During the past year I was able to produce a 85% drop in cost-per-conversion for a client.
You might be thinking to yourself, “my, that sounds impressive.” Well no shit. It is impressive. When I took over their Google Adwords account, I was the first to implement proper conversion measurement, and I wasn’t all that shocked to discover their cost per conversion was in the $25 – $35 range.
In fact, $25 – $35 cost per conversion can be pretty standard when running a Google Adwords campaign in the real estate space. Still, I wasn’t satisfied with “pretty standard” results. I wanted to put boots to asses. I wanted it to be raining leads on my client’s head.
Set and Forget is a Lie
If you are doing anything related to paid digital advertising, keep in mind that you will never really reach the point where you are in campaign cruise control. You should always keep a small test group to test out new theories. Make it 10% or so of your budget. Change up the ad copy, adjust the targeting, change out keywords. If you see something that works this month, implement it full-scale next month.
It’s okay for a PPC person to tell you they don’t know what your results will be. Why? Because, if you’ve never done a campaign before, there is no data to study. If you’re hiring someone to run your ad campaigns make sure they have a plan to run tests and then gradually move to a full-scale campaign based on their learnings. Anyone who promises results is full of shit.
Google Adwords Wasn’t Working
After a few months of tracking conversions and analyzing my client’s campaigns via Adwords and Analytics conversion tracking, I understood there were two problems:
1. Relevancy: This particular client needed to reach military members and public service workers who were first time home buyers, and do it before they had already contacted a real estate agent. In Google Adwords, that is a pretty challenging task. If we went too narrow on keywords traffic would severely drop.
2. Competition: Everything real estate related in Google Adwords is incredibly competitive. Clicks come in the $5 – $10 range, and if you’re going to spend that, you’ll also need a big budget with a plenty of time to optimize landing page designs. We didn’t have that option.
So, how do we reach an incredibly niche audience in an oversaturated market where costs are driven up by big budget competition? Sometimes, it’s okay to hit the “fuck it” button and try something new
Facebook Lookalike Audiences: Great For Niches
Given our Google Adwords challenges, I decided to run a small Facebook Ads test with my client to compare the results against Google Adwords. We had already built a strong email list using Google Advertising over the past year and those people represented our ideal audience.
Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences target people who closely match the members of your email list. Since we had such a specific audience it was a perfect option (military and public service workers who were looking to buy a home, but hadn’t signed with a real estate agent yet).
In our small-scale test we saw that click-through-rates were higher, cost-per-click was dramatically lower, and better yet, our cost per conversion was much MUCH lower.
Still, Your Ads Must Be Interesting
Facebook Ads have a visual advantage over Google’s search ads. They are more engaging, dynamic, pretty and overall more interesting. If you want the best results, you need to take full advantage of your options.
Use data from your social media communities to inform your ad creative. We had been running Facebook communities for USMHAF and USEHHAF for well over a year. I parsed through the most popular posts and re-used images and copy in our Facebook Ads.
These ads worked great because they followed best practices, had strong visuals recycled from our most popular social media posts. The ad copy contained a clear message with a simple direction for action.
Test and Measure
Measurement is the #1 most important part of a digital advertising campaign. It’s the canary in a coal mine. Without conversion measurement, your campaign is alike a hot furnace built to burn money.
Google, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and nearly every other major advertiser offer a way to track conversions that are created directly from their ads. Don’t be an idiot, use these tools. Install the damned tracking codes on a thank you page.
Every ad campaign needs a conversion. It could be a content download, contact form, or a request for a quote. Whatever it is, it should matter to your company and it should be something you can track.
Run small tests, then deploy what you learn. Don’t throw your money into a fiery hot money furnace.
Using the methods described here, I was able to take my client’s $25+ conversion rate and drop it down to under $4. When you do something like that, you are basically making it rain leads. The phones are ringing off the hook. The baseball is sailing over the fence. You ate 100 hotdogs in a single sitting.
Winning happens in small, sometimes painful increments. Paid advertising is an art and a science, but mostly it’s a grind. You need to be diligent about your testing and creative in trying new ideas.