SAN FRANCISCO — Who remembers radio ads, classifieds, Discman and phone booths?
What about a time when clients came into your real estate office not knowing what’s for sale out there?
Google’s Melinda Bennett reminded an audience of real estate agents, brokers and techies of such a time at this morning’s Tech Connect, part of Inman Connect’s Tuesday programming.
Fast-forward to today, and it’s obvious that technology has changed everything; we have a computer (our phone) in our hands at all times.
“I personally freak out without mine,” Bennett said. “I’m literally on stage with my cellphone. I had pockets sewn into my wedding dress so I could keep my phone with me all day.” (The audience chuckled). Consumers are more aware, informed and demanding than ever before because of this fundamental change in technology and information access.
Now, by the time you meet with real estate clients, they’ve already conducted a Google search on the best schools, walkability and any number of factors that are critical to them. When they sit down with you, they’re already pretty well-informed. What you need to do is reach them with the right message at the right time.
That’s where automation backed by machine learning — which can process billions of pieces of data that you need to synthesize (something that would be impossible with the human brain) — comes in. Such systems can take these data points, comprehend them and make smart decisions for you; and frequently, those decisions are automated, which makes this whole process a powerful time-saver for marketers.
As marketers and real estate agents, you should craft your plans the same way you would start constructing a house: with a solid foundation you can build on.
That foundation is the audience you’re trying to reach. Without knowing who you’re going after, you have no idea how to find or contact them. Google has developed a series of tools to help agents find that audience and reach out to them at the perfect time.
1. The right audience: Dynamic search ads
Keywords are pretty critical to reaching your audience, Bennett said. The first product she explained is called Dynamic Search Ads (DSA), which can fill in the gaps of your keywords-based campaigns.
DSA, an advanced Google AdWords feature, can help you more closely target ready leads.
According to the DSA explainer page: “When someone searches on Google with terms closely related to your website, your Dynamic Search Ad may show. When your ad shows, your headline and landing page are automatically generated based on the particular search terms that the user entered.”
“Fifteen percent of [search] queries are new,” Bennett said. “There are queries that are relevant to you that you don’t even know about. The system looks at this query and says, ‘hmmm, that looks pretty similar to this page; I think these two things are very related.'”
From there, users have the option to have DSA build an ad, compose a headline based on the landing page and take leads to that landing page — a listing for 1234 Elm Lane, for example.
Bennett says that DSA can become a powerful, efficient tool for agents. Using DSA, ForRent.com saw a 26 percent increase in conversions.
2. The right cost: Cost per acquisition
What about getting someone for the right cost? That’s the next building block in your marketing plan or “house.”
Let’s say you’re willing to pay $10 for a lead, and there are two home hunters in Chicago who you might consider targeting. One is ready to buy a home and the other is a real estate hobbyist, someone who likes to keep tabs on inventory for fun.
Google’s Target Cost-per-acquisition (CPA) bidding will process tons of signals to identify how likely a user is to convert. The system will then suggest what you might spend on that lead. For the serious buyer, it would recommend that targeting an ad be worth $5, for example, while the casual browser might only be worth 25 cents (or Target CPA would pull you out of the auction entirely).
3. The right measurement: Data-Driven Attribution
Google has a product called Data-Driven Attribution (DDA) as part of AdWords.
How does it work? To explain, Bennett asked the audience to take a step back and think about something unrelated: marriage.
There a number of steps and moments that occur on many people’s journey toward getting married. Today, it might start with a swipe right on a dating app. Then, maybe a coffee date. Living together. And someone eventually proposes. Finally, you have a “conversion.”
Which of these steps is responsible for the marriage? Well, the dating app might say “I’m responsible.” That’s called first-click attribution. But if you ask the proposer, he or she might say “That’s all me. I proposed; I got down on one knee, of course.” That’s called last-click attribution, and it’s what most “conversions” are attributed to.
In reality, however, each step in this process has a different value.
Google’s DDA allows a user to look at a lead’s entire path rather than just his or her “last click.” DDA identifies those critical moments and bids accordingly, giving users the ability to say “I’m going to bid on this step in the process, even though it’s not the last thing they do before they convert; I know it’s critical to moving them along.”
Bennett said that hybrid real estate brokerage Purplebricks saw a 28 percent increase in conversions using Target CPA and DDA.
In summary, Bennett concluded: “Make sure your house is in order; recognize that the consumer is demanding, knowledgable and you’re giving them the appropriate message at the appropriate time.”