I’m sure those three letters—I-L-S (or Internet Listing Service)—have crept their way into every leasing office discussion at one time or another. Forrent.com, Apartmentguide.com and Mynewplace.com are just a few that have made their marks in the apartment industry, but the list is growing daily. Many Property Managers, especially those managing smaller communities, are left torn between investing their marketing dollars into an ILS or a website. While both of these mediums offer their own set of unique benefits, you should know the advantages and disadvantages associated with each.
Let’s talk ILS.
Internet Listing Services come in various shapes and forms. Many of the larger sites offer monthly subscription packages ranging anywhere from $20-600/month. Others offer flexible pay-per-lead (or pay-per-performance) packages with each site interpreting their own definition of a “lead.” These pay-per-performance models present minimal to no upfront costs or added monthly fees, which some properties find to be quite beneficial. By investing only in an ILS that’s pay-per-performance though, you also may be relying heavily on that particular site being the only source that prospect used to find you. This could prove challenging considering that nowadays, most renters are utilizing multiple online sources when searching for a property. Another benefit and pitfall of an ILS is that prospects have an opportunity to compare multiple properties at one time, which means your property could appear on a results page with your competitor. This is great if the property outweighs the competitor in the prospect’s eyes. Otherwise, this could be a missed lead. There are certain things that can be done, however, that will enhance your listings, making them stand out—like actively responding to reviews and posting multiple high-quality pictures and floorplans, professional video tours, up-to-date pricing and descriptive community descriptions.
On the upside, ILS’s do drive high traffic, which is especially nice for those communities that are looking for a quick, established online presence. Their flexible payment options could make budgeting simple for properties as well. And, the user interfaces are usually pretty appealing to renters due to their ability to incorporate professional property photos and even walkthrough videos. But, before investing in an ILS, I would highly recommend doing a few things first: 1) Ensuring the site is optimized for mobile 2) Looking at the user interface from a renter’s perspective—does it offer reviews, maps, community descriptions? 3) Consulting with other property managers to gauge their experiences with these sites. After analyzing these factors, ultimately, if you decide an ILS is for you, choose the site that gives you the most bang for your buck—saving you time, energy and money.
Is a website for you?
A property website is a great way to set the tone for your community before a prospect actually walks through those doors. It will also establish your digital footprint, which will then enable you to market your property to an expanded audience. Unlike an ILS, a website provides a lot more options and flexibility as far as design, optimization, analytics and more. You have the opportunity to showcase your property to potential renters using several pages, images, videos and other interactive tools to truly foster than engagement. Then, through a strong SEO and keyword strategy, you can gain a substantial infrastructure of long-term organic traffic from search engines, while increasing your reach and brand awareness. By taking advantage of targeted keywords, meta descriptions, page titles, and, of course, publishing good quality, informative and engaging content, your website has the potential to turn into the central hub for all of your lead generation efforts. Additionally, by leveraging tools like Google Analytics, you can delve into your visitor base and cater your marketing efforts to these individuals, resulting in more high-quality leads. You can even integrate your website with your existing property management software to manage rent payments, vacancies, maintenance requests, etc.; thus, saving you time and energy on the back-end.
Through high-quality visuals, well-presented content and a great call-to-action, you could be well on your way to meeting your next lead. And, it’s hard to deny that a well-designed website can provide prospects with 90% of the answers to their questions before checking out a property. This leaves more time for the property manager, leasing agents and the prospect to handle other important duties. With that being said, between developer costs, graphic design fees, copywriting, SEO, and not to mention the time required for maintenance, a website could prove overwhelming and costly for the average property manager or developer, particularly if it’s all being created in-house. Now, many of these stresses are reduced if you solicit assistance from a qualified developer.
Is Rentbot the answer?
Rentbot is not your average apartment website company. With zero large startup fees or overhead costs, property managers and apartment owners can rest easy knowing that their marketing budget hasn’t been swallowed up by the web guy. At Rentbot, your cost is calculated based on the number of units in your property. The smaller your community is, the less you pay—simple as that! We also understand that for most property managers and developers, time is a luxury that just isn’t found too often. That’s why we handle all of the work for you—custom design, mobile optimization, online applications, rent payments, and more. We’ll even upload your current floorplans and property photos to your new site for you. If you’re still on the fence between an ILS or a website, go ahead and give us a try through our free 30-day trial and see if you like the results. After all, at Rentbot, we guarantee more leads and the best ROI or your money back, so you’ve got nothing to lose and a lot more leads to gain.
About the Author
Jonsette Calloway joined the Rentbot team in 2015. With a background in public relations, advertising and copywriting, she has helped a multitude of clients achieve their marketing and communications goals within various fields, but she particularly enjoys working with the apartment industry.