Navigating the challenges and successes in student accommodation marketing

Tuesday 12 September 2023, Accommodation

Navigating the challenges and successes in student accommodation marketing

Discover student accommodation marketing strategies: personalisation, early engagement, digital trends and user-generated content. From the Accommodation Digital Trends webinar July 5th.

In the evolving landscape of student accommodation, effective marketing strategies play a vital role in attracting and engaging potential residents. Join us as we explore a panel discussion that took place during the Accommodation Digital Trends webinar on 5th July, featuring panellists Hannah Buchanan and Steph Butcher from UCAS, Matthew Horne from University of Newcastle and Phil Price, Head of Marketing from Now Student Living. They share their insights, experiences, and strategies for successfully marketing student accommodation, all while embracing the latest digital trends. From segmentation and personalisation to early engagement and new channels, let's explore the key aspects that lead to a thriving marketing campaign.
The Power of Segmentation and Personalisation
One of the fundamental principles of successful student accommodation marketing is segmentation and personalisation. Hannah Buchanan UCAS marketing team highlights the significance of understanding different student groups' needs, behaviours, and preferences. By tailoring messages and experiences to resonate with each segment, marketing campaigns can achieve greater success.

For example, rather than adopting a blanket approach, accommodation providers can create personalised content based on the student's area of study, campus preferences, and accommodation requirements. This targeted strategy allows for more efficient resource allocation and improved engagement rates.

Optimal engagement and correct timing for long-term success

Early engagement is crucial for long-term success. Building brand resonance and trust from the outset, as emphasised by Steph Butcher from UCAS, helps accommodation providers connect with students well before they search for housing.
Matthew Horne from the University of Newcastle highlights the importance of reaching students at the right time with the right messaging. Being attentive to students' feelings during different academic and lifestyle phases is key. Avoiding that early push for bookings when students are still excited about results and waiting a few weeks before reaching out about accommodation options near their university is essential. Throughout the sales cycle, providers must know when to re-engage students and offer incentives or viewing opportunities, ultimately getting the timing right. Mastering early engagement and strategic timing lays a solid foundation for lasting success in serving the student community.

Embracing new channels and platforms

The marketing landscape is continually evolving, with new digital channels and platforms emerging regularly. Phil, H ead of Marketing for Now Student Living, stresses the significance of staying up to date with these trends. Student accommodation providers must be open to experimenting with different channels and content types to reach their target audience effectively.

For instance, instead of using the same content across all social media platforms, they should adapt their messaging and tone to suit each platform's unique audience. TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat, among others, offer different opportunities for connecting with potential residents.

Digital transformation and the role of user-generated content (UGC)

The panellists emphasise that digital marketing is no longer a separate entity; it is integrated into every aspect of marketing campaigns. User-generated content (UGC) has emerged as a powerful tool in the marketing arsenal. Leveraging trends on platforms like TikTok and Instagram has proven successful in driving higher levels of audience interaction. Brands are increasingly relying on UGC to create content that resonates with their target audience.

Importance of timing and multi-channel approach

Timely engagement with prospective customers is critical. A multi-channel approach, including digital and non-digital channels, allows businesses to meet customers where they are and deliver content that aligns with their preferences. Understanding the students' journey and decision-making process helps determine when to reach out with specific messages.

Tracking and attribution challenges

Due to digital privacy and tracking limitations, businesses have had to reassess their approach to reporting and measuring ROI. While digital marketing has traditionally offered robust tracking capabilities, recent developments have made it more challenging to obtain precise data. As a result, companies are now exploring alternative metrics, such as brand lift surveys, to gauge campaign effectiveness.

Budget allocation and brand building

Budget allocation for marketing has seen significant shifts toward digital channels. While digital spending offers trackable results, businesses must also invest in brand-building initiatives to create long-term impact. In the accommodation industry, brand awareness campaigns and strategic planning are becoming increasingly important to stay ahead of the competition.

Collaboration and learning from each other

Panellists believe that collaboration between universities and accommodation providers can lead to mutual benefits. Universities can benefit from understanding accommodation providers' strategies, and accommodation providers can gain insights from universities' marketing efforts. Synergies between the two can enhance the overall student experience and improve conversion rates.


In the dynamic realm of student accommodation marketing, personalisation, early engagement, and embracing new digital trends are the keys to success. By segmenting their audience, creating tailored content, initiating early engagement, and adapting to new platforms, accommodations can craft impactful marketing campaigns that attract and retain residents.

The digital transformation and the use of user-generated content have revolutionised how businesses interact with their audiences. With the right approach to budget allocation, tracking, and collaboration, accommodation providers can effectively reach their target market and create a memorable brand experience for students and customers alike. 

If you'd like to watch the full webinar and gain more insights, you can watch it back here. To stay ahead of digital trends and integrate them into your marketing strategies to thrive in the competitive market, get in touch here.