This One Trick Will Ramp Up Your ROI | Chicago Association of REALTORS®

What is the return on investment (ROI) for your advertising budget? Which platforms deal the best leads at the best cost? What was your ROI on the last property sold?

If you can’t answer these questions, you could be leaving money on the table. Taking a look at where your advertising budget goes can dramatically improve your ROI and make even the most scattershot strategy deliver better results.

We’re talking about remarketing.

Before you can understand the power of remarketing and why it needs to be part of your strategy, consider your current marketing costs. How many of these statements apply to your brokerage?

If you chose answer six, congratulations on fully understanding your motivations. If you checked off anything else, you really checked off answer six, because these are all variations on the same theme: fear.

Fear is what drives many REALTORS® to invest in every new platform that comes along, because it might be the “next big thing.” Then, when it generates a sale or two, REALTORS® are afraid to leave, even as they invest in another new platform, because they might lose a sale from the old platform. This is how digital spending escalates, loses accountability and chews into your operating margins.

Some brokerages are spending more money on more platforms than ever before, and paying out less in commissions because marketing costs have become so high. With the “weird trick” of remarketing, you can balance your fear with a proven digital strategy, sell faster at a lower cost and get commissions flowing back to your brokers.

Remarketing is simply showing ads to buyers who’ve been to your site and left without taking any action. Any buyer or seller from any site can be targeted with remarketing. All you need to do is create the ads and put a tracking code, known as a “cookie,” on your listing pages.

Display ads will then follow buyers around the web, potentially appearing on any website that allows display advertising, including news sites and social media. You decide how often the ads appear and what’s in them. For example, if a buyer looks at a three-bedroom ranch, images of that exact home can be targeted to that specific individual.

In other words, you are showing the buyer what the buyer wants to see at a variety of times, so your messaging is front and center when the buyer is ready to take action.

There is simple, data-driven science behind this, beginning with a number that every REALTOR® should commit to memory: 2.75 percent, the average conversion rate of website marketing. That number is low, and it is based on a truth that has been documented for years in online marketing: the overwhelming majority of people do nothing when they visit a website for the first time. They look, they read, they click on links, but they do not convert.

The secret to getting higher conversions is to get buyers to come back to your site, and this is where remarketing succeeds. By targeting buyers who have been to your site, conversion rates will rise by a minimum of 20 percent and on average by 30 to 50 percent. That 2.75 percent conversion rate now grows to 3.58 percent, 4.12 percent or higher, simply because your brokerage took the initiative to get buyers to give you a second look.

This strategy works no matter where the buyer came from, allowing you to enhance the value of any platform you currently use to showcase listings. Remarketing clicks tend to be more expensive than regular paid search or display clicks, but their significantly higher conversion rates make these clicks far more valuable due to their much higher ROI.

Think of it like this: a buyer who wants a house that you have listed is much more likely to buy from you. You should be willing to pay more to reach this buyer than the general group of buyers who are looking for any property, because you have what that buyer wants.

To bring everything together, and to impress digital-driven agents in your recruiting, add both attribution and remarketing to your digital plan. This will allow you to measure ROI to the penny.

Attribution begins with the right Google Analytics setup. You need to create goals that are meaningful, such as tracking phone calls, form submissions, appointment requests and showings. Each goal should be set up individually. For example:

GOAL 1: Phone calls

GOAL 2: Appointment Request form submissions

GOAL 3: Contact form submission

Once you have the goals in place, you can then use Google Analytics to see which platforms and campaigns drove the best response rates. Google will track the source of every goal conversion, providing the deepest possible insight into the results driven by your advertising budget. You can then use the data to improve ROI, visibility or both.

For example, say your brokerage lists on two prominent real estate sites, which we will call ImHome and  Homely. After setting up your goals, you discover that ImHome converts at a two percent rate and is responsible for 20 percent of your conversions, while Homely converts at a 12 percent rate and is responsible for 80 percent of your conversions. The money spent on Homely is clearly more effective.

Then you look at remarketing attribution, and you see that Homely conversions rise by five percent, while ImHome conversions rise by 20 percent, while costing half as much as Homely conversions. You have now learned something very valuable about both sites. Homely sends you very targeted buyers who are ready to take action, but ImHome does not, while ImHome provides a lower cost per conversion. You can reduce remarketing for Homely, put that extra budget toward ImHome remarketing and lower the overall cost of your advertising while increasing your conversion rate.

This is a very simple example that illustrates the power of remarketing and attribution working together. Remarketing improves performance for any platform that you currently use, but the real value gets unlocked when you have full visibility into your buyer streams and behavior, which allows you to see the return on investment for your advertising.

You may discover that some platforms return poor results no matter what you do. You may discover that a small adjustment to ad bids or remarketing budgets delivers exponential growth in conversions. The only way to know this is to start tracking.

Data provides the ultimate antidote for fear-based business decisions. Once you start to see actual performance, the wild claims made by some listing sites prove untrue.

When you see where your budget actually goes and what it actually returns, your attitude toward some marketing platforms will change. You will begin to recognize ways to get better visibility and close sales faster at a lower cost.

Remarketing alone will boost your bottom line and is a great way to learn about the power of data-driven marketing. With or without attribution, remarketing will succeed, but the brokerages that want to dominate their markets will go all in and track the performance of their marketing, or watch their market share slip when their competitors use data to drive higher sales.

Justin Cook, Co-Founder, C-4 Analytics
Chuck Delgrande, Board Advisor, C-4 Analytics, and Managing Director, Technology, Media & Telecom M&A Advisory, Alantra