The Pros and Cons of PPC Advertising for Estate Agents
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising has been a staple of the digital marketing world for a number of years although as a medium, it has changed significantly in the past few. PPC ads operate on a relatively straightforward basis by charging a fixed amount for each person clicking on your ad and can be useful as a peripheral marketing and advertising strategy. However, the hidden complexities of the strategy can be problematic for estate agents new to the medium that often don't have the time to devote to learning its best practices.
In 2015, the scope of PPC is more advanced than ever but there are clear advantages and disadvantages that you'll need to consider before engaging in the strategy.
You can pick and choose your PPC provider
Originally, Google was practically the only worthwhile provider of PPC ads. Through Google AdWords, you could quickly and easily get started with a campaign and be assured that your ads would get substantial visibility. Today, Google AdWords is still the pre-eminent force in the industry but there are several other viable options competing for pole position. Bing, Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook are among the other options available to you and theoretically, you can now put a PPC display ad on any external site for increased exposure.
Harness the power of big data
Tech companies like Google, Twitter et al have access to massive amounts of user data and with PPC advertising you have access to the data of your provider and you can use it to make your campaigns even more effective. For example, Google provides extensive data on search trends and user behaviour whereas Facebook allows you to use data to target very specific niches of your audience, down to specific age, genders and interests of your ideal clients.
You can keep a hold on your purse strings
With PPC advertising, you'll never have to worry about going over your budget – as long as you set your restrictions properly. With Google, Facebook, Twitter and Bing, you'll be able to set a firm upper limit for your campaign. Once the number of clicks your ad receives crosses that barrier, your ad will disappear and you won't be charged further.
You'll drive traffic to your website
You don't have to wait for a PPC campaign to ramp up like you do with a content-led, SEO or social network campaign. While you can make adjustments over time to improve the results of your PPC campaign, one of its major draws is that once you implement it, you'll start seeing traffic almost immediately. This is useful for start-up estate agents seeking to maximise the impact of their online property listings in a hurry.
Clicks don't equal conversions
Unfortunately, no matter how much traffic you receive there's no guarantee that any of those visitors will go on to buy a property through your estate agency. You might pay for 500 new leads to come to your website but if those leads are not interested in your listings, you'll be out of pocket with nothing significant to show for it. Conversion optimisation is a second process and PPC is dependent on it for success.
The rising cost of PPC advertising
Google has grown in popularity both for searchers and for advertisers and as a result, its prices have increased significantly in recent years. In 2015, it's simply not cost-effective to proceed with a Google AdWords campaign unless you have a decent budget to invest. Even lower-budget options like Bing and Facebook have prices slowly on the rise, making PPC tighter than ever and more difficult to achieve a positive ROI.
The benefits of PPC do not improve over time
Making adjustments and tweaking your wording, keywords and your ad placements can gradually increase the quality of the audience you bring in. However, other than that, PPC ad benefits do not increase over time. Two years into a campaign, you'll still be paying a fixed amount for every person who clicks on your ad and you'll only see better results if you increase your spending. Other strategies like search engine optimisation (SEO) tend to grow exponentially over time with consistent effort.
Optimising ads takes time and research
There's a hidden cost for PPC that may compromise your ROI entirely: the amount of time you'll invest in learning about your audience and best practices for PPC placement. Without this research and effort, your ads will be rendered ineffective, and your audience won't be likely to convert.
The process can be over-complicated
PPC isn't for everybody. While Google offers some great resources for improving your PPC campaigns, PPC can be intimidatingly complex. Many companies simply can't afford to hire or train an expert in the PPC field, and that means they can't be nearly as effective as they could be.
Whether or not you choose to embark on a PPC advertising campaign for your estate agency is entirely up to you. If you have the budget for it and you're already promoting your listings with full-scale content marketing, SEO and social campaigns, PPC might be a nice peripheral addition. However, if you're new to digital marketing and you're counting on PPC to draw hosts of prospects to you agency, you might want to dip your toe in the water first with a small PPC campaign or at least hedging your bets with other digital marketing channels.