“Facebook Ads don’t work for real estate. Yes, Facebook ads do work for real estate marketing.”
Both opinions are valid, and there is a debate between different real estate professionals about whether one is correct.
While researching this article, I found exciting forum posts discussing this topic.
I could read mixed opinions, such as:
“I’m suspicious that Facebook ads might be a better way to generate motivated sellers, rather than cold calling, though.”
“FB is great for seller leads – but the knock on them is that they generally aren’t all that motivated. I’ve only had a handful of them, but they were all in the ‘would like to sell’ segment vs ‘really need to sell.’”
“One nugget that I’d recommend is using Facebook ads for retargeting. Based on the audience that you set up in Facebook, you can retarget visitors that hit your site from different marketing channels and stay in front of them using different placements (desktop, mobile, Instagram etc.).”
“So many people send them to websites that don’t perform well (especially on mobile for Facebook… since over 80% of those leads tend to be from cell phone devices… and most people’s websites are really bad on mobile… even if they’re ‘responsive’ most aren’t setup to convert well on mobile phones). Or tons of people just launch ads and don’t dial them in well… and end up thinking, “Facebook ads don’t work,” etc. But our data shows a consistent growing trend in seller leads from Facebook across our platform and as Facebook improves their data and targeting more and more… the ability to generate great leads at CPL (cost per lead) that make sense keeps getting better.”
So, for some real estate professionals, it’s working; for many, it’s not.
They are losing money with their real estate Facebook marketing strategy.
And, as always in online marketing, whether a particular campaign is successful depends on how well you carry out the power triangle (by Perry Marshall) traffic, conversion, and economics/offer.
My Facebook Marketing Strategy Guide for real estate will hopefully help you increase your chances of having a profitable campaign and generate more real estate leads with Facebook ads.
The first part of my guide is about marketing angles and why they are crucial for your overall real estate Facebook marketing strategy.
By the way, marketing angles are not only relevant for Facebook marketing, as you will be reading in other articles of mine.
But first, let’s briefly look at why you should use Facebook ads in the first place.
Why Facebook Ads in the First Place?
There is no online advertising platform that offers that many diverse and deep targeting options with that many users.
So, suppose you know your target customers well enough.
In that case, you can find the right angles (discussed today) and thus can reach them very efficiently.
Facebook can target your potential customers in three ways:
- Behaviors (e.g., people ready to move or to buy a home)
- Demographics (e.g., kids or no kids, age, job title, different generations, owning or renting a current home, etc.)
You can zero in even further like a sniper by segmenting into different geographic areas (e.g., by state, city, zip, code, the radius of a specific point on the map, etc.) and then, of course, by different ad placements.
Again, it all depends on how good your market intelligence about your potential customers is.
Since most real estate pros are somewhat focused on different geographic areas, the Facebook ads platform’s targeting options come in handy.
What’s a Marketing Angle and Why is it Important for Your Real Estate Facebook Marketing Strategy?
Not promoting with an angle is basically shooting blindfolded into the dark.
It’s thinking that an attractive landing page and a good traffic source will be enough.
So, an angle aims to promote your real estate offer uniquely and clearly, making your potential customers engage.
An angle is a frame or the overarching “story” you use when promoting your offer.
If a real estate developer only runs a campaign with the message that their “buildings are nice,” the success rate of this campaign is unlikely to be satisfactory.
The better approach would be to focus on something their audience can identify with and care about.
Examples could be:
- Our buildings save 50 percent of energy costs compared to the national average
- We only build in walkable neighborhoods
It becomes the compass that directs you to communicate with your potential customers with your creatives.
Additionally, it helps you differentiate yourself from competing offers in the same market niche.
So, how do you create an angle? Let’s jump to the next section.
How To Find Your Angle
You are unlikely to be free to choose your niche in the real estate industry.
You might already be focused on a particular area, such as selling or buying a specific type of property in a specific geographic region, developing a specific real estate project, or offering services for a particular demographic or niche.
But for the sake of complete information, the first steps to finding your angle, should you have the freedom to choose your niche, would look like this:
- Choose your real estate niche
- Decide/ Research the demographic
- Brainstorm ideas
- Choose the right real estate offer
- Create creatives accordingly
- Test/Optimize your Facebook campaign
Process 2 will be more likely since you can’t choose your niche and work the steps somewhat backward. It looks like this:
- Choose your real estate offer (e.g., selling duplex houses or buying distressed properties)
- Decide/ Research the demographic
- Brainstorm ideas
- Create creatives accordingly
- Test/Optimize your Facebook campaign
Let’s take a closer look at the second process.
Choose your real estate offer.
This one should be self-explanatory. I am sure you know what you are offering. But sometimes, making yourself aware of what you offer can be helpful.
As an investor, you might buy distressed properties, but what you are offering, if we talk about tangible benefits, is giving sellers peace of mind.
So, you are selling peace of mind.
Decide/ Research the Demographic
Using the example of the distressed property seller above, you might want to dig deeper and get more detailed and specific.
So, you may ask yourself, who exactly are these distressed property sellers?
And depending on your final target demographic, your message will adapt accordingly.
The goal is to gather enough information and better understand what appeals to your potential customer (the distressed property seller).
You could research:
Gender: Are the sellers in your area (state or county) mainly male or female? There are, for example, more female homeowners in Wyoming than males.
Age: It is somewhat unlikely to find a distressed homeowner in the age range between 19 and 25. So you could research which typical age ranges (distressed) homeowners in your area are in.
Current events happening in the world or locally (e.g., holidays, seasons, fads, trends, etc.): You can check local newspapers for that or Google trends
Put yourself in their shoes: Think like your target customer.
What habits or behaviors does the pain of needing to sell their property cause?
Maybe the distressed homeowner has developed a bad eating habit (e.g., comfort food) because he can’t think of anything besides getting rid of his property.
Or he needs to take sleeping pills because he stays awake at night, thinking about the next mortgage payment he can’t make.
This is where you develop ideas based on what you have already done in the first steps.
Usually, you will already have several ideas from researching your target group.
Let’s go with the hypothetical result.
You found out that the distressed homeowner needs to take sleeping pills because of his anxiety that his property not selling.
So, you might go with this angle and collect benefits based on this pain, such as:
- We offer something better and healthier than a sleeping pill.
- Pictures of a happy person just waking up from bed after a good night’s sleep might also come to mind.
- Another picture that comes to my mind could be a picture of a person sleeping very profoundly, not in a normal bed, but in a bed full of dollar bills (the dollars bills she received after she finally sold her property)
Create Creatives Accordingly
If you did the step before this one well enough, you might already have several ideas on what the creatives could look like.
The bed full of dollar bills could come to mind, or someone throwing away his sleeping pill because he sleeps well again.
Test/Optimize Your Facebook Campaign
This step is probably the hardest. You will need a lot of patience and the will to steadily improve your Facebook campaign to increase your click-through rate until you have conversions.
Once you have conversions, improve your conversion rate and scale your campaign.
These are two of many metrics you can use.
It all depends on your approach to how you test, which is worth an extra article.
How To Get Your Real Estate Facebook Ads Targeting Right
Suppose you found the right angle.
You can still mess up your next marketing campaign if you don’t see the right real estate Facebook ads targeting and campaign objectives.
Please remember that giving you suitable objectives or target audiences for your next real estate Facebook marketing campaign does not guarantee they will work.
The tips in this article should instead be considered an inspiration for finding the right ones and thus improving your odds of success.
Success Factors for Facebook Ads
1) Campaign Objectives
At the time of writing this article, Facebook provides 11 campaign objectives, which are:
- Brand Awareness
- Traffic, Engagement
- App Installs
- Video views
- Lead generation
- Catalog Sales
- Store Traffic.
You might discard some for real estate by reading their names, such as Catalog sales, Store Traffic, and App Installs.
Your campaign’s results and success will significantly depend on the objective.
Some objectives are more suitable for the real estate industry, while others are less suitable.
In the end, it comes all down to testing.
Facebook offers an abundance of campaign objectives.
These can quickly become overwhelming for the inexperienced marketer, so they also offer the boost post option, which is handy at first glance.
Unfortunately, I can’t recommend the latter.
In several tests run by different marketing agencies, these boosted posts usually get you low results in terms of conversions.
However, they can get you excellent results regarding “vanity metrics,” meaning you can get many likes.
Still, those, unfortunately, don’t sell or buy your properties.
Which Facebook Marketing Campaign Objectives Are Suitable for Real Estate?
From my experience and researching this topic, I found that only three campaign objectives make sense when you want to generate leads for your real estate business.
These are “lead generation,” “traffic,” and “messages.”
The other objectives are either irrelevant for a typical real estate business or more suitable for well-established brands, such as “brand awareness.”
These three seem most suitable for the average small to mid-sized real estate business.
1) Lead Generation
With this objective, you can capture buyer or seller leads right within Facebook, and you won’t need a landing page with an opt-in form from your website. The potential lead stays on Facebook the whole time.
What are the benefits?
- You won’t need a landing page.
- With pre-fill form fields, it’s much easier for potential customer to submit their information, especially when using a mobile device.
- You can download the leads directly to a Google sheet.
- It can be connected or synchronized with different CRMs or marketing automation software such as MailChimp, InfusionSoft, etc.
This one isn’t necessarily better or worse than the lead generation objective.
It depends on how well your website or landing page converts visitors.
Testing this objective could be worthwhile if you have a well-converting landing page.
What are the benefits?
- Since you own the landing page in this case, you can test more elements of it and, by doing that, influence your conversion rate differently.
- You can convert visitors who do not feeling comfortable submitting their information on Facebook, which happens with the lead generation objective.
- Visitors might find other exciting offers on your website and convert for them too, or, instead.
The objective of this Facebook campaign is still kind of “newish”, because it shows your ads to people who are likely to engage with your company in a messenger chat.
After selecting this objective, you can choose if your ad should be shown more to people likely to interact with you via WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.
Since more options exist to automate this process via different chatbot providers, I recommend using the Facebook Messenger option.
Another reason to choose Facebook Messenger is that people stay on Facebook for that, which can influence the conversion rate.
You should use a messenger bot builder such as ManyChat for that.
It enables you to prepare a nice automated chat sequence beforehand.
Depending on the designed funnel, you can do different things.
Let the chatbot do everything you have already planned for your lead funnel.
For example, it can ask your potential distressed seller leads how long they have been trying to sell.
Another advantage of this objective is that the costs are still low.
The objective isn’t used as often as the other campaign objectives.
2) The Right Real Estate Facebook Ads Targeting
Although I mention this second (it comes second when you set up a new Facebook campaign), it is slightly more critical than your selected campaign objective.
The targeting options Facebook provides are compelling and unmatched compared to other paid ad platforms.
Suppose you worked to find the right angle and thus now know enough about your target audience.
In that case, you can use this Facebook feature like a sniper and efficiently reach your potential customers.
Only the people likely to be interested in your offer will see your ad if done right.
You can define the target audience in the “Audience” section of the Facebook ads manager (see second right picture).
These are the options you can select.
To make matters worse, you can test each one separately in different Facebook Ad Sets, creating a large number of possible test combinations:
- Custom Audiences: A previously created and saved audience or a lookalike audience (once you have run a successful campaign for a specific time, you can extend the reach to people similar to your already successful target audience)
- Locations: Here, you can go from countries to small towns, depending on which market you are targeting
- Age: If by creating your angle you found that you need to target millennials, you can select here an age range between 26 and 39
- Gender: If you found out that most of your target group consists of women, you might want to select only women here.
- Detailed Targeting: You can choose between different demographics, interests, and behaviors. Depending on where you use Facebook, you can have fewer options here. In the U.S., you can even select different income groups. This feature is not available outside the U.S., for the most part. So, if you are preparing a campaign to get cash buyer leads, you might want to choose a household income in the top 5% of the demographic section.
- Languages: Here, you could target, for example, non-English speakers in the U.S. (e.g., Latinos), should this be your niche for potential tenants of your studio apartments. See, it all depends on how well you know your target group.
- Connections: This one is helpful if you have had past engagements with your Facebook page, app, or events. Here, you can re-target this specific audience.
Suitable Real Estate Facebook Ads Targeting Ideas for The Real Estate Industry
Using real estate Facebook ads targeting in your campaigns is a bit of a mix.
It’s a mix of putting yourself in the shoes of your target audience you got to know when you created your angle and again testing different targets.
So, the following ideas are incomplete but may give you an idea.
You can use many other tricks to find, for example, different interest groups that the Facebook Ads Manager doesn’t show you at once.
So, without further ado, here come the ideas:
1) Targeting Potential Buyers with the “Buying a House” Interest
In the Ads Manager, you can find a specific interest for potential buyers. This is called “Buying a House.”
This is likely more suitable for realtors looking for retail buyers than for real estate investors looking for other investors in the case of a wholesale deal.
Potential buyers might need a real estate agent or related products and services.
This kind of interest helps you narrow down your target audience. It is better than, for example, just using the demographic target of a particular household income.
If you only use the household income, you might have a rather large target group in the six figures.
Add to that the interest in “Buying a House.”
You can often reduce this number to a five-figure audience, which still doesn’t keep you from having a successful Facebook campaign.
2) Indirectly Targeting Potential Buyers via Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow
During my research, I couldn’t find reliable numbers.
However, we can assume that most of the visitors to these sites are still retail buyers, and maybe 20% are investors and other real estate professionals.
So, the people visiting these sites are looking for homes.
You can use these sites as additional interests to the already selected ones or as an extra interest in a separate campaign or ad set (sorry for being annoying, but again, it’s testing).
We can confidently say that those people are likely to be pre-qualified leads since they are actively browsing real estate sites.
3) Targeting Real Estate Investors
Suppose you are in the real estate investing business and, more so, in the active real estate investing business.
In that case, you might need to attract investor leads for a deal under contract or other reasons.
In this case, you will likely specialize in a specific area with certain zip codes.
For example, let’s say you are focused on Miami, FL.
For your real estate Facebook ads targeting, this means you would…
- Select all Miami zip codes of the area where you want to generate investor leads.
- Select a specific gender and age group
- Select the interest of “real estate investing.”
3) Your AD
This is the least important factor, but it still matters a lot.
At this stage, you decide which kind of ad (single image, carousel ad, lead ad, video ad, etc.), the ad copy, and the media (image/video) you will use.
The combination of the right images or videos and, of course, the copy makes or breaks an ad in terms of the conversion you want.
And, as you might have already guessed, all of these variations can also be tested separately in different Ad Sets.
4) Ad Placement
Placement pre-defines on which devices and Facebook platforms your ad will be shown.
With regards to devices, you can choose between desktop and mobile.
As Facebook platforms, you can choose between the following:
- Facebook News Feed
- Instagram Feed
- Facebook Marketplace
- Facebook Video Feeds
- Facebook Right Column
- Instagram Explore
- Messenger Inbox
- Facebook Stories
- Instagram Stories
- Messenger Stories
- Facebook In-Stream Videos
- Facebook Search Results
- Messenger Sponsored Messages
- Facebook Instant Articles
- Audience Network Native
- Audience Network Rewarded Videos
- Audience Network In-Stream Video
Most people keep the device and placement configuration at default, which is often a mistake.
The Facebook Ads Manager insinuates that selecting all these options is the most recommended.
Still, I think it’s recommended chiefly so Facebook can make more money.
By not showing ads on a desktop and unchecking this option in the device section, you can usually already reduce your ad costs significantly.
This is because mobile ads still cost less per click than desktop ads.
Secondly, more and more people are using their phones to go online anyways.
On the other hand, it makes for easier testing down the road.
Once a mobile campaign succeeds, you can also scale it for desktop users.
The same situation is valid for the different platforms you can select (by default, they are all selected).
For your campaign tests, it’s better not to mix things up and know which platform your target audience will most likely use.
For example, Instagram is used by younger demographics and Facebook by older ones.
So, suppose you know already that your potential customers belong to older demographics.
In that case, it doesn’t make much sense to place your ad on Instagram.
Or, if you don’t plan a messenger ad with a connected messenger bot, it doesn’t make much sense to have your ad placed on the messenger.
All these placements are active if you don’t manually untick them.
So, if you don’t uncheck the irrelevant ones, it can cost you a lot of money, increase your costs per click, and decrease your conversion rate.
Therefore, I recommend you choose the placements wisely and according to your knowledge about your target audience or customer.
How to Create Awesome Facebook Ads for Real Estate
Now, you might wonder what great examples of Facebook ads for real estate exist.
It’s the ad creative with which you draw attention to your offering.
When creating creatives for Facebook ads, many don’t know where to start and which creatives to use for them.
Knowing from the get-go which type of ads and creatives to use gives you a better chance of having a winning campaign and making it more profitable.
Honestly, it’s unlikely that you will have a winning campaign from the start.
Although possible, at least you will have fewer testing iterations to get to a winning campaign and have more winning campaigns in the future.
What a Great Facebook Ad Creative Should Do
In a past article about direct mailing, I mentioned the AIDA copywriting formula: attention, interest, desire, and action. My extended version is attention, interest/problem, desire/solve, and action.
Regarding Facebook ad creatives, you are in the business of “getting attention” or the attention part of the above formula.
Because you’re doing a version of interruption marketing.
Usually, people scroll through their Facebook feed, checking out their “friends” content.
With a Facebook ad, you interrupt this flow, suddenly appearing in the feed (should you choose a placement in the Facebook feed in the ads manager).
So, for the most part, Facebook ads have an interruption element.
So, what should be the primary aim when creating your ad creatives for your campaign?
The aim is to create a pattern interrupt with your ad.
People can easily miss an ad due to “banner” or “ad blindness.”
So, it helps to have created an ad that grabs attention and makes the user pause for a second or two and consider consuming the content of your ad.
How is this done?
First, you must use great pictures or media as a pattern interrupt.
Now, I know what you are thinking.
Great pictures, for example, would usually be professionally made pictures that are relevant to your offer.
But what works on Facebook is kind of counterintuitive.
People can often smell an ad from miles away when you use pictures that look too “professional.”
Remember the user behavior on Facebook.
They scroll through their feed and look at pictures or videos of their friends that are usually not produced professionally.
Sure, the quality of amateur content has increased thanks to better cameras.
Still, my tip is not to use pictures or videos that look too professional.
They need to make a rather amateurish impression and create a pattern interrupt.
Yes, they may look a bit worse.
Still, they often work better than your pro-material created by a professional photographer or video producer and models.
Another additional pattern interrupt is using different colors from the usual blue and white Facebook color scheme.
Your ad might be easier to overlook if you use the same colors.
So, although it looks a bit ugly, you can add a frame in a different color to border your picture (e.g., red, pink, green, etc.).
Or you add a colored arrow or circle in your picture to bring the user’s attention to a particular part of the picture.
In my own experience, I’ve always had a better click-through rate when adding some color elements like those mentioned above.
I don’t like it aesthetically either, but it provides better ad performance for some psychological reason.
These are general guidelines for the pictures you can use:
- Use images that are relevant to your target audience and/or marketing angle
- Choose images that are bright and eye-catching.
- Happy people, or pictures of happy women, tend to convert well.
- If it suits the picture, you can add a graphic that uses some of the copywriting “power words,” such as “free.” But be careful not to overload the picture
- Use babies or pets
- Use a funny or odd picture.
As you can see, most of the points above show you that it’s mostly all about pattern interrupts and relevancy to your target audience or marketing angle.
Don’t take my advice for granted because it’s all about testing different versions of your ad creatives.
By considering the principle of pattern interrupt, you will have better ads with higher click-through rates and, thus, lower costs per click.
What About the Facebook Ad Copy?
After configuring your campaign objectives, targeting, and placement in the Facebook Ads Manager, you can create your actual ad.
There, you can add the primary text of your ad, a headline, a description, and choose a call to action button.
The wording of these fields is a bit confusing.
The headline doesn’t come first, but below your picture or video, close to the call to action button.
The primary text goes above the picture and should instead be used as a headline with a subheadline.
So, to get rid of this confusion:
First, all the fields should be used for a short version of the AIDA copywriting formula.
In the primary text field, you want to grab attention and create interest and desire for your offer by presenting its benefits.
You might want to use some emoticons (no more than three) to grab additional attention.
The ad will appear more organic and look like a regular post from friends in your potential customer’s news feed.
The headline field can again be used as a headline.
Still, it can also be used as an additional call to action field since it’s so close to the actual call to action button.
The description field is optional and can be used as a sub-headline field.
5 Facebook Ad Examples for Real Estate to Learn And Get You Inspired
This section is about five Facebook ad examples for real estate from which you can learn and get inspired.
Some are good, and some, in my opinion, could be better, and I will point out why.
1) Zephyr Real Estate
They did well in this example by using a command in their copy and using the same idea in the link description.
The picture is also good because it doesn’t look too professional but shows the property’s nice interior design.
Unfortunately, the picture has many bright and white elements, part of the Facebook color scheme.
What might improve the ad would be adding a pattern interrupt with a different color.
Maybe a green circle or arrow in the picture or a colored frame.
Another element they could have added are two to three emoticons in the description text.
Lisney seems to have focused on the campaign objective of brand awareness in this Facebook campaign. They use Facebook Live to tour a property.
They did well in this ad to avoid using a highly polished video for the tour.
It looks authentic because it seems to be a standard smartphone camera.
They also have a pattern interrupt from adding their red logo on the video.
In this case, I guess they are lucky to have a logo that doesn’t contain any Facebook color schemes (blue and white).
So, this type of ad targets only people who have already looked at particular products, in this case, properties on their website.
This type of ad can also draw data from a data set to automatically show other properties.
They used the picture carousel in the Facebook Ads Manager to show properties their site visitors have already looked at and others that could be of interest.
In this case, the idea or tactic of using dynamic ads is excellent.
But I beg to differ with Adespresso. What they didn’t mention is the ad creative and copy itself.
Although I understand only a bit of Portuguese, with some help from Google Translate, the copy in the description says: “These are other apartments you can rent without a guarantor. Meet Quinto Andar.”
I couldn’t find a benefit in the text besides the slight benefit of “without a guarantor” at the end.
In copywriting, a good trick, if you want to find a benefit, is always to ask yourself, “So what…?”
Putting more emphasis on a benefit, they could have changed it to:
“Tired of always asking your uncle to be your guarantor when renting an apartment? Check out this new apartment we’ve recently listed where you won’t need any guarantor.”
There are no emoticons, and the picture doesn’t make a suitable pattern interruption (white elements).
They might want to add a colored arrow pointing to the bananas on the table.
Adespresso praised this ad because they used the tactic of promoting an event related to property investments.
I like that they use a red pattern interrupt with the benefit of “free” in the top left corner of the picture.
The picture itself is also good, using a young and happy family.
This ad has good potential, but it would need many more changes.
The rest of the picture is stuffed, and I would take out the logo on the top right and the benefit text on the bottom.
The benefit text is good, but I would use it in the description text, which doesn’t read very well.
I would also use two to three emoticons and bullet point icons to better show what you can learn in the seminar.
So, for description text, I would use:
“Secure your future with our FREE property investment seminar.
When? Tuesday, May 31st, 2016.
Where? At the Durbanville Golf Club at 6 p.m.
What will you learn to secure your future?
How to get SARS to finance and fund your residential buy to get a property portfolio until retirement.
Get my number one secret on how I am using tax-free money to buy and fund a multi-million-dollar Rand property portfolio.”
The headline is too long and partially cut out.
I would use it as an additional call to action and instead use:
“Get Started With Property Investment – Learn How You can Own your…Secure Your Future Today & Register Now”.
I especially like this one. I couldn’t find much that could be improved.
The picture the company used is not too professional.
The picture has a pattern interrupt, but it’s not overly stuffed. The description has a good copy with benefits right at the beginning.
I would test it against another Ad with identical copies and pictures but with two to three emoticons to see if the CTR could be improved.
AdEspresso analyzed these Facebook ad examples for real estate in this article. So, if you like, you can head over and read more.
You can also visit the Facebook Ads Library and search by company name, topic, or organization if you need even more inspiration for Facebook ad examples.
Remember that your targeting and ad placements are slightly more important than your Facebook ad creatives and copy.
They help you only when the Facebook ad is good and follows some guidelines, such as pattern interrupts, the right pictures (media), and ad copy.
I hope this guide will help you improve your chances of running a winning Facebook campaign for real estate.
Let me know if there is another Facebook ad topic you would like me to cover in the future.
And if you liked this guide, feel free to share it.
This article has been reviewed by our editorial team. It has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.
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