Prior to starting a property management company and becoming a real estate investor, I spent 10 years in the digital advertising industry. I’ve found that most people in real estate do not have a very strong understanding of digital advertising.
Digital advertising has been a major key to my ability to improve our property management company and investing business. If you are looking to scale your investing, I highly suggest improving your understanding and execution of digital advertising. This article will give you some high-level basics to get you moving forward.
1. Develop a Goal
First, develop a clear metric of success for different attributes of your business. Examples of this includes: time needed to fill a vacant unit, leads on owners who want to sell their properties, etc. Some of these goals may have a couple different metrics. For example, if you are a wholesaler, you’ll set a goal for number of leads and a goal for deal profits.
2. Track Relentlessly
Keep your leads in an online database that you’ll save forever. Make sure every lead has a defined source, such as Facebook, Meetup, etc. Over time, you will most likely add additional profitability metrics. If every lead has a recorded source, you can go back and understand granular profitability by channel. When you’re trying to find a tenant, for example, you’ll be able to track where the tenant found out about the rental. For advertising sources that overtime prove they aren’t effective, either turn off that source, or spend time fixing it to make sure it’s working better.
3. Build An Effective Website
I’m amazed at how many people in real estate do not have a website. If you are a wholesaler, real estate agent, flipper, etc.—you need a website. Period. You can build it yourself through sites like WordPress or Squarespace. It’s not that expensive, and I believe it’s essential to building leads online. Once you’ve built your site, make sure there’s an easy way to contact you. And set up Google Analytics so you can understand your data as your business grows.
4. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
SEM is the sponsored advertising tied to specific search terms. Depending on what data source you trust, Google represents approximately 80 percent of SEM scale, and Bing represents about 20 percent of SEM scale in the U.S. We recommend starting with Google but then also including Bing as you get more serious about your business. You can bid on a cost-per-click basis. Then, track to see if the clicks are leading to conversions. This way, you’ll understand what words are working well.
For example — if you’re looking for direct homeowners who want to sell — we’d suggest buying keywords against terms like “sell my house in Philadelphia.” Get started at low-spending amounts, because there is no minimum spend!
Be sure to either target specific geographic locations or target specific geographic words. So in the Philadelphia example, you could target people who are searching in that city — or people who are searching for Philadelphia in the keyword set.
SEM Example: These blue links are sponsored ads that you can buy on a cost-per-click basis.
5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO means you increase the natural search rank of your website on search engines for certain keywords. Unlike SEM, SEO is free: you don’t pay for the clicks. We think of SEO as the golden goose, because once it’s working, it produces leads forever at no additional cost.
To get started, figure out which keywords your business should rank highly for. Then, make sure your website is optimized for those keywords. There is a lot of material online that can help you out, step by step.
One simple suggestion is to make sure you have specific cities that you are targeting through your website. If you are a buyer who specifically targets Trenton, NJ, make sure you have Trenton in your website’s keywords and in your site’s content. Google uses your content and keywords to help organize your ranking for different searches.
List your company on the major local and national business sites with accurate business and website info. Site links are key to increasing your SEO ranking. SEO can be a lot of work — but the payoff will be immense for your business.
Final advice, mobile will most likely be the dominant device for people to find your site. Make sure you spend the most amount of time on optimizing for mobile devices. As an example, our company website gets 70 percent of it’s traffic on mobile now!
Facebook is often overlooked in the digital advertising spectrum, especially by people who didn’t grow up with social networking as a major part of their lives. Today, there are real estate companies who drive all of their leads via Facebook!
There are three things we recommend to use Facebook efficiently. First, make sure you post content on Facebook as often as possible. This includes both content from your company page and content from your personal page. Second, join any local, relevant Facebook groups—and join the conversation. Third, buy targeted Facebook ads against your relevant geographic and demographic targeting. Unlike SEM, this targeting is more tied to individuals, but it can still be wildly profitable for your business.
7. Content Production
Content production typically doesn’t fall into digital advertising, but I added it here simply because it’s so important, and it complements the other parts so well. Producing content can range from blog posts, YouTube videos, Facebook posts (think videos, pictures, or shared marketing copy), Instagram posts, and much more. My suggestion is start with whatever medium feels most natural to you. Cover topics that you understand the most. It may feel strange at first, but you’ll be shocked at how valuable it becomes for your business.
Retargeting is when you place a cookie on a user who visited your website and you target them with advertising as they visit other websites. Google has a really nice integration between Google Analytics and Google Display Network. You can use the Google Analytics code to place the cookie, and then target that user with banner advertising across the Google Display Network. Typically, retargeting has really high conversion rates because the users have already expressed interest in your company. Similar to SEM, you can bid on a cost-per-click basis, or you can also bid on a cost-per-impression basis. The ads will show across thousands of major websites. People may even comment about seeing your ads everywhere!
9. Track, Optimize, Iterate
Finally, make sure you continuously go back and optimize your content. I suggest doing it every couple of months. Pull data to better understand where your profitable leads are coming from. Also, major companies like Facebook and Google will give you free advice for how to implement their platforms better. I recommend spending a half hour with one of their consultants to get educated.