How to sell a house on Facebook

How to sell a house on Facebook

Written by Dallas McLaughlin

Published: May 22, 2014

As Facebook’s organic reach continues to decline, I’ve been spending more and more time working on alternatives to maximize the effectiveness of social selling/marketing campaigns. I’m faced everyday with, “Yeah, but my business isn’t relevant to social media so it doesn’t make sense for me to be there.” But I’m telling you, and I’ll continue to tell you, it doesn’t matter who your audience is – you can find them on social media.
To make that point I’ve put together a case study using real world numbers from a campaign I just wrapped up. Not selling a house? You can adapt this same strategy to literally anything you want to sell.

funnelSetting up the funnel

To get started, let’s first look at the sales funnel itself. With an industry like Real Estate, I ultimately want a salesperson to directly contact the potential buyer personally so they have a chance to “sell” them. It’s an industry that still relies on the human element to close the deal. With that in mind our main focus with this funnel is for lead generation.

Social Media

We start on social media. Seriously, don’t underestimate just how many people are on Facebook alone. 1.23 billion monthly active users, and 757 million login daily. To ignore that, or write it off as “not important” to your industry – I have no words for you. Anyway, the first thing I wanted to do was set up the targeting for the ad.
targetingIf I’m selling a home in Phoenix, Arizona I don’t want or need people in New York seeing my ad. So we’re only going to target people within a reasonable drive of the open house, and in an age range that is both socially active and in the age range that you’d guess is looking to buy a house of this size.
Note: The “targeting” image shows “35 and older”. My targeting started at “30 and older” but I narrowed it down after the first fews day.
Interest targeting is a major factor. ‘Precise Interests’ have been removed by Facebook which makes it a little bit more difficult. My golden rule to ad targeting, because I’m looking for the maximum return on investment, is to target relevant keywords with medium to low competition. Frankly, most businesses I work with won’t have the budget to effectively compete for high competition keywords. It’s going to drive your CPC up, lower your CTR, and cost you more money.
The last area of the targeting is the placement. You only have three options: News Feed on Desktop, News Feed on Mobile, and the Right Hand Side ads. I always include mobile, usually desktop News Feeds, but rarely the RHS ads. If you’re unsure just run all three for 24 hours and look at your reports to see where you’re getting the most traffic. Every industry and niche is different.

adFacebook News Feed Ad

This is where I see a lot of people make mistakes. Everyone wants to sell, but most people forget to include strong calls to action. If you ask someone to take an action you have  a lot better chance of that actually happening. Because, psychology and stuff.
You have 5 opportunities to drop a call-to-action in your news feed ad.
The status text. You see in my ad I immediately start suggesting an impulse action (Buy this). I also include some key details with the amount of bed and bathrooms. This is important because you pay each time someone clicks on the ad. You want to pre-qualify your lead. So, if you’re selling a 4 bedroom home, you don’t want a single guy clicking on it blindly only to then discover it’s too big for him and have him bounce out.
The image. Often times I’ll drop a call-to-action in the image directly. A “Click here” button, “Buy now”, etc. In this instance, I did not. I just wanted to maximize the visibility of the property.
The headline. This area by default is the title of the page they will land on, subject line of a news article, etc. But you can edit it to be a call to action as I did.
The description. This field also auto-populates with text from the landing page. I didn’t include a CTA here, but I did edit the info to include a few more details.
The button. These are new to Facebook in the last few months and are only available in the ads manager, or through the power editor. There’s 7 (?) different buttons if my memory serves me. Things like “Shop Now”, “Learn More”, “Download”, etc.
There’s even a 6th, which is blurred in the above image. It defaults to the top level domain of the web site they will land on when they click on the ad. But through the little known tactic of “dark posting” in the power editor, you can actually change that text as well. For this, I did not.

landingpageThe Landing Page

So, what happens when they click on the ad? Do they just shoot off to your web site and you hope the best? Off to an MLS listing? No…. stop that. You need to create a custom landing page who’s sole purpose is to convert them into a lead by convincing them to willingly hand over their contact information. That my friends is a hot lead.
The psychology behind an effective landing page is a whole blog in itself so I won’t get into it here. But I have to be honest, this landing page didn’t convert very well. I also didn’t make it. It was provided to me and I was asked to drive traffic to it. In my opinion there’s too much going on, it’s not mobile optimized, it doesn’t have very flattering pictures and there’s no real impulse or incentive to turn over your contact information. It’s not clear to the shopper what’s going to happen when they click “Tell me more”, and there’s no sense of privacy or any statement that they won’t opt you into an e-mail blast.
But, it does have the contact form, a phone number (blurred), the name of the broker, e-mail addresses and website links. All of the necessary information is there.
Not pictured because I didn’t want to show anyones private information, and blurred it didn’t make sense, is the lead sheet this builds as users fill out the contact form. As someone fills out the form, I am alerted immediately of their full contact information and can immediately pass it off to the real estate agent who in turn contacts the potential buyer and has an opportunity to set up a showing and close them. Even if they don’t buy this property they stay in the system and the agents can contact them at any time with future properties that they may find interesting.
From that point it’s on the real estate agent to do what he or she does…


Here is the full overview of the results for the 14-day campaign.

Now let’s dig in a little and really look at some metrics. This will serve us immensely next time we sell a similar property. Above you’ll see a break down of how the ad performed per age segment. You’ll see that it was surprisingly consistent across all age ranges. But you’ll also notice we reached far fewer people 45+. There are a number of factors that could cause that. It could be that they log in less frequently, other businesses are outbidding us in that age group (remember, you’re competing for ad space with the world, not just other realtors), or possibly that group has less social browsing habits that signal back to Facebook  that they are house shopping.
Note: The 25-34 age segment is incomplete. I started my targeting at 30+ and narrowed it to 35+
How did the ad perform by gender? You’ll notice that women were far and away more engaged with the ad even though they were targeted evenly. We reached far more, for cheaper per click and had a much higher click-through rate.
I also targeted Desktop and Mobile news feeds equally but we see a huge difference. This ad barely showed up in Desktop News Feeds. Not because they weren’t interested (the data shows equal CTR and a lower CPC). It’s hard to say why really. Again, it goes back to who else is targeting this same audience, how much they’re bidding, where they’re placing ads, etc.
And the landing page stats? Ouch. Overall that’s not completely terrible, but it certainly should have been better. Again, I didn’t design the landing page. Ideally I would have made the landing page, and I would have continually split tested and optimized over the 14 days. Instead it was created and just sat there waiting for my traffic.
Even so, since my office is right next door to the broker, I can tell you that for every one person that filled out the contact form, at least one ignored the form and instead picked up the phone and called directly. So, even though that doesn’t get attributed as a “conversion”, they are a result of this funnel. You just can’t measure it. It’s the nature of the game.


So, let’s say worst case scenario this funnel generated 35 leads as the data shows with an adspend of $144.28. That’s still only a lead cost of $4.12! That’s pretty incredible when you consider that you’re selling a house and the commission is 3-4% of the final selling price. Throw in the leads that hit the landing page and called rather than completing the funnel and our lead cost is down in the $2.00 range.
Because of confidentiality reasons, I can’t disclose if this house sold or not. But regardless, my job was to drive as much targeted traffic to a lead generation page as possible. At that point, it’s up to the realtor and the house to close the sale.
It’s also important to realize that way back at the very top of the funnel wasn’t a Facebook Business page with 100,000 ‘Likes’ or anything. This funnel doesn’t rely on having a big personal page with huge reach, or any page at all. This was literally built directly in the Facebook Ad’s Manager exclusively through targeting. No prior lists or data to pull from.
That is pretty powerful stuff….

Oh, yeah.

If you have a real estate friend, please do me a humangus favor and share it with them. We’ll both thank you.

dallas mclaughlin signature
- Dallas McLaughlin