journey for an off-the-plan property purchase lasts a staggering 18 months. During this extensive period, customers delve deep into investigating, exploring, and evaluating their options before arriving at a final decision. Importantly, how customers interact with your brand across various platforms during this time plays a pivotal role in the success of your campaign. However, it doesn't end there. The importance of customer interaction doesn't fade after the transaction - it must be maintained throughout the entire process, from pre-construction to settlement and beyond – often more than 36 months. The ultimate goal is to keep customers engaged for these 36+ months, transforming them into enthusiastic brand advocates who spread the word about their exceptional experience long after they settle into their new homes. Sounds easy, right? Well it’s definitely easier said than done.
With this in mind, here are some of my tips for creating and nurturing long-term engagement with your customers, throughout their off-the-plan property journey:
Consistency, consistency, consistency
This is what most business without a strategy have trouble maintaining. There’s a burst of content when a new project is launched, a little more from a site visit, and then a Merry Christmas to round out the year. The consistency of your message, and the relevance of when and where the customer is seeing your message, both play a pivotal role throughout the customer journey. For example, we know that businesses that post consistently on social media platforms see an increase in engagement rates of between 5-11%, partly due to the algorithms rewarding fresh content, but also due to the customer developing a stronger affiliation with your brand. By keeping your message consistent and making sure customers see it in all the right places, you can boost engagement and make the customer feel even more connected to your brand.
Be cool by association
All developers have partners they work with on their projects – from building partners, architects, consultants, (great media + marketing partners!), and all of the suppliers of the products and upgrades included their projects – some of which are household names, maybe even featured on shows like The Block, and have marketing budgets that would make your eyes water. So, why not leverage these partners (and their marketing budgets!)? By mentioning and tagging them in content, it not only amplifies your audience; it helps builds trust with the customer. A recent survey undertaken by REA, potential home buyers said that trust in builders and developers is the number one thing that would increase their confidence in buying off the plan – ahead of price guarantees and better designs. We know that trust doesn’t come as quickly as it can go, but borrowing the trust of the partners in your stable is one step in the right direction.
Stand out from the crowd
To stand out from the crowd, we must first stand back from the industry. Working within the industry, we often forget that new customers have no idea who the key players are, and what they offer. Australians on average buy a new property every seven to ten years, and at times it’s easy for us to forget that the development space is a busy one, and with millions of dollars spent annually on advertising in the property industry in Australia alone, it’s a confusing one for a first-time customer. Multiply that by ten years and it’s easy to see why brand is so important for the space. When a customer is in market, they are met with a number of projects, developers, promotions, and an overload of information that they need to untangle. A lot of developers say, act, look and promise the same thing, adding to the confusion of the customer – house size apartments or light filled homes ring a bell?. By having a brand that is clear in what you offer, clear on what you are promising the customer, and visually distinctive, it can have a positive effect on being front of mind with the customer. Combine that with the consistency we spoke about earlier, and you’ve got yourself a winning formula.
Get in early
This may seem obvious, but just having information ready and accessible to the customer is imperative in building trust throughout the customer journey – particularly in the current buyer climate. Buyer confidence is in a state of flux (to put it lightly), and market disruptions like developers/builders going into liquidation isn’t helping. Buyers are looking to developers that are stable, with a strong reputation, and one they can trust with their hard-earned dollars.back to news
Given the length of the decision-making process, it is very likely that your customer is in market well before your project launches. Therefore, some targeted developer brand messages in the right location can go a long way in building early trust in your brand, even before the customer is looking for it. This way of thinking has been proven to benefit long term business outcomes, however, is relatively untapped in the property category. Priming potential customers before they enter a decision-making cycle is essentially giving you first dibs on a customer – it’s why we see car brands dominate the advertising landscape, even though the average purchase cycle for a car is once every 10 years!
The need for an enduring engagement strategy in the current climate is imperative, but definitely not something that happens overnight. We are here to help! We have expertise in developing strategies that will result in an engaged group of customers and long-term brand advocates. So, reach out to find out more today!
 REA New Homes Research, the buyer journey: Apartment, 2023