Monthly Archives: December 2010

Essential Online Marketing for Manufactured Housing

When we created MHVillage.com, one of the things we heard from time to time was that the manufactured housing market wasn’t likely to use the internet. But in fact, statistics tell us that now over 80% of households in America have at least one personal computer. (24% have three working computers in the home.) This means that online marketing is not only important – it is essential for our industry. Our statistics alone tell a compelling story; currently there are over 25,000 people a day using MHVIllage to shop for manufactured homes and research communities – and we project that number is only going to go up in 2011!

According to Foremost Insurance‘s 2008 Manufactured Homes Market Fact Report, manufactured housing households are using the internet for entertainment (81%), information and research (83%), paying bills (67%), comparison shopping (58%) and more. We’ve also seen research done by pingdom.com that the age of people using social networking is also going up. In their Study: Ages of Social Network Users, they provide some very interesting statistics. For example:

  • The average social network user is 37 years old
  • 64% of Twitter users are aged 35 or older
  • 61% of Facebook’s users are aged 35 or older

Here is why is this important: Foremost’s research also shows that 85% of heads of households in manufactured homes are also over age 35. In other words, these markets are intersecting. According to the Digital Future Project, in 1994, fewer than two out of every ten Americans used the Internet; in 2009, more than eight in ten go online. So what does that mean for you? It means that every company in the manufactured housing industry needs to have a online marketing plan, key aspects of which are:

You need to have an online presence for your company. Fewer and fewer people use the Yellow Pages anymore, many more use Google or other search engines. How easy is it for people to find your company?

Your homes need to be online. 85% – 90% of home buyers begin their search on the web. Can buyers see yours? Do your homes stand out as manufactured homes, or are they lost in the crowd of available real estate?

Social networking tools are here to stay. Twitter, Facebook and Linked In are becoming powerhouses of information. Can your customers find you there?

MHVillage can help with all of these. We make it easy to advertise your company, be found by search engines, advertise your homes for sale and rent and update your social networks. Need more information? Call the customer service team at 800/397-2158 today.

The 7 Dos and Don’ts of Marketing Your Manufactured Homes Online

As things get quieter and we move into the holiday season, now is the best time to review your marketing strategies.  Set up systems now for follow up on leads and they will be second nature to your sales staff when business picks up again after the New Year.  Here are some great tips and simple ideas for successfully selling your manufactured homes through the Internet:

1. Do keep your listings updated.

Think about purchasing a manufactured home yourself – what could be more frustrating than inquiring about a “perfect “ home and then finding out it has already been sold? What would turn you off a listing more than seeing a home with snow on the roof in the middle of July? Home shoppers have a right to expect pertinent, up to date information. You can attract their attention and build their trust by keeping your listings current: add new properties as they become available, remove homes that have been sold, update prices when they have changed, and keep the descriptions up to date.

Tip: Set aside a day each week or each month to review your listings and make sure you are showing your homes at their best.  Also make a plan to regularly update photos, especially if the seasons change in your area.  Using a calendar program on your computer to send you an alert is a great way to remember!

2. Don’t forget to add photos.

The number one thing manufactured home buyers on the internet want to see is photos. In fact, if there aren’t photos of the home, the buyer may think you are hiding something! Some sellers tell us they don’t add photos because they want shoppers to come out to the location and look at the home in person. From our many years of talking one-on-one with the users of MHVillage, we can say with authority that what will bring shoppers out is seeing great photos of a home they are interested in. Listings without photos do not attract curious buyers and are frequently skipped without further consideration.

Tip: Did you know you can have unlimited Basic home listings with your MHVillage account?  Each of those listings will let you show two photos of the home. Need more?  MHVillage also offers Premium listings where you can display as many photos as you want!  Digital cameras are inexpensive right now, but even cell phone photos will work.  These types of electronics make it very easy to upload the photos to your computer, and we at MHVillage make it very easy to add them to your listings.

3. Do interconnect your marketing activities.

Unfortunately, no one has yet invented a surefire “magic bullet” that will draw buyers in every time. Home buyers shop in different ways – some prefer to drive around, some read the paper, some prefer direct mail, some shop online. Here’s what you can do – connect all your marketing methods together to create a bigger, more secure marketing net. If you are placing ads in your local paper include your MHVillage listing number so they can view the home online. On MHVillage, add driving directions to your office, your business hours and company web site. In every marketing piece you do, look for ways to tie it to other marketing efforts – it is more cost efficient and effective!

Tip: Having an open house? Make sure you announce it on your listings. Adding an open house to your listing on MHVillage will get you to the top of search results!

4. Don’t let internet leads sit idle.

People expect quick results online. If they send you an email, they expect a response that same day.  While we business professionals are frequently very busy, this is not something you can let sit on the back burner.  There are lots of tools out there now that can help you manage and track your leads.  (Did you know all your MHVillage leads are not only instantly emailed to you but are also stored in your account?  You can review them at any time.)

Tip: Click here to download Jason Adam’s article “Qualify, Cultivate, Close: Three Rules to Successfully Close Internet Leads” for more information and tips on how to set up systems to automate that process.

5. Don’t rely on one method of contacting home buyers.

Some home shoppers will only use the phone to call on homes they are interested in, some will only send emails. Make sure you are encouraging as many people as possible to contact you by providing as much contact information as possible.

Tip: Every listing on MHVillage will let you choose how you want to be contacted.  Make sure you are using an email that is checked daily – even hourly!

6. Do keep account information like email addresses and passwords in a central location so others in the office can access them.

Speaking of emails – instead of using personal emails and and private passwords, set up accounts with company emails and passwords.  If only one person has access to your listings and leads, what happens to your sales when they go on vacation?  Make it easier on your office by giving all your staff access – even if you have one staff member that handles most the work.  Choose generic passwords that are meaningful to the office to protect privacy.

Tip: If you have turn over, don’t forget to change passwords! Also, if you have several sales managers all using MHVillage, you can set up a parent account that can access and update all accounts at anytime. If you need help with this feature, give us a call – we are happy to help!

7. Do check out your online competition.

There are over 28,000 manufactured homes for sale on MHVillage. Make sure you know what others in your area are doing. When you list your homes, see how they compare to what your competition is doing.  Do some searches in your area: how do your listings compare to others in the same city, zip and manufactured home community?  For example – are you in a high volume area where everyone is using the best upgraded listings?  If so, a Basic listing may end up at the back of the pack and on the last page where no one will see it.  Or, are you in a low volume area where just adding a simple Featured listing ($4.00/per month) would make your listing the most eye catching one on the page?  Knowing what others are doing will help you be more successful.

Tip: Don’t forget to also check out communities and company searches on MHVillage.

More and more home shoppers are starting their home search online. Did you know there are over 22,000 visitors to the MHVillage websites per day? Whether you are advertising your homes on your own company webpage, on MHVillage, or both, keep these tips in mind and you’ll be on your way to reaching more shoppers than you could ever imagine!