Facebook Ads for Every Stage of the Real Estate Client Journey

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The key to getting leads and converting clients with Facebook Ads is knowing what to say to buyers and sellers at each stage of the client journey — from awareness to consideration to conversion. Facebook offers almost a dozen different ways to do that. Do you want traffic? Engagement? Reach? Something else? And what about Lead Ads? Conversions? There are so many choices!

In this week’s episode of The Walkthrough, AKvertise president Akvile DeFazio shows you how to create Facebook ads that will reach people no matter where they are in the buying or selling process.

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Links and Show Notes

Full Transcript

(SPEAKER: Matt McGee, Host) I wonder if this sounds familiar. You have a new listing, a home you’re trying to sell. You need buyer leads. Let’s run a Facebook ad. You, or maybe your marketing person, go to Facebook Ads Manager, and oh … my … gosh … the options are endless.

What’s your campaign objective? Reach? Traffic? Engagement? Lead generation — that one sounds good. But so does Conversions. And that’s not even half of your options. It feels like you’ve gone down a tunnel and you can’t get out.

(Voiceover: Help me.)

I know some of you listening to this right now are crushing it with Facebook ads. You know exactly what works best at the campaign level, the ad-set level, and the ad-creation level. And that’s awesome. This episode, I am sorry to say, really isn’t for you.

My guest today is going to help make sure you are targeting the right messages to reach buyers and sellers at each stage of the funnel, the customer journey. This episode is for all of you who are doing Facebook ads, but aren’t sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Or maybe you’re not doing Facebook ads at all, but you know you should be. If that sounds familiar, you’re in the right place.

This is “The Walkthrough.”


Hey, everyone. How’re you doing? I’m Matt McGee, editor of HomeLight’s Agent Resource Center, and your host every week, right here on “The Walkthrough.” On this show, you’ll learn what’s working right now from the best real estate agents and industry experts in the country. At HomeLight, we believe in real estate agents. That’s why we created “The Walkthrough.” We’re on a journey to find out how great real estate agents grow their business, stand out from the crowd, and become irreplaceable.

You can get involved in the show in a couple of different ways. Leave a voicemail for me at 415-322-3328, or you can send an email. It’s walkthrough@homelight.com. Questions, feedback, whatever it is, I love to hear from you. I do read and hear all the messages that come in.

Facebook is probably your number-one social media site, the one you use the most. In the NAR’s new 2020 member profile, 76% of agents said they use Facebook for business. The problem is, getting organic visibility from your page’s posts is harder than ever. So a lot of you are using your personal profiles and also running Facebook ads to get new leads.

My question is, are you sure you’re doing those ads correctly? On a personal level, I’ve been creating Facebook real estate ads for probably five or six years now. And no kidding, I always wonder if I’m doing it right or wrong.

Well, my guest today can answer that question, and does answer that question. Akvile DeFazio says the key is to make sure you’re creating ads that connect your message to each stage of the customer journey: awareness, consideration, and conversion. She and I worked together many years ago, and Akvile has since gone on to found an award-winning social media ad agency with the clever name “AKvertise.” Her clients have included many names you know, like Postmates and Jewel. And yes, I mean the popular singer Jewel. Akvile is a highly sought-after speaker and just the perfect fit for an episode like this, to help you so Facebook ads better.

On today’s show, Akvile will explain

  • the best types of ads to increase your awareness with local buyers and sellers, and to find buyer leads for your listings
  • why Facebook lead ads may not be the best way to get new leads, and
  • the value of remarketing to convert leads into clients

As I mentioned earlier, I would say this episode is probably best suited for beginner or intermediate-level Facebook advertisers. If you are a Facebook ads veteran or master, you have my permission to sit this one out. Everyone else, I think you’ll get a lot out of this conversation. And be sure to invite your marketing guy or gal to listen, as well.

When I spoke with Akvile recently, we began by talking about Facebook’s decision last year to put real estate into a special ads category. It puts limits on how you can target your ads, and it’s been an area of confusion for many agents.


Akvile: You’re targeting for geo-location, well, you can’t target by ZIP code once you have it under here, because they don’t want it discriminating by…if you’re targeting certain ZIP codes that might not… You know, you want things that don’t fall into a specific type of home that you’re looking to sell that might be in a higher price range, because you never know. So I mean, living somewhere that might be less expensive, you might have the money, and you might want to see that home listing. Another thing is that with targeting, it’s now set to a 15-mile radius, compared to a non-real estate type of category. If you’re just doing e-commerce, per se, you can target as little as a 5-mile radius or just 50 miles, or just target by state. You have a lot more options that way.

With age, you can’t edit that option. So by default, if you’re trying to work in real estate and run ads on Facebook, the audiences will include people that are over 18 and up to 65-plus. There’s nothing that’s an option after 65-plus. It’s kind of, like, the last bracket. So that’s one change. And then, gender, you can’t edit that option as well. You have to target everybody. And there are some detailed targeting audiences that are removed.

Matt: Having done Facebook ads before those changes, and still helping my wife do some of the Facebook ads after the changes, it’s been interesting. The geo-targeting one is really interesting. We used to… She would have an open house in a neighborhood, and so you’d send out postcards, or you door knock… You’d go around and knock on doors, you’d say, “Hey, we’re having an open house Saturday for…” you know, “here’s the address.” And what we used to do is, we used to time a Facebook ad blitz right at the same time that they were out knocking on doors, just in a one-mile radius around the address of the open house, right? We can’t do that anymore. So that entire type of Facebook ad that we used to run is just gone, can’t do it.

Akvile: Well, you can now do a 15-mile radius, so you might have to get some more postcards!

Matt: You know, 15 miles’ worth of postcards versus 1 mile of postcards is a lot more expensive. So yeah, that’s… I think that’s been sort of tough to adjust to, but my sense from talking to agents is that they’re making the most of it, right? Like, it’s not ideal, but I think Facebook’s intentions were certainly in a good and genuine place for making those changes.

Akvile: I agree. But yeah, like everything in marketing, it changes and just keeps us on our toes, right?

Matt: Isn’t that the truth. Nothing ever stays the same, right? Let’s talk about… So that’s one scenario that we used to run Facebook ads. Let’s talk about the different situations and reasons that an agent might run Facebook ads. And I can think of four or five off the top of my head. And then, you be the expert, maybe pretend that I’m the client, or how you’d work with a client. And tell us how best it’s done, right, like, what an agent should know.

So one scenario would be, I want to hire homeowners…or I want to find homeowners to hire me to sell their home. And the flip side of that, which I think is probably pretty similar from the ad perspective is, I want homebuyers to hire me to help them find their home. So if I’m an agent, just looking to reach locals in my area, what kind of ads would I want to be setting up there?

Akvile: So since we can only target 15-mile radiuses at a time, our audience bucket is going to be fairly small. I recommend keeping it open and broad, so you’re not saying, like, “Oh, I want to target people that are interested in…” maybe this coffeeshop that might be local to them. So you might… Just do broad targeting. Broad targeting actually works better with Facebook these days, anyways, compared to prior years. So I would start with an upper-funnel campaign, as we like to call it, but typically, that means you’re reaching a cold audience. And do something like an awareness or reach campaign, to get the maximum amount of exposure for the least amount of cost.

So basically, Facebook will serve your ad to people in that area. And you can just show them a little introduction, like, “Hey, here’s who we are. We’ve been in business for X amount of years.” You know, ask them to… The problem-and-solution type of ad copy works well, like, “Oh, are you in the market to sell your home? Learn more about what we can do for you.”

But I wouldn’t recommend doing a hard sell, because you want to be subtle. This is your introductory point. So typically, what I tell our clients to do, that when they’re reaching new cold audiences, we want to get them into the funnel. So we do it not so aggressively. We’d provide something informative, relevant, timely to them, whether it’s a service that we can provide and to learn more about it. So I would recommend doing the call-to-action button for “Learn More,” unless you do a reach campaign and you just want people to call you. So through a reach campaign objective, that’s the only one you can select a “Call Now” button, so you can add your office phone number. And for a low cost doing a reach campaign, you can get people to call you that way.

Matt: Let me stop the conversation right there, because I want to make sure you caught everything Akvile just said. We are talking about tying your Facebook ads to where consumers are in the funnel, the customer journey. In the world of Facebook ads, that journey…the funnel, includes three steps: awareness, consideration, and conversion. Those are the three types of campaign objectives in Facebook ads. To introduce yourself to buyers or sellers, that’s about awareness — upper funnel, as Akvile said. You are advertising to people who don’t know you, so her advice is to run an awareness or reach campaign. That’ll get you the most exposure for the lowest cost.

Your ad, she said, should introduce you in a non-aggressive way and use the “Learn more” call-to-action button to get them to your website. Or if you use a reach campaign, your call to action can be a “Call Now” button. So that’s the advice for top of the funnel, “Hire me to buy or sell your home.” Now, let’s get back to the conversation. Akvile is talking about the middle part of the funnel.

Akvile: And then, as people come down your funnel a little bit more, they’re warmer, they start seeing more content from you, maybe put some articles out there about where the market is right now, if it’s hot, if it’s a buyer’s market, a seller’s market. Provide helpful and informative content out there that you are producing. Or even if it’s something that you can write on your blog post about some other news sources that you’ve put together on your own, because people will see, “Oh, they know what they’re talking about. They’re speaking to me as a local. I might be interested in their services down the line,” because buying a home is not an overnight type of process.

So then, take those people that are in the funnel that are getting a little bit warmer, and maybe it’s usually closer to their time where they want to buy or sell, and do some remarketing campaigns. So that means to get them to come back with a different offer. So this time, you can use a “Contact Us…” “Book Now,” like, maybe schedule a call with you through a lower-funnel campaign, where the call to action is a little bit stronger. Because we’ve been kind of cultivating this audience, we’ve been showing them how great we are, that we can provide services, we have a good reputation. We provide helpful content to just give back to them, in a sense, and we have established some level of trust, so you can get them to come back through a remarketing campaign.

And that might be something like a conversion campaign, which typically does cost more, because those are higher-quality leads, compared to when somebody was in the upper funnel, coming in, and just…they’re kind of maybe shopping around. But if you could do a conversion campaign, and then have Facebook optimize for a certain bent. So say, for instance, people didn’t fill out your lead-gen form on your website yet, they can… You know, you can create a conversion campaign and select the object to be to drive more leads.

Facebook will do a great job of optimizing or improving your chances of getting those people that are in that bucket that you’re targeting, of website visitors that haven’t converted yet or essentially filled out a lead-gen form on your site, to come back and do that, once you have that set up in a more actionable way.

Matt: I’ll jump in again right here, to recap. Akvile was talking about the middle and low end of the funnel. This is when the consumer is already aware of you, and now in the consideration and then conversion stage. And this is where remarketing comes into play. If you don’t know that term, it means you’re showing ads to people who have already engaged with you in some way. Maybe they visited your website, maybe they’ve watched one of your videos. And we’ll talk more about remarketing later in the conversation.

Akvile’s advice to target consumers as they get further down the funnel is to run a conversion campaign with the goal of driving more leads. She says this kind of ad costs more, but the quality of leads you get will be higher. A lot of agents and marketers might just rely on Facebook Lead Ads to do that, but listen here, as Akvile says that’s not necessarily the best option.

Akvile: There’s an option you may have seen for your lead-generation campaign objectives. And that’s an ad unit where you don’t even have to leave Facebook, and you can complete your name, phone number, or email, or other criteria that you decide to put in your form. But typically, those are high-volume for leads at a very low cost. But they tend to be much lower in quality in terms of leads, because they are mildly interested, but they’re not interested enough to actually read more and learn more about you, leave Facebook.

Whereas if you take your website-traffic campaign and send those people to your website to fill out a lead-gen form there, those will be… The volume of those will be a little bit less, but they will be more interested in what you have to offer, their intent will be higher. And they may be a little bit more expensive, but their quality will be much higher.

Matt: That’s really interesting that you make that comparison, because number one, I think Facebook Lead Ads are really popular in real estate. They are positioned, as you said, as sort of the easy, low-friction way to get name, address, email, whatever it is that you might put on your form. It’s what we have run for quite a while with my wife’s business. But you’re right. The quality of those leads isn’t always really great. A lot of times, it’s just somebody, “Oh, I wanted to look at the pictures of the house,” right? And so, they’re not really interested in buying or selling. They just… You know, whatever. You’re suggesting… I think that’s an interesting thing for agents to think about, is that yeah, you can get more quantity with the Lead Ad. But if you take the website option…get people to your website and try to get their information, then you’re going to get higher quality.

Akvile: Exactly. I mean, if you’re working with a smaller budget, and you…the first option of doing the lead-gen ad might be more lucrative. So you can build up more of an audience, but you’ll have to make more phone calls or more outreach to those people, and maybe be let down. But if you have a little bit more of a budget to work with, I highly recommend doing the other route. Or you just test them both against one another and see what the results are for you, in the area that you live in and where you’re trying to sell.

Matt: Let me unpack some of what you said earlier. You mentioned, broad is better right now with Facebook. Why is that?

Akvile: The algorithm… I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I like having control, but this is one of the things that I’ve realized, that it does outperform some of my very targeted self-setup audiences. Whereas if I opened it up and let Facebook’s algorithm determine who they see as the best fit based on the criteria that I’ve input from my type of campaign, the different ad set-level options that are available to us, they do a really great job now. And we typically can get better results at a lower cost than when you try to do it yourself. In addition to that, if you’re targeting in a 15-mile radius at a time, you do want to reach the most amount of people possible, so you’re not paying even more than you need to.

(Woman: Hi, everyone. If you’re enjoying “The Walkthrough,” we’d appreciate it if you’d tell the real estate agents in your network about us. Even more, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen. Your feedback helps us get better, and in some cases, can also help new listeners find and hear us. And when we get around to having you on the show, the more listeners the better, right?)

Matt: Another common ad that agents that agents might be running, Akvile, is one that targets people entirely outside the agent’s own geographic area, right? So an agent in Santa Barbara might want to run ads for people who live in Los Angeles or San Francisco. “Thinking about moving to Santa Barbara? I can help,” stuff like that. Are there any changes that you would recommend from what we already talked about, like, just in terms of the audience and the objectives, and that sort of thing?

Akvile: Keep it open. But in terms of objectives, since you are targeting outside of the area, your chances of getting a sale much quicker, I imagine, are a little bit longer for a conversion funnel. But I would start testing out an awareness or reach campaign, and see just if you can get a large amount of traffic to your website from those particular audiences, and see how they behave. How are they engaging with your ads? Are they leaving certain comments? Are they asking more questions? And if you start getting repeat questions, you may want to address that in your ad copy going forward. So you can skip a step and maybe just help people understand better what it is you’re trying to offer, and what the benefits are, of looking somewhere else.

Matt: I think, probably the most common Facebook ad that real estate agents run is when they have a home for sale, and they’re trying to look for buyers and buyer leads for that home. So what does a good Facebook look like when I am trying to get a home sold?

Akvile: Use the best photos you have, interior, exterior looks. I will say that video does tend to outperform static images. Also, people tend to better manage their expectations, and you don’t have to explain as much in the ad copy than you can with a video. And I think I remember reading that from… I forget the source, I think it was “Forbes” or “Digiday.” But they were saying that, I think, 75% of people digest video content faster and retain it longer than other people. So if you can showcase something with a 15 to 30-second video in your ads, that would be a really effective way of getting people to better see the property, and maybe imagine themselves living in it.

If you can have the property staged, adding furniture makes the space look bigger. So try that out, different angles, make sure you’re doing it with good lighting. I know that Realtors put a lot of thought, typically, into photos that they do for listing, because that does speak a lot for itself, in terms of what you can sell. So use that to your advantage. Repurpose that content. You can create videos with it, you can do static images. And if you don’t have videos, Facebook has a really great built-in tool that’s free within the ad level, where you can select your image. And then, there’s a button for “Create video.” And there, you can use their templates and different overlays to make…just to add some subtle movement to that image.

And those tend to perform very well as well, because as people are scrolling down the feeds, we’re overstimulating them with a lot of content. Anything to get some of these…them to stop, because something moved across the screen already puts you at an advantage, because they’ll look at what you have to offer. And if it’s really piquing their interest, then they may continue through and click through, and hopefully become a client of yours.

Matt: Now, you mentioned… If they’re doing a video, right? So a lot of agents will put together listing videos to promote a property that are typically… I mean, most of them tend to run two to three minutes long, in my experience. Sometimes, they’re 5 to 10 minutes long. But you mentioned 15 to 30-second ads. And I know when I upload videos on Facebook, I think… Don’t I see something on the screen…the interface there, that says three-minute videos perform better, or…? I can’t remember. What is the best… what are best practices, in terms of videos, specifically as it relates to ads?

Akvile: The shorter, the better these days. But it’s also a good way to just give someone a sneak peek, and then have them take that action to click to your site and see more. So show your…put your best foot forward, at least in the first 10 seconds in any video you do, so there isn’t any room to question, “What are they trying to advertise here?” Because I’ve had some clients in the past that create wonderful videos without storyboarding with us first, and they don’t even show the product in the first 20 seconds. And it’s like, oh, well, people are leaving because they don’t understand. And it’s a shame, really.

So showcase the best thing you have for that property in the first 10 seconds, and then do a little sneak peek. And then, you can send people to your website to watch the longer-form video, if they do want to see more of that property.

Matt: Okay. And you made an important point, too, that I want to make sure agents heard, is, lead with your best shot. The phrase that I hear videographers say is, “Best shot, first shot,” right? A lot of… In real estate, the habit is often, I’m going to show a picture of the front of the home from the street, and this is what it looks like. But that’s not always the best shot, Akvile, right? Sometimes, the best shot is that money shot out the backyard with the amazing vista view, or the pool, or whatever. I’m going to be… Like, lead with that and grab people’s attention right away.

Akvile: Yeah, and try to put yourself in the shoes of the person looking at that ad. Like, what would be the best part of this? Like, waking up, having your morning coffee here. Talk to that, don’t just be like, “Oh, buy this house now.” So you’ll get to that point, but lead with something more welcoming and more imaginative.

Matt: You’ve mentioned landing pages a couple times during the conversation, so far. Can you just give some…? Is there some general advice that you would share about creating a landing page for a Facebook ad? What are the best practices there?

Akvile: Sure. But before I dive into that, the reason I keep saying “landing pages” is because you want to essentially own these people from Facebook and not keep them on Facebook’s platform. Because if they go to your site, they get tagged with the pixel. You now have them as a person that has visited your website, indicated some sort of interest. So then, you got them off of Facebook, and now, they’re essentially yours to continue marketing to. So that’s one reason why I’m a huge proponent of doing that, rather than just keeping somebody on Facebook and hoping to convert them there.

But in terms of best practices for landing pages, if you can keep them very focused on what your goal is, don’t have too many calls to action. Don’t have a “Learn more about this here,” “Contact us here,” “Sign up here.” That becomes overwhelming to some people, and they might leave. So make it very seamless and intuitive, as you’re guiding people down the page about, what’s the focus, what are the benefits to this person visiting this landing page? And then, what is the ultimate goal that you want in here? What is the action that you want them to make?

Matt: You just made my heart sing a minute ago, when you talked about getting the person to visit your website, because that opens the door to remarketing and re-targeting, right? Once they have visited your website, then the next time they log on to Facebook, as they’re scrolling through their Facebook feed, they might see your remarketing ads, right? So that… So let’s talk about…a little bit more about remarketing ads, and what a good remarketing ad looks like.

Akvile: With remarketing, you certainly want to have different messaging that caters to somebody that already knows about you. So you don’t have to make it as introductory as you once did when they were technically a prospect. So just maybe speak to a different angle about why this house would be great to move into, maybe a special that you guys are doing through your agency. Show different images, and just talk to somebody that is maybe a little bit further down via shopping and comparing your different properties and might be interested in whether it’s to buy or sell, and why they should choose you over another Realty.

Matt: Let me jump in one last time. You just heard Akvile mention “the pixel” a moment ago. That is a really key piece of running Facebook ads. It’s a little piece of code that gets installed on your website. It’s connected to your Facebook ads account, and the pixel helps you discover how users are engaging with your ads. So if someone clicks an ad, visits your website, and then submits a lead-gen form, the pixel connects that to which ad you were running. Make sense?

As we wrapped up the conversation, I asked Akvile … is all of this something agents can DIY, do it themselves? Or should they plan on hiring an expert to help?

Akvile: So it’s not rocket science by any means. But if you have the resources, maybe get a consultant to help you at least get started and aim you in the right direction. Facebook and Instagram have their own business blogs where you can get news about that, and maybe sometimes, they’ll tell you some tactics.

But really, you do have to do a lot of research. So if you are a small real estate agency, or just, you’re on your own, you can start with just boosted posts. But at the same time, you may want to ask somebody that’s a seasoned expert to help, because you might find yourself spending a lot more time than you might actually want, to teach yourself than just paying somebody, even on an hourly basis, to assist you, because you do have… You’re good at what you do, and the other people are great at what they do. So just use your strengths and acknowledge where you want your time and your money to go, so you can focus on actually selling the homes and have somebody assist you with your marketing.

(Speaker: Matt McGee, Host)

Thank you so much, Akvile. Great, great stuff. And I hope, listeners, that was helpful to all of you who want to do better with Facebook ads, or maybe you’re thinking about just getting started soon.

I will do takeaways in just a moment. But first, you heard Akvile mention boosted posts there, at the end of the conversation. That’s an easier and different way to advertise on Facebook. You don’t have all the targeting and objectives at your disposal. So a lot of advertisers and agents kind of look down on boosted posts, and they say it’s something you should not do. Well, I asked Akvile for her advice on boosting posts, and you can hear that in our new listener community on Facebook.

I mentioned this at the end of last week’s show, and here’s another invitation to join. The group is now up and running and off to a great, great start: lots of conversations, questions, everything. I would love to have you join. Go to Facebook and type “HomeLight Walkthrough” into the search box. You should see it right away. It’s called “HomeLight Agent Community, The Walkthrough.” If you don’t see it at first, click the “Groups” tab, and it should be at the top of that list. I will also link to the group in the show notes for today’s episode.

If all else fails and you can’t find it, email me or leave a voicemail, and I will send you the link. Whether you are new to “The Walkthrough,” or if you’ve been listening since we started, you should be in this group.

All right, let’s do our takeaways segment. This is what stood out to me from my conversation with Akvile.

Number one, if you’re running Facebook ads to introduce yourself to interested buyers or sellers, that is the top of the funnel. So try an awareness or reach campaign.

Number two, as people get to know you and move down the funnel to consideration and conversion, that’s when you run a conversion campaign. It’ll cost more, but you should get higher-quality leads.

Number three. If you are trying to sell a listing, Akvile said Facebook Lead Ads can work. It’s less expensive, but the lead quality will be lower. An alternate idea, she said, is to run a website traffic campaign and try to convert people on your website. Higher cost for that, but you should get better leads.

Number four. Take advantage of remarketing. This is when you advertise to people who have already interacted with you in some way. Maybe they watched one of your videos or visited your website or did something like that. Remarketing is a great way to convert at the bottom end of the funnel, because the consumer already knows who you are.

And then, number five. She said video ads are a great way to sell listing, but keep the video really brief, 15 or 30 seconds. Use it as a sort of a sneak peak, and then try to get the viewer to your website to watch the full video. And of course, once you do that, then you can remarket to them later.

Okay, if you have questions for Akvile, questions or feedback for me, leave me a voicemail anytime. The number is 415-322-3328. Or you can send an email. It’s walkthrough@homelight.com.

That’s all for this week. Thanks again to Akvile DeFazio for joining me, and thank you for listening. My name’s Matt McGee. Remember, at HomeLight, we believe in real estate agents. That’s why we created “The Walkthrough.” We’re on a journey to find out how great real estate agents grow their business, stand out from the crowd, and become irreplaceable. Go out and faithfully sell some homes. We’ll talk to you again next week, everyone. Bye-bye.

Hader Image Source: (Pete Linforth / Pixabay)