Ultimate Guide To PPC for Real Estate Investors (2021)

PPC for real estate investors

A guide to help real estate investors get started with PPC or online ads.

This guide is to help real estate investors learn about PPC, how to run their own campaigns, where they can run online ads, definitions to know, and more.

Welcome to PPC for Real Estate Investors!

This article will cover all the basics of Pay-Per-Click ads for real estate investors. Maybe you’re here because you’re a top real estate investor, and interested in finding more sellers online, and you’ve heard PPC is the right way to go about it. In that case, hopefully, you’ll get a good overview of how to get started with your own PPC campaign, and have a basic framework for how to think about it.

Maybe you’re here as an experienced real estate investor, who has actually run some paid ads in the past, but you feel like you don’t understand the whole process, or just want to make sure you’re not missing anything that could be helping you increase conversions or lower your CPC (what you’re paying for every click on average). Maybe you’re ready to buy houses in your market and want a fast start online.

Whatever reason you’re here, this article will walk through what PPC is, what marketing channels you can run paid ads on, basic definitions you’ll need to be familiar with, and then an overview of how to run your own campaign from beginning to end.

Need help?

If you get to the end of this guide, realize how much work it is (but how valuable it can be) and decide you want some help, we have two options:

Our PPC Kickstart.

It’s a done-for-you service where our team will create a real estate PPC ad campaign for you, and manage it for 90 days, driving sellers to you. If you don’t have a website, we’ll use our proprietary landing pages to capture lead info. At the end, you can have us manage it month by month or take the keys and run it yourself. Good for top real estate investors with higher budgets, and less time. Learn more here.

Our Marketing Bootcamp.

Jump in a small group style Bootcamp, where our team will walk you through doing it yourself, step by step, including where to find links, how to get them, what keywords to track, and more. Basically, we give all our expertise to you and guide you as you do it yourself. Besides real estate investor PPC, the Bootcamp will also teach you how to do your own remarketing, and Search engine optimization. Great for real estate investors with less money and more time. Learn more here.

What is PPC?

PPC stands for “pay per click”, and is a type of direct, online advertising. As the name suggests, it’s a method of direct marketing where you pay (auction or bid style) for every click over to your chosen URL.

When a real estate investor uses the term, they probably mean ““Google Ads””, or more broadly, “paying to get my website promoted on different websites.” But in the strictest sense, it means that you’re paying for clicks to your website. And that doesn’t have to be on the Google AdWords platform. It can be campaigns on LinkedIn, Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, and platforms like them. You can even run ads on a less common search engine.


If you’re a real estate investor or cash home buying company, you have a lot of marketing options available to you. So why PPC for your next marketing project?

  • Gain leads “instantly”. We say “instantly” because ultimately conversions depend on your website, your campaign being properly setup, and your budget.
  • You can quickly and accurately measure your ROI (return on investment).
  • You can get started for under $1,000, and take it from there.


  • It’s expensive to run ads for any real estate investor. Your CPC (cost per click) could range from $15-75+ depending on your market, and campaign setup.
  • It can be tricky to really learn the ins and outs of ad platforms and know enough to improve your conversion numbers and reduce your cost.
  • Results are probably less “trusted” than organically shown results, and you’ll need a good website or landing page to drive traffic to, otherwise, it’s a waste.

Why PPC for real estate investors?

OK, so now for the important question: why is PPC good for real estate investors? Put differently, what are the pros of Pay-Per-Click for real estate investors?

Here they are, in no particular order:

Instant website traffic: as opposed to SEO, you can start driving traffic to your site with PPC today. One major benefit is that if you absolutely need leads (like, right now), you can start driving traffic to your website and collecting leads (assuming you have a good website, and are targeting the right traffic, and running the right ad). 

Extremely measurable stats (even for novices): even if you’re a newbie, most PPC platforms (like Facebook or Google) will provide data, and explanations of what each piece of data means. For example, Google will break down in a simple, visual way, how much each click is costing you, how many people have seen your ad, etc. 

Quickly determine ROI in your market: one major benefit of running a PPC ad, is that you can quickly determine it’s ROI (return on investment) in a short amount of time. In maybe 1 month (shorter or longer depending on your budget, ad content, and campaign setup) you can get a fairly good idea of how much it costs you to acquire a lead from paid advertising. The platform you work with will usually show you stats like: $25 per click, $250/lead. You then can measure how many of those leads end up converting. If a lead costs you $250, and it takes 10 to convert, then you’re closing a deal for every $2500 you spend. If that makes great profit, then double down on these ads (because they’re sure to end up costing more as time goes on).

They can be improved over time: another benefit is that after you’ve figured out an ad set that brings you leads on a regular basis, you can go to work making it more efficient. That’s what we’ve done for years at Adwords Nerds, finding out things like what headlines convert better, what landing page layouts convert better, and more. By tweaking your ad content, audience, budget, campaign, and landing page, you can either raise or decrease the cost of each click or lead of your campaigns (within reason).

You can know the exact audience you want: with marketing channels like SEO, you can’t really know what kind of traffic you’ll end up driving until after the fact. For example, analytics may tell you basic demographics about who is finding your website organically, and what search phrases they typed to end up there. And that’s great, but with PPC and Google Ads, you can essentially say, “only show this ad to the demographic I want.” Facebook, for example, lets you be hyper specific (or at least they used to, before the major housing market ad changes).  

PPC vs Mailers: which is best for lead generation?

A lot of investors may be asking, “which is better: PPC campaigns, or mailers?” It depends on your budget, your market, your website, and your goals. PPC will provide much more measurable data (how many people saw, clicked, converted, etc.), down to the penny, of what each lead is costing you. Another benefit of PPC is that you’ll be able to land in front of motivated sellers at the exact moment they’re looking for services like yours.

For example, if you use Google Ads (also known as Google AdWords), and run search campaigns for keywords like “sell house fast Cleveland”, then your ad will be shown to searchers exactly when they type that in, and therefore are in a state of mind to click over to view your services. This is different than running Facebook ads, where you’re essentially interrupting them to tell them about your services. Yes, they may be interested, but not at the moment.

And mailers are the same way: you may indeed be targeting homes that are run down or in need of work, or that are located within your targeted service area, but how do you know whether they are actually ready to sell, or interested in what you offer? For this reason alone, I’d say that PPC definitely has a leg up for it’s measurability, and ability to end up in front of people at the right time. But at the end of the day, it’s up to you.

Finally, let me just say, you don’t have to think in terms of either/or. In other words, you can run PPC ads, and run mailers. 

Another thing to consider about mailers vs PPC campaigns, is that each has an expiration date. In other words, things aren’t staying the same forever. 10 years ago, you could potentially find real estate keywords at $1-5/click. Today, it will cost you $25/click in many markets. The reason for this is the auction system that PPC is based on.  

Understanding the bidding process for PPC.

PPC campaigns, no matter what platform they’re run on, hinge on a crucial thing: a bidding or auction system. 

Here’s how it works:

  • There is an audience that pays attention to the platform (Facebook users read their feed; Google searchers look up things; LinkedIn members scroll their feed).
  • There are multiple companies that want to pay to get in front of those people (ABC Corporation, you, and another small business).
  • Therefore there is a bidding war to see who will pay the most. For example, ABC Corp. is willing to pay $50/click to get in front of motivated sellers, so unless you bid $50.01, you can’t show ads anymore.

This is a bit extreme, and it’s a bit more nuanced than this, but the point is that it all works on a bidding system. Before big corporations and companies and marketing companies flooded Adwords, you could get away for $1 click. First movers always win in online marketing. Once the mass markets hit, price goes up. 

So understand that PPC has already had it’s golden hour come and go for real estate investors (and just about any other industry you can think of). Now that it’s in maturity, you should plan on spending $25/click or more depending on your market. Again, none of this should matter as long as your profit from a closed deal far outweighs the cost of the ads.

Choosing your platform. 

The first step is to identify the platform you want to advertise on. You have a number of options (basically, anywhere where your target audience pays attention), including Google (the obvious candidate), DuckDuckGo, Bing, Facebook, Reddit, LinkedIn, and more. 

The basic questions to ask here are: “where do I think my audience is paying attention?” and “when is the best time get in front of them?”

Facebook typically provides a much cheaper CPC for investors looking for home sellers. But maybe it takes twice as many clicks to gain a conversion since you’re not getting in front of people at the exact moment they’re searching for solutions like yours. 

Google may cost the most but deliver the most effective conversions. 

In the end, you just need to test. If you have the budget – test multiple channels. If you have to start with 1, go with Google. I say this because 1) you’re landing in front of motivated sellers when they’re trying to give you their info (looking for companies like yours), and 2) for most people, it will be easy enough to understand the search types.

Step 1: Analytics & Goal Tracking

How To Run a PPC Ad with Google: From Keywords To Lead

Name your campaign

When our PPC team is managing client’s campaigns, we typically name the campaign on a very broad idea of what the campaign’s focus is, and then the location it targets.

For example, if you’re a Philadelphia-based real estate investor, and running a campaign in the Philly area, call it something like “Motivated Sellers – Philadelphia”.

Set your parameters.

No matter who you are, you’re not advertising to every person in the world. So now it’s time to start filtering your campaign and being specific about who you want to focus on.

If you’re using Google for example, you’ll start filtering search phrases. You only want to target users who type in certain phrases. For example, you probably wouldn’t want to get in front of people searching, “philadelphia realtor”, because it’s fairly clear that those searchers are likely looking to sell on the MLS, and are not interested in your solution.

“Sell house cash Philadelphia” on the other hand, is exactly the type of niche search phrase you’d want your ad to be shown for. So if the platform you chose has the ability to narrow down by keywords or phrases, you’ll want to start building your base keywords. 

Aim for a dozen or so (to start with) and keep them fairly generic. We encourage you not to be too fiddly with this. The phrase, “sell my house” is essentially the same phrase as “sell my home”, etc. So think broadly at first. Come up with broad keywords you want to be shown for, and then over time you can add in more specific variations of them.

Use that base list as the names of your ad groups

After you pick out keywords that are similar, you can put them all in the same ad group, and name that ad group after them. So in our example, if you found the keyword “sell my house”, you can put it in an ad group named “Sell my house”.

Add keyword variations.

Working on ad group at a time, now we get fiddly (as our resident PPC Department Head says). In case you’re not familiar with the term, it means that we’re going to tinker around, adding more phrases to your ad groups, and tweaking some things.

This is where having some experience with keyword research (or having managed some other ads campaigns) comes in handy.

So in our example, go inside your “sell my house” adgroup, and add all the keywords that could be close variations of this (the phrases we told you to leave out earlier).

So add things like, “sell my home”, “sell your house”, “sell my home”, “how do i sell a house”, etc.  

You can add as many variations as Google suggestions, or you can think of.

Add support for keyword “types”.

It’s important to understand that Google handles keyword in different ways. For example, what if you only want your ad to be shown when someone types in “sell my house” exactly in that word order, with nothing added to it? Or, what if you want your ad to be shown if someone types in “help me sell a house”?

Google handles these distinctions through keyword “types”. So take all your keywords and copy them into the following match types: phrase match, exact match, modified broad match. You should run those 3 versions of each keyword within the same ad group.

Essentially, this is going to let you measure which ones convert better, measure the different CPC (Cost Per Click) of each, and more. It’s important that you’re measuring each type of keyword differently.

Build your ads.

OK, now that you have your campaigns created and named, your ad groups named with keywords and keyword types populated, it’s time to build your ads.

Your ads are the actual words / media that are going to be shown to people when they search.

Build (at least) two different ads per ad group. As much as you can, make sure the ads contain the keywords as this will BOLD them in the ad text on the search results page 

So in our example ad group, an ad might read something like “Sell Your House in 7 Days” or “You Can Sell Your House for Cash”. Notice how each of these ad headlines contain natural variations of the base keywords.

Other setup instructions.

Besides the basics of creating campaigns, you can also run ads only to searchers within the metro area you’re targeting, or the State, or the entire U.S. For example, it may benefit you target searchers from across the U.S. when they query “sell house fast for cash Philadelphia” because maybe they have a vacation or rental property they want to sell, even though they live in Florida.

Also, make sure you’re measuring your results, capping your ad budget (so you don’t overspend) and monitoring your campaigns daily. You’ll have to be fairly involved to check data, pause what’s not working, etc.

ppc for real estate investors

Running PPC ads on other platforms.

If you’re an investor who wants to advertise on Facebook, or another platform, you’ll follow a different set of steps, because those platforms don’t necessarily use search phrase. For you, the steps are going to be somewhat similar though.

Create your campaign.

Start your campaigns, and give it an appropriate name. It may seem silly to point this out as a step, but you’d be surprised how easy your advertiser dashboard can clutter up on these platforms, and it’s important to know which campaigns drove the best results. You want to be able to look at the name of the campaigns, and remember exactly which demographics you targeted, which ad styles you used, etc.

So, if you’re running Facebook ads for people in Philadelphia to try and gain leads and phone calls, you’d call it something like “Motivated Sellers – Philadelphia”.

Choose your demographic.

Since these platforms don’t go off keywords, but demographics, your next step will be to narrow down the audience you want. Facebook provides you with endless filtering options. You can filter by location, interest, job title, and all kinds of other demographics. Check their new information on running housing ads though, because in all likelihood you’ll be fairly limited in what you can use (this applies to any investors in real estate). 

Set up your ad, then create variations to test which ad copy/image/method performs better.

Depending on the platform, you may have really robust options, ranging from videos, multiple image carousels, and more, to just static text.

It really pays here to diversify your marketing campaign and try out a number of ads. For example, try a video, but also try a static image. You never really know which will perform better (get more clicks, views, likes, whatever) until you try.

Some last notes.

Obviously, Facebook’s management system alone is so robust, we’d have to write an entire article just explaining that, and there are plenty of good ones out there. This article is geared to providing real estate investors a simple overview of how PPC works.

So here are some last minute things to say/consider:

  • Try a bunch of different ads. Test headline/copy changes. Test keeping the copy the same, but changes images/videos. Test audience differences. Test a mixture of all three. Text the performance of placement: how do Instagram stories do compared to Facebook Feed placement?
  • Make sure you don’t skip past setting up conversion goals. At this day and age, it’s stupid not to try and track conversions. Many platforms make it super easy for you to do this, so make sure you’re tracking whether these ads are actually driving leads for you or not. If you skip this step, you may not know whether your ads on Facebook are converting or not.
  • You’re probably going to have to build out a solid profile/business page in case people click over to you to see who you are.

your real estate website matters for ppc

One last consideration: your website (REALLY) matters.

Now that you’ve been flooded with information, there’s one last very important thing you have to keep in mind:

If your ads drive all the traffic in the world, but your website does not inspire trust or is not ideal for conversion, you’re going to throw money down the drain and lose opportunities. (This is more true for investors than many other industries!)

Trust and authority have a powerful effect on conversion rate (how many people contact you after ending up on your landing pages).

Paying to get people onto your site does you no good, unless those people trust you enough to submit their info for a cash offer. If you want to build your own amazing site, use Squarespace, or if you want one done for you out of the box, use Carrot(in my opinion, still the best website product in real estate, and works great as a high converting landing page). 

We’re working on another article just for websites for real estate investors, so stay tuned for that.

ppc terms to know for real estate investors

Helpful terms to know.

This is borrowed from this article on RealEstateInvesting.com:

CPC or “cost per click”. The amount you pay to get someone to click your ad. Most online platforms that run a PPC (pay per click) model will display this for you. Often, this is run through an auction-style platform, so the actual cost to get someone to click to your website will be determined by how competitive the landscape is, and what your competitors are paying. So if you’re using Google Ads or Facebook Ads, and you choose a really niche audience, and there are almost no competitors, and you’re limited to a small geo area, you will probably pay less for clicks than if there are lots of competitors targeting your ideal customer. Point is, this cost fluctuates based on what other competitors are willing to pay, and the cost is driven up by competition.

(Note: your costs are also influenced by your quality score – which is how Google judges your ads. The better your ads campaigns perform, the cheaper it’ll be, especially with good management over time!)

CPM or “cost per mille”. The amount it costs you to have 1,000 impressions or “views” of your ad. I say “views” because we’ve all scrolled through our feeds and been shown ads that we paid zero attention to. Technically, they showed it to you though, so that counts as an impression. This is just another way some platforms let you choose to pay. For example, Facebook will let you choose to pay by “impressions” or “clicks” – you choose. Paying for clicks is probably more expensive, but you know you paid for someone to visit your URL. Paying for impressions, you just “know” Facebook showed your Ad to people’s feed. Typically when you pay for ads based on impressions, you end up with a much cheaper price – but the number of clicks to your site or leads you acquire may also be very low. It really depends on the platform and ad campaign you have going.

CPL or “cost per lead”. How much it costs you to get a “lead” – whatever that means to you. If you have a website, this is likely someone calling you (tracked through Call Rail or some other system) or filling out a form with their contact info, and potentially their address. 

So here’s where we can use some simple math in our Google AdWords:

Let’s say you’re working with a PPC model (for example, Google Ads or Facebook) and your CPC is $25. Of those who click, only 1 in 10 fill out your online form. So your “conversion rate” for a lead is 10%. If you’ve run that campaign long enough, you’ll know you can somewhat count on that rough conversion rate. So you pay $25 for one click over to your site. But you need 10 clicks, because it takes 10 to get 1 conversion. So you paid $250 for one lead. 

Now, after all that, you still didn’t necessarily close that lead. So what does it actually cost to close a deal? That’s the last metric we’ll look at…

CPA stands for “cost per acquisition”. In layman’s terms, it means ‘how much it costs you to land a deal, or acquire a customer.’ Let’s use some nice, round numbers for our example. Let’s say 1 out of every 5 leads ends up closing with you. We already determined that it costs you $250 to land a lead, so 5 leads would cost $1,250. Since it takes 5 leads (roughly) to close 1 deal, you’re paying $1,250 to close that deal. 

If your profit on that real estate investing deal is $5,000 or $10,000, then that’s pretty good. And if you landed on a campaign where these numbers were fairly consistent, you should probably spend a good bit of your money here, because in all likelihood, things only get more expensive over time. You may mine that channel while you can. Try to constantly consider the long term.

If you would’ve started with Google Ads when they very first started, you would’ve been paying $2-3/click! So if you find a metric that works for you, stick with it and if anything, work on decreasing your cost of conversions by writing better headlines, creating better ads, etc.

Going it alone, vs. getting professional help.

As you’ve already seen, it’s totally possible to run your own paid ads and start driving PPC to your real estate investment site. However, as you’ve already seen, this process can be kind of daunting. How can you be sure a motivated seller in your market will find you? 

The most overwhelming part is by far, all the testing involved. There are different platforms, keywords, negative keywords, types of ads, copy, landing pages, etc. for you to test to see which works best, that it may feel overwhelming. It’s a time consuming process, but worth it!

If you’re looking to get help you have a few options:

  • Continue doing it yourself, experiment, and learn as you go. This is a solid path for anyone who really wants to understand PPC or Google AdWords for real estate from soup to nuts, or who literally don’t have any budget to pay for help. If this is you, we do offer a Google Ads Bootcamp where we teach you everything we would do, so you DIY following our steps.
  • Pay for someone to create a profitable campaign for you, then you take over. This is why we created our PPC Kickstart: to set up your campaign based on years of data, testing, and knowledge of which ads convert best. We’ll provide professional PPC management of Google Ads for your real estate investing campaign and start driving phone calls for 90 days, and then you can either have us keep managing it month by month (if you’re making money and are happy with that) or we can turn over the keys to you so you can take it from there. We’ll even have our in-house web designer build you a proprietary high converting landing page!

Working with our team of PPC management professionals in the space means getting fast access to proven real estate PPC management strategies, with years of experience backing it up. PPC management, Google Ads campaigns, ad copy, negative keywords, quality score monitoring, keyword research, landing pages…all taken care of.

Best of luck and happy testing!

PPC management can be really beneficial for you, driving loads of real estate leads every month. It can also be daunting. Whichever way you choose, we wish you great success. If we can be of any help at all, or if you’re interested in getting professional management from a team that understands real estate investing, let us know!

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