New ILS listing data: 5 ways to lease more apartments

Dec 14, 2023

Woman looking at her phone with a background showing ILS listings for apartment rentals on RentCafe.com

Are you looking for ways to increase your ILS listing conversion rates? Look no further! Our study of more than 50,000 rental listings on RentCafe.com over the course of a year revealed that some ILS features can dramatically increase conversion rates.

Here are the five things you should do now to dramatically boost the number of leads you’re getting from your ILS listings. Already doing these things? Give yourself a pat on the back! Then share this article with your colleagues to keep the wins coming.

Check out the ILS conversion features infographic

Infographic showing 5 ILS listing features that can be used when marketing apartments and the corresponding amount each raises conversion rates

Lease more apartments with ILS listing tips based on data

1. Add more than 20 images to increase conversions 9x

The single most impactful thing you can do to increase the conversion rate of your ILS listings is to add more photos. Renters want to see the space that could become their future home. The more you show them, the more they will be able to imagine themselves living there.

The study results showed that having between 10-20 photos with your listing increased conversion rates six times. Having more than 20 photos increased conversion rates 9 times. Seeing really is believing!

2. Offer integrated online leasing to increase conversions 8x

Most people browsing for apartments on a rental listing site aren’t ready to move just yet. But for those that are, it’s important your listings have all the features they need to move forward.

In this study, allowing renters to start the online leasing process from the ILS listing drove eight times more conversions. That’s a number that’s hard to ignore and proves that, when renters are ready, they really will start the leasing process. It’s your job to make sure it’s available to them no matter where they encounter your community.

3. Make 30 or more reviews visible to increase conversion rates 7x

It’s a well-known fact that consumers rely on ratings and reviews to make online purchases, especially larger ones. Choosing a home is one of the largest purchases a person can make, so of course renters want to see reviews of your community before they take the next step.

This study found that displaying between 10-20 reviews on an ILS increases conversions 3x. Displaying 30 or more reviews increases conversions a whopping seven times.

If you don’t have a strong reputation management strategy in place to help you solicit and respond to apartment reviews, it’s time to make that a priority. Reviews aren’t just a byproduct of having renters. They’re actually the secret to better marketing, leasing and management. Read this article on apartment reviews to find out how to make them work for you.

4. Display the rent to increase conversions 6x

Unless absolutely necessary, do not make renters “inquire for price” because they probably won’t. They’ll just move on to the next listing that clearly shows them how much they will be paying.

Rent and fee disclosures build trust and help renters budget, so we’re not surprised that this feature drives six times more conversions. We believe strongly in rental fee transparency, which is why we’ve added rental fee disclosures on RentCafe.com.

5. Enable tour scheduling within ILS to increase conversions 2x

If you want renters to come in, you need to make it easy for them to do so. One way to encourage prospect visits is to let them book tours directly from your ILS listing. Then, they don’t have to go to your website (where you might lose them) or call your property (which many renters don’t want to do).  

Adding tour scheduling doubles ILS conversion rates because anything that makes the renter journey easier and requires fewer clicks is a clear win.

With SEO and PPC, do you still need ILSs?

The short answer is yes. Renters begin the search for their next home on an ILS, and you need to be there if you want to drive awareness and generate exposure.

In fact, according to the 2024 NMHC / Grace Hill Renter Preferences Survey, 75% of respondents said they visited a rental listing site as part of their most recent rental home search. Comparatively, only 52% visited properties’ social media sites and just 13% used a broker or locator service.

While SEO and PPC have been proven to generate higher conversion rates, can you really afford to miss an opportunity to get in front of 75% of renters?

We believe a balanced and flexible marketing strategy includes all three: an ILS presence to help the majority of renters become familiar with your communities, SEO to help you generate low-cost leads to your website over the long term and PPC that you can ramp up or ramp down depending on your more immediate needs.

Does this article seem familiar?

It might, if you’ve been a longtime reader. Back in January of 2023, we ran an article about ILS best practices that was based on a similarly sized study, completed over nine months instead of 12.

That post features an infographic that’s similar to this one, with some key differences. If you haven’t seen it yet (or haven’t seen it lately), it’s worth a revisit to see what’s changed a year later and what has stayed mainly the same.

The takeaway: Don’t just list, optimize!

So, there you have it! Five data-driven, conversion-boosting tweaks to your ILS listings, all backed by the power of research.

Remember: People searching an ILS usually aren’t just browsing, they’re actively seeking their next home. By giving them the visual assets they crave, the seamless leasing they deserve and the social proof they trust, you’re not just adding pixels and buttons, you’re paving the path to more leads, more leases and more “welcome home” moments.

Don’t just list your properties, optimize them. Happy marketing!

Geneva Ives

Geneva Ives is the manager of marketing content at Yardi. She leads content initiatives for REACH by RentCafe. Writing may be her first love, but data is a close second. Geneva is based in Santa Barbara, California.

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