Data from the National Association of REALTORS® shows that two of the first steps most buyers take to begin their home search are searching online for properties and for real estate agents. This growing trend of home buyers heading online to look at listings and discover information about real estate agents should signal it’s time to target this audience with a real estate advertising strategy — notably, using Google AdWords.
Here are 10 compelling reasons why you need to create an AdWords account ASAP and start developing targeted advertising campaigns that generate real estate leads you can actually work with.
1) While time and fiscal investment are needed to see results, you don’t need to break the bank.
As with any aspect of your real estate marketing strategy, learning the ropes of AdWords and creating worthwhile campaigns requires energy and money. The results from this effort and spending, however, have proven more than worth it for countless agents. That’s likely why spending for online real estate advertising is projected to grow by 75% in 2015.
The good news is, if for some reason your ads don’t get lots of clicks, you won’t have to pay much at all. You pay when someone clicks your ads. Of course, the more clicks you get the better, but this is what makes AdWords so unique: Google wants you to succeed with your ads, but knows that some campaigns will fall short. Thus, the search conglomerate helps ensure you don’t waste precious ad dollars if things don’t go right with your ads.
In essence, the more you spend, the more traffic you can generate to your site. The more traffic you get, the better chance you have to get the right real estate leads. Yes, you won’t do as well as those who have the wherewithal to spend vast amounts of money on their AdWords campaigns. Over time, though, as you learn the ropes and gain a greater understand of the types of keywords that create the most traffic and leads, you’ll grow your business and, in turn, be able to allocate more ad spend to AdWords.
Here’s a glimpse of what the bid strategy page — which is where you can adjust your maximum spend settings and determine what specific goals you want your ads to accomplish — looks like in the AdWords dashboard:
2) You can generate lots of clicks (and leads) right away and see AdWords activity in real time.
Content marketing will continue to dominate the overall marketing landscape for years to come. Having said that, there is significant benefit to employing a content marketing strategy and real estate advertising plan simultaneously. Case in point: More than two-thirds of marketers use paid search to support their other search marketing tactics, according to digital marketing firm Regalix. Unlike organic search marketing, ads can yield near-instantaneous results — results you can see as they happen.
It’s not uncommon to start getting clicks and leads soon after your campaign starts. The truth of the matter, however, is your success is dependent on how thorough you are with keyword research and setting up your campaigns. Take the time to learn the distinct campaign lingo associated with your AdWords account and investigate the features each day to better comprehend what the platform can do for you.
Some of the core AdWords terminology and features to learn include:
- Ad groups: An ad group comprises all of the ads you have that are targeted to a specific set of keywords
- Auction Insights: A tool that lets you compare your ads against those of advertisers competing for the same keywords
- Cost per click (CPC): The amount of money you pay every time someone clicks your ad
- Impression: An impression occurs every time your ad shows up on a SERP for a Google search
- Quality Score: A grade that factors in ad quality (copy, keywords, link) and the page to which it leads to determine your ad rank
3) In addition to getting more site traffic and leads, AdWords helps broaden brand awareness.
Just because your ad gets a ton of impressions but few clicks and click-throughs doesn’t mean it’s not having a positive impact on your business. By simply populating in SERPs, your real estate ads can increase your brand awareness. This isn’t the most measurable of metrics, but getting more exposure can only be considered a big plus.
Using AdWords’ “reach” metric, you get a clear view of how many people have potentially seen your ad and demographic information on those particular users, including what general area they live in. The ideal target is to get plenty of impressions for seller leads in your area. However, when it comes to buyer leads, don’t be discouraged if many of your impressions come from well outside of your market — this could simply mean there are lots of prospective homeowners searching your market for properties from elsewhere.
Your real estate branding can also receive a boost from video ad views. AdWords syncs with the Display Network and YouTube, meaning you can record ads to appear on sites within the network and on the video-based social platform and monitor their performance via your AdWords dashboard. Just like you can target consumers with your text and display ads, you can also hone in on your primary buyer and seller audiences with your video ads.
4) You can track numerous metrics in AdWords.
Ah, the beauty of big data. Measuring your marketing has never been easier. Common metrics you track for your standard marketing activities — site traffic, clicks, click-through rate, conversions — are also ones to monitor with your real estate AdWords campaigns. Additional ones to observe over time that pertain solely to ads, though, include CPC and impressions.
Monitoring how well your blog and social media posts perform on a daily basis isn’t a must — it’s more of a marathon than a sprint with those marketing methods. With paid advertising, however, daily tracking is required. Since you will potentially spend a decent amount of money every day on ads, it’s vital to ensure you spend wisely so your ads get in front of the right people, drive traffic to your site, and secure a steady stream of leads. Blowing a budget can happen quickly if you don’t keep an eye on your ad spend (or at least adjust AdWords settings to prevent you from doing so).
The big bonus of working with AdWords daily (if only for 15 minutes a day) is you become more familiar with the platform and become more fluent in how to use it to improve your campaigns. Gradually, you’ll learn which metrics matter most for your business and how to conduct A/B tests for your ads, campaigns, and the pages you send ads to in order to get more out of them.
5) Audience and keyword research helps you identify and target niche buyer and seller groups.
As any agent working on search engine optimization (SEO) knows, neglecting to use keywords across your website can leave it in the digital dust and prevent any of its pages from ranking well in SERPs. The same goes for your real estate advertising: Fail to add in relevant, popular keywords to your paid ads and your Quality Score will dip and, in some cases, Google may decide not to show your ad to searchers altogether. If you already conduct regular keyword research for your SEO campaign, you’re in luck, as many of those same long-tail phrases are likely just as useful for your AdWords campaigns.
Google offers a helpful Keyword Planner tool that many professionals already use to research terms to incorporate in their SEO marketing. This resource, along with many other popular keyword research tools, can provide the list of core keywords you should bid on. Check out this video from Google that gives a high-level overview of how to approach keyword research using its Keyword Planner tool:
6) Rank well for several keywords and your search results presence will improve even further.
Assuming you’re already a real estate marketing superstar, you can make even more headway in getting found atop search results when also creating successful Adwords campaigns.
Imagine this: Buyers search your city name along with the phrases like “single-family homes for sale” and “single-family listings.” Not only does one of your blog posts appear on page one for that long-tail term, but your name also appears above or next to those organic results in your AdWords ads. You’re dominating the page, and when searchers notice a heavy presence from one particular brand, they know it’s legitimate and, in all likelihood, the most accurate search result based on their needs.
As long as you implement the same terms in both your content and advertising, you increase your chances of monopolizing SERPs and making your brand stand out from the local competition. Start off slow by mastering a single campaign around a select group of primary and long-tail keywords, then gradually move into new campaigns that test different key terms.
7) You can take advantage of buyers’ and sellers’ increasing use of mobile with optimized ads.
Mobile advertising is on the cusp of taking over the reins from desktop as the primary driver of digital advertising engagement — and it’s pretty obvious why that’s the case. Mobile search continues to rise, thanks to the ease of use of smartphones and tablets and responsive design, which is now a must-have component for any successful website.
One of the primary differences between developing AdWords ads for desktops versus mobile is that, due mainly to the screen size variance between the devices, desktops can show more ads than smartphones and tablets. This means you generally need to be one of the top two results to have your ad appear in SERPS on mobile devices.
To get one of these coveted SERP ad spots on mobile devices, ensure your ad copy includes core keywords and link to mobile-optimized landing pages. Sending potential buyers on a smartphone to a page where the text is barely legible and the images are too big won’t keep them coming back to your site. Spending your time optimizing your campaigns for mobile is crucial to reaching buyers and sellers online.
8) Writing attractive, click-worthy copy for your AdWords ads takes practically no time at all.
Unlike the amount of time you spend writing your real estate blog posts (you do blog … right?), producing copy for your AdWords campaign doesn’t take long. Having said that, you still need to make sure your copy is appealing and includes relevant links and a fitting call to action (CTA).
Here’s a good example: For a targeted neighborhood-related long-tail keyword (e.g. “Back Bay Boston condos for sale”), use language that entices viewers to click (e.g. “Beautiful Back Bay condos, Preview park-facing listings now!”) and link to a neighborhood page on your site dedicated to detailing Back Bay and the current listings there.
Google will recognize you’re providing pertinent information to your audience and providing a direct correlation between what you promise and what you deliver those who click your ad.
As noted in our Academy post on writing real estate advertising copy that converts, there’s a basic structure to AdWords copy that every advertiser needs to abide by. Follow this format and your ad should generate the real estate leads you desire:
9) Want to know what your competitors’ keyword strategies look like? AdWords will show you.
While you can’t see what keywords specific real estate agents use in their AdWords campaigns, you can get a general idea of what terms your competition tries to rank for and determine if their keywords are worth bidding on.
Your entire strategy shouldn’t revolve around outbidding competing agents, but knowing their intent with their ad campaigns can help inform your own AdWords decision-making, particularly as it relates to budgeting. For instance, if you continually get outbid on popular key terms, then you know your opportunity for ad clicks and conversions may lie in the less competitive keywords related to your local real estate market.
Besides Keyword Planner, there are plenty of other keyword analysis tools that can give you insights into not only your competition’s advertising objectives, but also their general real estate marketing strategies. As mentioned, keywords can (and often should) serve the dual purpose of bolstering your advertising and organic marketing plans. So, use these resources to identify what keywords competitors apply across their websites and verify which (if any) should be employed on the pages of your site and in your AdWords campaign.
Remember: This isn’t cheating — it’s about gaining information to help you outperform other agents competing for the same business you are.
10) You don’t need to run your own AdWords account — you can hire someone to run it for you.
If for whatever reason you can’t devote the time and energy to work on your own AdWords campaign, search for professionals who are AdWords-certified and, thus, have a rich understanding of how to set up successful campaigns. AdWords pros will be able to explain the results they’ve accomplished in AdWords for other brands, so ask how they’d approach your ad campaign to learn if they’re the right fit.
Arguably the biggest perk of allowing others to handle your real estate advertising strategy for you is free time to handle other essential marketing and sales functions you need to perform daily.