Effectively Market Your Affordable Housing
Marketing an affordable housing community sounds daunting, but in reality, you can easily use the same marketing tools and techniques as you would for multifamily and conventional housing. The main difference? Your audience.
The affordable housing community is in a very unique position in that it has a defined target audience and specific parameters it must stick to when it comes to its marketing scope.
You should know your target demographic inside and out and use this information to help shape your apartment marketing efforts. And this entire strategy all boils down to having more of a caring team effort rather than a big budget. The key is to focus on getting personal with your messaging and connecting with prospective renters.
Here is are some of the main components to a great affordable housing marketing strategy that prioritizes gaining new leads through relationships and connection:
Engage with Followers
You don’t need to have a huge marketing ad spend to grow your online presence. Social media offers a free, worldwide platform to increase brand awareness and engage with your audience, without spending a dime.
While yes, Facebook lead form ads are a great way to earn more conversions; you can still grow your audience (and hopefully your leases) by simply engaging online. Develop a consistent posting strategy (and stick to it), then spend 15-30 minutes per day engaging with current and prospective residents.
According to Pew Research, there has been a 12-point increase in smartphone ownership among households earning less than $30,000 per year: 76% of these lower-income Americans now own a smartphone. Further, 44% of Americans have used their phone to look up real estate listings or other information about a place to live.
Your marketing strategy should include having an eye-catching website that is also very easy to navigate. The usability of your multifamily website is critical. Your current website might work fine on a desktop computer, but it needs to be adaptable to different mediums.
By sticking with an outdated website, affordable housing marketers are leaving a lot of opportunity on the table. It’s important to lean into demographic shifts by investing in mobile-first marketing will have more success connecting with their target audience in years to come.
Tell Your Story
Provide your prospective renters with a brand they will remember by utilizing your social media and website to tell your story. This story doesn’t need to have a beginning, middle, and end or be some huge revelation — it just needs to help your affordable housing community stand out from the rest.
Your story can simply be the vision for your community, the commitment to the happiness of your renters, or whatever message you want to convey to people who virtually visit your property.
Where should you weave your story? Everywhere — social posts, website (homepage, about us page, contact page, etc.), and blogs. If you have room in your budget for paid advertising, don’t be afraid to weave your story there as well. In fact, 92 percent of consumers want brands to make ads that feel like a story. By following this, you can maximize the use of your budget — rather than wasting it on standard ads that don’t convert.
Here are a few tips for storytelling in your online content:
- The goals of your story should be to create an emotional impact and be relatable to your target audience.
- Include as many specific details in your story as possible; while this might seem counterintuitive, it’s proven that more specifics will appeal to a larger group of people than broader ones.
- Use videos of real people for sharing your story rather than only text.
- Create blogs with the main goal of connecting with readers and answering questions they may have — the writing does not have to be perfect, all that matters is the messaging.
“Show”, Don’t “Tell”
Whenever someone comes to your website or social media, your main goal is to grab their attention quickly. On average, users look at a page for 15 seconds or less — this is how long you have to grab their attention.
The best way to do this is through photos and videos. The rate at which the brain processes images is 60 times faster than words. This means you are more likely to hook renters faster with images on your website rather than a lot of text.
As well, photos engage your viewers, give them an authentic look at what their possible new home has to offer and help them remember your community. In fact, if an image is paired with text, a user will remember 65 percent of the message three days later compared to 10 percent without it. Additionally, Papilios Real Estate Photography found that listings with good photography generated an average of 139 percent increase in clicks.
Hiring a photographer can be overwhelming and expensive; luckily, we live in an age where your average smartphone is equipped with a high-tech camera that can capture beautiful images. However, we do suggest investing in a point-and-shoot camera that will provide higher-quality images than a phone but is more budget-friendly than a professional photographer.
With a little research on how to create good lighting, you can take some pretty compelling photos of your property that will engage prospective renters. Here are a few quick tips for taking great property photos:
- Use as much natural light as possible
- Take photos from multiple different angles and positions
- Stage the space but don’t make it look fake
- Take more photos than you think you need for options
- Use a tripod for steady and level photos
- Take shots low to the ground
- Shoot from the corner of the room
- Do not use a wide-angle lens
- Keep the flash off, even in low-lighting settings
In regards to your story, rather than using text to tell it, use video. Record clips of your leasing team and current renters talking about the community. This is something not only should you use on your apartment website, but on social media as well!
Share Resident Reviews
It’s no secret that online reviews are increasingly affecting residents’ purchasing decisions. Maximize on what’s already out there and share positive online resident reviews of your community.
The more you can share and highlight positive reviews on your apartment website and social media, the better. It’s possible that in their search, prospective renters won’t see your property’s reviews but if they end up on your apartment website or social media, they won’t have to look too far to read reviews given by real people. There is a sense of comfort and trust that only reviews can create.
If you do not have enough good reviews to pull from, begin a campaign where you ask your current residents to leave new reviews. You can do this through email, but we suggest in person along with a slight incentive of your choosing.
Utilize Hashtags on Social Media
While advertising on social media is not free, posting and using highly-searched and related hashtags is. Hashtags can connect you with the affordable housing industry, keep you within relevant circles and help prospective renters find you. In fact, studies show that businesses that use hashtags are able to improve their engagement rates by up to 12.6 percent.
Begin by completing some research on what topics/phrases are trending in the affordable housing industry right now as well as what is being searched and compile lists for each platform to pull from when creating your posts.
And, yes we recommend you post about your community on all these platforms for the most engagement and reach.
Be Authentic and Relatable
The most advantageous aspect of these affordable housing marketing tips is that they all overlap as well as combine together to form an impactful marketing strategy for your community.
With the active use of social media as well as filling your multifamily website with engaging images, you can share the essence of what makes your community a great home in an authentic way that stands out.