Marketers Don’t Have to Choose Between ILS and SEO/SEM


Multifamily marketers are seeing increased pressure to maximize their paid and organic search efforts. But, in order to increase your investment in paid and organic search, you have to decrease your investment in ILSs, right?

Not exactly. ILSs and SEO/SEM each align with a separate portion of the renter search experience and shouldn’t be lumped together.

In fact, you’ll see optimal results when you diversify your marketing investments in every step on your renter’s path to finding their new home. Instead of shifting your spend from one channel to another, optimize the way you invest in each channel to ensure your marketing strategy aligns with the way renters search:

  • Step 1: Initial Search
    When prospective renters start their search, they typically begin with Google. They are looking for an aggregate site to compare all of their options, like an ILS. In some cases, they might visit several ILSs to ensure they’ve seen everything available to them. Many marketers feel like this is the time to invest in SEO/SEM so that their communities fall at the top of the search results above ILSs. Not only is that incredibly expensive to do, but it’s not what renters want to see at this point in their search. Instead, focus on how you can maximize your reach. Diversify your spend by investing in your top 3 performing listing services.
  • Step 2: Needs-Based Filters
    Within the ILSs they are using, renters will now begin to filter down their options based on their specific requirements. Since housing costs are one of the average American’s largest monthly expenses, they want to make sure their home fits their needs. Optimize your listings to ensure you stay in contention when they begin to filter. Keep your prices and photos are up-to-date and verify that all your amenities are included. This will ensure a better search experience for your renters and higher-quality leads for your onsite teams.
  • Step 3: In-Depth Research
    Once they’ve identified the communities that meet their needs on paper, they begin to research communities individually to see which ones are the most appealing. Today’s renters want to know as much about your communities as possible before submitting a lead. They don’t want to waste their time. At this stage, they’re looking for reasons to eliminate you from their list. To ensure your SEO and SEM efforts are successful, act strategically:
    • Paid Search (SEM):
      Bid on the right keywords so you come up first when a renter searches for your community. Also bid against your competitors. You want to show up first when renters search for communities similar to yours or those nearby.
    • Organic Search (SEO):
      Monitor your online ratings and reviews. You want positive (and honest) reviews to show up in all page 1 search results. More than 80% of renters rely on peer reviews and ratings to guide them in their search. Don’t neglect this aspect of the journey.
  • Step 4: Community Website Review
    Once they’ve done their due-diligence, renters will make it to your community’s website. Your websites are digital representations of your communities. Invest in your website to make it easy for renters to navigate and, ultimately, submit a lead. Make sure your websites appeal to your target renters, accurately reflect what they will experience in person and have clear calls to action that encourage them to visit or submit a lead.

With an increasingly complex digital search experience, traditional marketing efforts won’t adequately attract the leads you need. Investing in SEO/SEM over an ILS, or vice versa, will only hurt your chances of generating leads and leases. So, rather than putting all your eggs in one basket, diversify your marketing investments to reach renters at each critical stage of their journey.