If you’re an agent looking to generate leads to your website, then pay-per-click ads might be a good way to drive traffic. Here are a few things you need to know before springing for this type of marketing.

September is Marketing and Branding Month at Inman. That means we’re talking to the chief marketing officers at major brokerages about how the pandemic is changing their jobs and what it means for agents. We’re publishing a suite of tactical Inman Handbooks for marketing on digital portals. And we’re looking at what pages of the traditional marketing playbook still work. Join us all month long.

This article series is largely taken from the Real Estate Marketing Playbook with permission from the author.

If you’ve already experimented with generating organic web traffic, you may be ready for the next step — websites designed solely to generate leads, which are funded by pay-per-click ads. Examples of these include Firepoint, Commissions Inc. and Boomtown.

These sites are basically “shovel-ready.” They are set up for you, branded with your information and licensed to you. The service is contract-based and more expensive than purchased ads. But in some cases, they can guarantee the number of leads you will get.

You’ll need to have a substantial budget to commit to this approach. Costs may start at about $500 per month, but most effective lead generation website budgets are closer to $2,000 per month.

Lead generation sites used to be the best method to get leads because these companies are adept at directing traffic to agents. However, as more companies have jumped into the fray, there are now so many similar websites that it’s hard to get exclusive leads.

Sites can’t guarantee that consumers haven’t registered at other websites, so even when you do get a lead, it might be a prospective client who has already been contacted by someone else. 

How do pay-per-click ads work?

You can also generate leads to your website by purchasing pay-per-click (PPC) ads. If you’re not paying someone else to manage your ad presence, you can pay for PPC. Google and Facebook are the two most popular sites for this type of marketing.

The typical cost per click for popular real estate terms in our market averages about $1 a click. I don’t recommend spending money on general, conventional real estate keywords unless you know you’ll be able to capture them as leads.

A typical out-of-the-box PPC website with IDX should be able to capture 10 to 20 percent of visitors to website as leads. The cost ranges around $12 to $15 per lead, plus the monthly cost of the system itself and any ad management fees. There are certainly economies of scale as you increase your ad budget, which is why so many teams thrive on PPC leads.

The more specific the ad is, the more effective it will be. For example, instead of buying an ad for “homes for sale in Maple Grove,” bid on “4 bedroom homes for sale in Maple Grove.” Specificity like this will result in less competition for this search — and thus, a lower cost-per-click. Also, the consumer searching that specific phrase has likely already narrowed down their criteria and is a more serious buyer.

A more calculated method for utilizing pay-per-click ads is to purchase long-tail keywords, and then direct the consumer to a landing page related to that topic. For instance, if someone is looking for a particular school, send them to a page about that school.

Currently, in our market, there isn’t an effective way to search the MLS for topics like a school, or a specific lake or park a client may want to be near. To the extent that we can capture this type of search through keywords, we can offer more customized information for the buyer, and designate ourselves as specialists in the area where they are looking.

Google AdWords

The most common pay-per-click type of advertising is Google AdWords. It’s straightforward to set up, and the good folks over at Google will help you for free any time. If you’re working with one of the major website providers, they most likely offer ad management included as a part of their package, or they may charge a 10 percent management fee.

Don’t fall for companies that claim to be “Google’s No. 1 partner,” or promise you a certain amount of traffic or placement. Google AdWords will help you identify potential search keywords and give you an idea of average cost per click and potential traffic.

Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads is becoming much more popular for lead generation. This topic is ever-changing and could fill up an entire book. If you’re interested, I recommend reading The Conversion Code by Chris Smith. Otherwise, vendors such as Cuyrator, Chime, Homesnap and Back At You Media offer turnkey solutions for generating leads on Facebook. 

Real Estate Marketing Playbook was inspired by observations and experiences over many years in the real estate business. This series includes example strategies from the playbook, and the full text is available on Amazon, Kindle and Audible.

Brandon Doyle is a Realtor at Doyle Real Estate Team — RE/MAX Results in Minneapolis and co-author of Mindset, Methods & Metrics – Winning as a Modern Real Estate Agent. You can follow him on Twitter.

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