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How Housing Companies Reach College Tenants With Retargeting and Geo-Fencing

By collegemktgrp | June 26, 2021 | Brands/Advertisers

College campuses have been in a constant state of flux throughout the pandemic. Student housing has been along for the ride with waves of move-ins and move-outs as campuses close and reopen.

This has made marketing to college students more complicated for housing companies.

But with the right engagement strategies — including methods like retargeting and geo-fencing — businesses can efficiently reach future tenants and fill their properties again.

What is Retargeting?

Who better to market to than someone who has already shown interest in your service? Retargeting ads do just that for student housing companies by serving ads to college students (and/or their parents) who demonstrate the behaviors of potential clients.

With search retargeting ads, you can track keywords a student uses in an online search: like “affordable college apartment,” or “luxury college housing.” Then you can show ads that directly correspond to those queries while they’re browsing elsewhere online.

As the student catches up on the news or a parent is shopping online, your studio apartment ad could shine in the corner of the screen.

Contextual Retargeting Ads for Housing Companies

Similarly, contextual retargeting ads home in on what someone is looking at online versus what they specifically searched for.

For example, if a student is reading a blog article about the best places to live near campus, contextual ads could show them a promo for your newly renovated student condos, or invite them to sign up for your email list with new vacancy alerts.

An ad featured on CollegiateParent.com, for example, could connect you with more than 40,000 parents per month who may be co-signers on a student’s lease.

Site Retargeting Ads for Housing Companies

If students or their parents have visited your site previously, you can also target these potential clients with site retargeting ads.

You already know they’re likely in the market for student housing and are actively considering your business.

Ads touting the unique features of your housing complex (or a special discount to nudge them) would appear while past website visitors are browsing on social media, news sites, Google, etc.

Rather than blindly targeting a faceless group of 18-to-22-year olds, these techniques zoom in on individuals who already want, need, or are considering what your business has to offer.

What is Geo-fencing?

Location, location, location: It makes a huge difference in real estate and in digital marketing to college students.

You don’t want to waste your ad dollars marketing to college students who aren’t in your zone of potential clients. With geo-fencing, you can use students’ and parents’ locations to determine if, when, and how to best serve an ad.

Geo-fencing allows you to select a specific area where your student housing promotions are likely to be successful, and then deliver those promos and offers to the area codes of a student’s phone.

Through technology powered by latitude and longitude data, you could target specific campuses, events, dorms, and businesses.

You can even launch geo-fencing ads around a competitor’s business in order to sway someone who just took a tour of another apartment building in the neighborhood.

Know that your competitor charges a fee for pets? Send the cat-loving college students an offer to waive the first six months of pet rent at your housing complex.

Pairing With Other Marketing Strategies

When you combine retargeting and geo-fencing with other digital marketing strategies, your odds of converting parents and students are amplified.

Gen Z students are spending even more hours scrolling than generations before. Investing in social media, video, email marketing, and other digital marketing channels is essential for growing your client base.

Student Influencers &Social Media Marketing

When it comes to making a purchase, college students trust their peers more than a faceless company or brand. Tap into this preference by launching a student brand ambassador network to build credibility with your audience and fill those empty rooms.

This might involve college students talking about your company on Snapchat or posting sponsored content on Instagram. You might also want to consider incentivizing current renters to review your property on Google and other sites to bolster your online reputation.

Gen Z pays close attention to reviews (and is good at sniffing out fake ones, so don’t manipulate review sites).

Aside from influencer marketing, which or may not be right for your housing company, make sure your brand is active on social media channels. Monitor your analytics to see what’s working and what’s not.

Email Marketing

Email is not dead for the younger generations, but they are very skilled at quickly filtering through unwanted messages, so you need a smart strategy.

Snappy subject lines, preview text, send times and design are critical to getting students to open and click your promotional emails. Then, you need a stellar landing page to turn that click into a signed lease.

What makes your housing stand out? Highlight these value propositions in your email body (but don’t list everything—  students are likely reading on a mobile device and will ignore dense, lengthy content).

Paired with engaging copy, you’ll want high-quality photos of the property that are properly sized so they load quickly on students’ phones.

Video Marketing

Videos tend to perform well on social media and as ads. Video allows students to virtually move through a space, and may convince them to visit in person or share their contact information with your company.

With students still avoiding travel or visits to businesses due to the coronavirus, offering video walk-throughs and tours is also an effective strategy. You can link to video content from your social media and emails or feature a virtual tour on your homepage.

Amplify Your Efforts with College Marketing Group

Retargeting and geo-fencing might be the fresh tactics your housing company is looking for, but there are countless other ways to reach and engage college students and their parents.

If you’re still developing your strategies for connecting with tenants, consider these additional ideas to boost your property’s digital marketing.

Looking for one-on-one guidance? We’d love to help. Get a free College Marketing Consultation to customize a solution just for you >


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