First Quarter 2020 Digital Marketing Trends for Builders


The first quarter of 2020 was a doozy but we made it through! January and February were very strong months for builder digital marketing. And honestly, they stayed strong through March. As we look at the data and the trends that emerge from our new normal, the story that is unfolding, is one that could be very hopeful for builders who are well positioned to handle the quick adoption of fully digital home sales.

The two marketing powerhouses of Facebook and Google, and the consumers who are on the platforms, are handling Covid-19 in their own unique ways. On Facebook and Google Display we saw a big uptick in clicks and impressions in the month of March and overall for the quarter as compared to the last quarter of 2019. Google Search impressions dipped slightly quarter over quarter, but a positive drop in average CPCs led to an increase in clicks and click-through-rate, painting a positive picture for Q1 overall.


Usually we see an uptick in activity for home builder marketing as we end the first quarter and begin the strong spring home buying season. This year was no different. If you watched our Facebook Live, or read my last blog post, you’ll see that there were a couple of weeks in March that had people pulling back from their home searches, but as we neared the end of the month and quarter, things picked back up again. Facebook saw an increase of over 100% on impressions and a nearly 200% increase in clicks, however the Click Through Rate Fell by 11% to 3.57% because the rise in impressions was so big, that the rise in clicks didn’t quite equate to an increase in CTR. The good news is that this number still beats the .99% industry average by a hearty amount. 

More people are home and in front of a computer or mobile device with time on their hands, scrolling through Facebook which is why there were so many more impressions. With more available inventory, the impressions rose with the cost fell. We saw a decrease in cost per click of nearly 20% over the previous quarter.

The story to be told here, is that if you have marketing dollars, spending them on Facebook is a cost effective way to reach your target audience.


Similarly to what we saw in our builder Google Analytics data, Google Search traffic started to dip this quarter at the end of February, throughout mid March, as reflected in the impression data. Search impressions dipping the most notably on March 12th and 13th, the day and day after the pandemic was announced. Conversely, while we did see a significant drop in search clicks on both those days as well, clicks overall were not affected nearly as much as impressions. Google Search Ad impressions were down by roughly 2% in Q1 of 2020 compared to Q4 of 2019, but search clicks were up 34%, which led to a 37% increase in click-through-rate. Our Google Search CTR was 7.03% this quarter, beating the industry average by 90%! We also saw our average cost per search click drop by 15% quarter over quarter, which helped with the overall increase in clicks that our clients saw.GOOGLE DISPLAY ADS 1st QUARTER 2020

Google Display Ads tell a slightly different picture this quarter, in part due to the current pandemic. At the beginning of the year impressions and clicks were solid, but did start to dip a bit moving into the month of February, which is in line with what we typically see in terms of Google Display Ad data during the first quarter. However, as the month of February and the rest of the quarter played out, we observed a dramatic increase in overall impressions, clicks and click-through-rate, while the average cost-per-click dropped substantially by 30% quarter over quarter. The cost per click of our Google Display ads was 20 cents during Q1, that’s 55 cents a click less than the industry average!There are a few reasons for this occurring; for one there’s been an overall increase in web traffic with the rise of everyone staying at home and an increase in available ad inventory as sadly more advertisers and businesses have had to drop out of the ad auction since they’re unable to continue with their business in these current times. More available ad inventory and less competition for that inventory space equals lower than average cost per clicks. This is a huge win for our builder clients that are fortunate enough to still be able to continue with their business, since advertising dollars are stretching further than ever right now in terms of ad reach. The other reason for the increase is because our Search Conversion Manager developed data analysis tools that told a better story of who was being targeted on the Google Display Network and found new ways to hone in on audiences more likely to click on ads and convert to leads on our client websites.


Covid-19 is going to be with us for a while but we have every reason to believe that the storm can be weathered and that we can come out stronger on the other side. The story that the data tells us is one of hope. People are out there looking for their next home and the digital landscape is the perfect place to capture them because that’s all we have now. I am only slightly kidding about that. People are home. They’re on the internet and they’re looking for a house that’s better than the one they’re trapped in right now. Get your website in check and then make sure you allocate sufficient amounts of your marketing budget to digital marketing. Show your customers your new homes from the comfort (or relative discomfort, as it were) of their old one.

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Molly White

Molly White

I am a passionate early adopter. At ONeil Interactive I help clients put their best technological foot forward while generating high quality leads with digital campaigns that consistently beat industry averages.