Written by Zac Segula, Digital Success Manager
Whether we are talking cryptocurrency, virtual reality (VR), non-fungible tokens (NFTS), or Web 3.0, they all center around a progressive switch from physical to digital. As many things like art, events, and currency shift to become more digital, it seems inevitable that the digital realm will continue to expand into more and more places where we spend our time. That’s exactly what the Metaverse intends to accomplish.
If you are unfamiliar with the term, The Metaverse is an immersive, computer and user-generated digital environment consisting of virtual avatars that represent actual people and combines aspects of augmented and virtual reality. If this still doesn’t make sense, watch the trailer for Steven Spielberg’s 2018 film Ready Player One. The Metaverse will combine video games, technology, and social media in one place.
Is The Metaverse a Fad or the Future?
Just as print advertising was king in the ’90s and slowly began to lose ground to the digital ads and social media marketing we see today, we are at the beginning of a similar transformation to marketing in The Metaverse. Facebook, which saw over 31 billion dollars in ad spend in 2020, announced in October 2021 that they were rebranding their company name to Meta. This shift in name reflects the company’s new focus on The Metaverse. If Facebook is shifting its billion-dollar advertising business to The Metaverse, it’s fair to say that many savvy real estate marketers will follow suit.
What Will Be Different?
Did you know that during a global pandemic, a musical concert drew an attendance of 12 million viewers? Maybe you didn’t, but your kids did. That is because the show was performed by musical artist Travis Scott in a digital arena in Fortnight, one of today’s most popular video games in which users create avatars and compete in a large-scale battle royale. Fortnight can be considered almost a beta version of what The Metaverse is becoming and how companies will use it creatively to connect millions of people in a digital world.
As the way we reach users changes, so will our metrics for real estate marketing success. Conversions will pivot to be more inclusive of virtual actions. Ads will become more immersive and likely call upon marketers to incorporate all five senses. Tracking a user’s phone behavior will no longer be as valuable as that user’s avatar movement. Moreover, if The Metaverse is built on a decentralized platform, advertisers’ restrictions could likely disappear.
Since real estate digital marketers will go where they can get the most traffic, as The Metaverse evolves, so will our marketing strategy.
What Marketing In the Metaverse Might Look Like
As we begin attending more digital events and living within a completely digital universe, we won’t be spending time on our phones so much as in our phones. As that evolution continues, so will the need to adapt our real estate digital marketing campaigns. Instead of going to YouTube on their computer, users might put on their virtual reality headsets and walk their avatar to a YouTube Movie theatre. The way we create real estate digital ads will be completely different because they will be consumed in a different medium. Facebook banners will be replaced by digital billboards at
a busy intersection across from a Van’s Virtual Skatepark. Pictures of floor plans and clickable Matterport videos of apartments will likely become obsolete. Instead, the Metaverse will allow prospects to virtually walk around that apartment before signing a PDF and emailing it in. The buyers’ journey will be completely different, thus so will a real estate marketer’s touchpoints.
So ultimately, the question isn’t, “will The Metaverse change digital marketing?” it’s “how will it change digital marketing and how can we keep up as real estate marketers?” It is hard to fully grasp the changes likely to come from The Metaverse. After all, we didn’t know having a GPS on our phones would lead to the emergence of Uber until it was already happening. But one thing is sure: those changes aren’t just coming; they are already beginning, right now. With that in mind, the important question becomes, “Are you ready to change your digital marketing for The Metaverse?”
Out of all the digital real estate marketing strategies available today, it can be hard to determine which strategies will best help move the needle on your leasing and sales results. After all, you’re not just choosing from the wide variety of advertising platforms out there, you’re also sifting through many different types of ad campaigns those platforms offer—so how do you make the right choice for your real estate brand?
Answering that question comes down to your marketing priorities and the results that are most important to you right now. For those who are launching digital marketing for a new development or getting the word out while occupancy rates are already stable, brand awareness tactics should be at the top of your list. Brand awareness tactics help you reach potential residents during the Awareness phase of their digital renter journey, sometimes before they’ve even begun their housing search.
Brand awareness tactics aren’t focused on getting quick conversions so much as they’re focused on, well, making people aware of your brand. That means impressions and views are the name of the game more so than clicks and conversion actions. So when focusing on brand awareness, you’ll want to select digital real estate marketing tactics that optimize for impressions and views rather than skipping straight to the click-driving, conversion-oriented tactics like lead generation ads or retargeting ads.
Here are some of the top-performing digital tactics for real estate marketers looking to drive impressions and views that increase awareness among your target audience.
Video Ads on YouTube
Since views and impressions are the name of the game with brand awareness, YouTube ads are an excellent place to start. Video ads on YouTube can be targeted to a wide audience in your area based on a variety of targeting characteristics. With an average view rate of 31.9%, YouTube ads are a great way to get in front of your audience at any stage of their renter journey, including before they’ve even performed a housing search.
Video ads are also a great awareness tactic because they are engaging and informative—far more so than a static display or search ad tends to be. You can feature more photos, value propositions and qualifying details in a 30-second video ad.
If you’re early in your development process and have limited photography or renderings to include in your video ad, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. Supplement your visual assets with lifestyle footage, which can be found on platforms like Adobe Stock and Shutterstock.
Social Ads on Facebook & Instagram
Social ads for apartments on Facebook and Instagram offer similar targeting capabilities compared to YouTube, giving you the opportunity to reach your audience on some of the digital spaces where they spend the most time.
There are a variety of ad types you can run on these platforms, but to reach prospects in the awareness phase, we recommend Traffic ads on Facebook and Instagram. Traffic ads are focused on driving traffic to your real estate website, so those who do click are given the opportunity to learn more about your property. When optimizing for brand awareness, we particularly recommend opting for carousel ads over single image ads because they provide a fuller glimpse of your community and provide a way for users to engage with your ad (by scrolling through the images) even if they’re not ready to click through to your website and really dive in. This provides a fuller opportunity to become intrigued and commit your brand to memory.
Addressable Marketing & Geofencing Ads
Targeting specific households, businesses, hotspots, or competitors in your area can help you raise awareness among a highly specific audience who is most likely to resonate with your brand. Addressable marketing and geofencing ads both rely on virtual “fences” drawn around specific locations within which users may be served your ad. Typically, a conversion zone is also drawn around a physical location such as your leasing office in order to measure offline conversions, but you can also measure online conversions from these ads when a targeted user visits your apartment website.
When a prospect enters the fenced location (e.g. their home address), they will be targeted with your ads on their mobile and desktop devices for 30 days. When the customer enters the conversion zone (e.g. your leasing office) with their mobile device after being served your ad, the conversion zone recognizes the prospect and attributes their visit as an offline conversion. Or, if a prospect converts online by filling out a contact form, that action is measured as an online conversion.
Addressable marketing campaigns allow you to target prospects based on household location, income level, home equity information, number of household members, and a variety of interests, contributing to highly qualified online and offline traffic down the road. By raising awareness among a highly qualified audience, you increase the chances that awareness eventually turns into action when your prospects are ready to start or continue their housing search.
One addressable marketing tactic we recommend is CTV (AKA Connected TV) ads, which allow video ads to be served to Smart TVs while your target audience is using a TV app like Hulu and other streaming services. Like YouTube video ads, these ads are more engaging than static display ads and reach prospects while they’re going about their day-to-day lives, so they’re aware of your real estate brand when it comes time for them to search for housing.
Here’s Why Addressable Marketing Campaigns Should Be Part of Your Real Estate Marketing Plan
Google Display Ads
Though video ads may on platforms like YouTube tend to be more engaging, Google display ads are also a great way to increase brand awareness among your target audience. Whether you create an animated ad or keep it simple with a static image, Google serves display ads over a vast network of partnered sites, targeting users across many of the same parameters you’ll find on YouTube ad campaigns (Google owns YouTube, after all).
Display ads are a strong choice for brand awareness because they reach users while they’re going about their normal online browsing activities, but also link directly to your website so that impressions can easily turn into traffic. And even if a user doesn’t click through when served your ad, just getting their eyes on your brand makes them more likely to convert later when they are ready to conduct their housing search and learn more about some of the options in their area.
With many different ad sizes available, you can choose a variety of placements, but the 300×250 size tends to get the most impressions and clicks.
Written by Abby Browning, Digital Marketing Manager
Are you finding it more and more challenging to keep up with the inevitable changes to your digital marketing platforms? Google and Facebook are constantly evolving, and so must your approach for digital real estate marketing. Recently, Google announced some changes that affect keyword behavior and ad types. We’ll review what these changes are, how they affect your digital apartment marketing, and how you can continue to drive results despite these changes.
What changes have been made to keyword match types and behavior?
In July of 2021, Google officially eliminated modified broad match keywords. Previously, ads would show for search queries that contained all of the keywords included in your modified broad match keyword, regardless of order. For example, a user could be researching moving companies Atlanta to Austin. By using a broad match modified keyword in your search strategy, “+moving +companies +atlanta +to +austin” would show ads for any query that contained all keywords, regardless of order, including moving companies from Austin to Atlanta.
As of September 2021, Google has loosened up restrictions to phrase match in order to operate more similarly to broad match modified, though they will not be an exact replacement. The main reason for Google making these changes is to boost the relevance of ads that are being served to users by focusing more on text and intent behind the query. According to Google, “The updated phrase match simplifies match types by combining the control of phrase match and the expanded reach of the discontinued broad match modifier.”
What happens moving forward?
Take this opportunity to reduce keywords in your thematically consistent ad groups by removing any match type duplicates or close variants. We recommend leveraging negative keywords to ensure that you’re filtering out unqualified traffic. The newly improved search terms report will also be a useful tool to reference to understand which keywords and match types are triggering your ads, providing insights into new keyword additions to build or exclude in your campaign.
What changes have been made to expanded text ads?
Earlier this year, Google announced that Expanded Text Ads (ETA) will no longer be available to create or edit as of June 2022. Expanded text ads have three headline fields and two description fields and are optimized for mobile. After June 2022, ETA will still be able to run, but the only changes that you will be able to make are to pause or remove them from your search campaigns.
What happens moving forward?
Google released Responsive Search Ads (RSA) in 2018, and over time, we have seen RSAs dramatically improve clicks, CTR, conversions, AND conversion rates. RSAs allow you to create ads that adapt to show more text and more relevant messages by entering multiple headlines and descriptions. Because of the responsive nature of this ad type, RSAs increase ad group performance because they help you compete in more auctions and reach more people. With the announcement of the changes occurring to ETA in June 2022, you will want to be sure that all of your ad groups contain at least one RSA as this will be the new default ad type when creating search campaigns. Now is the best time to perform A/B tests, if you are not doing this already, to see which of your ETA headlines and descriptions perform best. Save this information and be sure to use it come June! Dynamic search ads, which are ads created by Google, and call ads will still be available despite the elimination of expanded text ads.
In an ever changing digital landscape, your digital marketing strategy must adapt. The changes that were recently announced by Google to keyword match types, behavior, and ad types are improvements overall. As with any shift in strategy, continue to monitor campaign performance and traffic quality driven by the updated phrase match keywords, and continue testing multiple headlines and descriptions to encourage continued interaction and engagement through the use of Responsive Search Ads.
Written by Michael Smart, Digital Strategist
The world of digital apartment marketing is a constantly evolving, confusing, and sometimes even chaotic one. Staple advertising platforms like Google and Facebook are changing their UI or adding new features on an almost monthly basis. New extensions, targeting capabilities (or limitations, thanks to updates like those introduced by iOS 14) are constantly changing, making it difficult to know what’s resulting in leads and what isn’t.
But outside of diving into the individual platforms and looking at the performance from a siloed point-of-view, how do you know if all of these efforts are working? What does your combined Cost Per Acquisition look like across all platforms on a month-over-month basis? How does your performance compare to this month last year, when the scramble to find housing began to slow down? More importantly, how can you prove to stakeholders or property managers that their marketing dollars are being spent wisely?
This is where developing a digital marketing performance report comes into play. A digital marketing performance report can come in the form of a dashboard or recurring static report that marketing strategists, managers, and property owners alike can use to quickly analyze campaign performance, spot trends, and optimize where needed.
First, sit down with relevant stakeholders and discuss what information and metrics are most valuable to you and your team. While this should ultimately result in multiple dashboards updating in real time and automated reports that are relevant for different teams, we suggest starting small and defining what metrics have the biggest impact determining performance and ultimately, attracting new tenants to your property.
Here are a few basic cross-platform metrics that should be included in your performance report:
- Conversion Type (Applications, Calls, Contact Forms, etc)
- CTR (Click-Through-Rate)
- CPA (Cost Per Acquisition)
The fun doesn’t end there though. It’s important to add as much context to these metrics as possible. For example, if your Search campaign has a 15% CTR, what does that actually mean? How does that compare to the same month last year? How does it compare to last month? How does it compare to benchmark in the same “subvertical” (i.e. Student Housing, Conventional, etc.)?
While all of these questions can be answered in the form of pretty looking graphs and charts, the most important thing is to identify any outliers that need immediate attention. Set up some conditional formatting that highlights your campaigns that are performing in the bottom 15th percentile. Identify campaigns that have 0 conversions over a certain period of time, or after spending a certain percentage of budget.
If you can add as much context as possible to a campaign’s performance and back it up with as many data points as you can that make sense, this will allow for your digital apartment marketing team to quickly decipher what’s going on and where optimizations can be made. The more context you add, the quicker and more accurate the analysis. The quicker and more accurate the analysis, the more optimized your ROMI (Return On Marketing Investment) is and the quicker your property becomes leased up by happy tenants (hopefully). Who knew data could be so much fun!