If you’ve ever looked at a fancy watch or cool winter boots on a website and saw the exact same item on a Facebook ad just minutes later, you know what retargeting is. It can be a bit spooky to have a product follow you, but the point is that you’re constantly reminded that it was something you considered buying. After a while, it becomes a battle of wills: if “out-of-sight-out-of-mind” is out of the equation, how long will you really deny your shopping desires?
But we know what you’re wondering: how does this work for real estate? Buying a home worth a few hundred thousand dollars is not the same as buying a $60 pair of shoes. True. But, the benefit is simply that you or your listing stays top of mind. If they looked at your site once when looking for a realtor and then decide to do a search a few days later, you’ll pop up again, and repeatedly, before the competition. That’s pretty sweet.
So if you want to know more about how to use retargeting for real estate, read on.
While similar in appearance to display ads, retargeting ads incorporate tracking as a strategy, which allows you to capitalize on behavioral data and increase the likelihood of conversion. This is important because with most websites, only 2% of visitors become clients upon their first visit. Retargeting is designed to help you convert the remaining 98%.
Given its unique purpose — to convert folks who have already visited your site — retargeting works best as part of a larger online marketing strategy. Since retargeting ads are all about conversion optimization, they’ll likely increase the number of people who become leads from your current pool of visitors, but they won’t drive new traffic. So, it’s best to use retargeting along with your search and display ads, which are ideal for driving traffic, through Google AdWords.
Retargeting uses “cookie” technology to anonymously track your visitors around the Web. Cookies are something you’re also probably familiar with: it’s what the Internet uses to keep you logged in when you exit a website window or what autofills a web URL when you start typing into the address bar. It’s a convenient tool that decreases the amount of time it takes to browse and engage with websites you use frequently, like Facebook or your favorite Fantasy Football hub. It’s this same tool that is the basis of your retargeting campaign, placing a small, unnoticeable snippet of code onto your website. Every time a new visitor lands on your site, that code drops an anonymous cookie on the visiting user and tells ad providers, like Google, to start serving up your ads. This ensures that only people who have already visited your site are retargeted.
Creating a Retargeting Ad
While there are a variety of retargeting services out there to choose from, one of the most popular is Google’s, which works in conjunction with Google Adwords.
To use remarketing on the Google Display Network (a collection of partner and Google-owned apps and websites, including YouTube, Gmail, and Blogger), you’ll want to select “Display Network only – Remarketing” when setting up your AdWords campaign. To use remarketing for search ads, you’ll want to select the campaign type, “Search Network only – All features.” While the former option will display ads to your site visitors while they’re browsing the Web, the latter option will display ads to your visitors while they’re searching in Google.
Since AdWords utilizes a PPC (pay-per-click) model, you’ll want to think about how many clicks you’d like to get on your retargeting ads each day. For example, if you want 100 clicks, and clicks cost an average of 5 cents, you’ll need to budget $5 per day. Just multiply the CPC (cost-per-click) by the number of clicks you’d like per day to find your daily budget. If you don’t have much experience with bidding, consider using Google’s Conversion Optimizer. This tool uses data gathered from Conversion Tracking (more on that below) to help you achieve a target CPA (cost-per-acquisition). CPA is a bidding method wherein you specify an amount you’re willing to pay for a conversion. Using the Conversion Optimizer, Google automatically optimizes your placement in each ad auction, allowing for the maximum conversions possible.
While there are lots of metrics you can look at when evaluating the performance of your retargeting ad campaign, conversions are the most important. To track conversions, you’ll want to install Google’s free Conversion Tracking tool. The installation process is similar to that of Google Analytics, in that you’ll need to copy and paste a tracking snippet into your website’s source code. Once in place, you’ll be able to use Conversion Tracking to create reports about the important actions people are taking on your site. These helpful reports, known as “Search Funnels,” give you insight into the series of steps your visitors take before reaching a conversion.
To review these Search Funnels, navigate to the Tool and Analysis tab in your AdWords account and choose “Conversions.” On the left, click the “Search Funnels” link and you’ll be able to choose from a variety of reports covering clicks, impressions, and more. The data from these reports will help you understand how visitors are finding for your business, products, or services before they convert. By analyzing these conversion paths, you can learn which retargeting keywords, ad groups, and campaigns are having the most success.
As is the case with display ads, a great advantage of retargeting ads over print ads (magazines, newspapers, etc.) is that you can easily adjust them to improve performance. For example, if your conversion tracking reveals that a certain keyword is producing virtually no conversions, whereas another keyword is producing great results, you can eliminate the poorly performing keyword and optimize for success.
“The biggest mistake young designers make is that they try to make their advertising look like advertising.”
— JEFF GOODBY
One of the unique benefits that retargeting offers is allowing you to improve the performance of existing ad campaigns. For example, if you have a display ad campaign with keywords that are driving lots of traffic, but aren’t converting, you can add retargeting to the mix to boost conversions. You can also use the information gained from your remarketing efforts to inform your bids for search ads. Since people who have already visited your site may be inclined to purchase at a higher rate, you can make bid adjustments for these visitors to optimize for more clicks and conversions. Through remarketing, you can also see which sections of your site are being visited the most and then tailor the content of your search ads to relate to those sections.