How Lennar cracked a new market, sold out in 8 months using audience data

Last year, Lennar , the second largest new home builder in the US, was ready to market a project that was over two decades in the making. 

Polo Ranch, a neighborhood of 40 homes on the outskirts of the Bay Area, was open for business. But it was different from previous Lennar developments. First, it was located in Scotts Valley, CA — Lennar constructions are usually built in the Bay Area, or in-fill areas outside the city with a lot of land. But Polo Ranch was about 90 minutes away from bustling San Francisco, in a quiet town of about 12,000 people. 

26 years in the making

Getting the project approved had been no cakewalk. “This project took 26 years to get passed through the city of Scotts Valley,” explained Julie Wrighton, Lennar’s director of marketing. “They [the city] have a lot of environmental concerns. There are a lot of heritage trees out there that couldn’t be uprooted, for example. We were building in a very pristine, beautiful, natural space.” 

“It was not a market we’d ever sold in before,” added Wrighton. “We have a recipe on how we market our homes, but we needed a little more here.”

Niche buyers for special homes

To fill the Polo Ranch homes, Lennar was looking for qualified Bay Area residents who were in the market to buy in a very specific geo-market, and move quickly. The homes boasted a ‘next-generation floor plan’ where one of the bedrooms could be used as a standalone office, a “home within a home” space, said Wrighton, where family members could stay for long periods or residents could turn into workout rooms or at-home offices.

This audience was primarily tech workers with families, shopping for new construction with high moving intent signals. They frequently had grandparents living with them for significant parts of the year, so having extra space would be important. “Our typical buyer has multiple generations living in the home, [and] in Scotts Valley, the typical buyer worked in healthcare. They had a different take on how to use the next-generation space,” said Wrighton.

Building on a partnership

Lennar and Audience Town had an established working relationship going back three years. “They use our products and services when they’re looking to market a community that is new to help drive awareness and increase intent to in-market home buyers,” said John Peragine, chief revenue officer at Audience Town.

Their marketing efforts complemented each other: Audience Town worked on demand generation with in-market audiences and custom interactive ad creative. Lennar handled demand capture with search and social in-house. 

This particular campaign would include audience insights and photo carousel display ads. Audience Town would also conquest-target other builders in the area by geofencing their sales centers and home models.

They wanted to leverage Audience Town's creative expertise, and what has worked for Lennar and other builders. Lennar did not want standard static ads, but interactive ones with an attractive palette to showcase the homes, and beyond. “We were really promoting the lifestyle as opposed to just the home. Our content was really geared towards life on the beach, away from hustle and bustle,” explained Wrighton. “[Usually], we really focus on the homes. But we felt that for this project, we needed to communicate the lifestyle rather than just the home.” 

Photography has always been an important marketing investment for realtors, and since the COVID-19 pandemic, its significance has only grown. Advances in camera and drone technology have also improved the quality of real estate photography, giving listings with high-quality shots more of an edge than ever. 

Inside the campaign

Lennar signed a year-long contract, believing that selling all 40 homes would take 12 months. (This time span was based on the amount of homes built, and changes depending on home type.) 

Using its analytics platform, Audience Town generated unique audience reports, surfacing key insights that were applied to target personas. Instead of static imagery, Lennar customized their creative messaging with an interactive photo carousel that allowed prospects to scroll through high-resolution imagery, and a more relevant call to action across devices. 

In it for the long haul

The results were impressive. Audience Town delivered more than double the qualified leads for in-market homebuyers to Lennar: 95 leads for 40 homes. This fulfilled the contract in 8 months, instead of 12. 

“We opened mid-October 2021, and we will be sold out by the end of September 2022,” said Wrighton. “It was only 40 homes, but given the price point and location we needed a data-driven approach to be successful.”