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Put Your Search Campaigns on a Diet: How to Make Limited Budgets Lean & Mean

May 11, 2018

Properties don’t have money to waste and now more than ever must stretch their smaller budgets as far as possible while still competing with the big dogs *cough* ILS *cough* of the industry. So, when going up against advertisers who can afford to run all day and all night how do you make your money count?

Cut Out Fatty Foods


When dealing with a limited budget the account structure cannot have any fat. Think of it in terms of clicks = food and leads = exercise. It can have as many clicks(food) as it wants as long as it is getting enough leads(exercise). Too many clicks without enough leads and it turns into a couch potato.

The first thing to do is to make sure all the keywords are relevant to the property. Is the property a brand-new build with all the bells and whistles? Check to see if the account has any keywords like ‘affordable apartments’ or ‘inexpensive apartments’ instead focus on terms that highlight the property like ‘luxury apartments near me’ and ‘brand new apartments’.

Search query reports are also a terrific way to start ‘trimming the fat’. Look and see if there are irrelevant searches coming in. Are people clicking on an ad when they search for studio apartments, but the property only has 1 & 2 bedrooms? Add 'studio' as a negative keyword. Any irrelevant terms that are triggering ads should be added as negative keywords.

Another effective way to shed some extra weight is to pause keywords that are not driving leads, but still eating up your budget. These keywords may be relevant to the property, but if you’ve spent $200 on a keyword and haven’t received any leads, pause it.

Stop Snacking Between Meals

Are there certain times during the day or days of the week where you see more leads come in? These are the ‘meal times’. Focus your budgets on the times and use the ad scheduling bid adjustment to bid down during times of inferior performance and up during peak hours.

Stop Eating Out

There is no purchase a person makes where location matters more to them than when deciding where to live. For this reason, make sure the account is targeting the area immediately surrounding the property.


In other words, stay home and eat what is already in the kitchen before driving to the next city for a meal.

Location radius targeting is fantastic way to do this. Target an area around the property’s address. There’s no perfect distance to use for radius but make sure you aren’t targeting too broad of an area to avoid wasting spend on people that are not interested in living in the property’s location. Once that is in place go back and look to see if there are any zip codes or neighborhoods within the radius that are performing better or worse than others. Take these locations and bid up for areas that are performing well and down for areas that are performing poorly.

Be Honest With Yourself

The ad is the property’s first impression on people so make sure it doesn’t under or over sell. Be as transparent as possible about the property while still highlighting it’s selling points. If it is a high-end property use words and phrases that relay this (i.e. Luxury, Resort Style, etc.) and if it is not don’t use those phrases and instead highlight other aspects (affordability, location, leasing flexibility, etc.).


Ad extensions can be an effective way to relay this information to people so that they know before they click on an ad:

  • Sitelinks: Not only are these a fantastic way to take up more real estate on the SERP, but they are also an effective way to relay information about the properties features and direct them to those pages (i.e. Amenities, Floor Plans, Specials, etc.)

  • Price Extensions: There is no better way to let someone know that a unit is in or out of their price range than using price extensions.

  • Structured Snippets: A fantastic feature that highlights the properties amenities without taking up valuable spacing in the ad copy itself.

  • Callout Extensions: Another way to highlight selling points that aren’t quite amenities. Is the property close to public transportation, down the street from the ballpark? In a good school district? These selling points are perfect to mention in callout extensions.

No Junk Food

If the property is leased up, or close to it, on 1 bedrooms but there are a good amount of 2 bedrooms still available then focus your budget towards campaigns that are advertising these unit types.

Track Your Meals

Track your leases back to what generated that lead.

If there is a campaign, keyword, ad, location, time of day etc. that is generating leads but not leases look and see where the fall off is. Is it internal or is there something that needs to be changed within the account?  

Likewise, if there is an area generating high-quality leads, focus more of your budget and marketing efforts in those areas.

Need a diet buddy? Just drop us a line.


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