HIA website redesign is the first step in the digitalization of the business


Bricks and mortar are becoming increasingly digital as the Housing Industry Association’s (HIA) traditionally face-to-face membership business model transforms in the back of a website redesign.

A hub in the homebuilding industry, the 75-year-old HIA wanted to offer its 20,000 site members, potential members and anyone interested in homebuilding a central and personalized digital experience with strong e-commerce services and marketing automation based on user data.

A key element was the content. While parts of the HIA’s previous website were accessible to the public, much of it was closed to non-members.

HIA GM, digital, Ben BrookerCredit: HIA
HIA GM, digital, Ben Brooker

“It was an acquisition killer for us because you had to be a member to understand the value of membership,” said Ben Brooker, chief digital officer of HIA. “So we exhibited this content on the new site and made it visible and accessible. “

The original template-based site was overhauled and rebuilt as a component-based site so that HIA could share the same content in different parts of the site, organized and promoted for better exposure.

The content is now spread over three levels: Freemium; accessible through data exchange; and reserved for members. People can see what’s available, create a free account, and pay for a report or other resources as needed.

“This allowed us to expose free and high level content to everyone on the site. Then there’s an upsell – ‘this is the next piece of content you probably need to read,’ ”Brooker said.

An award-winning strategy

HIA partnered with Switch, a customer experience strategy consultancy, to develop the new site, which was originally built on the Sitecore platform. Switch’s strategy for the site, which won a Good Design Award, had four key objectives: to raise awareness and capitalize on it; increase the feeling of belonging; increase HIA income; and build an efficient digital operating model.

The association’s digital transformation also included improving its onboarding and membership model, overhauling the e-commerce structure and continuing professional development, and creating a digital resource library. The latter makes available content previously hidden in PDFs, tagged to direct people to relevant topics. Again, content is limited to three user levels.

Brooker said Switch challenged HIA “in a very good way”, encouraging the organization to understand how customer or product bonding could be digitized, but also what that meant from a customer perspective.

“At first, it was difficult to get the company to understand that we should no longer have an inside view of ourselves,” admitted Brooker. “We are now not only seeing how the customer perceives us, our products and services, but we are also changing the way we talk to them and ourselves to ensure their journey is consolidated around what the customer needs next. It hasn’t filtered across the company yet, but it has definitely made a huge change in the way we talk about ourselves and with our members and it makes sense.

First results

As part of the launch, HIA needed to re-educate members about the functions of the site, starting by telling them that simple things were going to be much, much easier.

“We spent a lot of time making sure the research was particularly well defined and well done,” Brooker said. “So our communications highlighted that we have mountains of information to help users and, if you search the new site, we’re confident you’ll find what you’re looking for. ”

The first positive results came just a week or two after the site launched. According to Brooker, the resolution of the first search was already “through the roof” and the HIA has received feedback on users’ satisfaction to find it as easy as they were told. He estimated that the successful research had already reduced query calls and emails to the HIA by at least 10 percent.

The integration of e-commerce with CRM and internal fulfillment processes also makes it transparent to customers and saves staff time otherwise spent on manual processes or pursuing misplaced orders or payments.

Read more: Digital transformation

HIA’s broader business strategy focuses on the digitalization of the business. As efficiencies are created, staff will be repositioned to add value in more important areas.

“We have a lot of other manual business execution, team and customer engagement processes offline and we want to go through a series of work programs over the next couple of years to bring a lot more of that into the digital realm, ”Brooker said. “Then our staff can spend their time adding more value to member conversations or more important tasks, rather than making smaller transactional conversations. “

HIA took online personas deeper to segment its audience, initially creating half a dozen personas that most businesses work with.

“Our membership is so diverse that I’m actually embarrassed to say we have up to 26 characters,” Brooker said. “Obviously, we haven’t been able to maintain them all. At this point, we’ve grouped them into larger personas to bring them online while we focus on core members and non-members using our services, then anonymous users, and aim for conversion at some point. . ”

Brooker planned to dive into sub-segments and more characters in the longer run. “This site is the basis of our future. We wanted to make sure that the site is scalable and global, and that we can certainly use it as building blocks to be added over the next few years,” he added.

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