Thursday, March 13, 2014

Q&A with Reed Dillon about Ritz-Craft Homes' Award Winning Website

I asked Reed Dillon, Director of Marketing for Ritz-Craft Homes and one of the people responsible for the 2014 Jerry Rouleau Excellence in Marketing Award winning website, if he would he would share with my readers what goes into creating a successful site.

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2014 Jerry Rouleau Award Winning Website

Q: What are some things to keep in mind when you before you begin either revising or building a website?

Before beginning a website you need to answer two basic questions:
What do I want to accomplish?
Who is my target audience?

The primary job of any website is to deliver each visitor the content he or she is seeking, in an engaging and efficient manner. At the same time, a website should provide visitors the opportunity to share information with the website’s owner in return for useful content.

In Ritz-Craft’s case we have two fundamental markets – home buyers and home builders – we need to satisfy both target markets to a certain degree. A successful website focuses less on the company and more on the needs of the visitor.

Q: What’s most important when designing a Home Page?

No one visits a website to read the “About Us” page. This all goes back to the idea that websites should serve their visitors and not solely focus on promoting the company. The Home Page should have what is most important to a visitor.

The internet is a visual medium. The more things you can show, demonstrate and allow your potential customers to interact with, the longer they will remain engaged on the site.

Q: If someone is interested in learning more about Ritz-Craft Homes or locating a builder, you have them fill in a contact sheet. Has this proven to be the most effective way for you to manage leads?

Yes to answer your question broadly, but do not limit yourself to the standard “Contact Us” page. Use opportunities in your website to have the visitor opt-in to volunteer information to you. We have found that these spaces out-perform our standard “Contact Us” page 5 to 1.

This success has been born out of the idea that in order for us to receive something (i.e. contact information); something needs to be given in return. I suggest creating places in your website where you give your visitor something to download in exchange for information.

My other suggestion is to give your prospective customer a low barrier of entry to get this information. Feel free to ask as many questions as you like, but only make a few of the really necessary questions mandatory.

Q: I notice several videos and lots of “pdf” pages for downloading info about not only your homes but also many of the options and features Ritz-Craft is known for. Has this taken the place of sending out large literature packets?

Correct. Together with our App and other sharing places, we do not distribute and print as much literature as in years past. By using these sharing methods, information is dynamic and can be easily updated and changed as you experience the inevitable product changes and vendor discontinuations often found in the housing industry. 

Q: Do you know how many things are downloaded every day from your site?

Yes we do. Google offers a free service known as “Google Analytics,” which allows us to generate custom reports on the performance of each area of the Ritz-Craft website.

Q: Your website flows very well and with all the pages in the website, are you noticing more time being spent by the visitor reading through the content?

Yes, definitely, but it all begins with the navigation and simplicity of the initial interface - that was really important to me when we first began planning the website. As I mentioned earlier, if you get people to meaningful content in a simplistic fashion, they will stay on your website longer and return more often.

Q: Tell me more about Google Analytics - are you able to tell the demographics of your site’s visitors?

Yes, there is a ton of information that you can glean from that tool, just start digging. The program offers insight into everything from pages per visit and visit duration, to whether or not each visitor is using a desktop computer or mobile device.

Q; Finally, what advice would you give a modular home builder who wants to improve their website?

Don’t go the cheap route! Find a good website developer that knows their stuff. Do not go with your second cousin who builds websites on the side. Ask for references from people you trust, who know more than you do and can refer you to companies you should interview. Go with a proven professional and ask for examples of websites that they have done before making your final decision.

Know your target audience and focus your content to what is important to those potential customers.

Simple is best. Keep your navigation simple and your words to a minimum. The internet is less of a written medium and more of a visual medium.

The site isn’t about you - it is about your potential customers and their needs. Get those potential customers to the content they want quickly or they will leave and go someplace else.

Websites should be like a mouse trap. To me, that is the primary goal of a website. Put multiple places in your site where visitors may receive content in exchange for their information.

Refresh your website often with new content to entice visitors to return to your site.