In late January, a certain post got a lot of circulation in the real estate community on Google+. It was by a Realtor, for Realtors, about pay-per-click (PPC). I don't know how many people read it, but certainly hundreds, if not thousands of people liked it and shared it, doing only God-knows how much damage.
The article was basically offering tips to Realtors on how to use pay-per-click, but it was just full of bad information.
When I read the article, I thought to myself- this is a nice effort and this guy took time to share this information...but it isn't right. In fact, I would never, ever do it this way for a client.
Should I say something?
I never said anything on Google+, where I first saw the post, but nine months later, I finally got around to it. Incidentally, the reason it's taken so long, is because I'm really busy doing this work for clients, instead of having time to blog about it. That's a little ironic, but true.
Tip #1 encouraged his readers to spend time working on their website before they pay to send people there. Sounds like good enough advice, right?
The thing is, if you really want to get a return on your investment, you are not going to send them to your normal website at all. Your normal website has distractions. Your normal website allows them to click away from that which you want them to focus on. They came looking for homes in Jupiter Florida, and next thing you know, they are reading a blog post you wrote about the best restaurant in Jupiter. (Which, incidentally is Little Moir's.)
Then they click on the restaurant and make reservations and forget they were looking at MLS listings. Ah heck, they'll get back to it tomorrow, right? Need to get dressed for dinner now!
That's called surfing the web and you just pissed away four bucks.
In fact, the page that the Realtor uses as an example of a great landing page actually has 7 links that lead visitors right off his site. Pinterest, Twitter...Real Estate Webmasters. You are going to pay for people to land on a page that has other interesting links on it?
If you are paying $4 per click, or whatever your market demands, you can't encourage surfing.
You should always, always have a special landing page for your PPC ads, if you choose to do PPC ads for your real estate business.
How To Make Money with AdWords PPC (for Realtors!)
If you want to make money with PPC (and you really can)- this is how you do it.
1. First, get a custom "forwarding" telephone number from Evoice- or any other forwarding company. Just Google "forwarding numbers". For $13 per month, I have 6 forwarding telephone numbers for my area code.
I forward all calls to my normal number, and then I can log in to my Evoice dashboard and see who called me when and from where.
For example, if you advertise in your church flyer, you have a specific telephone number for that ad. You have another one for the park bench with your face on it. And another one on your car. Then you know exactly where your leads come from and where you should put more money. (It's the park benches; I promise.)
Same thing with PPC. We are going to bring them to a website that has only one telephone number, that can only be found through PPC. We are never going to "SEO" this site, and we are actually going to block search engines from finding it. That way, any time someone lands on it and fills out a form, you know they came from PPC and not from a random search.
2. Buy a brand new domain name and call it anything- whatever is available. PHXhomesNOW.net might not be your favorite choice, but it's a fresh start and it's only $10. That way, you can be sure nobody lands there by accident. We are going to put our landing page there, literally block Google from indexing the site, and put your special phone number (see #1) on the page.
If anyone ever calls you on that number, you know they came from pay-per-click. No human would otherwise find it. This way, you can calculate your return on your investment (ROI), instead of just throwing money at PPC and being happy as long as you get clients. You need specific returns. What if you find out that, truly, PPC was giving you a 12% return but the bus-stop ads were getting you 1200%?
Maybe you don't care, because you're making tons of money, but you'd be making a lot more if you bought more bus-stop ads and less PPC...hypothetically speaking, of course.
How can anyone operate a business without knowing where their marketing dollars go? It's honestly ridiculous to do it any other way.
3. Go to unbounce.com and set up a landing page. They have beautiful, pre-made templates, specifically designed to convert visitors into clients. Literally, all they do is landing pages. I can't imagine going anywhere else. You can even buy unbounce.com templates from outside designers, if their selection doesn't impress you. Check out these landing page templates, made specifically for real estate.
4. You landing page should be tailored specifically to the ad they clicked on.
Obviously, you are going to have a PPC ad that is geared towards Palos Verdes if they search for Palos Verdes homes for sale.
But you also need to have a specific landing page for that specific ad.
Take them to a page that says, "We only do Palos Verdes! We are your Palos Verdes experts..."
That page should have a form on it, and a unique Palos Verdes telephone number.
It should be very nice. (Unbounce will take care of that for you.) It will probably look better than the website you have now, and that's good. Visitors will have two choices- either pick up the phone and call your tracking number, or fill out the form. Nothing else.
There will be nothing to distract them from what they came there for- either a specific listing you are advertising or more information about homes for sale in Palos Verdes. You should definitely not have links to your awesome Pinterest page.
They are interested or they are not. But either way, you are going to track your exact return-on-investment right down to the penny.
* All images on this post were purchased from Shutterstock and only used this one time. Don't make a costly mistake- buy your images!