Follow thy prospect

Online ad search strategies demand more precision and programming expertise than ever for advertisers to stay on top of Google search rankings while reaching their target audiences.


The growth of new websites is hyperbolic with an estimated 140 thousand websites launching each day. Digital ad sales for the first half of 2016 was a record-breaking $32.7 billion dollars, up 19 percent year-over-year, as reported by the Internet Advertising Bureau.

Still the question remains: where and when to advertise to achieve the most effective results.

Retarget, recycle

Retargeting advertising is a method of recycling your internet advertising investment. The goal is to invite visitors back to a website they’ve visited through search and digital ads. To craft an effective retargeting campaign, it is essential to determine advertising source attribution.

Initially, traffic and lead tracking are needed to recognize which ads in what locations are generating qualified prospects, to thereby invest in the sources that reach and direct the target audience to the website location. A campaign will not be effective even if it generates a host of click-throughs unless it also converts visitors to leads or leases. Sending nonqualified traffic to the website will diminish opportunities for retargeting.

The need for attribution does not stop there; advertisers also need to know what showcases inspire conversion and what prospect behavior is indicative thereof.

Tracking visitor behavior

Once an advertiser has successfully driven a visitor to their web page, retargeting applications identify the guest via an embedded tracking code that follows the visitor’s behavior. It is wise to also assign a web tag address within the community website that will recognize traffic arriving from online ads to substantiate response analytics. The retargeting algorithm then determines how interested the visitor is in a product based on what they view and how long they view it, and thereby determines which websites guests to retarget through available advertising space on other websites. You have probably experienced this form of advertising by being served a banner with an invitation to reengage a product you have already viewed on a web page.

That was then, this is now

Historically, sales conversions were attributed to the last click before purchase since publishers were paid by the click. This was a popular Google AdWords methodology. Research shows that only 16 percent of users click on internet ads and half of those (8 percent) account for 85 percent of all clicks on display ads. Translated, that means there is a tribe of internet users that are “clickers” by nature. Thereby it is not solid to base attribution on click-through alone.

A prospect may view an ad and visit a website without clicking, or call by phone, or research the product and return via another route. A good retargeting campaign will report blended attribution on consumer behavior: what the customer clicks and views. It also provides a venue for A/B testing, whereby results compare a test group served banner ads versus a control group that were served unrelated advertisements, like for charities as an example, to measure the ad’s comparable performance. The equation looks like this:

Test Group Conversion Rate (minus) Control Group Conversion Rate divided by Control Group Conversion Rate (equals) rate of increase due to retargeting.

A retargeting campaign requires banner ads of multiple sizes to be served through “sublet” ad space. Impressions and click-through rates are influenced by the available space. Retargeting will generally not produce immediate results unless there is a high website traffic count because of the limited audience pool to choose from: those visitors that are tracked and can be invited back to the website. Facebook advertisements can be integrated with some retargeting providers to give the advertiser expanded analytics.

Ad response can also be segmented to website locations when setting up a retargeting ad campaign. For example, you may want to create a banner ad promoting a floor plan type, the retargeting ad is then directed to land on a designated web page or especially designed landing page that focuses on the featured product. It is also possible to share leads via a crowd sourcing mechanism that delivers emails promoting your product and your community. It is good idea to view the share pool members before exploring this method.

Customer relationship management

Sophisticated, well designed customer relationship management applications can track the traffic source from its origination and ensuing journey to the destination web page where it will become available for retargeting. Likewise, such a CRM can determine demand by lead segmentation: identifying product preferences and correlating data, giving the advertiser insight into what most interests their audience. Dynamic number insertion (DNI) is also an effective way of automatically including telephone responses into the CRM platform.

Once a retargeting ad has brought a return visitor back, there is no advertising substitute for highly functional website navigation that loads quickly, introduces many calls to action and is graphically endearing.

The most popular pages in a multifamily website are the floor plans. It is worth the investment to keep floor plans colorful, updated, and informative. Scalable furniture placement applications and interactive site plans are available as well as photographic and video tours.

A SatisFacts 2017 survey reports that 81 percent of prospects visited the community website before first contacting the office. The survey reveals that 67.5 percent of prospects searched for an apartment by smartphone or tablet; a 257 percent increase between 2011 and 2017. The community website can look very different on a mobile device if images are not scalable and flash presentations are lost on Apple devices.

“We have created retargeting campaigns for some time, along with Facebook and pay-per-click advertisements for clients,” said Becca Wilson, CEO of “Retargeting is a powerful way to make the most of advertising investments. It tethers prospects to your products and services.”

Wilson thinks this is especially effective with apartment shoppers who have viewed multiple locations. “After shopping several apartment websites, the prospect can easily confuse what features belong to what location,” she adds. “That is the moment when a well targeted banner ad can be effective in getting them into your community.”