5 Essential Google Ad Metrics for Apartment Marketers

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In the past, the biggest problem facing apartment marketers was a lack of data. You purchased ads in local newspapers, maybe with a few print guides, and then all you would be able to do is track number of leads, showings, and leases you had in a given month.

Online marketing turned that problem on its head: Now we’re swimming in data. The problem facing most of us these days is that we don’t know what data to look at and our lack of certainty can cost us a lot of money when you consider how expensive listing services can be and how easy it is to spend money on Google Ads.

Today, we’re discussing the go-to metrics for apartment marketers using Google Ads. Your Google Ads campaigns in particular can generate large amounts of data. This blog will help you know what to focus on in order to gain a fast grasp on how your campaigns are performing and how to help you control costs.

Basic Principles of Google Ads

Ads that perform well on Google generally do two things extremely well: 

  • First, the ad is well-written and links to a high-quality webpage that loads quickly, is well-designed, and is easy to use.
  • Second, the ad copy and landing page are relevant to the person entering the search term(s) on Google.

If your ads are well-written, link to high-quality pages that are relevant to the needs of the searcher, they should perform well on Google.

How will you know if they are performing well? Keep a close eye on these five metrics.

1. Click-through Rate (CTR)

What is CTR?

Click-through rate is the ratio of users who click on a specific link to the number of total users who view a page, email, or advertisement. If ten users saw a link and two clicked on it, the CTR would be 20%. 

It will tell you how relevant your ads are to Google’s users. If an ad looks like it will be helpful for addressing whatever problem or interest drove them to Google in the first place, you should see a higher CTR for that ad. 

On the other hand, if there is a mismatch between your ad and Google’s users, that will also show up in the CTR.

How can I improve my CTR?

CTR is all about relevance. The searcher is on Google because they want to solve a problem or learn about an interest of theirs. If they think your ad will do that, they will click on it.

How do you prove your relevance to users? Be concrete and specific with your ad copy. Generic copy will cause your ad to blend in with everyone else’s. Also, highlight a specific benefit your ad offers.

For example, RentVision clients have floorplan-specific walkthrough video tours for their individual floorplans. So, your ad copy can tell people that they can tour the apartment online. You can also use ad copy to highlight specific benefits your community offers—pet-friendly, amenities, etc.

Here’s a sample:

Watch Walkthrough Video Tours of Pet-Friendly Apts in (location)! See Photos & Pricing. Call Today. Take A Video Tour Now. Pet-Friendly. Amenities: Swimming Pool, Gourmet Coffee Bar, Business Center, On-Site Laundry Facility, Fitness Center.

By citing a wide range of amenities, you reach a broader range of people. By leading with “Watch Walkthrough Video Tours” you list a huge benefit for the user immediately: You can just shop online without needing to drive to tour individual apartments.

2. Cost-per-click (CPC)

What is CPC?

Cost-per-click refers to the cost of an individual ad click.

One thing that makes Google Ads unique—and that distinguishes online advertising more generally— is that advertisers are not charged for publishing the ad. They are only charged when the ad is clicked. So, rather than paying a single sum to publish an ad on Google’s search pages, you instead pay every time a user clicks on your ad. The amount you pay for each individual click is your CPC.

How can I improve CPC?

Two primary factors influence CPC.

  • Your ad’s quality score
  • The bids of other competitors for placement on that keyword.

If you want to understand exactly how the cost is calculated, Wordstream has a helpful infographic that explains it.

The good news is that if you have consistently high-quality ads, your CPC will be lower. Google wants to encourage their best advertisers to keep advertising with them because it makes them more money. Therefore, they are incentivized to reward their best advertisers.

How do you improve your quality score? Quality score is determined by the quality of your ad copy and landing page. So, if you create high-quality ads that are relevant to Google’s users, your ads should generally have high quality scores, which will control your CPC.

3. Conversions

What are conversions?

“Conversions” refer to any instance where a user accesses your site via Google Ads and then takes the next step in the sales process. Typically, this will mean they call your community to set up a showing. But sometimes users may also reach out via email. So, you will need to track both phone and email leads in your marketing software.

How can I generate more conversions?

Improving ad quality is the best way to generate more leads for your community. But eventually, you will max out what you are able to get from a given keyword or ad spend. When that happens, it is time to increase your ad spend or begin targeting new keywords. That being said, the law of diminishing returns very much applies to Google Ads. So, be careful about how you attempt to grow conversions. It is possible to max out the number of people you can affordably reach via Google Ads. When that happens, you must consider other platforms (like Facebook Ads) or be prepared to commit much larger sums of money in Google Ads in order to become competitive on broader and more expensive keywords.

4. Time on Site

What is “time on site”?

Time on site refers to how long the average Google Ads visitor spends on your community’s website. This is a good metric for showing what traffic you are attracting from Google Ads. If the average time on site is fewer than 30 seconds, that could suggest a few things: 

  • Perhaps, your website is not engaging to users. You may need to improve the site before putting more money into Google Ads.
  • The searchers you are attracting through Google Ads may not be the best possible prospects for your community. So, the website may be fine, but the ad may be attracting the wrong people.

How can I improve time on site?

If users are quickly leaving your site, it’s either because they easily found what they needed or they couldn’t find what they needed and gave up.

So, one important point to keep in mind is that not all short visits are necessarily bad. If the prospect is a bad fit and is unlikely to sign a lease, then a short visit may be good—it suggests that your website helped them quickly realize that they weren’t going to lease with your community or that they were a perfect fit and they quickly called your leasing office.

That said, if you are attracting the correct prospects, you want them to stick around and browse through your site. The easiest way to do that is via walkthrough video tours of each floorplan. With walkthrough video tours, you have a piece of content that is obviously valuable to your website visitors. Because it is valuable, they will stick around on the site long enough to watch the video.

Other types of site improvements can also help. Improving marketing copy will make a positive difference, high-quality photos will help them get a good idea of the community, but the best way to improve time on site is with walkthrough video tours.

5. Pages per Session

What is pages per session?

Typically, if a website visitor is interested in your website’s content, they’ll look at multiple pages on the site. “Pages per session” measures how many pages website visitors are looking at on average on your website before leaving. Generally speaking, we would expect high page per session values to correlate with stronger marketing performance. If a prospect lands on your home page and then looks at a specific floorplan and then looks at the amenities page, that would suggest a more engaged website visitor than someone who looks at the home page and then exits.

How can I improve pages per session?

Friction is a concept in web design that refers to the relative difficulty a user faces online when attempting to perform a single task. Great web design reduces friction for the user. So, one way to increase the average pages per session is by making it as easy as possible for prospects to move from one page to another. A well-designed navigation bar at the top of the page is helpful in this regard, as is a footer with links to main pages on the site.

To test how user-friendly your site is, consider asking a friend or family member if they’d look at the site and try to do some relatively basic things—find your phone number or address, watch a walkthrough video tour, find out the pet policy, etc. If they can do all of those things with minimal difficulty, it often is a great indicator that you have a well-designed site. If they have trouble finding that information, then it is likely that other site visitors are as well and you could be losing out on valuable leads.

Bonus Metric: Cost per Minute

What is “cost-per-minute”?

Cost-per-minute is a metric we use at RentVision to quickly get a handle on the relationship between user engagement and ad spend. 

A high number of clicks doesn’t necessarily mean the ad is high-quality because the site visitors could be unqualified. If you generate 250 clicks from a campaign and none of them are qualified leads that become leases, you didn’t get the highest return possible on your digital advertising budget. Likewise, high cost-per-click is not necessarily bad if the users being attracted are well-qualified. Suppose you are spending $10/click but ⅓ of your clicks from that campaign turn into leases. In that case, the high cost-per-click isn’t necessarily a problem.

To try and capture both of these realities, we created cost-per-minute. Cost-per-minute tells us how much we are spending for each minute of time a user spends on a website. It’s a relatively simple metric, but it gives us a bit more information that can be highly valuable because it tells us what the relationship is between the cost of our ads and the quality of the traffic the ad generates.

How do I calculate “cost-per-minute”?

The actual calculation to determine cost per minute is very simple:

Cost / Minutes Spent on Site = Cost-Per-Minute

Where it gets tricky is in determining the total amount of minutes that ad users have spent on your site. To help with that, let’s consider three different ad campaigns:


Campaign

Clicks

Avg. Session Duration

Cost

Cost per Minute

Campaign A

100

0:43

$151.30

$2.11

Campaign B

93

1:13

$211.85

$1.87

Campaign C

89

0:40

$178.78

$3.01

To determine our cost-per-minute, here is what we are doing: First, we need to figure out the total time spent on the site. We’ll do this in seconds first and then change it to minutes next. 

So, for Campaign A we would take 100 (the number of clicks) and multiply it by 43 (the number of seconds). That tells that during the time period being studied, our Google Ads traffic has spent a total of 4300 seconds on our website. To find out how many minutes that is, we simply divide 4300/60. That tells us that our users spent 71.67 minutes on our site.

Now, we simply need to divide our cost ($151.30) by our minutes (71.67 minutes). That gives us our total of $2.11.

You would use the same process to determine the cost-per-minute on all other campaigns.

Cost-per-minute is not magic. You should still monitor the other metrics we have described above. But if you need a quick way to assess the quality of the traffic you are buying via Google Ads, cost-per-minute can be quite useful.

Conclusion

Google Ads is the simplest and best way to generate increased demand for your community. Often, particularly during high vacancy seasons, you will not be able to generate enough demand via ordinary seasonal demand alone. By using Google Ads to supplement the demand you naturally have due to seasonality, you can increase your overall demand and control vacancy, which also means controlling revenue. When you are in control of your revenue, your community is in the healthiest possible position.

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RentVision enables you to generate more qualified traffic when you have a sudden increase in vacancy, and saves you marketing dollars when it’s under control.

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