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Buying Real Estate Leads: The Pros and Cons of PPC Advertising

There are many ways to get real estate leads. You've got the classic "interruption" marketing: door-knocking, cold-calling, etc. On the flip side, you've got the newer, less-intrusive inbound strategies: creating and participating in community groups on Facebook, posting candid videos to Instagram, blogging and boosting your website's SEO.

Somewhere in between, there's pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

What is PPC?

If the acronym PPC stresses you out, just think of it as Google Ads, because that's most often what we're talking about when we say PPC.

PPC (or Google Ads) can be used in many different ways to generate leads. You can run a search campaign, which will display your ads in search results pages when people search for keywords you've decided to target.

Or you can opt for a remarketing campaign, which will target people who have already visited your website, displaying your image ad on other websites they visit. (You've probably experienced this type of ad—you're reading a recipe for chicken casserole and all of a sudden you see an ad for the Vans sneakers you were checking out the other day.)

So, is PPC a good strategy for generating real estate leads? To decide if PPC is right for your real estate business, take some time to read through these pros and cons.

The Pros of PPC

Reach an audience who is actively searching for your services

When you create a Google Ad campaign, you choose which keywords to target. If you run a real estate team in Denver, for example, your target keywords might include "homes for sale in Denver CO," "condos for sale in Denver," "best real estate agent in Denver," etc.

To improve your chances of reaching people who are serious about buying or selling—not just the lookie-loos—include keywords that signify search intent. Someone who searches "how to buy and sell a home at the same time" is almost definitely thinking about moving. But someone who searches "most expensive homes for sale in Denver" might just be peeking at local real estate for fun.

Reach a local audience

You can use location targeting to make sure your ads are only shown to people located within a certain geographic location (including countries, areas within a country, or a radius around a location). This can be valuable for targeting seller leads. Buyers, however, could come from anywhere in the world, so keep that in mind.

Establish a guaranteed stream of leads

It might take a month or two of monitoring your ad campaigns, seeing what works, and tweaking what doesn't work. But once you've taken the time to nail down your PPC strategy, you'll have a predictable stream of leads coming into your pipeline each month. Your PPC campaigns will run in the background, delivering leads to your database, while you carry out other aspects of your business.

The Cons of PPC

Direct competition

You're not the only real estate business in town, so you're likely to have company in the Ads section of Google search results. Your competitors will be using a lot of the same keywords, so their ad will be right next to yours.

Rented audience

As Dale Warner pointed out in a previous article, one of the downsides to web leads is that "you're only in front of them for as long as you're paying." 


PPC can get pricey. The more desirable and competitive the keyword, the higher price you'll pay to target that search term. It's important to keep a close eye on your ad spending vs. return to make sure PPC is worth the expense.

Steep and ongoing learning curve

Unless you have a PPC specialist on staff (or you have employed the help of a PPC company), Google Ads is a beast to learn. And because the rules are always changing, you have to make sure you're staying up-to-date with the latest best practices. It's a lot of manage on top of running a successful real estate business.

Our suggestion? Focus on PPC for 5% of your lead generation.

Yes, PPC is a valuable lead generation tool. And for some agents, it might account for a large percentage of their new leads.

But for many of you, your top priority should be generating leads from your existing database of past clients. After all, 89% of transactions are from repeat and referral deals. These are the people who already know, like, and trust you. Nurture those relationships, aim for repeat business, and ask for referrals.

Once you have a good handle on your repeat and referral strategies, add in the PPC—but dedicate only 5% of your lead generation resources to it.

Sammy Harper

Sammy Harper is the content marketing coordinator for Realvolve. In addition to a decade of digital marketing experience, she has spent the last six years immersed in the world of real estate and CRM. Fascinated by the real estate industry and inspired by agents’ stories, she is dedicated to providing valuable content to help real estate agents thrive.


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