There are many online lead funnels for real estate investors – ads and organic traffic on Google, Bing, or Yahoo are often considered the most important. However, motivated sellers use different platforms to find businesses which will help them sell their house. Facebook is up there among the top channels for getting motivated house seller leads, so it’s no wonder that real estate entrepreneurs want to learn more about the ways the social network can be used.
We will focus on the ways Facebook helps businesses to zero in on the objectives of ad campaigns. Ads have different goals, so there are different ad formats that make running and managing distinct campaigns a simple task. It’s much easier than it sounds and most real estate investors use these funnels on a regular basis.
There are many ways to use Facebook ads through specific ad formats based on campaign objectives: increasing attendance at your event, boosting a successful post, sending an ad with a lead magnet, etc.
But before we delve into the structure and the process of ad campaigns with different objectives, let’s first take a look at some general benefits of advertising to real estate investing audiences on Facebook.
Targeting of audiences on Facebook is very meticulous. Yes, we emphasize targeting over and over again, but we only repeat it because it does provide businesses with a lot of information on the users who are going to see the ad. Other networks can’t match the wealth of details and personal information Facebook offers regarding their users.
You can create a target audience based on a number of demographic metrics, like age bracket, income range, education level, home ownership status, and marital status. Facebook even provides you with groups of users who have similar purchase behaviors, share a political view, or are fans of the same celebrity. Now, when you think of getting new leads, probably you don’t envision Elvis-inspired real estate investing ads, but the ways you use these audiences is up to you, and you can always find ways to get creative with it.
For example, you can use tangential Facebook interest, like interior design, to attract leads if you are a house flipper. Or, you can create a campaign for an audience that fulfills all the following criteria:
This sort of a customer profile can help you find cash buyers for a wholesale deal. You get the point. Plus, you can save an audience list (more on this below) to be used in different campaigns. You can target an audience of local users when you aim to increase attendance of an open house event, or you can target renters when you want to fill vacant rental properties – that sort of thing. Facebook provides an “Audience Definition monitor” for each campaign. This is an estimate on the potential audience which will see the ad based on the filters you selected. Every time a user clicks on a pay-per-click Facebook Ad you are invoiced. So, you can use the Audience Definition monitor to fine-tune the ratio between the size of your audience and the marketing budget.
The main perk of Facebook used to be free traffic, but that’s no longer the case. If someone advises you that you can get loads of free traffic for your real estate investing business on Facebook by publishing good content, chances are, that tip is outdated. The organic reach of Facebook was replaced with algorithms that decide whether you are likely to be interested in a post, i.e. ad.
Free sharing of content on the social network (or organic reach) is reduced and now paid reach is more prominent. In the past, your posts were shown to a wider audience, but to reach a new audience these days, you have to launch an ad campaign. This is not a bad thing in and of itself, because paid reach allows you to get your message in front of an audience that is more likely to be interested in your offer, as you get to pick who’ll be on the receiving end of your content/ads based on complex Facebook algorithms on user engagement.
So, if you are expecting the organic reach of your Facebook business profile to bring you tons of new motivated house seller leads – don’t bank on it. It’s better to shift your focus to paid reach through Facebook ads instead.
Facebook allows businesses to create ads which are tailored to meet specific objectives. Some of the objectives don’t really apply to real estate investors (for example, “an ad to increase engagement in your app”), however, other ad objectives may line up perfectly with your business goals. These campaign objectives include:
We will discuss specifics about each of these campaigns, but before we do that, note that registering a Facebook business profile is required. The registration process is simple – same as setting up an account on the platform. However you need to make sure you develop great “Ad sets.”
Facebook allows you to develop an ad set, or a group of settings that can be saved and used on different campaigns. This enables you to outline the general parameters of campaigns, and not to tweak these settings for each of the ads. “Ad sets” are one of the three steps in launching a Facebook business ad:
The ad set is practically the part where you choose the audience you want to target with the ad. That’s where you can test different audiences and see which audience converts the best. You send one type of ad to one audience, and a different ad to a second or third group – in essence, you can tailor ads for more than one audience.
What’s more, you can save audience lists. They may come from contacts you have in your email list, users who liked one of your pages, website visitors data, etc. Based on this and various user demographics metrics, you can create your own custom audiences, or target groups (the benefit of these lists will become apparent when we give you examples, below).
Onto the campaigns then.
Obviously, the goal of such a campaign is to increase traffic to your website. While this objective is similar to what you want out of a Google Adwords campaign, the way you get the traffic differs. With Google Ads, you target search engine users through keywords (“sell my house in X”), but with Facebook ads, you make and target a custom audience when you choose the Ad set.
You can choose the URL where people will land after clicking on the ad and you select the Facebook page from which the ad is shared (this is important if you have more than one Facebook page: a personal and a business page).
Make sure the content of the message in the ad corresponds with the page you are directing people to. For instance, if you use a call to action button that says “download a free ebook” don’t send people to the about page on your website; rather double check that you are sending them to a page that has this lead magnet (the free ebook).
Pro tip on using call to action in real estate investor Facebook ads: Go for the least demanding call to action, something like “learn more,” “download,” or “go to our website.” This will increase traffic because you ask for a small commitment on the part of the users. Ecommerce sites and retailers can be more aggressive and use a call to action like “buy now,” but your users are making a big decision to sell a house to you, so simply craft the campaign to show that visiting your website gives value to motivated house sellers.
Event ads on Facebook are very important for real estate investors. In essence, they help you push an event to a large audience. Often, these events are open houses, but you can also promote a virtual event like a webinar, live stream (Q n A with motivated sellers), or a virtual property tour.
You have to create a Facebook event before you start a campaign to raise attendance – you can’t promote an event that’s not posted on the network. The rest of it is the same as for other campaigns – make sure you share the correct date and time, and create a copy that will entice people to attend.
You are fishing for likes with this type of ad campaign. Don’t underestimate the benefit of “Promote Your Page” Facebook “Ad Goals” campaigns for achieving your overall business goals. Getting more likes on your page will effectively increase your reach, and this can have a positive effect on the success of other campaigns launched by the same page.
The ad is standardized: you choose the copy and image that will be shown to people and the call to action is “like my page.”
In a nutshell, this is an ad to show your post to an audience that is outside of your organic reach. These ads are used to get paid traffic for a post that was well received and attracted great organic traffic by your regulars. When you have a post that’s performing well, you want to amplify its reach – that’s what this type of ad campaign is all about. If users engage with a post (likes, shares, and comments) you’ve struck a chord with something that really matters to them.
For example, this can be a post where you dispel a myth about the real estate market, backed by stats – “Three reasons why now is the best time to sell a house.” It can also be an offer or a lead magnet that house sellers really appreciate, like “Property appraisal in 3 steps: DIY.”
It’s always great to have social media content of value, because those posts usually generate engagement. Boosting a post will allow you to reach a new audience. However, you can also compound the effect of the boosted post, if the post itself has a link to redirect users to your website where they can find a viral video or a comprehensive blog post.
This type of Facebook campaign allows you to advertise your business in your local area. Now, if you are a coffee shop owner, such a campaign is great – you can invite everyone in the neighborhood to visit your store. For real estate investors these campaigns are tricky, especially since many REI businesses specialize in a particular type of deals, not in real estate markets that are defined solely by location.
However, if you buy houses in one neighborhood, this campaign can be the digital equivalent to sending direct mail to all households in a clearly defined area. If you get creative, you can find other ways to use these ads as well.
Once you learn about the conversion tracking that’s possible with this type of Facebook ads, they might become your favorite. They are meant for those real estate investors who want to generate leads through a form that’s offered on their website.
In a nutshell, this is a “send people to your website” campaign, but with a very precise way to measure conversions. The Facebook ad includes a call to action button (for example, “redeem your offer”) that will take users to a specific landing page on your website. Now, what’s the catch? When you do an “Increase Conversions on Your Website” campaign, Facebook allows you to place a pixel, or piece of code, that allows you to track the activity of the user.
When a motivated seller clicks on a specific link on your website, that action is considered an “event” (this is code speak, not to be confused with actual events like open houses of which we spoke earlier). The pixel will pick up this activity and report on it.
For example, the link might be “Get an offer in 24 H” – and the attached pixel will let you know that an ‘event’ happened, i.e. that the website visitor converted through a lead capture form on your site. Keep in mind that you have to set up the pixel right to have reliable reports. It’s recommended to place the pixel on the last page that’s shown in the conversion process (the one that says “Thank you for providing your details with us”), so that only those who’ve completed the whole process are counted as a lead.
This is a great way to find out how many of the users who’ve clicked on the Facebook ad actually converted when they landed on your site.
You can create a custom Facebook audience that includes the visitors who were picked up by the retargeting pixel, and send a campaign strategically crafted for them. It’s remarketing at its finest, beyond the need for visitors to submit contact details.
However, there are limits to Facebook retargeting as well.
If the level of data which is gathered by tracking website visitors sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. There has been a push to protect the privacy of internet users for some time now, and it is set to change digital marketing forever. It started with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law about processing personal data in the European Union, which applies to all EU citizens regardless of their location at the moment. California adopted a similar law – the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) – shortly after that.
Flash forward to 2021 and online marketers have to deal with the iOS 14.5, which lets app users to either allow companies to track their online activity, or simply opt out by selecting “do not track.” We are yet to see the full effect of these changes. For the time being, we know that the iOS privacy updates on cookie-based tracking disrupts online ad campaigns. Facebook has a few recommendations for advertisers so that they can better cope with the changes.
It’s expected that with these iOS updates, first-party data will become more important than third-party data. In plain terms, you should rely more on the data you gather on your own about the website visitors, and not hire third-party services to track online activity that happens off your site.
There are also the limitations imposed by Facebook itself that you should be aware of. For example, you can only save the visitors who didn’t fill a form as a Facebook audience for a period of up to 180 days. Also, Facebook doesn’t allow ZIP code-based targeting that directly affects real estate campaigns.
Usually, interest-based targeting on Facebook allows advertisers to reach the right audience for their ad. Unfortunately, this works only for retailers and such, because when it comes to real estate, loans, and similar industries, interest-based targeting is very limited.
Facebook Ad for Your Mailing List Contacts
There are Facebook ad hacks that apply only to real estate investors. So, do note the pro tip that follows, because it can transform your online marketing.
You can create a Facebook audience out of any mailing list. If you have motivated seller lists that were put together for your direct mail marketing campaign, you can send them Facebook ads as well. But wait a minute: aren’t motivated seller lists full of property addresses and their owners? You can’t send Facebook ads to physical addresses. Yes, but what if you use a data service to match house addresses with email addresses?
Data services are used to obtain motivated seller lists anyway. You simply find the email address and the Facebook account which correspond with the homeowner’s full name or the property address – it’s just one extra step in the process. You can probably use the same data service you use for mailing lists.
If the property owners do have Facebook accounts, you can upload their details as a custom Facebook audience and then send ads to them.
It’s the same as the traditional direct mail marketing for finding motivated house sellers, but instead of sending letters via the post office, you reach out to them through Facebook oOr Facebook ads that work as direct mail for real estate investors – something along those lines.
This is not an ad, but a form that users can complete without even leaving Facebook. Some of the data on the user is pulled from the network (motivated sellers don’t need to populate all fields) and the sign up is seamless for mobile users. Does all this sound too good to be true? Well, the lead generation Facebook ad is great for eCommerce sites, where people purchase everyday products. But surprisingly, it works for real estate investors as well – Carrot members have reported success with this form.
Looking back at the list, you might ask yourself: do ad campaign objectives vary so significantly to warrant all these different options? The short answer is – they don’t. But they all have a particular feature that sets them apart.
It’s mostly because of ad placement and ad budget. The structure is more or less the same (headline, copy, photo, call to action) but placement plays an important role in the performance of the campaign. For example, the campaigns for domain advertising (“like my page”) are shown in the right hand column. Also, on mobile, the ads are shown in the news feed, so mobile users generally have more ad impressions and more ad views.
Plus, the pricing scheme is not the same for all ads: the “Send People to Your Website” campaign charges fees based on impressions (ad shown to users); boosted posts are charged for clicks (like Pay-per-click ads); and conversion campaigns are invoiced for the number of forms filled out.
Hence, you have the different ad objectives. Before you start a Facebook Ad for finding motivated house seller leads, determine a budget. This will allow you to set upper limits for the spending on Facebook marketing.
That’s the crux of using different types of Facebook ads as a real estate investor. The rest is typical for all digital campaigns. You track the performance and try out different designs to see which one works better.
On Facebook, the visual element is the most important part, whether that’s photo, video, or animated text. You can tweak the copy, or try a different movement to break the pattern of previous ads shown to users. Just remember: for split testing, you need to separate your campaign into two groups.
The detailed metrics about the performance of Facebook ads are one of the greatest advantages real estate investors can use to find motivated sellers, so make the most of it.
Reputation is everything in real estate. It takes hard work to build a good reputation, and even the slightest blunder can ruin it. And, today, with social media (and the internet in general), it’s really easy to check the track record of a specific company, your real estate investing business included. To help you create
Artificial intelligence (AI) brings disruptive innovation across industries, but will it ever transform real estate deals as we know them? Opinions vary, and since real estate investing is five to ten years behind the curve on trends in digital marketing (and adoption of software in general), we will have to wait for a conclusive answer