Have you ever had your marketer talk about doing split testing for the lead magnet to reduce bounce rates on your website? Or about using an automated bid management to lower the cost per acquisition of your ad campaign? And all the while your mind was going, I should have paid better attention in that seminar because I have no idea what this person is saying?
If so, you are reading the right article, because we are going to explain the common lingo used in online marketing for real estate investors.
This is not the same as the language you use in a property listing ad (or during an in-person meeting) to make the transaction more appealing to a house buyer. Those types of real estate terms can help you present a wholesale deal or a rehab project (house flip) in a favorable manner, like knowing how to describe property features or amenities like they are something worth your buyer’s hard-earned dollars. An example of these “sales” words would be describing a room that is too tight as a step-saving room.
Though we will talk about some of the words you can use in a call to action button to increase conversion, the focus of the text below is on the marketing lingo that is used when you create and manage an online ad campaign for real estate investing. It’s more about knowing your way around ads and less about what to say in those ads.
Many terms are used in real estate marketing, and we all have our own group of terms that are hard to adopt. Here is a quick overview of the terms that are included in this guide. You can jump straight to the terms you want to understand better.
We’ve lumped these terms together in groups to make it easier for you to find a specific category of terms. The first group of terms we’ll discuss refer to website traffic, the second one is conversion terms, and we close off with terms for PPC and SEO.
We are advocates of multichannel lead generation, so we encourage real estate investors to have leads coming from direct mail, expired listings, networking efforts, etc. However, when it comes to online marketing there are three main ways to get motivated house seller leads:
The basic marketing terms for traffic coming through different methods used on these channels are:
Organic traffic – these are the website visitors who found your company as a result of a search engine query (on Google, Bing, or Yahoo). Organic traffic is free, so all competitors in your real estate market invest in search engine optimization of their website to rank high for specific keywords (like “sell my house cash in X”).
Paid traffic – there are two types of paid traffic: an ad in a search engine (usually Google) or an ad on a social network (usually Facebook).
Google ads bring website visitors if search engine users click on an ad that was shown when they typed a phrase (or a keyword). With these ads, you can target motivated sellers who type a keyword wanting to sell their house in your specific market. This is your pay-per-click traffic, because Google gets paid by you each time their users click on your ad.
Facebook ads are usually pay-per-click ads shown to users of the platform, but they can also promote an event or push content. The motivation of Facebook users is lower than that of Google users, but Facebook ads offer real estate investors an opportunity to target a closely defined demographic.
Social media traffic – this category refers to social media users who visit your website by clicking a link on the platform (YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.). This is free traffic, but is different from organic traffic through a search engine because here, you attract visitors by posting content that is of interest to your audience, instead of going after keywords.
For example, you can post a before/after photo of a house remodeling to attract traffic as opposed to optimizing a blog post on your website to rank first for “selling distressed house.”
Referral traffic – these are website visitors who landed on your site through a link that was placed on a website other than your own (for example, a post from a house flipping blog). Basically, it’s traffic from backlinks.
Direct traffic – these are the visits from people who typed in the exact name of your website and landed directly on your website. It’s hard to determine the source of this traffic – maybe you gave them a business card, maybe it’s a result of word-of-mouth marketing, maybe they received your direct mail campaign or some other source.
The end goal of the ads is to bring more deals, so metrics like conversion rate are central to determining the return on your investment in marketing. There is a formula for calculating conversions:
Conversion rate % = (Number of people who converted on your website / Number of people who visited your website) x 100
It’s hard to come up with a conversion rate that would apply to every real estate market out there. Professionals who develop real estate investing websites in the real world, like the folks over at Carrot, report that a conversion rate of 15-20% is an attainable goal for most REI businesses.
There are many other factors related to your website that affect conversion. Metrics like bounce rate, dwell time, and time on page are used to gauge the relevance of your content to your website visitors.
Bounce rate – this is when a website visitor opens one of the pages on your site and then leaves. They may go back to the search engine or to some other website. If they don’t open another page on your website, the visit is counted as a bounce.
Dwell time – this is the time a visitor spends on your website between landing from the SERPs (search engine results pages) and going back to them. So, they type a search phrase, they find your website, they visit it, and they go back to the search engine.
Time on page – this metric measures the time a visitor spends on your website between two clicks. They’ve opened a page, they check out your website, and they leave. It doesn’t really matter what the actual page they go to after leaving your website is. This shows the time they spent on your site, literally.
Responsive design – this is website design that allows mobile users to access all features of the site that are available from a desktop or laptop but in a mobile-friendly way. The number of leads that convert from mobile phones in the last few couple of years is consistently over 50%, so real estate investors regularly optimize the websites for mobile users. You are simply making sure that the forms on your website can be opened on as many different devices as possible.
Once you have all these visitors on your website, there are many ways to make it easy for them to convert: you can use chat bots, pop ups, and forms. The website form is probably the most successful method for converting visitors, especially if you use it along with a lead magnet (offer something to them for free). Chat bots bring mixed results, and pop ups work only if they are timed to show up at the correct moment (when the visitor is considering taking action).
Split testing – this is when you use two or more versions of the same webpage (or ad design, or logo, or anything that’s meant to attract leads) to check which one does a better job at converting visitors. One group of visitors gets one version (group A), and another group gets a different version (group B); hence split testing is also known as A/B testing.
Split testing is very important for real estate marketing because it can bring more leads, and it doesn’t cost you anything to implement. The variations can be trivial or fundamental. For example, you can test whether the color (blue for group A/red for group B) of the button where you place a call to action has an effect on motivated sellers. But you can check every other element of the website, too – you can test different headings, the format, placement and size of the form, the timing of pop ups, the effectiveness of chat bots, etc.
Call to action (CTA) – we’ve already used this word several times – this is the word or a phrase that instructs motivated sellers about the next step they should take if they are interested. Chances are, you already know this: these are words like ‘check out,’ ‘learn more,’ ‘redeem the offer,’ ‘get a free appraisal,’ and similar. It’s recommended to use simple calls to action because real estate decisions are important and you can’t ask website visitors to buy or sell a house directly through a button.
CTAs like ‘Get an offer on your house in 8 hours’ or ‘Redeem your free property appraisal now’ can boost conversion because you are instructing motivated sellers how to proceed, but at the same time, you are communicating the unique selling proposal of your company.
A large part of online marketing happens off-site, and the terms which are used to describe search engine optimization or Google ads are often confusing to real estate investors. Don’t worry, because we will delve into the terms that are important for SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay per click).
Maximum cost per click – when you launch a pay-per-click campaign on Google Ads, the ad for the specific keyword (‘sell my house in X fast’) is offered to many REI businesses. You need to bid and win to show your ad to search engine users. Since this bidding process can quickly get out of hand if left unchecked – and result in a so-called ‘bidding war’ – it’s recommended to set your maximum cost per click (CPC) in advance. This is the maximum amount of money you are willing to pay for clicks on your ad. Market pricing rules PPC campaigns, meaning, other businesses in your real estate market will define the starting bid. If you are in a competitive market, the cost per click will be high from the get-go. Setting up max CPC can help you avoid overpaying for clicks.
PPC bid management – this is the manner in which you make sure your bids on PPC ads remain on budget. It can be done through software, so you don’t have to actively manage the campaign, instead you program the bidding strategy and your bids don’t exceed predetermined limits. Terms like PPC keyword auction, keyword bids, PPC auction management and similar are used to refer to these tools and processes, too
Return on ad spend – is a way to calculate the ROI (return on investment) of your ads. This metric is more relevant for ecommerce sites who sell products than to real estate professionals who deal with houses, but it can help you find out if your online advertising budget is effective. The formula is:
ROAS = Revenue attributable to ads / Cost of ads
Cost per lead – this is the amount of money you’ve spent on marketing to obtain one lead. Real estate investors usually have a multichannel lead generation system, so it’s important to attribute each lead to the channel that funneled it into your CRM. To calculate this cost, you need to divide your marketing budget to the number of new leads.
Cost per acquisition – measures how much you’ve spent to close a deal. So, this metric includes only those leads who decided to use your services to sell their house. The formula is similar as for cost per lead: marketing budget divided by the number of closed deals.
Keyword difficulty – this metric shows the relative difficulty to rank for a specific keyword. For example, competing to rank high for a keyword like ‘real estate’ is very difficult because many websites compete for it. Also, these websites are already optimized to rank high in the SERPs and they have a lot of links (think of Wikipedia or Zillow). However, if you go after a keyword like “real estate in X” where you specify your area, the keyword difficulty will decrease.
Return rate – this is a measure of people who clicked on a Google ad, checked the content on the landing page, and then returned back to the SERPs to look at other websites. If a motivated seller finds what they look for in your website, the return rate for that keyword will be low. If users can’t satisfy their need on your website, the return rate will be high. In this scenario, you will need to brainstorm and create content that caters to their needs.
Keyword volume – this is an estimate of the search volume for a specific keyword (like “sell my house in X”), i.e. how many searches have been conducted using those keywords. This metric serves only as a guideline, but still – the higher the keyword volume, the more competitors there are for the same keyword. For example, the volume for “sell my house in San Diego” will be higher than the volume for “sell my house in Freeport City.”
Quality (relevance) score – this term was developed to determine whether the ad that is shown is relevant to the user. If people find your landing page useful, then you’ll have a high quality score. There is a similar metric on Facebook, and it’s called relevance score.
Long-tail keyword – this is when you add an additional modifier to your SEO keyword to get traffic from motivated sellers. For example, if you use ‘sell my house’ in your content, then you will face a very tough competition, since many businesses nationwide have already produced content for such keywords. However, if you qualify the keyword by adding your local real estate market, like ‘sell my house in Bloomington, Indiana,’ there will be lower search volume and fewer competitors who want to rank for the keyword. Obviously, real estate businesses can use a long-tail keyword to rank higher for the type of deals they specialize in, or to get traffic from motivated sellers with particular problems, like ‘how to sell a fire-damaged property in X’.
Broad-match keyword – this is a way to include variations of the keyword you are bidding on in a PPC campaign. Google Ads will allow you to target motivated sellers who’ve typed a similar phrase to the one your bid on. For example, you pay to show your ad to users who type ‘sell my house in Jacksonville Florida,’ but if the search engine user types in ‘sell my home in Jacksonville Florida’ and you’ve covered broad-match keywords, they will also see your ad. The idea is to cover variations of the keyword terms and related searches.
Negative keywords – in a pay-per-click campaign, you pay every time someone clicks on your ad. To avoid spending your advertising budget on search engine users who click your ad by mistake, Google Ads allow you to exclude keywords that are similar, but irrelevant. In real estate, there are many examples of negative keywords, and they usually involve selling fictitious properties (in a computer game) or selling personal belongings. For instance, ‘sell my house in GTA’, or ‘sell my house furniture.’ When you add a list of negative keywords for your PPC campaign, the users who type these irrelevant searches will not be shown the ad, and you won’t waste your advertising budget on them.
SEO keywords – these are the keywords you use in your content so that your website ranks high when a motivated seller searches those keywords in a search engine. This is free organic traffic, and the SEO keywords are general, i.e. they apply to all internet users. Even if some global user types in the phrase, they’ll be shown, more or less, the same results (unless the government or their provider has placed a restriction).
PPC keywords – these are the keywords you bid on during a PPC campaign. PPC keywords can give you a clearer picture about the keywords that are used in your real estate market. The numbers speak for themselves – if a specific keyword has a higher click-through rate (more users click on the ad), then you have an insight into the popular keywords in your market. Of course, you can use the PPC keywords to improve the effect of your SEO efforts. For example, if the motivated sellers prefer to click on an ad that shows for ‘sell my house in a week,’ then you can use this phrase (‘sell my house in a week’) in the content that is published on your website to get a boost in your organic traffic as well.
There you go – a list that will help you tackle the learning curve that comes with online marketing for real estate businesses. If you hire marketing nerds, now you should be able to handle the lingo that they throw at you. And if you manage your online ad campaigns on your own, then these real estate marketing terms will make the whole process easier.
Remember: there is always something new in online marketing, so revisit the latest changes every six months or so to have the best SEO and PPC practices in your real estate market.
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