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How to Spend Less on AdWords and Get Better Leads

January 19 2015

sales funnel peopleMany real estate agents and brokers rely on AdWords as a way to put their business in front of consumers searching for homes online. It's an effective tool, to be sure, but using the pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platform without a deliberate strategy is a great way to spend a lot of money very quickly--and get unsatisfying results.

So what can agents do to get more out of their AdWords investment? To find out, we turned to an expert. As Director of Digital Strategy for BoomTown, Rivers Pearce oversees PPC campaigns for hundreds of real estate agents and brokerages. "Your average agent is probably only going to have a few hundred dollars; maybe a broker is going to have a few thousand. If you have a limited, finite amount of budget, you really need to go after those keywords that are very, very targeted."

To zero-in on those targeted keywords, Pearce suggests thinking of potential keywords in terms of a sales funnel. At the top of the funnel are broad phrases like "homes for sale" or "real estate." As the funnel narrows, the keyword phrases go from vague to more specific. For example:

  • VAGUE - "Homes for sale"
  • STATEWIDE - "Texas homes for sale"
  • CITYWIDE - "Dallas TX homes for sale"
  • NEIGHBORHOOD - "Neighborhood X Dallas homes for sale"

"There's not really a lot of intent that you can derive from someone who just types in 'homes' or 'homes for sale,' other than they might be looking at homes for sale or they might be doing research," says Pearce. "What you want to do is capture the lower portions of that funnel, where you're getting more of the targeted, exact keywords. People there really know what they're looking for—and they are the ones that have a higher propensity to register on your site or become a lead."

Pearce notes that while it might be cheaper from a cost-per-click perspective to target broad terms, the chances of getting a lead are slim. "You might be paying a little bit more per click to get 'Dallas, Texas homes for sale' plus a zip code kind of keyword, but the chances of that turning into a lead are much, much higher," he says.

aimIf you're still scratching your head, Pearce suggests thinking about keyword selection in direct mail terms. "If you have a very targeted neighborhood you're going after, you're probably going to get the best return off of that. As you expand that radius out and put more postcards on the ground, the return is going to be less because you're getting out into a much bigger pool of people and a bigger opportunity for your postcard or your advertising to not resonate with them."

So the trick is to target the lower portion of our proverbial keyword sales funnel. The potential leads may be fewer, but their intent is clearer and their quality is much higher. "The beauty of paid search is that you do have consumers raising their hand or typing into search engines very explicitly what they're looking for," says Pearce. "Try to strike a balance between the keywords that bring in the most traffic versus the keywords that bring in the best type of leads."

Selecting keywords is just one aspect of running a successful pay-per-click campaign. Learn about PPC basics here or learn how to set a budget. If you're too busy to run your own AdWords campaign, or just overwhelmed, BoomTown can manage your PPC advertising for you. Find out more here.Find out more here.

What niche keywords have brought you PPC success? Tell us in the comments below!