Google Adwords and Analytics for Real Estate

On the Help-U-Sell Power Hour today, Ron McCoy talked with the group about the importance of monitoring website performance using Google Analytics.  It’s a fairly simple process to set up, especially for Help-U-Sell brokers who have an easy to use field in their website back-end for the Google code and a tech support team to help.

What Google Analytics will tell you is:  how many visitors find your website over a given time, how many pages they visit, how long they stay, where they came from (location and referrer), and so on.  It’s great information that can help you evaluate and upgrade your website.

Once it’s set up and running, once the website is localized and optimized,  Analytics is great for monitoring the effectiveness of your marketing.  In today’s online universe, much of your marketing should drive consumers to your website.  If that’s the intent of a marketing piece, you should see a spike in visitors when it runs.

I look at Analytics for The Set Fee Blog every day.  Day in – day out, the numbers are fairly consistent.  My traffic goes down a bit when I go through a dry spell and don’t post for days.  It goes up a bit when I post something that strikes a chord with readers and they share it with others.  But I can also see increases when I market the blog.

I ran a campaign a couple of weeks ago using Facebook Ads.  For $100 (I’m on a budget!), a little side panel ad questioning why real estate commissions are so high appeared on the Facebook pages of consumers who have expressed an interest in real estate.  The ad made about 300,000 impressions and garnered about 100 ‘clicks.’

Analytics for the period showed a nice jump in visitors, page views and time on site.  Of course those 100 people were in the mix, but so were all the people with whom they shared the specific post I linked the ad to:  Real Estate Commissions Revisited.  My Analytics traffic was up enough to convince me (once again) that a few hundred dollars tossed at Facebook Ads once in awhile is well worth the expense!

Here’s an idea for you.  You probably have a card or coupon for $100 worth of free Google AdWords in your desk drawer or in your email.  I say probably because I have several just because I have a real estate license and a corporation.  If you don’t have one, just call Google or send them a request for one (they give them away like candy).  Tell them you want to evaluate the effectiveness of AdWords in driving traffic to your website and they’ll give you the credit.

Then decide what kind of traffic you want, buyers or sellers.  Me?  I want sellers because listings are what’s in demand in my marketplace.  But that’s a problem, too, because I really don’t have a good seller capture page on my website.  So I need to work with Robbie and Peter in Sarasota to build that page.  It ought to look like an ETM . . . OR, hey, maybe it should look like THIS , but including a contact form, too.  The page ought to tell what I do for sellers and include testimonials from happy customers.  Once that’s done I will have a page to drive sellers to.

Now I can go to Google AdWords and create an ad.  But what should I advertise?  Hmmm.  How about:  ‘How to sell your San Diego home and save thousands’ or something similar.  Since you have $100 to spend, set the budget at something like $12 a day – that will get you about a week’s worth of placement.  And then start watching Analytics.  Do you see an increase in traffic to that landing page?  Now, check your own office analytics (your incoming call/inquiry logs):  of the traffic that gets to your landing page, how many actually contact your office.

This little exercise will not only get you familiar with Google Analytics, it will also help you evaluate the value of Google Adwords.

As an aside, given my limited experience, I like Facebook Ads a little better than Google AdWords because their targeting mechanism seems more detailed and precise.  But, to my knowledge, Facebook isn’t routinely giving away $100 of Ad credit and Google is.  Since this is a test and a learning experience, why not do it as cheaply as possible?  If it works for you, then invest a couple hundred bucks in a Facebook campaign targeting people around your office and see how that performs on Analytics.

 

How to Use Facebook to Generate Leads

Forget about spending hours posting fascinating real estate information, looking for people to ‘Friend’ and creating an online persona. I know: that’s what all the ‘Gurus’ are telling you to do. And I’m sure it can work.   But I’m too impatient for that.  I want instant gratification.  I want to start a marketing effort today and see the results this week.  You can do that with Facebook and the following steps will show you how.

  1. Go to your office website content management system (CMS), or to your tech person if you have one, and build a great landing page for customers.  What kind of customers?  Well, the page could be directed at Buyers or Sellers, but since every real estate website is directed to Buyers (search, search, search) and since listings are the name of the game, I’m going to suggest you build one for Sellers.  What should be on it?  A brief description of what you do and why you’re better than anyone else in the business, testimonials from real people you’ve helped with happy photos, and a contact form that ties directly to your cell phone.
  2. Go to your Facebook page.  Look for the gear icon in the upper right corner and click it.  You’ll get a drop-down menu and you should select ‘Create Ad.’  You’re going to create a little sidebar ad to run on Facebook that will drive people to the landing page you just created.
  3. Locate a good duty free graphic that will draw the eye and craft an intriguing statement in the space allotted.  Tip:  put your phone number in the ad.  It is remarkable how many people will phone you rather than click the link in your ad – and, since this is pay-per-click, if they don’t click, you don’t pay!
  4. This is the fun part.  Target your ad to hit the Facebook pages of the people you want to reach.  Maybe you’ll choose a geography:  say, a 5 mile radius of your office.  Maybe you’ll choose an age range:  25 – 55.  Maybe you’ll choose any number of other criteria.  Each time you select a criteria, you’ll see the size of your potential audience shrink.  That’s a good thing.  The best marketing is target marketing and as you fine tune and shrink your target audience, the effectiveness of your ad will increase.
  5. Set a click-rate.  How much are you willing to pay when a consumer clicks your ad?  Facebook will suggest a range and it will often be fairly large, say:  $1.50 – $10 a click.  Whatever you choose can be edited at any time, so I suggest starting in the lower half of the range, ideally just south of the mid-point.  What you’re really setting is the MAX you’ll pay for a click because the click rate varies depending on how many other ads are competing for the same audience at the same time.  Maybe you’ll bid $3.00 a click.  When you check your stats,  you’ll discover you’re only paying, on average, $2.05 a click.
  6. Set a campaign duration and total budget.  I would suggest your first campaign should run 1 – 2 weeks and have a budget of, oh . . . $200.  That will be enough for you to see some results and make adjustments.
  7. As the campaign runs, check your stats daily, even two or three times a day.  Are  you getting enough clicks to exhaust your budget in the time allotted?  If not, maybe you should up your click rate.
  8. Meanwhile, meticulously track your results.  Of the clicks that get to  your landing page, how many fill in the inquiry form?  How many call you?  And what about the people who never click, but call the number in the ad?  How many of them are there?

You see, this is how you develop leads using Facebook:  you treat it like any other advertising medium . . . because that’s what it is.   I love Facebook pay-per-click advertising because it can be so highly targeted.  $2.00 might seem like a lot to pay for a click, until you recognize that it is a click originating within your target market, from a person who fits the description you chose, who was sufficiently motivated by your teaser ad to investigate.  It’s a bargain!

Here’s the key: What can you offer in your teaser ad to get viewers to your Landing Page?  If you are Help-U-Sell, that ought to be easy.  (Picture of house ‘thinking’) Headline:  Thinking of Selling?  Body: See how much you can save!  (555) 543-2109.  

And, by the way: though I dissed Facebook’s ability to build your business in the first paragraph, truth is: it’s a great tool for staying in touch with past clients. Please exploit that aspect to the fullest. But try a little pay-per-click to generate NEW business.
 

Pay-Per-Click, Step-By-Step

We all know that carefully planned pay-per-click advertising works.  It can effectively drive traffic to your website, where, if it is handled properly, it can turn into leads. We saw an example of that this morning on the Tech Time Tuesday Webinar, where Jack Bailey increased traffic to his office website by almost 1,000% over a four month period. ,due largely to his pay-per-click campaign on Google. Using Ad Words, he brought roughly 15,000 visitors to his website.  One of his ads – the one offering a free market analysis – had a 31% click-thru rate!  That’s crazy good!  And, assuming some of the traffic is converted to leads, some of which actually buy or sell real estate, the cost can be very low.  Really, Jack’s budget was $12 a day – a little less than $400 a month.

But, how do you do this?  How do you proceed step-by-step to take advantage of this Internet Marketing Bonanza?  Here’s how:

1.  Decide what kind of lead you are seeking.  Are you looking for Buyers or Sellers?  What kind of Buyers?  Buyers interested in Foreclosures?  Buyers looking in a specific neighborhood?  Buyers with little down payment money?  Sellers with equity?  Upside down sellers? Sellers in a specific geographic area?  Step one is all about getting very specific about your target.  The more specific you set your pay-per-click parameters, the more efficient your campaign will be.  In short:  you’ll attract fewer clicks from customers you don’t want (out of the area, just looking, unable to buy and so on).

2.  Build a landing page on your office website where people who click your ad will ‘land.’  A good landing page should address exactly what the ad mentioned.  If it was the offer of a free Market Analysis, that’s ALL that should be on the landing page:  just the contact information capture form and a tiny bit of verbiage explaining what will happen when they sign up.   Some experts say you should keep your branding, both personal and company, to a minimum on a good lead capture landing page.  The idea is that people may sign up online for something they perceive to be of value if they don’t associate it with an ordinary Realtor or real estate company.

3.  Decide where you are going to advertise.  Google is the 800 pound gorilla here.  If you choose this, your ads will appear when people who fit your demographic parameters search for the keywords and phrases around which you build your campaign.  Don’t overlook Facebook.  Their pay-per-click ads have been effective for many, and their targeting process is very specific.  And don’t forget:  not everybody searches with Google.  Some use Bing, some use Yahoo.  You may find more cost effective alternatives if you just look around.

4.  Design your ad.  Keep the verbiage to a minimum.  Stick to exactly what you’re offering. Use Google AdWords to determine which real estate search terms are most common in your area and build your campaign around them.   While Google pay-per-click is all words and links, Facebook allows you to include a photo or graphic in your ad.  If you’re using a photo, note that. sometimes it’s the quirky photo that catches the eye.  **TIP:  Include your phone number in your pay-per-click ad.  Some people will call rather than click, and you don’t pay if they don’t click!

5.  Set-up and budget your campaign.  You’ll set three ‘maximums’ when you initiate your campaign:  your total budget (the maximum you want to spend for the entire campaign), your daily maximum, and the maximum you’re willing to pay per click.  I mentioned Jack’s campaign:  his total budget was right at $1,500.  He was willing to spend up to $12 a day.  I don’t know what he agreed to pay-per-click, but what usually happens is the vendor (Google or Facebook or Yahoo)  will give you a range in which you should bid.  Let’s assume it’s $1.10 – $1.53 per click.  The higher you bid, the more frequently your ad will appear . . . until you hit one of your maximums.  When I’ve done pay-per-click, I’ve set my bid on the high side of the middle of the range.  By they way:  some clicks will come in at less than your bid; it all depends on how competitive the environment around your key words is at that moment.

6.  Track your results.  Conceptually, this step is number six.  But Chronologically?  You probably ought to move this to first.  BEFORE you do anything with any marketing, pay-per-click or otherwise, you must set up your system for tracking results.  How will you capture and track the leads that come in via your Internet contact form?  What about those leads that choose to pick up the phone and call?  And how will you get your staff to take all of this tracking as seriously as you do?  (I’ve always been a big fan of boiling in oil and/or burning at the stake for slackers, but the choice is yours).

7.  Manage your campaign.  Everyday, take a look at your results.  How many leads did you create?  What key words or phrases pulled the best?  Which keywords could you pause or drop from the campaign?  And so on.

Now it’s soapbox time.  This is the moment when all of us need inventory.  Listings are so low right now and the Listing Agent is in control.  This is happening because increased buyer activity as begun to push prices slightly higher – something we haven’t’ seen in years.  Homeowners are very curious right now about what their homes are worth.  They’ve seen the uptick in values and are wondering if they’re still upside down.  Now is the time to do a pay-per-click campaign aimed at these people.  How about a pay-per-click ad that simply says:  ‘Find Out What Your Home Is Worth Today’ . . . leading to the free market analysis page that’s already set up and is available on your office website.

So, let’s do it.  Do steps 6, 1, and 3 – get it all organized – and then call Tony in Sarasota.  He’ll be happy to help you finish the task.  And if you want to run any marketing ideas by me, I’m energized and available.