5 Foolproof Ways To Attract Quality Renters with Facebook Ads

Alex Middel
January 22, 2016

Facebook has changed the apartment rental game in a major way.

Did you know that Facebook now serves ads for over 2 million businesses?

That's because you can now get your message in front of the right people, with pinpoint accuracy, at a far higher ROI compared to many other advertising platform out there.

Through the Facebook Ads Platform, your ads are now shown to people who are more likely to engage, therefore ensuring that you achieve an incredible R.O.I.

In fact, when compared to Google Ad Words, one study shows reports that Facebook Ads can generate 158% more website clicks when spending the exact same amount.

Now, you may have heard a little bit about the targeting options provided by Facebook before – but you might not know how to integrate them into a cohesive strategy.

In this post we’re going to take a look at what you can do to master Facebook’s targeting options.

We’ll analyze the specific features that are open to you, and how you can use them to achieve incredible results.

We’ll also analyze the advanced strategies you can use, once you’re familiar with running ads on the platform, in order to reach people in ways you didn’t even know were possible.

Let’s get started. 

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Human-to-Human Marketing

Facebook is a social media platform, and because of this, it is essential that you understand that you’re dealing with people and not just prospects.

With Facebooks advanced ad targeting capabilities, you're now able to target the right prospects at exactly the right stage of the renter journey.

To get the most out of this and your marketing efforts, rather than a B2C marketing approach, you may want to consider adopting a more “human-to-human” approach with your marketing.

Business 2 Community describes this well:

"The premise of human-to-human marketing is one human buying from another. It taps into the human psyche and helps you form a broader and more complete form of marketing that can exceed almost any other form."

So what does that mean – should you start using slang and poor grammar in all of your communications from now on?

Not exactly.

Rather you want to conduct your communications as if you were politely communicating with a friend.

Unless you’re dealing with a certain sector, using jargon is often not needed. This counts for the unnecessary use of big words too.  

You don’t need to be overly pushy with your sales message (in fact it can hurt if you are), and you don’t want to be nonspecific either.

Remember, Facebook let’s you show your ads to highly targeted groups of people.

You need to take advantage of this fact, by ensuring that your messaging is tailored towards these individuals along with the exposure and interaction they've already had with your brand or apartment community.

If you don’t, then someone else’s ad that does tailor its message, is going to beat yours.  

When you do things this way, engagement will be higher, and ultimately your return on investment will be higher too.

This is the difference in marketing that is going to help you with ‘branding,’ and marketing that is going to generate profits.  

There’s no point in sending a lot of people to your site, if none of them are going to call you, and arrange a viewing.

After all, we’re not looking to adopt a “shotgun” strategy here, where we’re trying to appeal to everyone – and ultimately no one.

Instead, we’re crafting messages tailored specifically towards those who are seeing our ads.

Yes, this might seem somewhat tedious and you may even say that this doesn’t work for ‘your clients.’

But it’s what works on platforms like Facebook - and it’s what allows companies like International Living, to drive around 59,000 leads, at half the cost of other online ad platforms.

Okay, so now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s look at how you can target your ads, and get them in front of people who will be excited to get in touch with you.  

Basic Forms of Targeting on Facebook

Targeting properly is essential, and if your ads in front of the right people, you’ll be able to 10X your Facebook Ad R.O.I. in the same way that Teeshopen did.

Later on this post, we’re going to examine some of the more advanced targeting options provided by Facebook.

But let’s first begin with the most basic options provided by Facebook, of which can be seen below.

Facebook targeting screenshot

When setting up your ads, you can set them up so that they’re shown to people in a specific country.

However, you can also get a lot more granular, and show them to people in a specific city, or even a certain town.

Facebook targeting map screenshot

Aside from targeting by location, the other basic way you can target ads is by ‘Age and Gender.’

There’s also the option to target ads by interest.

When it comes to targeting this way, just let Facebook know of some interests that your target market has.

Facebook detailed targeting screenshot

If you expand this section, you’ll begin to see some of the options on offer.

Facebook interests targeting screenshot

You can also target your ads by ‘Demographics,’ as seen below.

Facebook Demographics targeting screenshot

There are a lot of angles you can use here in order to get your message in front of the right people.  

Because of this, it is important that you know your potential clients well, if you want to get the best results on Facebook.

At the very least, you need to have some information based on the typical interests, age and location of prospective tenants.

However, obtaining that targeting information can at times be a little tricky.

Because of this, we’re now going to take a look at what you can do in order to target your ads with pinpoint accuracy, even if you do not know your client base well.

Lookalike Audiences

One of the most powerful features provided by Facebook, is something known as ‘Lookalike Audiences.’

Lookalike audiences led to Banana Republic achieving 60% higher click-through-rate on their ads, when compared to all other forms of online advertising.

It also led to this razor blade company, increasing their conversion rate by 30%!

Essentially, Lookalike Audiences is where Facebook will take a ‘Source Audience,’ and then create marketing campaigns that target other Facebook users who share similar traits.

Facebook can do this using data from website visitors, email lists and even phone numbers.

For instance, Facebook can analyze everyone who’s visiting your site, and then create ads targeted towards other people on Facebook, based upon the traits of your website visitors.  

As a result, you can now create highly targeted marketing campaigns, even if you’re not able to supply Facebook with the targeting information we took a look at earlier.

Setting up Lookalike Audiences for your website is not hard.

First need to provide Facebook with a source Audience.

To get that done, head on over to https://www.facebook.com/ads/manager/audiences/manage/.

Then choose ‘Custom Audience,’ from the ‘Create Audience,’ drop down menu.

Facebook custom audience menu screenshot

Then provide Facebook with some ‘source data,’ that it can use when creating a ‘Lookalike Audience.’

Facebook Custom Audience creation screenshot

If you’re using a database of past customers to create the ‘Lookalike Audience,’ you can just click on on ‘Customer List,’ and then upload the information requested.

However, if you’re looking to create a Lookalike audience based on website visitors, you’ll want to click on ‘Website Traffic.’

Facebook Website Traffic screenshot

Once you go through the setup stage, you’ll then need to create and install a ‘Facebook Pixel’ on your site.

You can create the pixel in Facebook Ad Manager, but you'll need to have the  pixel code installed on your website for it to be effective.

Facebook View Pixel Code screenshot

If you happened to have a website agency or developer create your website, doing this is as easy as reaching out and having them plug this into the right sections of your website.

However, if you find you are struggling to get this done, you can always ask someone on Upwork to give you a hand without having to spend too much money.

Now that you’ve provided Facebook with a Source Audience, you then want to create a ‘Lookalike Audience,’ using this ‘Source audience.’

To do that, go back to https://www.facebook.com/ads/manager/audiences/manage/.

But this time select ‘Lookalike Audience.’

Facebook Lookalike Audience menu screenshot

Then select the ‘Source Audience,’ that you created earlier.

Facebook Create a Lookalike Audience screenshot

The more you increase the ‘Audience Size,’ the less targeted your ads will be.

Therefore, when first trying this tactic, keep the Audience Size at ‘1’ or ‘2.’

Now let’s look at another targeting method that can be used in order to make the most out of your Facebook Ad campaigns.

Facebook Retargeting

There’s a very good chance that you have been exposed to some Retargeting in the past.

If you’ve ever seen an ad for a product that you were looking at only moments ago on an ecommerce site, then you’ve been ‘retargeted.’

Amazon tends to do this a lot.

When it comes to running online ads, Retargeting can generate an incredibly high return on investment.

In fact, there’s evidence to suggest that ad Retargeting brings back 26% of consumers, who might have otherwise been categorized as a lost sale.

On top of that 25% of online buyers actually enjoy seeing Retargeted ads, because it reminds them of something that they were supposed to buy.

The reason this tactic works so well is because you’re engaging with people who are already familiar with you and what you have to offer.

During the renter journey, this plays a major role in both the Interest and Desire stages, were a potential renter have already become aware and are now considering if they want to dig deeper into the idea of becoming a resident.

As a result, the traffic you generate from this form of advertising, isn’t exactly cold, and is more willing to engage with you.

Research has shown that Retargeted ads can lead to a 1,046% increase in branded search.

Retargeting can also be used to raise awareness - something that we’ll look into later on in the post.

So how do you implement Retargeting and how can it be used?

Implementation isn’t that hard, and all you need to do, is install the Facebook Pixel on your site.

This will let Facebook know who to add to a certain ‘Retargeting list,’ .

It therefore lets Facebook know what ads to show to who on Facebook.

Here’s how you can set up Retargeting for your Facebook Ad campaigns.

Go through the ‘Custom Audience,’ creation process, as detailed above, and choose the ‘Website traffic,’ option.

You now need to set the parameters for the Retargeting Pixel.

The question you’re looking to answer here, is who is going to be Retargeted and why?

As you become more familiar with Retargeting you’ll be able to tinker with some of the more advanced features on offer.

Namely showing specific ads to people who visit specific pages.

Facebook website traffic targeting options screenshot

As was the case before, in order for the Facebook Pixel to yield results for you, it will need to be installed on your site.

Facebook will often tell you that you only have ‘one pixel,’ and that can at times be confusing, even though it is true.

So just to clarify – the Pixel itself, stays the same, but you’re just creating different audiences for the Pixel to track.

It is these audiences, you select when creating your ads

You can do that by selecting the ‘Custom Audience’ that you created for the Pixel, when going through the ad creation process.

Facebook custom audiences selection screenshot

Creating your ads this way can also result in lower costs, as well as a better R.O.I. as some have found their cost per click to be 14% lower, as a result of using ‘Custom Audiences.’

So how can you use Retargeting in order to encourage people to take action, be it arranging a viewing, or just getting you on the phone to ask questions?

Retargeting is all about moving people along the ‘funnel.’

Imagine someone looks at pictures of a certain property on your website.

How do you get them to engage with you, and arrange a viewing?

In the past, that person might have been lost and never to be heard of again.

But using Retargeting, you can create an ad that asks people to call you, after they have had a look at some pictures on your site.  

Additionally, you can create an ad that lets website visitors know that the prices have dropped on properties they were looking at in the past.

If you want to keep things really simple, you can just run ads to people who have clicked on your contact page, but have decided not to call you.

You can then advertise your number in the ad, and let people know that your company is open to having a conversation with them, in relation to the property they were looking at.

Here are some examples of ads that have worked in some of our past campaigns, where we have offered free rent for 1 month, for someone who has taken a look at a certain property.

Watermark Seaport Facebook Ad Example screenshot

Here’s another Facebook Ad that sticks to a similar kind of theme and strategy.

Watermark Seaport Facebook Ad Example 2 screenshot

It all comes down to being creative, and figuring out ways to entice people into engaging with you, when they’re ‘on the fence.’

Facebook Behavioral Targeting

Another form of targeting provided by Facebook, is something known as ‘Behavioural targeting.’

This kind of targeting is where it all starts to get a little bit more creative.

As always, if you have a good understanding in terms of who your customers are, you’ll be able to reap the benefits.

But with behavioral targeting it is even more important.

Behavioral targeting, relates to targeting your ads based on the actions that people have taken in the past, or just intents that they may have.

Here is how Facebook defines ‘Behavioral targeting.’

Facebook Behavioral targeting definition screenshot

Unfortunately, some of these features will only apply to US audiences only, as some data comes from 3rd party partners that Facebook has, of which isn’t available for other countries.  

In any case, here are some of the options open to you when it comes to targeting your ads by ‘Behavior.’

Facebook Behavior targeting screenshot

As you can see, there a lot of options here.

Some options, will apply more to certain markets better than others.

Because we’re interested in Real Estate, the ‘Residential profiles,’ section is attractive for us.

Facebook Residential profiles targeting screenshot

Now of course, this form of targeting isn’t as powerful as what we’ve discussed earlier, in relation to ‘Lookalike Audiences,’ and ‘Retargeting.’

Though it can still help you reach new groups of people.

The key, is to experiment.  

In doing so, you’ll be able to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

More importantly, you’ll be able to come up with advertising angles that your competitors didn’t even know existed.

Because Facebook Advertising is relatively cheap, you can actually do a lot of this experimentation, at quite a low cost.

Life Events

Another targeting option provided by Facebook, of which is incredibly powerful, is the option to target using ‘Life Events.’

Life Events, relates to just that – big events that have taken place within the lives of the people you’re trying to market to.

It’s one of the features that allowed for this wedding invitation designer to achieve a 5,000% R.O.I with her Facebook Ads.

Let’s quickly take a look at what’s on offer.

Facebook life events targeting screenshot

Below are some other targeting options you can choose, when it comes to Life Events.

Facebook other life events targeting screenshot

And here are some more.

More facebook life events targeting screenshot

As has been the case before, in this post, there are a lot of options to choose from.

And so once again, the ultimate way to take advantage, is by knowing the characteristics of your existing customers, as best as possible.

So if you can, take a moment to think about the circumstances of the people who come to you, seeking help and advice on finding a new rental.

What big events have recently taken place in their life, that have caused them to get in touch with you?

You probably know the answer to this already, but if you don’t, potentially consider asking some of your past clients.

Alternatively, you might just want to consider for yourself, what it is that makes people move into a new property.

Maybe they now have a new job that is paying them some more money, and hence they can afford to spend more on rent.

Or it could be that they’ve recently become engaged, and they’re now looking to find a family residence, of which can home more people – or is closer to a school.

It could even be the case that someone has had a birthday, that has just put them into the typical age bracket, that your apartments typically cater to.

If you’re worried that some of those targeting options are a little too broad, remember that you can always layer targeting options on top of each other.

For instance, you don’t need to just show your ads to newly engaged people.

You can show your ads to people who are newly engaged and in between the ages of 30-40.  

You could even layer on some more targeting, by picking people who are earning a certain amount of money.

You don’t want to go overboard here, as it will get to the point where you’re going to be excluding certain people, who would have otherwise been good prospects.

Though it’s something to keep in mind – especially if your ads don’t initially bring you the results you want.

Advanced Facebook Targeting Techniques

Now let’s look at some of the more advanced targeting techniques on offer, when it comes to using Facebook Ads.

In fact, let’s go one step further, and look at strategies that can be applied to the real estate niche.

One strategy that might be of use, is to target people who have an interest in the local amenities within the community.

For example, it may be the case that the potential tenants for a particular property, are concerned with maintaining their health.

What you can do in this instance, is promote something that helps them achieve their goals.

So you could promote a local park, or even a trail path, of which can be found near the local apartment.

You could even promote the gym that can be found within the building, of which will allow for the tenant to maintain their fitness, should they move into the building.

This is all very easy to do, thanks to the Retargeting feature we took a look at earlier.

It could be that someone clicks through to your page, and then takes a look at the gym and fitness options on offer.

You can then retarget that said person, by showing them some of the other features that are based in the local community, of which contribute to their desire to remain fit.

Therefore, just like everything else that has been mentioned, if you want to get the best results out of your marketing efforts, really put some time to think about your buyers.

It is important that you ask questions such as - ‘Where are they in their life, and where are they looking to go?’


As you can see, Facebook has some incredible targeting features on offer.

If you know the characteristics of your potential tenants really well, you can very quickly create incredibly targeted ads.

However, if you do not have that information available, you can still use features like Lookalike Audiences and Retargeting, to ensure that your ads are shown to the right people.

As you begin to use the platform more and more, you’ll begin to uncover some unique angles you can use, in order to get people on the phone.

Remember, though, if you want all of this to work, you need to understand the style of marketing that works well on Facebook.

A human to human approach will take you a long way, and will easily outperform the old way of “Shotgun marketing” – especially on Facebook.

Marketing is moving more and more online, and it is simply the case that online marketing simply doesn’t work well nowadays, if you don’t use a ‘human to human,’ approach.

In any case, why not give some the strategies mentioned in this post a try, and see how well they can work for your business?


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