New Homes Index: Quarter 3, 2021 review
S&T New Homes Index | Quarter 3, 2021 review
Quarter 3 (July – September, 2021) vs Quarter 2 (April – June, 2021)
Total web sessions – 18%
High intent property goals – 17%
Web sessions and high intent goals – last 6 months:
It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see a quarterly decrease in sessions and high intent goals given the lingering impact of the announcement of the Stamp Duty holiday extension in early March was felt into April and May.
March has been the high point of the index for both metrics in the year to date, levels only previously topped in July 2020; a result of home buying and viewings becoming allowable activities again having been shut down in late March of last year.
Outside of that context, this quarter offers a significantly contracted year-on-year comparison, where web sessions are at 30% less volume than the same three month period in 2020. A sustained organic shortage of available plots will of course play its part in that with a commensurate reduction in audience and the campaigns driving required traffic.
Web sessions – 2021 vs 2020:
With a pronounced inconsistency in the dataset, we avoid longer-term analysis of high-intent goals: a year is a long time in Technology, and the data captured changes in both nature and volume over time. As we’ve referenced before, last year’s lockdown precipitated a considerable amount of digital tracking and tagging reviews from new homes developers (around two thirds of our medium to large clients had significant website restructures or measurement overhauls). Whilst the overall number of those users booking appointments to view may be smaller, that will partly be due to wider tracking improvements – e.g. reporting on those who have actually submitted a form rather than just loaded a booking form page.
Importantly, the conversion rate of web sessions to high intent conversions has remained relatively consistent over the last quarter as a whole, marginally improved versus the previous quarter, so where the audiences are getting to websites there’s a good correlation with a need to actually buy. Returning visitors to site (NHI average 42%) is at a lower level than at this point of 2020, indicative again of the lack of current scope for plot-level remarketing activity.
Last quarter – month on month
The profile of the quarter itself saw July continue the downward trend in web sessions, albeit at slightly lower rate than seen through April to June. High-intent goals remained steady when calculated on a daily average. Then came a bump in August (+5% on both metrics) that didn’t persist into September.
A combination of factors here: a culmination of the impact of freedoms returning in late July with increased travel distractions, families focusing on the return to school and the last knockings in August of a chance to realistically secure some moves at the lower SDLT threshold in England, ending on 30th September.
Around this August bounce, we noted that older demographics (55-64 and 65+ groups) were not following the uptick in high-intent conversions compared to other age groups. Despite the much-discussed increase in digital take up among older audiences as a result of the 2020 lockdowns, we have seen on two occasions a much slower return to pre-lockdown levels of activity from this audience among our NHI.
This perhaps suggests a reduced tendency to move home while the pandemic persists, relative to other age ranges, and highlighting the importance of communicating during the passive / awareness stage of the purchase process rather than relying purely on lower funnel touchpoints if targeting these audiences.
Web sessions by age groups – January to August, 2021:
Last quarter – digital channel mix
Organic and PPC had a combined share of just under two thirds of total traffic in the past quarter. On the whole, there has been very little swing in any channel direction over the last few months when compared with the 12-month average.
The switch from PPC to organic as the leading channel is the main nuance, but mainly led again by remarketing strands of activity being less persistent due to available supply and the previous 12 months would include the last pre-Christmas period where PPC strategies tend to take advantage of the seasonal Jan-March peaks in interest.
Percentage share of web sessions by channel: