Are Internet Listing Services Dying? The Future of Apartment Marketing

Internet Listing Services (ILS) have traditionally been the primary means of marketing for apartment properties. They’ve served as information indexes to help communities create and establish an online presence while generating leads for years – think early 2000’s, rolling hills Windows background era.

However, in recent years, the conversation about apartment marketing has shifted. Communities are investing in websites, branding, Google Ads, and just digital marketing in general. In fact, it’s something we’ve spent a lot of our time committed to: looking at analytics, reporting, lead quality, lead volume, etc. We look at all digital marketing services apartment communities utilize and how to best maximize the strategy based on the property, location, demographics, and more. We’ll talk about this a little more later, but first…

What is an ILS?

Internet listing services are digital platforms that apartment properties can use to post about available units for rent. They typically allow for photos, rent prices, square footage, amenities and any other notable features about the property that may make someone want to sign a lease.

Popular ILS platforms include:

The Renter Journey & How to View Your ILS Strategy  

The way we find and consume information has drastically changed in the past 20 years, not to mention the past few months.

To start, four out of five renters go online when searching for an apartment. Gone are the days of looking at this week’s classifieds to find your next week’s home!

Plus, 86% of renters use an ILS platform during their search and the average renter is on four different ILS sites before deciding on where to lease(1). FOUR different ILS sites. AKA, if your community isn’t listed on at least one of the area’s popular ILS platforms, the likelihood of that renter finding your property just dropped significantly.

It’s clear that a renter’s journey is rarely a linear path or attributed to just one source these days. Multiple touchpoints of digital and/or traditional marketing help keep your community top-of-mind for when that user is in fact ready to sign a lease.

So, here’s how to view your ILS strategy.

ILS platforms continue to remain relevant, informational, and region-specific sources for renters. ILS platforms mixed with your other marketing strategies diversifies your marketing portfolio and can give you data-driven, specific insight into your renters and prospects.

In fact, we’ve found a nearly 25% lift in performance when our multifamily customers layer multiple platforms such as ILS, Google Ads, and social media ads. Each focuses on engaging and converting traffic in its own way and they all work together.

Rather than trying to solely compete with ILS platforms’ top spot rankings in Google Ads, it’s time to consider adopting their services into your strategy.

The Future of Apartment Marketing

The answer to the main question of this blog post (“Are Internet Listing Services Dying?”) is: no. Internet Listing Services may not be the only tactic multifamily communities rely on anymore for lead generation, but these platforms also aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

No matter what type of marketing strategy you have, we’d never recommend solely relying on one channel for all lead generation. ILS platforms, Google Ads, social media, your website, and traditional marketing tactics are all a part of the push and pull marketing mix that works cohesively together to inspire one big, happy family of leads. And, as always – measure, test, and refine!

Crafting the perfect marketing mix for your community is something to leave to the experts. Get in touch with Brindle to see about ramping up your apartment marketing campaigns.

(1) RentPath Renter Survey, October 2018.

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