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Dominate your market with Apartment PPC

What is PPC?

And why should you use it in apartment marketing?

You may have heard about PPC - which stands for Pay Per Click. It’s the type of advertising that allows you to bid on ads that have you pay for the clicks you actually get from your advertising efforts, as opposed to more traditional ad types like billboards or TV, which have you pay for a placement and its potential reach. 

The benefits of PPC ads are broad, even more so in apartment marketing - after all, some of the biggest users of this strategy in apartment marketing are apartments.com and zillow, who go on to arbitrage leads generated through these tactics and sell them to apartment owners and property managers directly. 

For example, with PPC you can: 

  • Insert your brand into google search of someone looking for apartments 
  • Place bids on keyword searches like “Student apartments for rent near me” 
  • Geographically target specific regions and areas within a city

And those are just to name a few, but surprisingly, few multifamily firms choose to invest in this strategy due to the intimidating nature of running ads on platforms like google or facebook. Fortunately, this leaves opportunity on the table for firms with the time or resources to invest in PPC directly. 

Types of PPC 

PPC ads can be run through a variety of platforms. They consist of of text, banner ads (images), videos, or a combination. While this style of advertising was popularized by Google, and Google Ads are still one of the most common ways to leverage a PPC strategy, social media companies like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat have all produced competent and robust PPC platforms, further popularizing the advertising method. 

Let's look at these channel by channel. 

Google ads: 

How do google ads work? 

Simply put, Google ads allow you to bid on words and phrases that your target audience might be typing into their search bar, and show ads when displaying results. 

As the advertiser, you have control over your keywords, the location you want to target with ads, the written ad that displays on the search results page, how much you’re willing to spend each day and depending on your bid strategy, how much you want to pay for each click or lead. 

Controlling Bids With Manual Bidding

Manual bidding allows you to change bids at the keyword level to fine tune your campaigns with the most direct control. Manual bidding is the most time intensive of the options and the larger the campaign, the more difficult it can be to keep track of all the different trends. 

The benefit of this style of bidding is that you can manipulate things like how often your ad is shown, where on the search page it displays, and how many clicks you get before your budget is spent. Manual bids can be great when trying to capture apartment shoppers because you can spend just enough to stay #2 or #3 on the ad rankings and catch people moving down the list of options for cheaper than your competition in the #1 spot. 

If you’re too busy to regularly check your ads however, an automated strategy is your best bet. 

Automated Bid Strategies

The two most common automated strategies are Max Clicks ad Max Conversions. 

Max Clicks is exactly what it sounds like. You set your budget and Google will attempt to get as many clicks as possible for the keywords you added to the campaign. You can also set a max cost per click, so you can project your traffic a little better, but if your cap is too low, you will have a hard time generating traffic. 

With Max Conversions, you first need to set up conversion events on your website to pass back to google. This could be something like filling out an inquiry form, or visiting a specific page. Often you will need a developer or a technical marketing team with an understanding of Google analytics or Google Tag Manager to set up your conversions. 

Once your conversions are set, Google will attempt to generate as many “conversions” as possible with the budget allocated. You can also allocate a target cost per acquisition. It might not always work, but it can help signal to Google’s algorithm what you consider a profitable conversion cost so it can attempt to get as close as possible. 

Ad Rank

Ad rank determines where in the ad order yours will display. A good ad rank can also mean cheaper clicks using automated bid strategies. It is determined by Ad relevancy, landing page relevancy, expected click through rate and your bid. When someone makes a search for a relevant keyword, your ad rank is calculated along with the ranks of your competitors and displayed from highest to lowest on the page. 

By taking the extra time to create highly relevant ads that people click on and build landing pages that are closely aligned with your keywords and generate user engagement, you can bring down your cost per acquisition while getting an edge on your competition. 

A Note on Writing Ads

Responsive Search Ads are the current standard for text based search ads on the Google platform. As stated above making sure your ads are relevant to the search queries and your landing page are key to getting the most for your ad dollar. The easiest way to accomplish this is to choose a couple quick key differentiators for your property that you can list quickly, whether that be location, unit size, amenities or a tagline that you use regularly. Add a couple calls to action such as “check availability” and then test. Run two variants and see which one has a better click through rate and cost per click after 2 weeks, then turn off the loser and repeat. That’s the basis of a very simple but effective A/B test. 

What about retargeting?

You know those ads that follow you around the internet? Google is one of the biggest players in that space. While they might not be the most popular of Google’s ad products with users they are fantastic at generating exposure to your brand when done in moderation. With the new responsive display ads, it’s easy to set up a display ad with nothing more than a few phrases and valu statements, a couple images and a logo. For pennies a click, they are often a good option for advertisers who want to stay top of mind with their more expensive search traffic. Retargeting campaigns do require an understanding of Google analytics to implement. 

In Summary

When someone has a question or a need today the most common first step is to Google it. So when someone is interested in moving to a new city, or just a new part of their current city they will often first search for “apartments in X”. A well developed Google PPC campaign will get you in front of people in the market for a new home while they are actively doing the research. By setting up an integrated campaign with display retargeting and social media, you can create a robust system that keeps a prospective resident thinking about your property while showcasing your unique selling points and differentiators in a way you can’t on platforms like Zillow or apartments.com 

Social Media Ads: 

How do social media ads work? 

Most social media platforms allow businesses to target audiences based on their demographics. Advertisers simply need to select their demographic, desired targeting region, and then upload creative that would showcase their brand while appealing to potential customers. 

We like social media for Student Housing and Class B real estate positioned for millennials and Gen-Z in situations where place of living is a statement. It’s a fantastic tool to help build a brand around an apartment or even a management company. 

Getting started with Facebook and Instagram (Meta) ads 

Step 1: Create your facebook advertising account: 

Facebook ads were popularized by their unique and powerful targeting options. 

Anyone can get started running ads on Meta today - but in this competitive landscape, and with regulations culling our ability to accurately select a demographic manually, running profitable campaigns is a different story. 

To get started running ads in Meta, you’ll need to first set up a company business account

Once you set up your ad account, you will then connect it to your Facebook business page and connect a credit card to manage billing.

Facebook ads are organized by Campaign > Ad Group > and Ads. 

Meta ad objective selection

Step 2: Choose your objective 

You’ll be able to choose your objective through the “Campaign” section of your ad manager. While we like to choose the Lead objective, with a focus on “Conversions” – this allows us to optimize ads for key events such as inquiries from leads. 

In order to use the conversion event, you’ll need to install the facebook pixel to your website and track key events that are important to your business. It’s fairly technical, so we recommend running it by your website developer for help. 

In this step, you will also need to identify your campaign as being for Housing, Credit, or Employement. 

If you don’t have the ability to run Conversion campaigns, the “Traffic Objective” is typically the next best bet. This objective optimizes your audience for users most likely to click on your ads.

Step 3: Select Your Audience and Placements

In apartment marketing, taking a local approach is a must have part of any strategy. While when running ads for housing, many demographic targeting factors are limited, which is why we recommend using conversion events as the goal of the campaign in the step above. It allows Meta to optime your audience for you based on who is most likely to convert on your campaign. 

We’ve run over $1,000,000 in ad spend on facebook, and from what we can tell, using broad audiences with conversion objectives are the best current way to optimize your audience on Meta. 

In housing, we love running ads specifically for marketplace. Marketplace is already commonplace for apartment and housing searches, and we’ve found it to be one of the best places to run ads across all of our PPC initiatives. 

Step 4: Build Your Ad  

Visual ads or videos that showcase your apartment are the most common way to showcase your units, but we’ve seen a lot of success using lifestyle shots and videos that also showcase amenities and a sense of community at your apartment. 

We recommend following all of the prompts in Ad Manager to ensure you create a complete and compelling advertisement. 

Step 5: Publish Your Ad 

Once all these steps are complete, you’re ready to publish your campaign. Don’t forget to double check your budget, which is typically managed in the “Ad Set” or “Campaign” section of ad manager. 

Test, Test, Test. 

Once you’ve taken the plunge into online advertising, the final step is to test! Try new creative, audiences, and campaign strategies and keep an eye on outcomes. The more time you spend optimizing your campaigns, the better your results will be over the long term.

Find a trusted apartment marketing PPC company

We know that taking the plunge into PPC advertising for your multifamily portfolio can be a daunting task, which is why working with a trusted pro might just be your best bet. 

Experienced ad management firms will also give you a major advantage in speed to launch, not to mention their direct experience in the space allows them to take proven strategies and apply them to your campaign. If you’re looking for a trusted PPC partner, we recommend working with Lease Engine's apartment PPC management team, but any trusted firm could add value in this area.

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