How Seasonality Impacts Real Estate Lead Generation
Nothing is immune to the economy, and as Emerson would say: “The laws of man cannot govern Mother Nature.”
Real estate has no shortage of paid lead generation strategies, but there’s a misconception to digital advertising. Just because you pay $500 for leads today, tomorrow could be an entirely different story. It’s the cold, hard truth — sharp as a Siberian winter.
Market forces such as the economy, housing demand, natural disasters, and even election years all have an impact on your lead costs and your lead numbers. And like any other business, real estate also deals with seasonality. There are high times when people are searching for real estate and there are times when people could give two-shits worth.
So, how does seasonality impact your real estate lead generation? Let’s dive in …
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Real Estate Trends You Should Know
Before showing you how seasonality impacts your lead costs and lead numbers, we need to tell the story leading up to the changes. If you’re a real estate pro, you know demand for “homes for sale” rises dramatically in early spring and extends throughout the summer and into the fall. Of course, every market is different, so you may see some variances — but for this article, we’re going to talk in averages across the nation.
Online searches for real estate climb every new year (i.e. January). But don’t mistake this for immediate homebuyers. Real estate leads are often 6-8 months out from getting serious, or from finding their dream home. During that time, it’s your job to nurture them to action.
By April, real estate hits a peak in housing demand, and in July it usually caps off. People are preparing to move in the summer. They’re active and out seeing houses. Now, let’s discuss what these trends look like in costs.
We’ve seen some real estate markets continue to witness demand into October and November, but as December hits, that’s when searches usually taper off. If you want to see a yearly breakdown of housing searches, check out this graph from Google:
As you can see, typically in October, demand for real estate starts to decline, but then picks back up in January. From there, it’s an upward trend — as long as no other forces impact the economy or the housing market.
Bad Idea #1: Just because real estate demand tapers off in the winter, it doesn’t mean you should stop advertising online.
A lot of real estate teams and brokerages will decrease their ad budget during the slow months, but our advice is do the opposite. As your competitors take a break from digital marketing, this is your opportunity to build rapport with Google. Yes, we know it’s a machine — but their algorithms keep track of which ads perform well and which ones have a long-standing campaign.
As December hits, continue your advertising spend. That way, when January hits, Google already knows you well and will rank your ads higher.
How to Adjust Ad Spend for Seasonality
Similar to fuel costs, when the weather is warming up, kids are out of school, and more people are vacationing — it means more cars are on the road. During this time, there is a higher demand for gas and as a result, prices increase because there’s only so much to go around. It’s the same way with real estate and search advertising. There’s only a certain percentage of people looking to buy and sell, and a whole lot of people out there wanting to be the one that helps them do it.
There are a few ways to help combat seasonality. One way is to increase your budget. To maintain the same number of leads, as the housing season picks up, you’re going to need to spend more (if you’re not changing channels or lead generation tactics).
Think about this formula:
As the year goes on, expect to incrementally increase your budget, in small amounts, to compensate for competition and housing interest.
Other Methods for Adjusting to Seasonality
One word: Diversify. Paid lead generation doesn’t have to be all Google AdWords. There are other channels you can utilize to make up lead numbers without breaking the piggy bank. Bing and Yahoo still generate leads, but the most popular for advertising is Facebook.
When there’s a lack of demand in your real estate market, you can create that interest via Facebook ads. So, think of it this way:
- Search Advertising = Fulfilling demand, as people search for houses
- Social Advertising = Generating demand before people start searching for houses
Since you’re creating demand with social, this means you’ll need to have an appropriate lead follow-up strategy. The amount of communication your real estate agent might need to have with social media leads will differ than search generated leads. Plan for a longer communication cycle and for regular check ups.
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Another strategy you can try is retargeting ads. A good percentage of web-visitors leave your real estate website without taking any action. Retargeting helps follow these visitors and conveniently places your ads in front of them, on other websites they visit.
The last way to mitigate seasonality is to keep your ad campaigns running consistently. Google tends to reward those that keep their campaigns consistent with cheaper clicks for higher positions. This helps in keeping costs low and visibility high.
When budgets are being decreased and increased, campaigns paused and unpaused, areas removed and added back — it interrupts performance. With most of these changes you are forced to re-enter the auction and in a more competitive market so the chance of achieving cheaper clicks is slim. Keeping campaigns running consistently is the best way to ensure good performance throughout the year.
How Many Leads do Your Agents Really Need?
Remember to closely monitor your agents’ performance. See how many leads they need to get an appointment, then look at how many of those appointments turn into a closed deal. When you get to this level of measurement, you start to track return on investment (ROI) — so you can make smart business decisions and save money.
Dealing with Real Estate Seasonality
Seasons impact real estate advertising and pay-per-click. Talking about money is not always a fun subject, but if I can, I’d like to quote G.I. Joe: “Knowing is half the battle.” With the right knowledge you can properly budget your lead generation strategies, provide your team with the right number of leads — all while staying clear of dreadful surprises.