It's been over 2 years since I left full-time real estate to help real estate agents and small businesses with digital marketing. What I found fascinating was the difference between what online marketers do for clients vs what I was doing when I had a team. Online marketers like to focus on big numbers because it provides them with more data. The more data points you have the better mousetrap you can build or at least that's the thought. Nowhere is this more true than in Google PPC advertising. What most marketers miss is that real estate is a niche and it needs to be treated differently than every business.
Big Funnel Fails
Often digital marketers will talk about a funnel. While it's best practice to examine the wide part of the funnel for new marketing campaigns, it's not necessarily best for real estate companies that have fluctuating income and budgets. To make matters worse, "wide" funnel leads take longer to close and tend to be less qualified. This means that while they are cheaper leads overall, they tend to feel like a waste of time. These are the leads that Zillow sell to agents. These top-funnel leads that are just now thinking about an area.
The actual mechanics of the PPC marketing campaign are pretty straight forward. What this looks like in the real world is running a keyword campaign for city name real estate (where city name is the name of a large city). You and I both know that real home buyers rarely type in the metro city that they want to buy in. Homebuyers don't type in Chicago condos or Atlanta homes when they are ready. They use these "wide" terms to find out more about a given area.
Instead, home buyers type in neighborhoods, suburbs or school districts as they narrow the search. A buyer that lands on your website from typing "Meadowview homes" (an imaginary neighborhood) is much more likely a qualified buyer than one that types in Metropolis real estate.
Once you understand the concept of the funnel and why you need to stay away from money and time-wasting "top" funnel leads, you can then begin your campaign in earnest.
How Does Google PPC Work?
PPC stands for Pay Per Click. When you set up a PPC campaign you create a target list of wors that you think consumers will type in. Then you bid place a bid (like Ebay) on what you're willing to pay for that click. For example, you could bid on "Meadowview homes for sale" at $.50 a click. Everytime someone clicked on your ad, you'd be charged $.50. Luckily, you can set a budget for how much Google can spend of your money on a given day.
When you think a lead only costs $5, this means that 10 people clicked on the ad at $.50 clicks in order to convert 1 lead.
The 3 Main Components Of A Google PPC Campaign
Although the Google Adwords interface is a bit intimidating and throws around words like Campaign, Ad Groups, Extensions, and Keywords, there really are only 3 main components. If you can master these 3 areas you realize that the other options are for organization and optimization.
Your choice of keywords determines if you're fishing in the right pond or not. If you're doing this on your own you need to know not only the keywords of choice but that there are 3 types of keywords for google. Getting into those different ones is beyond the blog post but the more specific you choose your words the less clicks you'll get. However, often this can be a good thing because you only want clients that are qualified.
Compare "Chicago real estate" with "Homes for sale in Chicago" with "Homes For Sale In Hyde Park Chicago." The first one, "Chicago real estate" will get the most clicks. However, because it's so generic you'll get anyone thinking about Chicago real estate. That could be someone moving into the suburb you want to sell in (in this example Hyde Park), but it could also be someone who would later search "Chicago apartments for rent." It could be land, apartments, condos, or even the smallest real estate on the planet, burial lots. All of these are real estate to Google.
With "homes for sale in Chicago" you'll get home buyers that are looking to buy in the Chicago area. You've eliminated Chicago renters and developers. However, the best choice would be the last one. Here you are targeting Hyde Park buyers. Adding "for sale" is a big deal to Google. It lets Google know that you want real estate that is for sale vs real estate that might be for lease.
My advice here is to choose words that follow variations of this formula:
[Suburb or neighborhood] + [real estate type: home, condo, etc] + for sale
Ex. Hyde Park Homes For Sale.
To make this easier I've created a spreadsheet as part of my Real Estate PPC course that allows you to enter in your suburb or neighborhood and simply copy and paste each iteration.
If keywords help you fish in the right pond, the ad copy is your bait. Good ad copy is worth the money. However, as real estate agent trying to set up your AdWords account it can be daunting. Here again, I cover this in my real estate ppc course, but the easy advice to give you is to steal it. I know shameless. You can just do a search for what you want using your keywords and see what others have written. If you study your competition you'll start to see the same wording over and over again. This is one reason why I think digital marketers get it wrong with real estate. They treat it like a unique small business, however, thanks to NAR and a bunch of tech companies we have insights into what people type and what they click on more so than any other industry.
A good ad will have a call to action as well as a compelling offer. "Find your dream home and see every available photo from the MLS" is usually good enough if your headline matches what they searched for. This is where you'll get bonus points if you followed my advice above.
If you make your keyword "Hyde Park Homes For Sale In Chicago" and then make your ad title "Hyde Park Homes For Sale In Chicago" the home buyer is sure to click. They performed this exact search, and your title matched it exactly so they naturally think that you'll have exactly what they want. If you deliver the homes to them they are sure to convert into a lead.
Finally, if you got into the right pond and your bait was tasty enough, you have to hook them. A landing page is simply a web page on your website that delivers what the lead wanted. In other words, it's where they "land" after clicking. I say it's the hook because if you don't deliver what they want they will leave. A good landing page for real estate is important but usually the easiest part of this equation. In our example above we were using Hyde Park. A landing page for Hyde Park homes should conain what? You guessed it... Hyde Park Homes!
If you have a wordpress site and a good IDX plugin like Showcase IDX you can create specific searches to use as landing pages for your ads. This is much, much better than sending them to your home page or to a page full of listings they didn't want.
If you master these 3 things you'll be well on your way to generating leads online with Google PPC. If you want an in-depth look at how to generate leads on Google PPC then check out my course. I walk you through each step and explain why I do what I do. In addition, I'll cover the tricks I use for clients today, in 2020!