How to Improve Your ILS Strategy

Here are ways to elevate your ILS strategy to increase conversions, have your listings stand out from the competition, and turn looks into leases for your apartment community.
Person on a computer doing an apartment search

How to Improve Your ILS Strategy


Updated June 2024

When it comes to advertising your apartment community online, marketers developing a strong ILS strategy (Internet Listing Services) is a lot like sports betting. You review the matchups, do some quick research, tap your instincts and make your ‘best bet’. More often than not this approach seems to work, or at least is accepted within the multifamily industry. 

But, a major challenge multifamily marketers experience is the dominant ILS providers effectively disable any potential for strategy by locking their clients into long-term annual agreements and limitations with 3rd party tracking. We here at Digible and our friends at Brynson like to go against the grain and strongly believe multifamily marketers would attract more residents with a holistic, flexible, and diversified ILS advertising strategy.

And we’re going to give it to you straight. Here are ways to elevate your ILS strategy to increase conversions, have your listings stand out from the competition, and turn looks into leases for your apartment community.

ILS data graphic

3 Components of ILS Multifamily Marketers Need to Know


  1. Listing Management (LLM): Property managers or vendors may manage these listings, as well as upload pictures, floor plans, and other information about the apartments.

  2. Search and Discovery: Future residents can use this feature to search for available apartments based on their needs and preferences, including amenities, price, or concessions, as well as location and points of interest.

  3. Lead Management: Allows onsite teams to monitor and address rental leads, such as inquiries, tours, and applications. Additionally, it enables the integration with CRM to handle prospects and interact with tenants.

Your Property’s ILS Strategy

Review Page 1 of Google

Before you decide on an ILS ALWAYS review Page 1 of Google for your top keywords (i.e. luxury apartments in Atlanta).  This is a simple but incredibly effective way to flesh out which ILS’ are performing in any given market.  If you know anything about Google search results, you know that organic rank is heavily based on user engagement and relevance. If you don’t see your ILS appearing above the fold on Google, you might want to reconsider keeping it on the buy.

Data: Metrics to Measure

Another important but less utilized data point for an optimal ILS strategy is your property’s SOV (Share of Voice).  Digital marketers outside the multifamily industry regularly ask for or require an SOV estimate from publishers before they place a buy.  The reason they do this is to protect against saturation = limited exposure and recall. 

We recommend: Aim for 10% or higher SOV.  Anything less usually translates to an inflated CPL = poor ROI.

Diversify as much as possible. 

Yes, there is a ton of syndication in the industry, but you should still do your due diligence and make sure that the partners they are promoting are relevant.  A good best practice would be to place buys or ‘prosumer listings’ on every ILS that sits above the fold on Page 1 of Google. That may sound delusional, at first, but you might be surprised how effective vanilla sponsorships or even basic listings can be when you consider renter click streams on the ILS.


Develop a warehouse 

Most apartment marketers manage 15 to 40 (maybe more) properties in the same region. Even if you aren’t an Excel guru or consider yourself analytical by nature, there is enormous value in developing your own ILS data warehouse.  It will yield valuable insights related to seasonality, ROI, sponsorship levels, competitive advantages, and so forth. See below on our topic, “Property vs. Portfolio”


Many of the dominant ILS networks make it difficult if not impossible to optimize your listings based on performance or predictive analysis.  However, don’t let that deflate you or affect your ILS strategy at large. There are still several ILS networks that enable listing optimization for their clients. Finding the time is a whole other issue, so you might start with just quarterly adjustments.

Be The User

‘Click-Stream Data’ is the most raw and honest picture of how consumers and future residents behave online with a click-by-click map of the renter’s journey. Early learnings from ILS click-stream data suggest that users overwhelmingly move directly into the advanced filtering tools before they even begin to shop or compare apartment properties.  Consequently, you may want to rethink some of the platinum (page 1) sponsorships, when you realize that 9 out of 10 renters surpass them.

Skip the headache, and learn about Local Listing Management from Digible.

Fiona Calls graphic
Hot Tip: Call Tracking

It’s not enough anymore just to add call tracking and reporting to your ILS campaigns. Being confident and leveraging call analytics is critical to achieving a smarter, more efficient ILS strategy. After all, nothing is worse than falsely celebrating a huge uptick in leads only to find out they were poor quality (womp-womp).

Learn more about call tracking and valuable insights with FionaCalls.

Identify by Property vs. Portfolio

Now that you have a foundation for an ILS strategy, here we tap our friends at Brynson on their Pro Tips for a robust ILS strategy and 6 points to consider.


1. Risks of Missing Insight

Data analysis and decisions should not be made at the portfolio level, but rather each ILS’s performance and conversion data reviewed at the property level. Some providers are better in specific markets and you would benefit from increased exposure on their site. Others have low market share that would allow for a smaller/lower package because you might be one of the few listed if you choose to advertise.

2. Clean Source Attribution

Start with clean, accessible, and agnostic data. The junk in/junk out adage could not be more true, in other words, update your “Sources” to reflect your current paid and organic sources. 

  • Source attribution, while somewhat gray area, is crucial to track, especially with ILSs. Be sure to utilize the most updated tracking options like UTM’s/DNI’s for each property. 

  • REMOVE the option for “OTHER” immediately.

  • Continuously remind your teams of the various affiliate sites that are part of the parent brands and ongoing education regarding how each provider is advertising to prospective residents.

ILS Brynson clean source attribution graphic
Image courtesy of Brynson


3. Review Multiple Sources

Performance and conversion data is available from many providers for you to understand performance in specific markets. Ask how many “paid subscribers” are on their platform for that area and what you can expect for leads or exposure.


4. Market Data

Understand the competitive nuances for each ILS and what they are doing to promote their website and drive traffic to their site. What is the saturation in the market with their brand?

5. Context Matters

It is important to also review what is included in each package and how you could benefit from these in the long run. Is media included? Do you get to own it after a specific period and be able to use it for other marketing? What other services do they offer that could benefit from a more vertical integration standpoint?

6. Term Commitments

Some properties are in constant flux and would benefit from being on a 12-month commitment, while properties may not. If you have a 100-unit property with 5 vacancies, in a suburban market with good visibility, you don’t need to be on a 12-month term for each provider. Get to a place where you are proactive in your efforts and find the ILS that is “working” for that property and diversifying as needed.


More questions? Reach out to Brynson to learn more.

Don't Miss This With ILS

Other considerations for a robust ILS strategy are just a piece of the multifamily marketing mix pie. Reviews, virtual tours, and high-quality images and videos are an integral component of your strategy.

ILS conversion graphics

Having a strong ILS strategy will help attract future residents to your rental housing portfolio and increase visibility.


Other benefits to having a strong ILS presence will support:


  • Boost Search Rankings. Higher search rankings will help drive qualified leads to your website and improve credibility with Google.

  • Ease of Applications. This helps future residents’ application processes easier, and more accessible, and provides pre-approval options.

  • Increase Your Reach. With apartment listing sites, you’ll have the opportunity to broaden your reach and attract and engage resident with a targeted approach, such as location.

Put 'Er There, Partner

Taking mental note of all the tips for an optimal ILS strategy for your apartment properties? We know it’s a lot, which is why we can remove the headache for you.

Written By: Erica Hanger & Anthony Paganucci

Related Posts

Test. Discover. Transform.

World-class support to help your multifamily property work smarter.

Show Me How To...

Contact Us
Show me how to....