As a real estate agent, chances are you’ve thought about running Facebook ads to generate leads for your business.
And with good reason.
According to the PEW Research Center, 79% of adult Internet users in the United States are on Facebook. Given the enormous amount of traffic the site receives, and Facebook’s ability to track hundreds of data points on each member, the opportunity to advertise your real estate business has never been greater.
Except that it’s confusing.
With the myriad of optimization methods, targeting options, ad types and budgeting choices, it’s enough to scare even savvy marketers away.
Like anything, it’s best to learn the basics before diving into advanced strategies.
And that’s what this article will do; show you how to create your first Facebook real estate ad and spend about $100 to generate leads.
Once you build confidence and start seeing a return on your advertising investment, we’ll explore more advanced options.
I also invite you to join our Facebook group, Facebook Marketing for Real Estate Agents.
It is run, in part, by my wife who for 25 years ran Coca-Cola’s media. She built Coke’s Facebook platform from scratch to over 93 million fans, so she’s a terrific resource with loads of experience.
Now, let’s create your first ad.
Step 1: Open Facebook Ads Manager
To create your first ad, click the downward arrow in the upper right corner of the Facebook page and then select “Create Ads”.
Step 2: Choose your objective
The next screen you’ll see, shown in the image below, is at the campaign level, where you select the objective for your ad.
Before randomly selecting an option, think about what you want your ad to accomplish.
For our purposes, there are eight options split across three major objectives, including;
The two options, brand awareness and reach, are designed to generate interest in your business or services.
I would use these when you are targeting cold traffic, or people who don’t yet know about you. An example would be promoting a blog post where you want to make homeowners in your area aware of you and your services.
There are other ways to use these objectives that we will cover in future articles.
There are five options; traffic, engagement, app installs, video views and lead generation, all designed to get people to start thinking about your business or to seek more information about your services
The only option that applies to your real estate business is conversions. This objective is designed to encourage people who are interested in your business to take advantage of offers, such as lead magnets, whereby you build your email list and begin a relationship with the potential client.
And yes, it seems as though there are objectives that overlap.
For our purposes, we want to start with a simple ad, so choose Traffic under the Consideration menu.
In future articles, we’ll discuss when it’s appropriate to use either the Lead Generation or the Conversions options.
You’ll need to create a name for your campaign.
Choose a name that helps you remember what the ad campaign was about, but don’t narrow it down too much as you’ll have more naming options at the ad set level.
At the ad set level, you will choose where you want your traffic to go, whether it’s a website, an app or to Messenger.
For our purposes, select website.
You’ll identify the exact URL where you want to send traffic when you create your ad.
You’ll need to create a name for your ad set. I recommend naming it based on the topic of the ad, such as a particular lead magnet you are offering.
Step 3: Choose your targeting
Next you will select the audience you’d like to target with your ad.
Facebook offers lots of targeting options, including;
While it may be tempting to advertise to a large number of people, I encourage you to focus on a much smaller audience.
The more focused and specific your target audience is, the more likely you’ll see a high CTR, or Click Through Rate. The Click Through Rate is the number of people who see your ad and click on the link to learn more.
In the example below, I selected people age 30 and over who live in one of six ZIP codes around my neighborhood. As you’ll see in a moment, I used Interests to narrow the potential reach from about 320,000 people to 6,500 people.
I would encourage you to target less than 10,000 people with your first ads by finding similar interests among your existing or past clients that can be used to more precisely target potential clients.
For your first ads, focus on a few ZIP codes or a radius around your office.
Select the age group you’d like to target and ensure that it is consistent with your offer.
Running an ad that offers a first-time homebuyers guide to people 40 and over wouldn’t make sense, but targeting people age 25-30 would.
Leave the language option alone for now as it will default to the language in your chosen area, unless, of course, you are targeting people for whom English is their second language.
The key to running successful Facebook real estate ads is precise targeting.
One way to refine your target audience is to look at your existing and previous clients to uncover similar interests.
To do this, create a spreadsheet like the one shown below.
Enter the names of 10-20 of your past clients and then search for them on Facebook.
Click on the About link and scroll down to see what pages they’ve liked.
Enter several of their interests, focusing on those that are local to your area, if possible, and look for similarities.
In this case, I saw where many of my past clients liked the Facebook pages of the private schools in the area.
To use this information to refine my audience from over 320,000 to 6,500, I used the Detailed Targeting option as shown below.
By entering the names of the private schools in the area, as shown below, I was able to refine the audience from all of people age 30 and over in the six ZIP codes to just those who shared similar interests as my previous clients.
You can also find your competitors fans interests by looking at their fan page. Enter the names of several of their fans into your spreadsheet and look for similarities in their interests.
I would be cautious, however, about using the name of a competing firm as an interest as you’ll likely end up targeting a lot of their agents with your ad.
One other option you may want to consider is Connections.
You can either include or exclude people who like your Facebook business page or include the friends of people who like your page.
Selecting the friends of people who like my page would be redundant as they would already be targeted if they are age 30+, live in one of the six ZIP codes and share the interests in the listed schools.
If they are outside of those targeting parameters, we would not want the ad to be shown to them.
Step 4: Choose your ad placement
Once you’ve selected your target audience, you’ll be able to select where you want your ad to appear.
While there are numerous options, I would suggest that your first few ads appear only on the desktop.
Once you have become comfortable with the basics, you can explore running ads in the Audience Network, Instagram and in Messenger.
While the right hand news feed traditionally works well for retargeting, the CTR may be too low for your first few ads.
Desktop vs. Mobile
The choice of whether to have your ad displayed on mobile depends on where you are sending your traffic and if that website or landing page is mobile responsive.
Your landing page must be easy to read and have clear call-to-action buttons and links that are easy to press on a mobile device.
If your landing page features video, and you want to show your ads on mobile devices, you may want to select to show your ads only when your target audience is connected to Wi-Fi so your video plays without stopping and starting as the data is received by their phone.
A poor connection could ruin your chance of communicating your message and result in lost opportunity.
And while mobile social ads tend to drive more impressions (views) and clicks than desktop ads, desktop still wins the conversion race.
If you really want to test it, create a duplicate ad, showing one only on desktop and the other only on mobile.
At the end of your campaign, you can see which ad produced the best results.
But for now, let’s keep it simple. Stick with desktop for your first few Facebook real estate ads.
Step 5: Set your ad budget
If you’ve read my other articles on lead generation, such as how to generate real estate leads with postcards, you’ll know that I always recommend you start with a small budget to see what works.
I don’t want you to spend a penny more than necessary to learn how to run effective Facebook ads.
You can always spend more once you find an ad formula that works for your business.
In future articles, we’ll get into how the bidding process works and what influences the performance of your ad.
In this example, let’s set a small budget of only $3.33 per day. This will enable you to run the ad for one month and spend $100.
Leave the Optimization for Ad Delivery set to Link Clicks.
In the Ad Scheduling option, click on Run ads on a schedule and set the ad to run for 30 days.
If you do not change this option, your ad will run continuously and you won’t like your next few credit card bills!
Step 6: Create your ad
In this step, you will create your Facebook ad.
I recommend you start with a single image. You can get fancier with subsequent ads, including multiple images (carousel ads), video and more, but for now, let’s keep it simple.
To upload your image, click on the Single Image option, then click on Upload Images, as shown below.
When selecting the image for your ad, there are several best practices I encourage you to follow:
Size and Shape
The recommended size and shape of your image is 1200 pixels wide by 628 pixels tall. This will mean your ad is shown in the landscape format, being wider than it is tall, as shown in the image below.
Depending on the subject of your ad, I recommend using the following types of images:
Happy, smiling people. If you can show a photo of one of your happy clients and pair that with a strong testimonial, you should have a winning combination. If you are offering a guide or checklist, show the person using the guide or performing the activity the guide is designed to help them with.
Color. Facebook’s color scheme is blue and white, so choose bright colors, such as orange, yellow or red so that your ad doesn’t blend into the Facebook news feed.
Children and Pets. A cute photo of a child or a pet, or both, will stand out and draw the attention of your target audience.
Value Proposition. A clearly communicated value proposition that enables your target audience to see how they benefit will make your ad stand out. Display your value proposition in a bright color, as in the example below from NatureBox, and you’ll grab the attention of your desired audience.They used the term, Free Trial, in an orange circle on their image. Anything free is usually an attention getter.
When placing text over your image, be sure not to exceed Facebook’s guidelines. They offer a handy text checker that will ensure your ad is approved.
Once you have uploaded your image, you will identify where you want to send your traffic by entering the URL of your landing page.
I never encourage agents to simply send traffic to the home page of their website.
Most websites have dozens of links on the home page and if the visitor can’t find the one thing you are offering in your ad, they’ll leave and probably never return.
Also, your copy, or text, should be consistent between your ad and your landing page. Something in your ad grabbed their attention, so make sure the copy on your landing page reinforces what your ad offers.
I like to have the Text that appears above the image ask a question with an obvious yes answer.
In this example, many people struggle with knowing what to do to get their home ready to sell.
Then the Headline of the ad provides the solution. In this case, we are offering a free checklist to getting their home ready to sell.
The News Feed Link Description is used to reinforce the previous text.
People are often more motivated by the fear of loss than they are the prospects of gain.
So in this example, I use the phrase, “Don’t make expensive mistakes” to help them see that without the free guide they may be spending money and time unnecessarily.
You also want to use this text area to offer social proof.
People are more motivated by what others do than what you might say. By stating that the guide has helped homeowners throughout Atlanta, we are establishing that others have benefitted from the information, so it must be worthwhile.
Once you have provided the links, and entered the text, for your ad, you are ready to submit it for approval.
If your ad includes terms such as home or real estate, you may see the warning below;
This warning exists to ensure that your ad complies with fair housing laws and is not discriminatory.
Since you are running a real estate related ad, you must click Certify Compliance.
Once your ad is approved, it will begin to run. I do not recommend pausing the ad or making any changes during the first 2-3 days.
During this time, Facebook will be using its algorithm to optimize the ad so that it is shown to the people most likely to click through.
A final word of caution
Before you get into creating your first ad, I want you to go into the whole Facebook ad thing with a realistic set of expectations.
There are a lot of self-proclaimed “guru’s” out there who promise to hold the keys to the kingdom of Facebook advertising. They claim to have cracked the code and can help you do it for a low, low price of $X.
Don’t believe a word of it.
Facebook marketing, done well, is hard.
Like most things, it’s better to learn the fundamentals, then the advanced tactics over time.
Just because someone tells you they have the perfect ad design that will generate 100’s or 1,00’s of leads, don’t give in to temptation.
You know how you get frustrated with homeowners who want to list their home with the agent who tells them they can get a higher price than you – even when you know that’s not possible.
The same thing applies here.
Just because one ad worked in a given situation doesn’t mean it will work in your market or with your target audience.
You have to find the magic bullet for yourself.
And it will take time. Oh, and money. It will take a lot of that too.
So be patient.
And know that you will make mistakes. It’s through those mistakes that you will learn.
When you do find an ad or a targeting method that works, pour more money into it and generate all of the leads you can while you can. You never know when that well may run dry.
Now go create a few Facebook real estate ads.
Then let me know how they worked and in future articles we’ll troubleshoot some ads to see how agents might have gotten better results.