5 Signs You Should CUT Your Real Estate Marketing Campaign (Seriously) 


Heat Level: Hot: These tips are meant for marketing experts.

Bottom Line: Look for the tell-tale signs of budget-wasters, and decide if your marketing dollars, time and energy are better spent elsewhere.

Do This: Assess your digital marketing for these key symptoms, then cut out any marketing that isn’t paying off.

Sometimes, digital marketing efforts just fall flat...but how can you tell?

As digital marketers, this is hard for us to say, but here goes:

Because there are so many digital marketing platforms, and many options within each, you are bound to have a campaign fall flat at some point.

You realize, somewhere along the line, that you’re spending time, money and energy... but getting nothing in return. Or, you realize that you’ve spread yourself so thin that you’re trying a little of everything, but succeeding in nothing. Worse still, you might be wondering IF your marketing is failing, but don’t know how to tell!

Don’t fret. It happens. And the beauty of digital marketing is that if you need to pause of scale back a campaign, you can do it at the drop of a hat. (It’s not like buying a billboard for 6 months!)

We’ve put together a list of symptoms to look out for. Here are some of the signs of digital marketing that either needs to be fixed or cut.

Before going any further: 

  1. Do you have Google Analytics on your site? 
  2. And have you implemented UTM codes?

If either of those are a “no” then take a step back because the rest of this isn’t going to make much sense. If both are a “yes,” read on!

High Impressions, Low Clicks

In this situation, a lot of people are seeing your ad but aren’t interested. This can happen for a variety of reasons, like: 

  • Unappealing message or ad design 
  • Wrong audience 
  • Wrong platform 
  • Budget bigger than audience (the same people end up seeing the ad over and over, but aren't interested)

Research average click-through-rates for the platform, looking specifically for real estate benchmarks. If the average CTR is 2% and you’re seeing only 0.5% CTR, pause your campaign until your figure out what’s misaligned... or if it’s even a worthwhile platform.

Low Impressions

It’s hard to say what exactly constitutes “low” impressions. A campaign with a $5/day budget is going to have fewer impressions than a campaign with a $50/day budget, naturally. But, if your campaign is getting fewer impressions than the platform estimates you’ll get, there could be a few reasons: 

  • Too small of an audience 
  • Low search volume 
  • Poor ad performance 
  • Your ad violates the platform’s rules

Two examples…

Google Ads: Look for an alert that says “low search volume” or “low Quality Score.” If you see “low search volume” try: adding more keywords, expanding your geography, improving your ads and/or landing page, or relaxing your keyword match types.

Watch out for this warning in Google Ads!
Facebook: check to make sure your campaigns are in-line with Facebook's best practices for deliverability (like the pesky 20% guideline). Also ensure your audience is in the green zone of the Audience Definition meter.

Make sure your Facebook ad image contains as little text as possible - preferable less than 20% of the image.
If your audience size falls into the yellow or the red, you won't get good results.

The good news is that if you’re getting lower-than-expected impressions, it’s usually something fixable. The only problem you wouldn’t really be able to fix is if your budget is just too low to generate any traction. If that’s the case, ask yourself: are you getting anything worthwhile out of the campaign, or is it just puttering along spending your money?

High Bounce Rate with Low time-on-site/no conversions

This problem’s trickier - and the only way you’ll be able to see it is if you have Google Analytics and UTM tracking in place.

In this situation, people are coming to your website via an ad, but leaving immediately. That’s like getting people to come to an open house, but they turn around and leave as soon as they’re in the front door. No one’s happy in this situation (except the ad platform, which you’re paying).

These might be the issues: 

We don’t have a one-size-fits-all advice to fix traffic with a high bounce rate and low time-on-site/low conversions. You really do have to go through the user experience with a fine-tooth comb on this one. But here are some things to consider: 

  • Is your ad setting proper expectations for what will happen when they get to your website? 
  • Is your website giving users a good experience (fast load, modern design, mobile friendly)? 
  • Does the landing page give them something to do (click, view, call, sign up, email, download)? 
  • Is there a chance the ad platform is just sending you junk traffic?

Dig deep until you find the source of the problem. Then decide if the problem is worth fixing, or if you’re better off cutting that marketing effort.

High CPC with Low Conversions

If you’re spending an-arm-and-a-leg per click, you need to get something in return: leads! If you’re tracking contact form submissions from your website, you can set up goals in Google Analytics. That way you’ll know which leads came from which sources. (This is super important but a long explanation - send us an email at thehotsheet@listingmanager.com if you want more info.)

If you have an ad campaign that costs a lot of money per click, but those clicks have a low conversion rate, you’re likely wasting money. Google Ads is one of the biggest culprits: some competitive keywords can command cost-per-clicks of $40+. That’s $40 per click to your website. If that $40 user doesn’t contact you, that’s $40 down the drain… per click.

Of course, that’s an extreme example. More than likely, you’re only paying $1-2 per click. But still, that can add up to a lot of lost dollars if those clicks don’t amount to a conversion.

What can you do? Depending on the situation, you may need to: 

  • Look for less-competitive platforms or keywords 
  • Improve the quality score of your ads 
  • Make sure the conversions (calls, emails, downloads) you’re expecting are easy and compelling for the user to complete

Overall, if your CPCs are high, you either need to get them lower or make every click count. If you can’t do either (or both) cut this campaign or platform out of your marketing plan.

High Cost with Unclear Results

You might be spending money but not completely sure what you’re getting in return. This is especially likely if you’re not in full control of the ads, creative, targeting, and tracking.

There’s nothing wrong with trying a new platform, and there’s nothing wrong with testing-and-learning until you get better results. But if you’re getting no leads, or unqualified leads, you’re money is better spent elsewhere.

The best way to make sure you’re not just burning money: stay vigilant. Don’t set it and forget it. Watch to make sure you’re actually getting the results you expect.

Make sure you’re not signing a long-term contract with an advertising platform without fine control over the results. Make sure you have the opportunity to refine creatives, budgets, and targeting. And if it’s just not working out, pull the plug.

Take all of this with a grain of salt.

We have to add this disclaimer: each and every ad campaign is different. Say for example, you just want people to see your branding and don’t care if they do anything else; in that case, a high impressions/low CTR campaign is fine. That’s just one example in which your goals might be in contrast with the things listed above as red flags.

That said, trust your instincts. And trust your data. Data (like hips) doesn’t lie. If it looks like a waste of money, and it quacks like a waste of money, it’s probably a waste of money.

Bottom Line

Your marketing dollars, time, and energy are precious. If you have an ad campaign - or an entire platform - that is wasting your money, make like Uncle Joey and cut it out.


Kate Rekrut self-portrait on Mount Washington
Kate Rekrut is the Director of Marketing and Product Development at Joyce, Inc. in Pittsburgh, PA.
Kate's current work with ListingManager bridges the gap between her advertising agency experience and a lifelong passion for HGTV. When she's not skimming the web for new marketing stats, Kate enjoys cooking, crossfit, and dance classes.

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