Last year, Facebook began enforcing a new ad policy that impacted real estate agents and agencies: advertisers running any housing-related promotions would have to select the “Special Ad Category” when creating ad campaigns. The goal was to prevent discriminatory advertising – a necessary and beneficial practice – but the new policy swiftly changed how real estate agents used Facebook’s ad platform, no longer allowing them to target ads by zip codes, age or gender.
“It’s been interesting,” said Matt McGee about Facebook’s ad policy updates. Matt is the Agent Resource Center Editor for HomeLight, a website that connects homebuyers with real estate agents. Not only is Matt in the industry, he has direct experience with Facebook’s Special Ad Category policies having spent more than five years helping manage Facebook ads for a successful real estate agent who also happens to be his wife.
Whenever Matt’s wife would host an open house event, he would run a Facebook ad blitz at the same time, targeting a one-mile radius around the open house address. “We can’t do that anymore,” said Matt, “That entire type of Facebook ad that we used to run is just gone.”
Even though Facebook’s recent ad policies may have created a slight wrinkle for realtors on the platform, it’s still one of the most effective ad channels for real estate agents and agencies. (According to Matt, the National Association of Realtors reports 76% of agents use Facebook for business.) Earlier this month, AKvertise President Akvile DeFazio joined Matt on his podcast “The Walkthrough” to discuss how real estate agents could fine tune their Facebook ad campaigns to bring more leads into their sales pipeline and quickly convert the leads most ready to make a home purchase.
Here are a few key takeaways from their conversation:
Facebook ad campaign objectives are aligned with each stage of the customer journey: Awareness, consideration and conversion. For real estate agents, an effective Facebook ad campaign hinges on being able to target the right messages to homebuyers and home-sellers at each of these stages.
Real estate agents may not be able to target by zip code, but they still have the ability to target an ad within a 15-mile radius. Using this tactic, real estate marketers can create an upper funnel awareness campaign – implementing broad targeting measures that allow for maximum exposure at lower ad spend levels. This type of campaign is purposely broad in nature, offering realtors and agencies the opportunity to introduce themselves to the market and fill their sales pipeline with new leads.
Consideration campaigns are aimed at warmer audiences, encouraging users to visit an agency’s or realtor’s website. Conversion campaigns are at the bottom end of the sales funnel – consumers know who the advertiser is and are ready to engage. These campaigns are more expensive but deliver higher ROI.
An awareness campaign is meant for a cold audience, aiming only to get them into the sales funnel. The links you provide should lead to your website, either listings of homes for sale in the area or news articles and blog posts that may be of interest to homebuyers and sellers. From there, you would want to run a more aggressive campaign that speaks to leads in the consideration or conversion stage of the customer journey, adding a call-to-action button encouraging prospects to schedule a home tour or directing them to a lead gen form that they complete on your website.
Once you have introduced a steady flow of website traffic to your site, consider running a remarketing campaign. Facebook’s remarketing campaigns allow advertisers to target users who have previously visited their website, serving up ads to potentially warm leads. This type of campaign will likely be more expensive in terms of ad spend, but the quality of leads will be much higher and more likely to convert.
Do not underestimate the power of an image. Many realtors may want to lead with a standard picture showcasing the front of the home – but is that your best photo? Thinking outside the (real estate) box and leading with the picture that packs the most punch can help drive higher engagement rates. Does the house have an amazing chef’s kitchen? Or a one-in-a-million view? Consider which images will motivate a homebuyer to click through to your website – and make sure video is part of your advertising mix.
Why video? People digest video content faster and retain it for longer periods of time. More importantly, AKvertise has found video ads regularly outperform static image ads. The trick is to keep your video succinct and hit the highlights early. You want to showcase the best thing about the property being promoted within the first 10 seconds of a video ad.
Facebook’s Video Creation Kit makes it easy for smaller real estate agencies and individual realtors to create video ad campaigns. The tool is free to use and comes with multiple features to animate photos, add customized logos and insert text overlays.
If you want a deeper dive into the Facebook ad tips covered here, be sure to listen to Akvile’s full conversation with Matt. They discuss everything from the type of ad copy that works best for upper funnel campaigns to the reasons why Facebook Lead Ads may not be the best way for realtors to gain new leads. For anyone looking to boost their real estate business efforts, Matt’s “The Walkthrough” podcast offers a wealth of industry insight and is a phenomenal resource for agents and agencies alike.
Listen to the full podcast – or read the transcript – here: Facebook Ads for Every Stage of the Real Estate Client Journey.