November 2, 2010 1:00 pm
Have a plan before you invest in any advertising
A lot of time and effort often goes into planning and setting your advertising budget. Whether you choose to invest in SEM, SEO, display advertising or the like, sometimes the most crucial step can be overlooked as an effective starting point.
Before you spend a dime on creative, research or undertake a new branding campaign: make a plan.
Establish a goal:
First, be clear on what you want to accomplish, as this will likely lead you to the appropriate advertising route and type of goal to establish. If you want to generate general brand awareness to build business over time, you’ll likely want to undertake a branding campaign. If you want your audience to take action immediately, you’ll want to research direct response campaigns.
Once you establish that, determine what you’d like to achieve with your campaign. That may be traffic, e-mail leads, phone calls, closings, registrations or increased brand awareness. Setting a goal sounds simple, but too many online real estate advertisers spend money without one. Without a clear vision, your execution can suffer.
How will you know if you reach your goal? Specifically? If you can’t tell what’s working, you’re not going to succeed over time. How you measure depends on your goal, but here are a couple methods:
- Tracking number of views on the landing pages to which your ad or ads point. This can be done easily using popular Web analytics tools like Google Analytics or Woopra. You can also track the “bounce rate” on these pages – the percentage of visitors who never go farther than your landing page.
- Tracking e-mails or calls your ads generate. Create a campaign specific e-mail address if your call to action involves contacting you via e-mail.
- Create a form that’s specific to your campaign. You’ll be able to tell which leads are coming from your ad campaign from those coming from other sources.
Was it worth it? You won’t know for sure unless you take the time to evaluate your measurements against your goal, then factor in the cost of your campaign. This tends to be more challenging in real estate than it is in many other industries because the time from first point of contact to closing can be many months. But if you do this over time, you will develop a baseline than can help you evaluate advertising campaigns quickly. If you know, for example, the percentage of Website leads that can be counted on to result in a closing within a 12-month period, you can then establish a “customer acquisition cost” that can help you plan your overall marketing budget more efficiently.