Tag : facebook-pixel

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Apple’s new privacy policy is changing my Facebook strategy.

As you may have read in the news, Apple and Facebook are battling over user privacy. In the pending update to the Apple operating system, they are introducing App Tracking Transparency. This will allow users of iPhones and iPads to opt out of website tracking. For Apple’s users who choose not to be tracked, all cookies and pixels will be disabled.

What this means for auction marketers on Facebook 

It’s safe to assume that many Apple users will choose not to be tracked, which will impact Facebook advertising in the following ways:

• Landing Page Views and Cost Per Landing Page View data will now be incomplete.
• Audiences based on pixel traffic will be based on smaller data sets and thus be less accurate.
• Optimizing ads for Landing Page Views will be negatively impacted.
• We won’t be able to capture and clone the traffic to websites that arrives from sources other than Facebook for use in Facebook ads.

Who stands to lose the most

The auction companies that will be most impacted by this change:
• those that advertise & sell in multiple asset categories at the same time
• those who do not have Google Analytics installed on their proprietary site
• those whose ads point to third party bidding platforms, where Google Analytics data is typically not available
• those using advanced conversion tracking (this applies to none of my Facebook clients)

The workaround I’ve used for years

For the past six years, I’ve advertised hundreds (if not thousands) of auctions for companies who don’t have a Facebook pixel on their website. So, I’ve got lots of experience in a workaround option. Facebook allows advertisers to advertise to people who’ve interacted with ads or posts. That allows us to advertise to lookalikes of people who responded to ads on the various Facebook platforms and/or re-market to those responders. If you advertise [1] to the same audiences for most of your auctions or [2] only one auction at a time, efficacy and efficiency don’t change much from ads based on pixel traffic.

How I plan to adapt Facebook ads for my clients

For clients who do not currently use a Facebook pixel, they will see no changes to their ad targeting or post-campaign reports.

For clients who do use a Facebook pixel (yours or mine), I will be making some adaptive adjustments to campaigns. Apple has not given a date for when this iOS change will go into effect. When the change goes live, I will change optimization from Landing Page Views to Link Clicks. Facebook allows us to combine Custom Audiences on ads. So, when I use a pixel-based audience, I can also include an interactor audience. If my client would rather see how this change is impacting traffic cost and reporting, I can also build pixel-based and interactor-based ads separately to A/B test the results. 

How to get the reporting data that will be lost

For auctioneers whose websites allow UTM codes (almost every one of my clients), every ad we create can include a unique tracking code that can be tracked in real-time in our Google Analytics. It can be found in the Source Medium column under the All Traffic section of your Acquisitions tab. The equivalent of Facebook’s “Landing Page Views” are shown in Google Analytics as “Visits.” 

My personal thoughts

This shift in user-determined privacy was inevitable. If Apple hadn’t forced its hand, this move would probably have been mandated by the legislative branch or by the results of a lawsuit. 

In some ways, this levels the playing field for family-size businesses. This change will impact Fortune 500 advertisers far more than it will small businesses that have developed their own niche. Advertisers tracking multiple conversions like bidder registrations, bidding activity, form submissions, etc. will lose far more data than any of my clients (and most of the auction industry) will. The results you’ve seen me tout here and on social media were achieved without that advanced cookie/pixel data.

Facebook allows us to update our list-based audiences at any time, even while ads are running. Auctioneers who capture the bidder data for each of their asset categories and who store them in searchable or separate databases can gain a competitive advantage over those scrambling with this transition. 

This is a seismic shift. For most people reading this, though, there is little reason to panic. We can still have incredibly targeted and efficient ads on the most pervasive social media platform in our country.

Image provided by Apple

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221: 8 Things to Cut From Your Facebook Ads to Improve Their Performance

Last year, Facebook really did the auction industry a favor. I don’t mean that sarcastically. It definitely helped me serve auctioneers better. In July of 2019, Facebook drastically reduced the amount of text that would fit into their ads and would show on posts in user newsfeeds. Facebook’s internal analytics showed that ads longer than their new limits were less effective than those with short copy. So, it forced advertisers to cut to the chase in a way they aren’t required to do in direct mail, email, and newsprint. Those restrictions made it easier for me to convince auctioneers to cut superfluous copy for only the most important sales copy.

Here’s a list of a few of the common items I regularly cut to make room for what actually attracts consumers.

Seller Name

Unless the seller is (A) a celebrity or (B) a vendor from which our target audience already purchases the items you’re selling, your seller’s name is not sales copy. Sure, a buyer might pay more for a tractor because they knew that specific farmer always took care of his stuff; but they don’t care about the condition of a gravity wagon unless they’re already interested in a gravity wagon. That minister or teacher or veterinarian may be a beloved member of your community, but nobody outside of their family will buy their three-bedroom ranch because they owned it. Put the seller name and even an auctioneer’s note about them on your website. But do that seller a favor, and get people to that website first.

“Estate”

Facebook’s bots often flag this word to make ads comply with their real estate restrictions. That alone is worth avoiding this word. But we don’t sell estates. We sell items. Kill phrases like “an estate filled with” and use that space to add more item or category mentions. On your website, I’d replace “estate” with a substitute like “lifetime collection” or just “collection” to keep those bots at bay and let your personal property ads use the full gamut of Facebook’s targeting tools.

“Real Estate”

If you have to tell someone the asset you just adequately described is real estate, they aren’t a likely buyer. Even if (1) you’re selling both real estate and personal property and (2) the Venn diagram of the likely buyers of both is the same, you should be advertising the real estate and equipment separately. If you’re advertising a business liquidation in which the intellectual property, real estate, and contents sell together, use “commercial building” or “retail location” or “3,250±SF facility,” or “warehouse” instead of “real estate.”

“Only”

On the text below the photo, slideshow, or video in a Facebook ad, every single character counts. Even if that weren’t true, you don’t need the “only” in “online only auction.” If it’s a simulcast auction, I use “Bid on-site or online.” If the bidding happens exclusively online, the absence of a mention of offline bidding says “only” for you.

“-“

I just straight refuse to hyphenate online to on-line for clients. When you look at the Google Trends comparison of the use of “online” vs “on-line,” you would never use “on-line” ever again. It’s 2020, we’re all online. Even people still using AOL email addresses.

Open House/Inspection Information

The date of an open house often influences when I schedule ads to run, but I don’t mention previews & property tours in the ads. People don’t care when they can view something if they don’t first know what they want to view. Sell them thoroughly on the assets, and get them to your website. If they don’t have enough motivation to click to your website for a few seconds, they don’t have the motivation to drive to your inspection. If you want more people at your open house, take better pictures and headlines, and then get that better content in front of the right people. Trust the interest of the buyer, and leverage it with actual sales copy. 

Auction Time

Whether you’re advertising an online or offline auction, stop your Facebook ads before the auction ends. Then, you don’t need to wedge the time into your ads. I could argue that you don’t need the date at all (and I have clients who agree with me), but I won’t die on that hill. An auction’s opening or closing time is needed only by interested parties, and every interested party should have visited your website before registering to bid. “Now” is more important and more effective than date or time. I’ve been told my whole career that auctions create urgency. They absolutely do. Ironically, auctioneers trust that urgency in their auctions but not their auction advertising.

“Auction”

Dozens of auctioneers reach out to me every year to help them get results for their Facebook ads and their auctions like they see my clients get. I’ll tell you one of my secrets, and you don’t have to hire me to benefit from it. I use the word “auction” in less than half of my ads and in hardly any of my ads that achieve cost per click below 9¢. I don’t hate auctions. I just know that “bid now” is the closest thing auctioneers have to ”buy now” in the fast-paced consumer culture in which we live. Most of my best-performing ads also use “Buy it at YOUR price!” as the bold headline below the photo, slideshow, or video. We don’t sell auctions, because people don’t buy auctions. They buy items.

After you get used to cutting these eight things from your Facebook ads, I’d consider weaning most of these from your other advertising—especially your outdoor signs and classified newspaper ads. I’d edit most of these out of your direct mail, too. The objective for every offline media you create and distribute for an auction is the same as for Facebook ads: get people to your website. That’s where we can capture data. That’s where you can pull buyers into your sales funnel, where you can learn about them in your Google Analytics, where interested parties can trigger your Facebook pixel for re-marketing and lookalike advertising. Oh, and where they can bid or register to bid. Your website has practically-infinite room for all the tertiary content you’re currently trying to shoehorn into your advertising.

If I had to choose between my instinct and the billions of advertising impressions that fed Facebook’s seismic shift in available text space, I’m going to rely on the behemoth’s deep and wide sampling of our buying culture. Advertisers don’t make the rules. Consumers do. We advertisers either break ourselves upon those rules or play within them for more and better traffic to our auctions.

Stock images purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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220: How I Optimize Facebook Ads to Get the Results I Do

Most marketers understand that Facebook is unmatched in its ability to connect advertiser content with consumers’ unique concoctions of interests. Almost every conversation I’ve had with clients and prospects about Facebook targeting revolves around finding the right prospects by demographic and interest categories. That’s surely valuable information, and those conversations should happen with every auction. (With niche assets, those conversations should precede signing the auction contract.)

Marrying the right text and visual content with this targeting is the next biggest challenge. Thankfully, with A/B testing or Facebook’s new “Dynamic Content” tool, we can test and adapt the bait on our hooks as we fish amongst those prospect groups. For years, though, Facebook has offered another way to get more bites on our lines. Maybe only one or two clients have asked about it in the past five years.

Optimization. 

Facebook knows more than just our likes & dislikes, demographics & interests. It also knows how we’re likely to engage with paid advertising. To continue with the fishing analogy, Facebook’s artificial intelligence engine doesn’t just get us to the right lake; it knows which fish are likely to bite and even which are likely to steal the bait and swim off. For every ad or promoted post I’ve created for a client, I’ve been required to choose how I wanted the content to be optimized—how we want Facebook to cast our line and reel it. It’s required. You can’t run an ad or promoted post without selecting one of the options below. I choose different optimizations for different situations. Here is a list of when I use each of those options.

Landing Page Views

A landing page view is usually my primary objective. Auctioneers pay me to get potential bidders to their websites. A landing page view means someone left Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, or a site on the Audience Network and then stayed on the auctioneer’s website long enough for the first page they visit to completely load. The algorithms know which slice of our target audience is likely to visit your site for at least that length of time. It stands to reason that these prospects are also the most likely to bid online or to investigate details regarding bidding at an offline event. 

Link Clicks

This is the objective I choose the second most often. Candidly, I use it only because landing page views require a Facebook pixel to be installed on my client’s site. Almost half of my clients have no pixel—theirs or mine—on their sites. So, I have to resort to the next best thing: link clicks. This is a definite step down from landing page views, though, because a lot of people who click on links immediately click right back to the Facebook platform without letting the page load. I’ve seen campaigns where this happened for more than 30% of the clicks.

Daily Unique Reach

Most of my campaigns have a reminder ad that starts three to ten days prior to the auction. It targets those who either visited the website (if my clients have installed a Facebook pixel) or interacted with their Facebook content during the marketing period (if they don’t have a pixel). This might be a slideshow, video, or promoted photo album. I want to show these proven prospects the auction in a different way than they saw it the first time. I usually switch up the text, too. For these folks, I set the optimization to daily unique reach so that they see this reminder every day on whichever part of the Facebook platform they use.

Impressions

This selection means “show this ad to this audience as many times as possible.” I’ve seen this result in viewers seeing the ads at an average of more than 20 times. As you could imagine, that makes the response rates highly inefficient. It also makes the ads feel obtrusive, which can annoy your prospects. I use this option for what I call “poaching”—when we target attendees at a home, car, or farm show or bidders at a competitor’s on-site auction of similar assets. (I’ve also used this for my ads to auctioneers at NAA conventions.) Outside of those instances, this is only an “in case of emergency, break glass” option.

Post Engagements

This is another “last resort” option. Believe it or not: I still have clients who don’t have auction information on their website. There’s nowhere for me to link an ad, and Facebook requires links in ads. So, my only option is to post a notice on the business’ Facebook page, promote it, and optimize it for engagements. What that means is that Facebook will serve the ads to those most apt to like, comment, or share the post. A couple weeks ago, this worked really well for a rural horse auction, where more than 1,000 people shared the post and we had more than 20,000 engagements with the content. I’d still prefer to have 20,000 people come to my website than interact with a Facebook post, but it’s a good option when the infrastructure isn’t there to move leads through a sales funnel.

None of these options are inherently right or wrong. Your situation will dictate which one you use and when you use it. For many of my campaigns, I use more than one—because I’m not always fishing in the same lake for the same fish.

Stock images purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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218: The Achilles Heel of My Facebook Ads

Every Friday afternoon this summer, a new series of Facebook ads have launched, running until the following Tuesday morning. They’re the only Facebook ads I’ve built that don’t promote an auction. Instead, they’ve touted stellar auction sale results or brag-worthy statistics from auction campaigns. Both sale results and traffic stats have proven to be good bait when fishing for new auctioneer clients. 

Usually, the large crowds of efficient traffic to my clients’ sites eventuate into successful auctions and plump commissions. Here’s the dirty secret, though: sometimes they don’t.

I remember one auction south of the Mason-Dixon line a couple of years ago. I had used audiences, photographs, and headlines similar to ones that have consistently worked like catnip in adjacent states. The targeted ads worked. Well, kinda. They drove thousands of people to the auctioneer’s website. Despite that, the auction bombed. If I remember right, the auction was stopped early because of frightfully-low sale prices. The auctioneer wasn’t just disappointed. Livid, he told me of his new goal to “warn people I care about” never to use my services, never to trust the stats I publish. It was a high-profile failure for him. So, I can understand the emotion.

Candidly, I have auctioneers inform me regularly that people aren’t registering to bid, that traffic isn’t turning into bids, or that bids are weak. “Are the ads running?” they ask. Sometimes, the email beats around the bush with the question, “How are the ads doing?”—even though almost every ad I build can be tracked both in real-time and historically in each of my clients’ Google Analytics. Those subject lines are code for me to ask a client what would make them feel more comfortable or what changes they’d like me to make to help them feel less anxious.

If you’ve been in the auction business long enough, you know that you can sell a property at ridiculously-high prices on mediocre advertising; and you can get a no sale out of incredible web traffic. Market conditions, perception of asset, seller reputation, proximity to a 1031 exchange deadline, and a prospect’s comfort with the auction method can swing sale prices in both directions from average.

That said, I have found a few limitations beyond my control that often neuter efficient traffic from Facebook ads or well-earned clicks from direct mail. If you’d like to convert more of your website traffic into bidders, you’ll want to avoid the following choke points.

Limited Content

I can’t tell you how many times an auctioneer has asked me to send people to a page that has no photos, no description, and/or no details on how to bid. As a holdover from decades ago, auctioneers want to alert the buying public as early as possible so consumers can “save the date.” With their website not yet ready to conduct business, my job is to send interested parties straight into frustration. Not only is that a bad brand image, that makes the prospect less likely to click on future ads—for the auction at hand or subsequent ones.

Wrong Content

Sometimes, I’m asked to link to pages that say nothing of the asset(s) being sold. There’s just a generic title, auction date & time, and terms & conditions. Unfortunately for our industry, people don’t buy auctions. They buy assets. Some auctioneers have preview dates & times listed before even one sentence or headline about what’s being sold. Like Area 51, we’re asking people to show up for a mystery. We waste their time. In so doing, we waste our opportunity.

No Way to Start the Buying Process

You can refuse to participate, but we all live in a world with Amazon Prime, grocery pickup, restaurant apps, and “Press Button. Get Mortgage.™” The American buying public has expectations about being able to at least bid immediately. The best calls to action I’ve got in the tackle box are “Buy at YOUR price,” and “Bid now.” Few people will remember to bid later. You’ve got to have a way for prospective buyers to place an online bid or a pre-bid on the page where they land. Even if you’re advertising an offline real estate auction, you need to have a prominent link to a form or email generator that lets people get their skin in the game. Immediate registration beats nothing, and a bidding catalog beats both.

No Facebook Pixel

Most online buyers don’t make a transaction on their first visit to your page. (If you don’t have online bidding, that’s a guarantee.) So, how do you make sure they get second touches with your content? A Facebook tracking pixel. Half of my clients have no way to capture this valuable consumer data because they lack that free pixel on their site. In addition to not capturing those who respond to their ads for remarketing, they can’t replicate that traffic to find more bidders like them. They forego Facebook’s powerful artificial intelligence engine and all of the prospects it could bring them in the second wave of their advertising.

Most of these remedies can be implemented for free. Some don’t take any additional time—just patience. All of them will increase (1) the professionalism of your brand and (2) quite possibly your commissions and sell-through rates. When a client doesn’t have these ducks in a row, it actually relieves some of the pressure I feel to deliver them high-performing ads. That relief comes in the truth that I charge the same fee to send crowds of people to an active marketplace as to a dead end.

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215: 3 Lists Every Auctioneer Wants But Nobody Can Buy

With the rise of big data, entrepreneurs have grown to assume that just about any kind of data is available to purchase. In many cases, that valuable demographic and purchase history is more robust than most of us would ever need. The problem is that it exists in proprietary databases. Those black boxes at best are available for blindfolded lease and at worst compete against us.

Even before Facebook’s ubiquity and Amazon’s dominance, though, auctioneers asked me for the same prospect lists they still assume I can procure. When I tell you that these lists get requested often, I mean every month—sometimes weekly. I still encounter surprise and maybe even disappointment when I can’t deliver them. To save us both from an awkward conversation later, I’ll just explain them here for you.

Real Estate Investors

As of July 19, 2019, we haven’t been able use Facebook’s real estate investor interests to target real estate ads. (I assume that’s to comply with HUD anti-discrimination regulations.) Even before that, we couldn’t target actual investors—only people whose Facebook habits showed an interest in investing. As of right now, we can’t purchase a list of individual people who invest in real estate. We can target companies whose standard industrial classification (SIC) falls under real estate development, management, or brokerage. We can ask for highest-known executives in those firms and phone numbers and legal/opt-in emails where available. In certain databases, we can pull people who own homes but don’t live in them. A list broker can sort that by net worth and/or annual household income. It’s a long shot, but that’s currently our best option.

Land (or Any Asset Category) Buyers

There isn’t a commercial source for those records. Landowners, yes. Land buyers, no. Independent auction companies should have a list of past bidders and buyers from auctions—hopefully sortable by asset category. Those lists should be queryable in order to pull only past buyers and/or bidders. Until you have critical mass, you can use that list only for direct mail. Once you do get several hundred buyers and/or bidders, you can use Facebook’s lookalike audience tool to find similar prospects. Until then, one option would be to partner with a joint venture company who does have a list large enough for lookalike audience potential. If you drive the Facebook traffic to your website, you can then start using your Facebook pixel data to create a prospect base. Using information sign-up forms and bidder registrations on those joint-venture auctions, those who do respond can become seeds to start or accelerate your own list. 

People Who Want [fill in the blank]

This is the one that makes me audibly laugh, when I open the email. Men have joked my entire life that they never know what the women in their life want. If that’s true, that takes out 50% of the people whose wants we can capture and query. Even if it’s not true, we would need a Minority Report-style system to mine this desire data. Do we really want companies to know our private thoughts? We can hit this goal obliquely through a list of past bidders or buyers on similar items, assuming their need or want wasn’t satiated since that last auction. We can purchase lists of some interests and purchase history, and we can target non-real estate ads to even more interests on Facebook directly. But the best we can do is get adjacent to wants and let artificial intelligence engines do their magic. There’s no list for people who want a mower or a Coca Cola sign or 20 acres.

That said, not having these lists and even not being able to acquire these lists doesn’t mean our advertising has to be ineffective or inefficient. It just means we need to do more homework, more experimenting, more tracking, more data analysis. Yes, that’s more work. Yes, that’s a completely different skill set than a silky auction chant or a well-executed sales pitch. Yes, it’s not the way your dad did it.

Over the next two decades, conglomerates and aggregate sites are going to put hundreds of bid callers and even auction marketers out of business. They’re going to pay people to do this data curation work. Instead of trying to buy data, they’re going to mine their own. Those of us who follow their example will most likely be the ones in 2035 who are still advertising auctions at all. 

Because I don’t manage websites, host online bidding, or run auction software for my clients, I will be dependent on auction professionals like you to procure, store, and query this data. Thankfully, most current auction software and platforms make this doable, if not easy. That gives me hope, and I’m glad to be in your good hands.

Stock images purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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210: Why Facebook Blocked HiBid

Last week, some of you saw my post in the Auction Technology and Marketing group on Facebook. For those who didn’t, I showed the screenshot you see below. To save you some squinting, it was a notification from Facebook that my pixel was turned off on all HiBid sites on which it was installed.

Facebook Blocked Data HiBid

This notification came after I had rebated hundreds of dollars to clients when their ads didn’t perform. I hadn’t noticed, because there were no Facebook notifications to warn me. There were no notifications—because the ads weren’t rejected. My ads weren’t turned off. Just my pixel was. So, any ads based on web traffic were running—just to nobody.

The pixel was deactivated because of inappropriate content on the platform. That could be alcohol, tobacco, pornography, marijuana, or any of the short list of items Facebook doesn’t want to be legally responsible for promoting. My guess, though, is that it was firearms; but I don’t know that for sure.

What I do know is that I’ve been warning for several years now that this day was coming. The Facebook advertiser platform analyzes not only the content of the ads but also the content of the pages to which they’re linked. In this 2017 post, I showed in writing from a Facebook employee that this policy would include entire sites. I advised to get guns off auction websites onto their own, dedicated sites or at least out of the same catalogs. Not wanting to take drastic measures, most did the latter. Others stopped using me for Facebook services for any assets.

Now, some can’t use Facebook’s full suite of tools because of that partial remedy.

What's Next sticky note

This isn’t an I-told-you-so post, though. This is a call to fully adapt sooner rather than later. We’ve all got more time on our hands right now—more than usual for this time of year. This is a great time to buy some URLs like [company]gunauction.com or [company]firearms.com or [company]secondamendment.com. This is a convenient few weeks to watch a couple YouTube videos and then build a Squarespace or Word Press website for your gun sales or to hire that work to be done. We all have time now to go back through our archives and remove all gun auctions or firearm lots from our current site. Your web developer can do a quick and cheap find-and-replace for all mentions of those banned items.

Today, it’s HiBid. Tomorrow it could be Proxibid or Auction Services, MarkNet or United Country. It could even be your proprietary site. Despite the negative impact of this cultural shutdown, we have an unprecedented opportunity to head off a future problem at this pass. You can say some words about Facebook that can’t be aired on broadcast television, or you can gain a competitive advantage on other auctioneers. 

We can have bigger conversations down the road about creating a firearm-centric platform for all auctioneers, maybe even one with a shared email system. Time and money spent on lobbying lawmakers probably won’t change this. We’ll only break our tiny selves on the rocks of protest. We’ll save future commissions best by investing in adaptation.

Please know this isn’t a political platform for me. I design advertising for legal weapons—just not on the Facebook platform. Just two weeks ago, an East Coast client emailed this about my campaign for her gun auction:

“The email lists and blast for the firearms was a huge success! We had 130+ bidders from all over the US; 72 buyers! Sale brought 10K more than the sellers precaution estimate.”

So, I want to help you make the most of firearms in your estates and consignment sales. More so, I want to help you make bank on real estate and equipment auctions. We all make way more money on the latter than on weapons. For me, it’s an easy math problem. Either we (1) pass on the deals with guns, (2) partner with gun shops to take on deals we need, or (3) adapt our marketing to avoid changing what we sell. Gun auctions account for a small fraction of one percent of my income. The same holds true for many of my clients

Online Payment

If that’s not true for you, I implore you to consider what your gun auctions might cost you. More importantly, if you use a shared bidding platform, I’d ask you to consider what commission you might be risking for your professional peers. Like with this Coronavirus reality in which we’re living, the person you’ll save with your precautions is probably someone else. For all of my auctioneer friends who’ve been posting about getting the economy going again to save businesses, I’d look at your potential to help the auction industry do just that in the long term.

This isn’t a matter of if but when. We’ll have to make these changes now or later. If you “shelter in place” your gun content now, we’ll all get back to a new normal sooner.

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208: Get More Wealth-Qualified Bidders to Your Real Estate Auction

Just about every week, I get a humorous answer to the question, “Who would you like to target with the auction advertising?” 

The answer goes something like, “Someone thinking of buying a vacation home” or “Someone interested in 40 acres” or “Someone who wants a hobby farm.”

Rich Real Estate Prospects

Those answers are funny because we can’t buy a list of people who have wants, wishes, and dreams. Even Facebook with all of its big brotherness and artificial intelligence doesn’t have a category for people thinking about buying real estate. Even as an advertiser, I’m cool with that. I mean—I don’t know about you—but I’m glad our thoughts aren’t harvested, cataloged, and sold to advertisers.

We can advertise where people search for these kinds of properties—both search engines like Google and asset sites like LoopNet.com, LakeHouse.com, or LandAndFarm.com. One of the downsides of that approach, though, is that in most cases your auction property can be found only when the prospect is actively searching or subscribing to emails. While those searchers are highly qualified prospects, not every potential buyer is searching during an auction’s short marketing timeframe. And some dreamers and wishers and wanters haven’t started digitally searching yet.

So, we’re left with disruptive advertising methods, aimed at people who are qualified to bid but more obliquely interested. The primary qualification we as an industry have typically leveraged is income or net worth. That’s because interest in a property without the financial ability to purchase is of no value to us or our sellers. We don’t want a lot of unqualified web traffic, especially since it can negatively interfere with our remarketing efforts.

Well then, how do we reach wealth-qualified prospects? Here are the four ways my clients and I find them.

Buy some secret sauce.

On August 2, 2018, Facebook withdrew third party data from our advertiser options. This included the valuable credit bureau criteria like net worth, income, home value, and mortgage applications. Those third party sources like AccuData, Acxiom, Equifax, Experian, and InfoUSA still have that data available for purchase. (One list I’ve found very valuable is the absentee acreage owners list, which can be sorted by county and even by various acreage thresholds.) We can use the lists we purchase for direct mail, Facebook, and Google audiences. Facebook and Google allow us to create lookalikes of the uploaded list. So, we don’t have to purchase huge lists to advertise to huge audiences. What’s been amazing to me over the years is how much more effective those lookalike audiences are than the original lists.

Use a time machine.

If you do a lot of auctions in a particular real estate segment, one of the best ways to find new buyers is to generate lookalikes of your bidders from past auctions. Several data companies can match your in-house list to their database and find lookalike profiles to the people they could match. You can then purchase that list for mailing and in some cases even emailing. If you’re not looking for an email or direct mail list, I’d go the free route. You can also upload you past bidder list to Facebook and Google to create lookalike audiences for your digital advertising. You don’t pay for that service, just the ads targeting the final audience.

Change the headline instead of the audience.

When we don’t have budget or access to the above audiences, I have tried Facebook’s real estate investor categories. “But this isn’t an investment property,” my clients have emailed me. They’re not wrong. But what do real estate investors have? Capital. Or access to financing. The headlines change from “Buy more cash flow” to “Own the home you deserve” and from “Make money with this unit” to “Luxury living on your budget.” In our flip-this-house culture, not all real estate investors are liquid; and not all are looking for their long-term home. But a subset is in our target audience; and we’re almost always chasing a subset of whatever audience we’re targeting anyway.

Exploit the power of cloning.

Once you’ve deployed any or all of the three options above, finding wealth-qualified prospects gets easier. Using the (free) Facebook and Google pixels on your website, you can have the world’s largest marketing engines find people who look just like those who investigated your auction’s page on your site. If you’ve attracted the right people in the early stages of your campaign, the artificial intelligence will multiply your best prospects. For advertising to sellers, this Google option can be valuable. For short-term auction campaigns, I recommend the Facebook platform—again, for the disruptive nature of its ads. Like Google, Facebook ads show on other news and pop culture sites; so, your prospect doesn’t have to be checking their Facebook app or newsfeed to see your ads.

For all of these audiences, you can sort them further on Facebook by interest categories. So, you can take any of these lists and sift them by people who like horses or hunting or boating or whatever pastime connects with your property. All of these lists can be sorted by age, though Facebook will soon be doing away with age sorting on real estate ads

Never in human history has targeting thousands of wealthy people been so easy or inexpensive. Thankfully, that means we can get better results for our sellers in shorter time frames and on smaller budgets. And now more of us small business professionals can look like marketing geniuses to our sellers.

Stock photos purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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