I’ve been shopping some builder websites for an international project I’m working on. Perhaps I’ll finally be able to combine both my love of travel and my love of selling houses, but more to come on that later.

It amazes me how much money is obviously put into some of these websites, yet they aren’t getting their money back out. So far I’m on 72 hours out, and no follow up off of 3 different foreign builder’s websites.

The shopping process that I use made me think of a recent blog post on Mike Lyon’s site, Do You Convert. I was reading a guest blog post by his wife, the decision maker when it comes to buying a new home.

Mike’s family is not unusual. In the home shopping realm women are usually the decision makers in the family even if ultimately the final decision is made together. That means women are the ones on the front line looking at all the information before the family ever leaves the house in order to narrow down the choices. They are shopping by elimination. And there is a huge list of reasons you, as a home builder, or even as a real estate agent, may be eliminated before the in person shopping even starts.

Is ignorance bliss? Not in this case, you should know what you are doing to be eliminated so that you can correct it. Don’t you want a better chance at gaining a buyer?

Here is an important quote from Cori Lyon in Mike’s latest blog post, “If I’m looking for a new home, I will search online for home builders, check out their website-focusing on floor plans, price ranges and locations. I choose services and products based on the website. I have two kids and not much time. If the site is confusing, I won’t stick with it to figure it out. If the information I need isn’t on the site, the chances of me calling to find out the basics are slim to none.”

It’s not just busy mom’s who won’t spend much time unraveling your website, it’s also busy executives, and anyone (read everyone) who leads a busy lifestyle.

If you lock all your important information behind a permission based form, people will not take the time to fill that out. They will move on to the next site that has more information and less hoops to jump through in order to find what they are looking for.

Cori also goes on to say, “Most importantly- follow up– it really does work. If I contact you, I want to hear from you. AND I will remember you. I will go about my day- think of a question to ask you, forget that question and then I get an email from you and BAM, I remember.”

If there is one important piece of information to take away from this post, it would be follow up. People go about their busy lives looking at a thousand things online ever day. If they actually bother to fill out information on your site that means they are interested to some degree. If you do not have a system in place to handle that inquiry immediately you are losing out to the guy selling the same thing, who does follow up.

If you want to be in the running for people’s business the simplest way to do so is to follow up. Such an easy thing in theory, yet in practice it seems to be a major element lacking in even the best of businesses out there.

Key points here:

  • Busy people shop online!
  • Don’t have a confusing site
  • Don’t make them have to call to get information they need
  • Don’t forget the floor plans
  • Don’t lock away your important information behind a form
  • Follow up, follow up, follow up

While for the most part it is the woman who wears the pants in the home shopping process, it’s important for builders to remember that it is the buyers who ultimately wear the pants and it is their needs you are trying to satisfy with your online presence. If you’re not hitting the key points buyers are looking for, you are losing out to someone who is.

This holds true whether you are selling $100,000 town homes for first time buyers, or million plus vacation retreats in tropical locations. People will begin their process online. And if you don’t have the information they are looking for you may be eliminated before you even knew you were in the running.