Although Google real estate search traffic declined sharply after the beginning of the crisis - but has since recovered - Facebook traffic has improved dramatically since the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus.
3 Improving Key Metrics
At CINC, we have access to more data than pretty much anyone in the real estate vertical when it comes to advertising (we spent $30 million across Facebook, Instagram, Google and Bing for our clients in 2019) and we’ve been monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak closely to be able to advise our clients as we move forward.
Since March 13 (the day after the NBA unexpectedly cancelled their season and the last day many of the nation's kids went to school), we’ve seen an increase in 3 key performance indicators: reach, impressions, and average CPM (cost per mille).
Here are those numbers:
Metric 1: Average Daily Reach is Up by 42%
Facebook/Instagram reach is a count of the unique people who saw your content within a given period - if the same person saw your content twice, this would count as a reach of 1 with 2 impressions (we'll talk about impressions later in this post).
Since March 14, average daily reach for our sample of client ads on Facebook and Instagram is up by 42%. Spend has decreased slightly overall during this time period.
Metric 2: Average Daily Impressions are Up by 43%
Impressions count the overall number of times an ad was displayed to someone on Facebook and Instagram, whether or not that was the first time they saw the ad that day. The Rule of 7 - a common rule of thumb in digital advertising - estimates that the average person needs to see an ad at least 7 times prior to making a purchase decision.
Since March 14, average daily impressions for our sample of client ads on Facebook and Instagram are up by 43% - again this is during a slight decrease in spend.
Metric 3: Average CPMs Have Improved by 28%
CPM stands for "cost per mille" and is the cost of reaching 1,000 people on Facebook and Instagram. 'Mille' is Latin (the language of doctors!) and means "in each thousand" - which makes you sound really smart when you use it. :)
Since March 14, the average CPM across our sample of client ads on Facebook and Instagram has dropped by more than 28% - and that trend is continuing. Just this week (Sunday and Monday), the CPM has dropped another 10% and is now 35% lower than what it was from February 23 - March 13.
Every holiday, we see these traffic patterns on social media - more people are home and looking on Facebook and Instagram more often during the day. Facebook has seen a huge uptick in usage in the last 2 weeks. Since ads are shown proactively to users based on interest targeting, more potential audience members provides Facebook with more opportunities to show your ads to relevant users and costs drop.
Also, some advertisers (real estate among them but others as well) are dropping out of the Facebook game altogether during the outbreak. Global marketing research firm EMarketer estimates that over $20 billion dollars will be taken out of the global advertising market due to Coronavirus in 2020. Despite this, they still forecast an overall increase of 7% to global ad spending in 2020 compared to 2019.
Many advertisers bid for a similar objective on Facebook/Instagram outside of a few specific interests, so decreased competition drops your overall cost. CINC's Facebook cost per lead has fallen by 7% since March 14.
With the massive amount of people now working from home or not working, many are spending more time on Facebook and Instagram, which gives you more opportunities to introduce your brand and your service to them in a more cost-efficient way than just 2 weeks ago.
So What Does This All Mean?
Put simply, if you have the ability to continue your advertising campaign on Facebook and Instagram (or if you're interested in starting a new one) - we recommend you do. Real estate lead generation on social media is a long term game, with most leads requiring at least several months of follow-up before they're ready to purchase a home. Filling your pipeline with leads at a lower price while competition is low makes a lot of sense.
And that's what a lot of our clients are doing - here are some of the comments we've seen in the last 2 weeks in our Private CINC Owners Mastermind Facebook Group.
"I upped my lead sources while everyone else is cutting building that massive pipeline. My competition is cutting lead spend. I'll be months if not more ahead of them once all levels out again." (posted 3/23/20)
"I have made significant cuts this week. I've called every vendor and service provider to cut or reduce costs - yet I called CINC to make another increase in our ad budget. Our CINC leads have resulted in 3 new signed clients and 2 accepted offers just this week!" (posted 3/20/20)
"Closed today - $3.1 million CINC buyer lead!" (posted 3/18/20)
Potential homebuyers are still looking on social - at even higher levels than they were before this started. As long as you're able, take advantage of the reduced competition and build your pipeline for when we come out of this.