From clicks to leases: Understanding lead attribution for apartment marketing

Jan 4, 2024

Photo of renters on a couch overlaid with a chart indicating a lead attribution model

Website traffic from an organic search (like Google) is often more than just the first stop on your prospects’ journey. It’s a crucial thread that weaves throughout your lead generation efforts. Healthy website traffic usually means increased conversions and greater ROAS down the line.

Successful organic traffic streams can be tracked back to having an active and effective multifamily SEO strategy. After all, organic traffic isn’t really free, is it? Usually, it means that you are putting in the time to optimize your site or paying someone to do it for you.

It stands to reason that if you are actively optimizing your website, you should be actively tracking your organic traffic. Time is money, and the results of your time (and/or money) should be tracked.

Tracking how organic traffic converts into valuable leads is where lead attribution comes into play.

What is lead attribution?

This is where the guesswork ends and actionable insights begin. A solid apartment marketing attribution system clearly shows you which online channels — including, yes, your carefully nurtured organic traffic — are actually driving website actions.

Imagine this familiar mystery: Did that renter come from a Google Ad, organic search, Facebook ad or your Google Business Profile? Lead attribution can tell you. It’s the difference between blindly throwing marketing dollars and strategically investing in channels that deliver qualified leads.

There are many ways to measure attribution. Which lead attribution model you use is a business decision, just keep in mind that numbers will vary greatly across the different models. It’s important to know what each model is and how leads are measured. You should use the same model for all digital sources.

Here, we’ll cover the four most popular lead attribution models for apartment marketing: first touch, last touch, linear multi-touch and u-shaped multi-touch. Find out what they track and when to use each one.

First touch lead attribution 

The first touch lead attribution model gives 100% of the credit to the first marketing source in the lead’s journey that is associated with the guest card creation or first contact.

Chart showing first touch lead attribution model

This model is best used when:

  • You want to attribute first impressions only.
  • There are few touchpoints in the prospect journey.
  • You use only a few marketing campaigns.
  • You want to track a specific marketing campaign, such as a branding campaign.

Last touch (or single touch) lead attribution

The last touch lead attribution model gives 100% of the credit to the last marketing source in the lead’s journey when we look at the lead right up to when an application is submitted. This model is otherwise known as the bottom of the funnel model or closers model.

This model is best used when:

  • You have short sales cycles.
  • You believe the last touchpoint deserves the all the credit.
  • You only want to attribute conversions (aka the “closers”).

Linear multi-touch lead attribution

The linear lead attribution model gives equal credit to every touchpoint in the lead’s journey, right up to when an application is submitted.

This model is best used when:

  • You want to give equal credit to every touchpoint in the prospect’s journey.
  • You want to compare all touchpoints against each other.

U-shaped multi-touch lead attribution

The u-shape lead attribution model tracks every touchpoint, but only emphasizes two — the first and last touch in the prospect’s journey up until an application is submitted. These two touches each get 40% of the credit, and the remaining touchpoints equally split 20%. This model is also commonly known as the position-based model.

This model is best used when:

  • You want to track every touchpoint on a prospect’s lead-to-lease journey, but you do not want to give equal credit to all marketing sources.

Beyond ILS and PPC: Bringing visibility to the impact of organic traffic

In today’s data-driven world, there’s no excuse for not tracking all your digital marketing sources, including the often-overlooked and untracked gem that is organic traffic.

Remember, organic traffic isn’t just “free” clicks, it’s a powerful force in your balanced marketing ecosystem. Optimizing your site for relevant keywords and providing valuable content keeps your doors wide open for potential renters. Attribution helps you understand how those open doors translate into filled apartments.

Embrace attribution, understand your visitor journey and watch your apartment marketing efforts go from guesswork to growth.

Worried about doing it yourself? You don’t have to be! There are many tools out there that can help you track lead attribution by various models, including Marketing IQ. Schedule a free consultation to get a better understanding of how your leads are converting.

Gretchen Walker

Gretchen Walker is the central manager of REACH by RentCafe. She has over a decade of experience in digital marketing and over six years of experience in the multifamily industry. She loves marketing the most when she gets to use data to measure results and make decisions. When she’s not marketing something, you can find her playing with her kids and seeking out friendly competition wherever possible.

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