In spite of evidence to the contrary, some marketers still operate under the incorrect assumption that today’s seniors don’t spend time online or rely on technology to make purchase decisions. In reality, seniors are more tech-savvy than ever, with 88% of adults aged 50-64 and 73% of adults over 65 identifying themselves as internet users. In fact, today’s target audience for senior living communities will rely on online searches, online reviews, digital ads, and your property website to help make their final housing decision much the same way younger generations do. Still, that doesn’t mean you should use all the same digital marketing strategies for senior housing as you would for student or multifamily communities. There are some crucial nuances to be aware of.
When it comes to Active Adult housing, digital marketing strategies should focus on the platforms where these active adult prospects spend most of their time. For Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Memory Care, your strategy should also appeal to the adult children of senior prospects who are often assisting or directing the housing search. Your digital marketing should also take into account the prolonged digital renter’s journey that can be common for senior prospects, who often have more flexibility regarding when they choose to move out of their current home. Finally, a digital marketing strategy for senior housing should be tailored to address common priorities for senior prospects, including sense of safety, reliability, and community.
There are many strategies you can employ to meet these unique demands of the senior housing market, from unique ad types to website design. Here are some of the top digital marketing strategies for senior housing.
Addressable Marketing Campaigns
Addressable Marketing is emerging as the direct mailer for the digital age, making it a particularly excellent choice when marking housing to seniors. It allows ads and other media to be served to individual households across a number of personal devices—TVs, smartphones, personal computers, etc. These ads can target prospects based on household location, age, income level, home equity information, number of household members, and a variety of interests, resulting in highly qualified online and offline traffic from prospects who are more likely to convert.
Because it targets your audience household-by-household, this tactic shares many of the benefits of the direct mailer while also saving on design and printing costs and allowing you the flexibility to target your audience with data aggregation tools rather than requiring you to have a list of addresses ready at hand. These data aggregation tools and fine-tuned targeting factors can help you hone in on senior prospects who may be ready to move, like empty nesters who may be looking to downsize, for example.
When creating an Addressable Marketing Campaign, you start by defining the audience you’re hoping to reach across factors like household location, interests, and other demographic information such as age, income level, etc. Then, though data aggregation tools, micro-geofences are drawn around each physical address that meets those data requirements. Next, a conversion zone is drawn around a specific location where you want to measure foot traffic (e.g. your leasing office).
When a prospect enters your micro-geofenced locations (e.g. physical home address), they will be targeted with your ads on their mobile and desktop devices for a set amount of time (30 days is typical). When the customer enters the conversion zone (e.g. leasing office) with their mobile device after being served your ad, the conversion zone recognizes the prospect and attributes their visit as an offline conversion. OR, if a prospect converts online by filling out a contact form, that action is measured as an online conversion.
By now, it’s well-understood that most seniors and active adults have adopted social media. In particular, older generations tend to use Facebook. Many seniors use Twitter and Instagram as well—some even use TikTok—but Facebook reigns supreme for its focus on fostering connections with family, friends, and acquaintances both current and past. To get specific, 72% of American adults between the ages of 50 and 64 were on Facebook in 2016, as were 62% over 65 and those figures are even higher in 2021. Naturally, this also means that seniors between the ages of 50 and 70 respond well to Facebook advertising. After all, 15% of users in this age range spend 11+ hours per week on the site.
Facebook offers a wide variety of ad types, be we particularly recommend Traffic and Lead Generation Campaigns for senior and active adult prospects. Traffic Campaigns are especially useful as an awareness tactic, targeting users within a geographic area and proactively serving ads to users with relevant interests and demographics. This ensures seniors nearby are aware of your community when they are ready to start their housing search. And because seniors tend to take longer to finalize their housing choice than younger generations, building that awareness over time is particularly rewarding when it comes to these prospects.
Lead Generation campaigns allow users to submit their name, email, and phone number directly on the Facebook platform, sending this information directly to property staff for quick and easy follow-up. This tactic is excellent for senior housing marketing because it gets prospects on the fast track to a real conversation with your staff, which many seniors still find preferable to the experience of browsing a website and hunting for information online.
Facebook can also do retargeting campaigns, which target users that have already interacted with your ads or Facebook posts before, making it useful as a way to keep top-of-mind with prospects. But bear in mind that older generations tend to be more wary of data tracking than younger generations who tend to see these tactics as the norm. That means aggressive retargeting campaigns may strike them as eerie and invasive rather than convenient and friendly. However, retargeting them sparingly and with the right message can result in increased conversion rates.
When it comes to lead nurturing, Email Marketing is hard to beat. That’s especially true for seniors and active adults who tend to value personalized interactions directly from leasing staff when making their decision. So when developing your email marketing strategy, be sure to incorporate personalization as often as possible.
For more tips to enhance your Email Marketing strategy, Check out our article below.
Email Marketing for Apartments: Best Practices That Actually Earn Leases
Before signing a lease with you, your prospects are going to research your community’s online reputation on sites like Google, Yelp, Facebook, Apartments.com, and ApartmentRatings.com. And that’s not just true for younger generations. Seniors (and their adult children who sometimes assist in or steer the housing search) also pay attention to reputation and use online reviews as well as word of mouth to determine whether they can trust a housing community.
When your prospects conduct this research, it’s important that what they find inspires their confidence. A poor online reputation means fewer prospects make it to your website, choose to schedule a tour, or take the plunge and sign a lease with you. In fact, a study by Harvard Business School showed that a one-star increase in your ratings can result in up to a 9% increase in your overall revenue.
There are many things you can do to improve your online reputation, including encouraging reviews from loyal residents and responding to the reviews you get, both positive and negative. For more tips on how to improve your online reputation, we have another article you should check out.
How To Make Online Property Reviews Work for You
Website UX Upgrades
A poor website experience is frustrating for everyone. Those who are especially tech-savvy may find their way around a poorly designed and developed website, but often prospects will just give up and look elsewhere. Poor website UX results in high bounce rates, low SEO rankings, less website traffic, and ultimately fewer digital conversions.
When it comes to improving UX for seniors, consider all the factors you normally would (page load times, easy scannability, a clear hierarchy of information, prominent calls to action, etc.). Also consider avoiding smaller font or icon sizes or images with poor contrast. This makes your website more legible to everyone, not just to seniors.
How To Improve UX on Your Property Website (and increase conversions)
Most importantly, ensure you have clear CTAs in prominent areas of the page to direct users to the actions you want them to take, such as viewing available floor plans, exploring amenities, and most importantly, contacting your leasing staff.
With Facebook preparing to implement an update to their platform related to iOS 14, many advertisers are wondering what the update means for real estate marketing. To summarize it briefly, this update will affect the treatment of 3rd party data tracking, effectively limiting its use on the Facebook platform. This change comes as no surprise for many in the advertising space, since it coincides with a general rise in user concerns around data privacy that have made 3rd party data use a hot-button topic in recent months, even among some lawmakers. Facebook is just one of multiple platforms that have responded to this trend by distancing themselves from 3rd party data tracking or removing it from their platform entirely.
So how does the iOS 14 update affect digital apartment marketing strategies on Facebook? Here are the details:
Facebook Users Will Have a Chance to Opt In to Data Tracking
Facebook has worked with iOS 14 to develop an opt-in approach to 3rd party data tracking. While the update is already part of the code of iOS 14, at the time of writing this post, the update hasn’t been pushed live yet. Facebook announced that it would push this update live sometime in Q1 2021.
Once the update does go live, Apple users will see a prompt on their phone asking if they want to allow Facebook to track their data after they have left the Facebook app. Unless a user opts in when they receive this prompt, Facebook will not gather 3rd party data about that user from other apps, nor will it share their Facebook data with other apps.
Facebook Will Limit Conversion Tracking
Facebook has also developed a tool called Aggregated Event Measurement, which limits domains to 8 conversion events that can be used for campaign optimization. This means if you want to track conversions based on an action taken outside of Facebook (e.g. filling out a contact form on your property website), you’ll only be able to take data from 8 of those outside-Facebook conversions into account when it comes to understanding audience behavior and optimizing your ads for further conversions.
This will not impact optimization strategies which optimize and report on fewer than 8 conversion events on domains outside of Facebook, but for those who prefer to optimize based on larger aggregates, this update may impact the information available for an informed optimization strategy, leading to less precise optimizations.
Even if you optimize based on conversion events within the Facebook platform (e.g. ad clicks), it is still best practice to verify your domains in case you ever need to use the Aggregated Event Measurement tool to optimize over multiple conversion events on domains outside of Facebook (like your property website).
How These Changes Will Impact Facebook Apartment Marketing
Luckily, due to previous platform changes directed specifically at housing, finance, and credit ads, many apartment marketing teams are already a step ahead of the game compared to other industries that have been enjoying more advertising flexibility. Still, Facebook ads for apartments could be impacted in certain key ways.
Depending on how your team is optimizing Facebook ads and whether your strategy relies heavily on 3rd party data tracking, these changes could have anywhere from no impact at all to significant impact on your Facebook ad performance. Here are some of the main areas that could be affected.
- Retargeting campaigns that rely on data about a user’s behavior outside of Facebook (e.g. visiting a property website) would not reach users that have chosen to opt out of 3rd party tracking. However, apartment marketers can still retarget users who have interacted with a property’s other ads or posts on Facebook, because this relies solely on 1st party data.
- Conversion tracking will be limited and conversions may go under-reported as a result. This does not necessarily mean that fewer conversions are occurring, but it does mean real estate marketers will have less information for the purposes of campaign optimization.
While these changes will impact some of the flexibility you have with digital ad campaigns, there are ways to avoid a significant dip in performance as a result of these platform changes. We recommend relying on digital advertising strategies that focus on 1st party data (actions taken on the Facebook platform) rather than on 3rd party data (a user’s behavior outside of Facebook) moving forward, especially as these platform changes are unlikely to be the last restriction on 3rd party data tracking we’ll see in upcoming months and years.
From apartment Facebook ads to banner ads through Google, display ads often play a central role in a real estate brand’s digital marketing mix. Since we’re a full-service apartment marketing agency here at Threshold, that means we’ve spent a lot of time perfecting our understanding of the design, messaging, and other elements that contribute to effect display ads for apartment marketing campaigns. Today, we’re passing on our must-know tips for real estate display ads.
This article will cover tips for design and messaging dos and don’ts for real estate display ads; it will NOT cover tips for how to target your ads through the various advertising platforms that support display ads (Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, and so on). If you’re interested in a post of ad targeting tips, let us know by dropping us a line on our contact page or sending us a message on Instagram!
Keep Copy Short and Descriptive for Apartment Display Ads
When your apartment community has so much to offer, it can be challenging to keep your ad messaging short! But there are a number of reasons why it’s essential to stay brief. The primary reason is that short copy is just more effective. Users typically encounter display ads as they go about their normal online lives, and as a result, they have precious little attention to devote to your ad. Ensuring that your ad message can be parsed quickly and effortlessly is essential if you want to work within this limited attention span to reach your qualified audience and earn their clicks.
Speaking of limited attention, copy-heavy ads can crowd out more engaging elements of ad design. Data show that ads with high-quality images and video earn far more clicks and engagements than ads without these features. When you crowd your visuals with copy, you compromise the ability of the visuals to drive this performance boost.
Not only that, but the more copy you include, the less legible your message is likely to be, especially when dealing with smaller ad sizes. Keeping your message short ensures that the copy will be legible across a wide variety of devices and ad placements.
Some platforms even restrict the amount of copy you’re allowed to have on a display ad. When it comes to apartment Facebook ads, for example, apartment marketers have long been working with a restriction called the “20% rule,” which restricted the use of ad images with text on more than 20% of the image. In 2020, Facebook announced that they would be removing this rule, but still recommend that you follow the 20% guideline, as ads with less copy tend to see better results on their platform.
A Facebook display ad following the 20% rule
So, given the limited room for ad messaging, what makes for effective real estate ad copy? Most importantly, you need to provide just enough information that it’s clear what the ad is for. Remember, the user is only devoting a few seconds at most to reading your ad, so it needs to be immediately obvious what’s being advertised or you’ll lose out on the people in the audience who might actually be interested to learn more. A headline of about 3 to 5 words (or around 30 characters) is usually best. For example, “Apartments Near UMD” or “Special Rates on Austin Apartments” get to the point quickly and clearly communicate the important information that a user needs to know in order to determine if this offer is relevant to them. You have more flexibility with copy length on certain ad sizes (for example, banner ads can incorporate slightly more copy), but in general, the shorter the better, especially if you want users to click through.
As long as you’ve mastered the short and sweet headline, you may be able to drive more qualified clicks by getting as specific as you can in the space available. For example, if the ad size is large enough to accommodate it, a subheader listing the available floor plan types or a “starting at” price may be beneficial. Where a subheader isn’t possible, just be as specific as you can within the 30 characters or so you have in your headline.
Finally, for ads that feature a CTA Button, keep that short and sweet too. “Apply Now,” “Lease Today,” or “Learn More” works great for apartment display ads.
Use High-Quality, Visually-Engaging Property Photos
We already mentioned that high-quality visuals contribute to better ad results for real estate display ads. But what counts as high-quality? What photo composition elements make an ad visually engaging?
We have an entire article devoted to answering exactly that question, which you can find here. In short, the angle, lighting, and staging of the photo all make a difference, as does the color composition (more on color below). The image should also have a single, clear focal point. If the user isn’t sure where to look, they’re not going to waste time figuring it out, they’ll just scroll right past your ad.
If good photos or renderings aren’t available, lifestyle imagery may work better than using a poor-quality photo. Stock images featuring one or two smiling people who fall into your renter demographic are common options.
A retargeting ad using a lifestyle photo
Use Bold Colors and High Contrast When Designing Your Real Estate Display Ads
Use bright colors to draw consumer attention to your ad. This is especially important with call-outs and buttons, which should be contrasting colors for high visibility. This doesn’t mean your ad should be garish; a little knowledge of complementing colors can go a long way when you want to use bold colors while still being easy on the eyes. For example, if you use a photo for your banner ad with a blue sky background consider an orange button and orange action text.
Bear in mind, though, that your branding should be consistent between your display ads and the landing page the ad links to, so use brand colors as a starting point. Ensuring that your apartment’s display ads make use of your brand’s colors and fonts make the ad’s look and feel consistent with the website. This also avoids confusing users by making them think they clicked on the wrong link.
A banner ad using contrasting colors
Tailor Ad Sizes To the Type of Apartment Display Ad Campaign You’re Running
Some ad sizes statistically perform better than others, but your choice of which ad size(s) to use for your apartment display ad campaign may be more complicated than it appears at first glance. That’s because different ad sizes are better for different goals.
For example, if your goal is to maximize impressions, ads that are 300×250 or 728×90 pixels may be your best bet. However, if your goal is to earn clicks, the highest-performing ad sizes tend to be 336×280 and 300×600 pixels. Let’s break that down a little further. That means that if you’re running an awareness campaign, where impressions are a more important factor, the 300×250 and 728×90 ad sizes may suit you perfectly. However, if you’re hoping to drive immediate leasing results, you need people to actually click through. In this case, 336×280 or 300×600 may be your better choice.
A 728×90 Retargeting Banner Ad
Your best sizing choice may further vary depending on what type of campaign you’re running. For example, smaller ad sizes for retargeting campaigns may work better because the user is already somewhat familiar with your brand and the ad can help you stay top-of-mind no matter how small it is. But for new traffic or lead gen campaigns, larger ad sizes give you a better opportunity to showcase why a user should bother to learn more. The ad size you choose may also depend on the message you need to deliver. If you need more room to accommodate a longer message (say, a special rate on specific floor plans), then a 728×90 banner ad like the one pictured above may work well.
Those are all our top tips for creating effective display ads for apartment marketing campaigns! If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team! We’re always happy to talk digital marketing strategy.