Best Practices for Apartments Using an Internet Listing Service (ILS)

Guest Post by: Stephen Koepp, University of Florida Advertising Senior.

My focus for Insights from the Inside was the clear communication needed to get the most out of Internet Listing Services (ILSs) like Swamp Rentals or others.

Apartment communities can pay to be on an ILS and showcase their areas.  Why use an ILS though?  A perfect example is  This website has all of the flight information from different airline carriers all aggregated in one place.  The user knows this is a useful tool to use because instead of visiting all of the different airline websites, they can go to and view all of the flights. Some companies, like Southwest, do not post their flights on Kayak.  As a result, they are missing out on all of the traffic that goes to that site.

Apartment communities are the same way.  They have an opportunity to list their site on an ILS as well.  This makes the experience much easier for the consumer.  If you were searching for something, wouldn’t you prefer to go to one site versus 10?

We conducted research on this subject to find out what exactly renters are looking for on an ILS.  The over-riding theme was that they wanted transparency with prices.  No “call for specials” or “call for prices”.  The majority will instead immediately leave the ILS versus call because they feel they should not have to take that extra step.  Having prices up-to-date and clear is critical.  If you are looking at two pairs of shoes, with one having the price and the other does not, you will be more interested in the ones with the price because you immediately know if it is for you.  Why isn’t the price listed on the other ones?  Are they so expensive that the makers won’t even put the price on them?  It’s easy to see how doubt and uncertainty can come in when no price is shown.

Another thing about ILS’ is that they are the most beneficial when they have the most information.  Less is NOT more in this case.  If the customer can see more about the apartment community, the more they can potentially identify with and relate to.  They can’t like what they don’t see.  Our research also showed that if they were interested in an apartment, nearly 50% will click on the link to their website for more information.  Calling them and driving there are both actions a consumer may do, but only 15% or less do either option.  About three percent will submit an online contact form.

Finally, what users are looking for the most is useful, relevant information.  Clarity with prices, videos and photos of the communities, and floor layouts are all critical things to have on the ILS.

What’s the purpose in all of this?  To keep the viewer on your ILS page for as long as possible.  The more they can see, the more they can identify with and judge whether or not it is the right community for them.

See other posts from "Insights from the Inside - A renter's perspective on finding your apartment":

    1. Insights from the Inside – Introduction to our work
    2. Word of Mouth & Social Media for Apartments
    3. Best Practices for Apartments Using an Internet Listing Service (ILS)
    4. Apartment Websites, Apartment Guides & Craigslist
    5. Apartment Reviews & the Upside to Uncertainty
    6. You’ve Been Shopped, Gainesville Apartments!
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