Over the last couple years, we’ve started working with two Vancouver-based luxury residential real estate developers, Westbank and Anthem Properties and market a dozen of their new high-end developments in several ultra-competitive markets. This includes such notable projects as the iconic Vancouver House, the stunning KING Toronto, Horseshoe Bay Residences, and soon the multi-high-rise community in Vancouver’s Oakridge neighbourhood. As we strategize and execute their social and search advertising campaigns, Wallop’s new real estate clients are receiving thousands of quality leads and link clicks that are leading to increased inquiries and more condominium sales. Perhaps most importantly, they are doing so at significantly reduced cost owing to a pair of innovations borrowed from our luxury tourism toolkit.
Path One: Clear Definition and Segmentation of Facebook Audience
Wallop inherited several Facebook accounts for the aforementioned condo development projects and immediately saw that there were opportunities to make improvements to the market segmentation in the targeting of their ads. Targets were aggregated into only a handful of ‘ad targeting’ groups and therefore running with little efficiency to inadequately defined audiences.
As a result, the audience sizes were far too big; many had more than half a million targets in a single ad set! The Wallop team strategized that the most effective segmentation strategy would be to decide the audience by different interests utilizing website ‘lookalike audiences’, a proven and powerful targeting method we use in the high-end travel market. Through this ‘interest targeting’, we sought to approach people with real estate-related, luxury-related and investment-related interests.
In our recent work — a Lunar New Year sales event promotion for Westbank Oakridge — we were able to generate approximately 2,000 Facebook lead submissions at the average Cost Per Lead (CPL) of only $8.29. This validated our assumption that the most effective ad sets are the website ‘lookalike audiences’. These targets were then supplemented by ‘general real estate interests’, and finally ‘luxury goods and luxury brands-related interests’. These three ad sets alone generated about 75% of the total leads.
To ensure that we were capturing as many high-quality and relevant leads as possible, we also tried an audience-targeting strategy that focussed on ‘job titles’, ‘geo-targeting’ and more demographics-related criteria such as ‘marital status’, the ‘number of children’ and the ‘work industry’. As can sometimes be the case in such test campaigns, they didn’t generate as many leads as our interest-related ad groups. In doing so, though, we validated the ‘interested-related’ hypothesis.
Path Two: Custom-Intent Audiences on Google Ads
A second path to identifying a luxury real estate audience is a new system on Google Ads that offers enhanced segmentation. Since we’ve had success with it for our luxury travel clients, we decided to apply the same logic to our condo sales lead generation campaigns.
Our team’s view is that Google Display Network’s two historical flaws have been its limited customization capability, and the needless breadth of its default market segments. To compensate for these limitations, a marketer would have to target obliquely, by slicing and dicing target audiences according to demographic criteria, in order to access a pool of smaller niche verticals.
In Google, the ‘housing’ vertical on its display network is way too vast, creating inaccuracies for residential developers by also including people who are trying to rent, sell and those looking for renovation advice. There’s way ‘too much fat on the steak’ since the goal is to sell, not rent, these new properties.
To define our audience, we leveraged the new Custom Intent Audience System in the Google Display Network. The system allows us create customized audience topics by adding specific in-market keywords and phrases — even URLs — for related websites and companies.
Using this setup, the Google display ads are only shown to the people who are actively looking for the product or service that our developers are offering. It’s akin to a retargeting campaign for your competitors’ traffic. As with our Facebook campaigns, we recorded some startling reductions in cost per lead (CPL): approximately 48% lower than the campaign’s average. The same campaigns delivered the highest number of leads: approximately 58% of the total lead volume!
In short, by applying just two Facebook and Google Ads strategies we’ve learned from luxury travel to real estate, we were able to better leverage audience segmentation for social and search campaigns. Both still require knowledge of your targeting and planning in advance. Give these strategies a try in your real estate lead generation campaigns, and you might see similar results.