How do you build a relationship with a potential buyer over a period of four, five, even months or more? How do you do it again and again with thousands of people across the country?
Clayton Homes builds, sells, finances, and insures manufactured and modular homes. They’re one of the nation’s largest home builders, but maintaining this status is no easy feat. While targeting home buyers looking for affordable homes, the company faces a long purchase cycle of three to six months – a duration that has only lengthened since the financial crisis hit.
To manage this, Jim Greer, Lead Generation Manager, and Pat Egan, Lead Generation Team Leader at Clayton Homes, emphasize the importance of keeping in close contact with potential buyers.
“We want to be top of mind with them when they think of purchasing a home, and then when the actually come to make their purchasing decision,” Greer said. “The lead nurturing side is key, but trying to provide them with good content along the way is even more important.”
YouTube and TrueView turned out to be an effective solution for Clayton Homes.
Before YouTube came into the picture, Clayton Homes depended on one-to-one phone calls, as well as a “batch and blast” approach with direct mail and email marketing, to connect with its buyers. As Greer notes, the company was a little “old school” in their approach.
In 2011, however, the team began to focus on delivering more relevant content continuously. They tried TrueView instream and in-search ads, and created videos for their brand channel by trimming up TV spots.
The team also launched their 2012 campaign to coincide with the tax refund period, offering buyers a deal to double their refund. They further incorporated YouTube links into their emails, so readers could click through to their YouTube cannel and videos.
Greer notes that this venture into YouTube ads started off as an experimental process. “This was a first test for us. Fortunately, our executive team is supportive of testing new initiates as long as you develop a plan, execute that plan, measure the results, then correct from what you learn. YouTube was the perfect platform for this due to its rapid growth and audience interaction,” he says. “We were a little nervous going into it, but were curious to see what the results were going to be.”
It turned out that Greer didn’t have too much to be nervous about. The team’s foray into TrueView in-stream, in particular, really paid off, as it drove over 3,000 click-throughs to Clayton Homes’ website, which in turn led to 1,000 lead form completions on that site, over a period of only five weeks.
In addition, their TrueView in-stream campaign had a cost-per-action comparable to the team’s Google Search campaigns, while their TrueView in-search campaign had a CPA 50 percent lower than their search campaigns.
Greer further revealed that compared to traditional advertising, “Digital mediums cost a lost less on a cost-per-impression and cost-per-view basis. The YouTube test and success definitely showed that.” These results are now changing the company’s larger marketing strategy: They now plan to incorporate YouTube into all of their campaigns going forward.
“We were able to … deliver even more content to (potential buyers) via video, to help reinforce the decision that they were about to make,” Greer said.
In response to their success, he adds, “We were all surprised by the success of what TrueView and remarketing brought…. We were very, very surprised, and were very pleased with the outcome.” Greer concludes, “This was one of the first big out-of-the-box tests we had done online. We put resources into it and it paid off.”
Search Engine Watch (SEW) asked the folks from Clayton Homes (CH) some additional questions via email. Here are SEW’s questions and CH’s answers:
SEW: How do you identify potential buyers who are actively seeking more information about manufactured and modular homes?
CH: Since viewers can skip the ads, we know that the people watching our ad are more likely to be interested in modular homes, in turn providing us with quality leads.
SEW: How do you write a message or create content that appeals to the interests and needs of potential home buyers?
CH: We start by listening to customers and letting them tell us what is important to them, and we develop content that directly addresses their needs. Purchasing a home is one of the biggest decisions a person can make, and the process of buying a home has gotten pretty complicated. We aim to lower the stress level and stay relevant with educational content about our homes and why purchasing a home still is an investment in the American Dream.
SEW: How do you find the experts in your Homeowner Expectation program that potential home buyers will like and trust?
CH: Many of the actors are actual Clayton Homes’ team members. We take pride in what we do and are willing to help out where we can, but it’s also fun and creates a good atmosphere around the office. We also work closely with an outside partner who is known for putting together high quality, informative videos.
SEW: How to measure the results of YouTube videos, TrueView ads, and content marketing when prospects aren’t ready to buy?
CH: Frequent YouTube advertising gives us the opportunity to measure reach and qualified reach. Even if a potential home buyer is not ready to buy, we hope our content delivers valuable information in their evaluation process.