A tech startup is dramatically different from running a real estate business. But when it comes to marketing, it feels pretty similar. Just like a lot of realtors, I’m sorting through the huge variety of online marketing channels, experimenting with them, and trying to find a repeatable process that lets me reach my audience cost-effectively. (And when I say cost, I mean both time and money.)
I recently experimented with Facebook advertising, with some interesting results. Here’s a rundown of what I learned.
Easy to setup
Facebook has made their ads fast and easy to setup. Just go to their Ads website to create an ad. There are a few different ad types:
- An ad (with an image, headline and text you define) that takes the viewer to a URL
- An ad about your Facebook page
- An ad about a specific post on your Facebook page
- Stories about a viewer’s friends liking your page
- Stories about a viewer’s friends sharing URLs on your domain
There’s quite a range of choices in ad types. Thus far, I’ve only tried ads about my Facebook page, but the other ad types deserve some experimentation also.
Facebook allows you to target your ads based on several criteria:
- Age & gender
- Whether they are already connected to your page
- Relationship status, education & workplaces
These are pretty powerful targeting mechanisms, most of which you can’t get with search ads.
Location is critical when targeting homebuyers, of course. You don’t want to advertise to Portland homebuyers if you’re in Seattle.
Interest targeting is also very useful. A Facebook user’s interests are determined based on his Likes and on information shared on his Timeline. If you can build a good profile of who you’re trying to reach and what he’s interested in, you can use interest targeting to very precisely pick out your audience.
For example, my ads are targeted at realtors, whom I want to sign up for abodograph. I targeted my ads towards people with an interest in “National Association of Realtors”. It’s unlikely many people who aren’t in the real estate business have Liked the NAR (or even know what it is!). This targeting has worked pretty well so far.
The price of a Like
Like Google’s AdWords, Facebook uses an auction system to price its ads. The auction is based on your bid price for an ad as well as the ad’s past performance. Again, like Google, this means that ads that perform well actually cost less.
I’m going to show you some numbers, but first, I want to stress that these are unique to my situation. Your advertising costs will depend on the amount of competition by other advertisers for the people you’re targeting as well as your ad’s performance. But I hope my numbers give you a rough idea of what to expect.
I ran my ads over a four-day period last week and spent $362.35. As a result, I got 288 visitors to my page, for a cost per click (CPC) of $1.26. And 108 people liked my page as a result of these ads, which means it cost $3.35 to buy a Like.
A secondary goal of these ads was to drive traffic from Facebook to abodograph.com. As a result of these ads, I got 46 visits to my website, and 25 signups for abodograph.
This was an initial experiment, and the next step is to optimize. Click-through rates are notoriously sensitive to the quality of the ad copy. Optimizing the copy will hopefully increase click-through rates and drive costs down. Also, I think trying out different ad types (like sponsored stories, or an ad that leads directly to my website rather than to my Facebook page) might be worth a shot.
What are your experiences with Facebook ads?