The Real Estate Advertising Guide for New Agents
By Matthew Bushery
Spending money on online real estate advertising can do wonders for any agent’s business — if you understand how it works. In this post, we delve into all of the important facets of real estate advertising that beginner agents should know to secure more traffic, leads, and clients.
Beginner real estate agents need to understand everything about online advertising before spending a dime. This means knowing what types of ads work best, where to publish ads, how much to spend, and how to measure your return on investment (ROI). Here, we offer some of the basics you’ll need for online advertising.
The Most Popular Types of Advertisements
Before detailing where your real estate agent advertising can live online, let’s go over the types of ads at your disposal. Each kind listed below offers different benefits, but not all may be right for your real estate marketing. Factors like your budget and ability to create ads will play a role in deciding which to implement in your real estate advertising strategy.
Arguably the most basic online ad type is the text ad. Text ads typically contain short promotional copy (a headline and body copy) and a real estate website link. That link can go to your homepage, a specific property page, a landing page, or any other page on your site where you want to drive traffic. The copy that accompanies the link needs to be concise, as most ad networks don’t allow for more than two lines (for instance, Google AdWords, which we discuss below, allows up to 25 characters per text ad headline and up to 35 characters in the ad body).
Given how small these ads are, it’s imperative you get to the point clearly and quickly. Here’s a short video from Google that explains how to create text ads that attract your audience:
Writing copy that persuades searchers to click on your ad is a must, but so is including relevant, highly searched keywords. A variety of factors affect where your ads land in search engine results pages (SERPs), all of which are part of Google’s Ad Rank algorithm, but pertinent keywords are up high on the list.
From static banners to interactive animations, there are several types of display ads. These differ from text in that they feature some type of graphic with promotional text.
This ad type has gotten a bad rap over the years, as many people view them as annoying. Additionally, more than half of consumers don’t think banner ads are effective. However, display ads offer real estate agents a unique advertising option, if used the right way, on social media or local market websites (e.g. small businesses, local directories). In fact, there are a lot of pros to creating display ads, especially ones that look and function well on mobile devices. For instance, a 2013 Nielsen survey found 45 percent of consumers viewed display ads on mobile devices as credible.
On the flip side, display ads have a drawback: If they’re not placed above the fold (the top portion of a website you see without having to scroll), most users don’t see them. A comScore study found nearly a third of display ads actually are never even seen, mostly because they live below the fold.
The third popular type of real estate advertising you can take advantage of is video. Short clips promoting your business or aspects of it, like particular listings, can be uploaded to YouTube. You can also use a video network to help target the best websites to host your videos (MonetizePros has a comprehensive list of the top ones here.)
Confidence in video marketing is arguably higher than that for text or display ads. More than 90 percent of executives have even stated they think video ads are as or more effective than display ads, according to a BrightRoll survey. Video ads are surprisingly simple to set up: Once you’ve become acclimated to video recording tools, all you have to do is upload and edit the footage and find the right outlets to show them.
Where to Advertise Your Real Estate Business
Let’s start with the ad option most popular among all professionals and brands: search engines. Google may rule the search universe, but Bing also plays a pivotal role in helping real estate agents get found online as well. The two supply roughly the same ad options, though the services and features that come with both of their advertising offerings differ slightly.
Google AdWords doubles as both an advertising and keyword research service, allowing you to identify the right terms to target with your campaigns and use in other facets of your real estate marketing, like your website (and especially your blog).
The core benefits of AdWords are that it’s easy to set up and organize campaigns and it allows for robust campaign reporting. You can monitor countless metrics for your ads, like click-through rate, cost per conversion, and Quality Score.
AdWords allows for your text ads to be placed in SERPs (above and to the right of search results). Text and display ads can also be featured on sites that are part of Google’s Display Network (these are sites that use Google to power their search functions and/or manage their advertising).
Bing, meanwhile, which now also operates Yahoo’s search engine, offers PPC ad options and keyword research tools (and even allows users to import existing AdWords campaigns into its platform). As with AdWords, any ads you create will be eligible to populate in Bing’s SERPs, along with sites the search engine has partnered with — meaning potential for a broad reach with your ads.
One of the main benefits to using the Bing advertising network as opposed to AdWords, as InfoTrust points out, is that fewer advertisers are a part of the Bing network, so in many cases, cost per click (CPC: the more clicks your ads get, the more you pay for them) and cost per mille (CPM, which is paid per every 1,000 impressions your ads receive) can be lower and ad rank can be higher. Bing and Yahoo have nearly one-third market share of the search industry and each has substantial user bases, which is good news for advertisers.
When combing over your real estate advertising ideas for search engine ads, try Google and Bing’s services to see which works best for your budget and ultimately provides you with the results you want. Both can help you reach new leads and secure new business.
Real Estate Portals
Aside from search engines, real estate portals like Zillow and Trulia provide agents another way to target leads in their local markets. Both of these platforms offer a similar service (eventually, they may become one service, since the former acquired the latter this summer) for agents looking to advertise. You can claim any listing you represent on their sites for free and purchase ZIP codes, which, in turn, dictate where your local ads appear on the sites.
Pricing for each ZIP code depends on how many other agents pay (and what they pay) to get their ads to appear on the sites. When you purchase ZIP codes, you need to choose what percentage of a ZIP code you want to buy (buying them doesn’t give you exclusivity to them — other agents can bid on yours as well) and how many ad impressions you want to buy (in other words, how many times you want your real estate advertising to appear on the sites).
Having said that, there are times when your target ZIP code might be all bought out. If this is the case, Zillow and Trulia typically allow advertisers to be added to waitlists for their ZIP code. Regarding impressions, there isn’t one target number to aspire for. It really depends on your budget and how much you’re willing to allocate to get your ads shown.
Increasing brand awareness and interacting with your audience on social media can go a long way in building your business and bettering your bottom line. With real estate advertising on the major social platforms, you can further expand your reach and find qualified leads. Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, among other major channels, are worth exploring:
- Facebook has many different display ad options, including “boosting” your own updates, which promotes your posts to targeted demographics, and “Offers,” which are promotional ads that populate the side of Facebook’s pages and appear in News Feeds.
- Meanwhile, Twitter has Promoted tweets, which show up in the feeds of users who search certain terms you specify.
- And Google+ provides +Post ads, which promote your posts on third-party sites (those that are part of the Google Display Network).
There are other social media sites, like Instagram and Pinterest, that have also created advertising options or will soon. However, the three platforms mentioned above have the most proven track records of helping professionals and brands connect with audiences, so they’re the primary ones to target for your initial real estate advertising ventures on social media.
How to Measure Real Estate Advertising Success
How do you know your ad efforts are paying off? Analyzing your success is a must, but there is no single, magic number or goal to aim for with your advertising. Real estate agents all have different aims with their real estate advertising. That means it’s crucial to spend time before you begin advertising to determine what you hope to achieve — and in what amount of time. The three primary goals of real estate agent advertising are to:
- Elevate your brand awareness: If you’re just getting started as a real estate agent, it may be worth spending some money on getting your name out there. Your real estate website can help you do that over time, but to get a quick boost, dedicating some ad dollars to promote your business and make a name for yourself could be the right move.
- Grow real estate website traffic: More established agents use real estate advertising to direct searchers to specific pages on their websites to increase traffic and develop a loyal follower base.
- Bolster your lead generation: Ads can also help with your real estate marketing further down the sales funnel. For instance, text and display ads that offer your phone number and show viewers your value as an agent can better your bottom line.
Real estate agent advertising is the long game, meaning you won’t necessarily see real results until at least a few months of advertising. So, figure out specific timelines for when you want to reach your goals. This will help you stay on track toward those goals and identify which strategies are working, which aren’t, and how to adjust your campaigns accordingly.
Published on December 5, 2014
Written by Matthew Bushery
I'm the Sr. Content Creator for Placester, where I educate real estate professionals about modern marketing and, in turn, help agents and brokers make the most of their online presence, earn more traffic, and generate more leads and business.