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So, you have an apartment for rent or sale but wonder how best to advertise it.

There is a lot of cookie-cutter content out there giving great advice about existing different marketing tactics and throwing around many ideas.

However, “the best way,” which relates to an effective strategy, is often neglected.

That’s why this article will focus on “The Best Way” suitable for you in the first place and the different marketing channels and ideas for your apartment advertising secondly.

I will define the criteria for best, develop a strategy, do a deep analysis of the different marketing channels in terms of traffic, and provide you with information that influences the conversion rates of your apartment advertising campaign(s).

Let’s jump right in. 


How “Best” Apartment Advertising Looks Like

Most of the articles you find on the subject of the best way to advertise an apartment for rent don’t have their focus on the “best,” but rather on the different ways there are.

They give you many different methods and ideas where and how you could advertise, but don’t conclude the best way.

To find the best way, we must first define the criteria for “best.”

My definition of “best” is generating the highest number of high-quality leads that meet their needs with the apartments you offer in the least amount of time and at the lowest cost possible to reach your income goals within the time you aim for. 

This is a mouth full and implies you get many things right.

Which ones?

To answer this question, we can always return to the principles outlined in my article about general real estate lead generation, which also build the basis for my “Ultimate Real Estate LeadGen Strategy and Performance Suite.”

Recapping it shortly, you would have to find the ideal overlap between…

  • Your income goals after costs, taxes, and splits (e.g., commission after taxes and splits) (goal)
  • The net income you earn per sold or rented apartment (constraint)
  • The time to reach your net income goal (e.g., 12 months, 24 months, 36 months, etc.) (goal)
  • Your monthly budget for lead generation (apartment advertising) (constraint)
  • Your daily available time for lead generation methods that only consume time, but no money (constraint)
  • The marketing channels available (constraint)
  • Your experience and skill level for the different marketing channels (e.g., experience with campaigns, copywriting skills, etc.) (constraint)
  • The average lead time of each marketing channel (e.g., how fast you can iterate a campaign until you get reliable results) (constraint)
  • The product and service awareness level of prospects in these marketing channels (constraint)
  • The average cost per lead per marketing channel (constraint)
  • Knowledge about your ideal clients’ wants and needs informing how well your market message fit will be through your sales copy. (constraint)

You would reach the “best” apartment advertising method for you if, based on the above criteria, you manage to select the matching and viable marketing channels.

For instance, an ideal marketing channel would match your monthly lead gen budget, available daily time for lead generation, required product and service awareness level of prospects, your experience level, cost per lead, lead time, etc.

Well, unfortunately, this is also a mouth full. Therefore I made a Venn diagram to illustrate better how all these factors interplay.

apartment advertising

So all these “variables” influence how “best” in apartment advertising could be achieved.

So from the above, you may now realize that it’s not the best idea to jump right into the different apartment advertising ideas and tactics others offer without doing some preparation work.

What entails this preparation work?

It’s identifying your target audience and ideal clients, creating your unique selling proposition, and knowing your goals and resources (constraints).

So let’s start with…

1) Identifying Your Target Audience and Ideal Clients

The same principles apply as outlined in my article “how to find your ideal real estate clients.”

But I will recap it shortly in this section.

Identifying your target audience and ideal clients is like choosing who to send birthday party invitations to. 

You want to ensure you send them to the right people who will enjoy your party and bring the most joy.

In real estate, your ‘party’ is the apartment, and the ‘birthday person’ is your business. 

You want tenants or buyers who will appreciate the property and bring the most value to your business.

Here are some key points to consider:



This includes age, gender, income, occupation, marital status, and family size. 

For example, suppose your apartment is a single-room loft in a busy city. 

In that case, your target audience might be young professionals (usually tenants). 

If it’s a 3-bedroom apartment in a quiet, suburban neighborhood, families might be your primary focus (can be buyers or tenants).



This involves your target audience’s lifestyles, behaviors, values, and personalities. 

Are they nature enthusiasts who value a nearby park, or are they career-driven individuals who prefer a location close to commercial centers? 

Understanding these factors can help you appeal to the right people.


Geographic Location

Where does your ideal tenant or buyer currently live? 

Are they local residents, interstate movers, or perhaps international immigrants? 

Geography could also help inform your advertising channels and tactics.


Needs and Preferences

What are the specific needs of your ideal tenant or buyer in terms of housing? 

Do they require a pet-friendly place? 

Do they need a home office space? 

Do they prefer a furnished or unfurnished place? 

Identifying these needs can help you highlight the right features in your apartment advertising.


Online Behavior

Where does your ideal tenant spend time online? Are they active on certain social media platforms? 

Do they use particular websites or apps for apartment hunting? 

Understanding their online behavior can help you reach them through the correct marketing channel.

Once you’ve gathered all this information, you can create a clear and comprehensive profile of your ‘Ideal Tenant.’ 

This person (or group of people) is the primary focus of your advertising efforts. 

By understanding them inside and out, you can tailor your message, select the right advertising channels, and offer them a property that feels like it’s been handpicked just for them.

In this context, creating a customer journey may also be helpful, as I have discussed in my real estate content marketing strategy article.

2) Create Your Unique Selling Proposition

I discussed why a unique selling proposition is vital in several articles, such as this one about writing expired listing letters or how to write a real estate marketing plan.

So ideally, you know it already since it’s something you want to have right from the start when you build your real estate business and choose your real estate niche, which could already be a USP.

The unique selling proposition (USP) is also known as a unique value proposition.

It’s what makes your business stand out from the crowd. 

Having or creating a compelling USP can be instrumental in the success of your apartment advertising campaigns, as it directly addresses why a prospective buyer or tenant should choose your apartment over others.

Here’s a step-by-step approach to creating a USP:


Understand Your Target Audience

As we’ve discussed earlier, it’s crucial to deeply understand your ideal customers – their needs, desires, and pain points. 

This knowledge provides a solid foundation for your USP.


Know Your Competitors

You’ll want to conduct a thorough competitor analysis to understand what other real estate businesses are doing. 

What kind of apartments are they advertising? What unique features or amenities are they highlighting in their apartments? 

It’s not just about knowing what they offer but also about finding gaps in their services or highlighting what you can offer better.


Your Strengths

What do you do well? 

What do you offer that is different or better than your competitors? 

This could be anything from exclusive amenities, excellent locations, superior property management services, or a specific niche market you serve exceptionally well.

Here, again, it pays to focus on a real estate niche.


Find and Focus on the Benefits

Customers are interested in benefits, not just features. Actually, it’s only the benefits when you think about copywriting

For instance, instead of simply saying “apartment with a swimming pool,” explain why that is beneficial – e.g., “enjoy a refreshing dip right at home during the summer, without the need for a costly club membership,” “your friends will envy you when you show them your pool.”


Deliver on the USP’s Promise

This might be the most important aspect of all and also ties into your real estate branding.

If your USP promises something, make sure you can deliver it. 

If customers feel misled, it can harm your reputation and business.

Your USP is not just a catchy phrase for your advertising; it’s the core message that will resonate throughout your marketing strategy. 

It’s your pledge to your customers – the promise that you offer something valuable and unique and that you’re committed to delivering it.

The real estate market can be competitive, but a well-crafted USP can significantly boost the effectiveness of your apartment advertising.


3) Assess Available Marketing Channels 

When it comes to real estate marketing channels (actually the case for all marketing channels), you either use the traffic of others, or you use your own.

But strictly speaking, there is not much difference between the two.

Because if you use your traffic, you have likely built it already.

You did it either by investing your time, the time of others (in the case of content marketing and SEO) or by having paid for it and retained it by using an email list.

Of course, the email list should also be used in the case of content marketing.

So, the main difference is time, and the question is if you start from scratch or if you already have an established website that you can use.

While others will give you a large unordered list of various marketing tactics and ideas, only a few marketing channel categories exist.

I have discussed them in various articles, such as the one about real estate lead generation.

For each marketing channel I will discuss below, you also want to find out whether your ideal clients or target group uses them and also which product and service awareness level they have.

You will target more cold or hot real estate lead types depending on the product and service awareness level. The hot ones are closer to a real estate transaction, and the cold ones are farther away.

Additionally, you want to estimate the lead time of each one.

For instance, if you have a short-term income goal, you don’t want to deal with marketing channels with rather cold but cheap leads and a long lead time (until you can make an apartment advertising campaign work).

But now let’s get to the marketing channels… 


Outbound Real Estate Lead Generation (paid and “free”) 



Database Marketing

  • Past client direct mailing
  • Past client marketing
  • Past client retargeting via ads on search and social media
  • Email marketing
  • Sphere of influence marketing


Inbound Real Estate Lead Generation (paid and “free”)


  • Content marketing on your website (publishing blog articlesvideos, downloadable whitepapers, free giveaways, etc.)
  • Content marketing on social media (posting on Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, etc.)
  • Answering questions on social media, forums, Quora, etc.
  • Lead magnets (often combined with email marketing and nurturing campaigns)
  • On-page SEO
  • Webinars (with strategic partners)
  • Guest-posting (however, not Google’s favorite anymore)


  • Publishing content in larger publication channels (local and national newspapers, magazines, etc.)
  • Organizing a housewarming party
  • Organizing an open house event
  • Organizing educational events


Real Estate Referral Marketing



Free and Partially Free Property Portals to Advertise Your Apartment

In some way or form, all the rental property portals are free.

The thing is that although you might get a free posting in many, your visibility will likely be suboptimal without paying additionally for advertising.

So, below, you will find a collection of the most well-known ones, which I categorized as free and partially free.

Ultimately, I analyze them to find out which would be the best so you are not left with just a long list of property portals you can use for advertising.

4 Really Free Rental Property Portals


12 Partially Free Rental Property Portals

1) Craigslist

Only a few real estate professionals don’t know this popular classified platform.

Should you not know it already, it’s a classified advertisement website where you can post completely for free classified ads in sections such as jobs, housing, for sale, services, items wanted, gigs, community service, and more.

The overall monthly traffic is 351,500,000, with a rental property inventory size in the U.S. of 1,500,000.

2) Oodle

Oodle is kind of a copy of Craigslist and is also an online marketplace. It was founded in 2004.

You can also advertise completely free; the monthly traffic is 1,830,000, and the property rental inventory size is 1,094,237.

The property rental inventory size is 1,094,237.

3) Rentdigs

On Rentdigs, you can also advertise property rentals for free.

The difference between the first two is that it doesn’t offer a wide variety of sections and only focuses on different rental properties.

According to similarweb, the monthly traffic is 697,870. Inventory data wasn’t available.

4) Rentberry

Rentberry is another free rental property platform similar to rentdigs.

Their focus is also on available international rentals and not that much on the U.S. market.

According to similarweb, the monthly traffic is 668,950.

I requested the inventory size from the provider, and they reported having an inventory size of 125,000.

5) Zillow’s Rental Manager

I already covered Zillow in-depth in thisthis, and this article.

It is a well-known platform where real estate professionals and independent property owners can advertise their properties.

Zillow’s Rental Manager combines different tools and information to help you manage your rentals.

When you post your rental property there, your listing will be displayed on Zillow, Trulia, and HotPads.

In terms of pricing, the very first posting is free for the first year.

According to similarweb, Zillow gets a monthly traffic of 256,600,000 and has an inventory size of 54,709.

The next would be HotPads, but this platform is part of Zillow.

This platform offers its users a different view of the data Zillow already has, such as, for example, a certain map view with a focus on apartment rentals.

Technically speaking, it’s basically a sort of data filter of Zillow for apartment rentals.

6) should also be quite well known, and it’s another real estate listing platform providing property for sale and rent.

The only ones able to advertise or list there are realtors and brokers.

So, as a direct apartment owner, you will need to work with a realtor and be ready to pay a commission.

According to similarweb, the monthly traffic is 136,570,000, with an overall inventory size of 202,012.

7) Padmapper/Zumper

Padmapper can’t be mentioned without mentioning Zumper Pro.

It’s a rental property portal solely focused on apartment rentals, and Zumper bought it in 2016 (source).

Padmapper’s mission is to make apartment hunting almost fun.

Apartments are displayed on a big map, and potential tenants can filter them according to their needs.

So since Padmapper is actually Zumper, the monthly traffic for Zumper is 707,130, and the inventory size is 195,479.

8) is another rental property platform and apartment search engine.

Its focus is rather on millennials, and it was founded in 1999 as

The monthly website traffic is 9,780,000.

I also requested the inventory size from the provider without a response yet.

9) Airbnb

This one is a well-known rental property marketplace specializing in vacation rentals.

Its specialty is to help property owners or people with access to a property who Airbnb calls “hosts” to share their places with “guests.”

Airbnb’s monthly traffic volume is 58,340,000, and the overall inventory size is 4,400,000.

10) is an online apartment listing website with several other rental property websites as part of its networks, such as,,,,,,,, and

The monthly traffic volume of is 38,620,000, and its inventory size is 120,049.

11) Nextdoor

Nextdoor’s focus is not just an apartment rental platform but a facilitator to connect neighbors and everything else in the neighborhood.

So, apartment rentals are just one of many things you will find on that platform.

The monthly traffic volume is 121,210,000, and the inventory size is undisclosed.

I requested it from the provider, but the response is still pending.

Although the monthly traffic is 121,210,000, you will have to consider that you not only share this traffic with others offering rental properties but other items, services, etc., from the respective neighborhood.

While this is not direct competition, it’s the same traffic you will have to share.

12) Walkscore

I find quite inspiring the concept of walkability score.

This rental property website provides potential tenants with the classic search function and a particular colored map overlay for the area they are searching.

The different areas are rated in terms of walkability score.

Having the green color means being close to or at a 100 walkability score, and being in the red color range means coming close to a 0 walkability score.

Walkscore is part of Redfin and has a monthly traffic volume of 928,420.

I also requested the inventory size from the provider with a pending reply.

The data generated by Walkscore can also be used on other websites to further promote certain neighborhoods and properties.

For that, they offer a widget you can include on your website.

Now, let’s analyze the portals regarding their traffic. 

To do that, I analyzed them with a reasonably accurate tool called 

This tool can analyze the monthly traffic of a webpage.

Where this tool couldn’t be applied, I used secondary data from further research on the web.

So, after having this traffic data, we can just compare the monthly traffic of the different websites and sort out the best one with the most traffic. Right?

Well, not so fast. 

There is also a second step involved. 

You also need to consider the competing rental properties you will be up against and with which you will be sharing the overall monthly traffic. 

So, we need to determine what average monthly traffic one rental property listing will get. 


Because if you know this number, you can apply a certain conversion rate and estimate the number of leads the particular platform may generate for you. 

And if monthly costs are involved, you can also determine your cost per lead or acquisition.

You will find below-average numbers, so they need to be taken with a grain of salt. 

This is because, in some geographic areas, you might have fewer competing rental properties and thus get more overall traffic per listing.

In contrast, this competition could be much higher than the average in other areas, and you will get less traffic per property.

Or the demand in certain areas will give certain sections of an apartment rental website above-average traffic.

On another side note, before I present you with the results, not all of the above rental property portals reasonably disclosed their inventory size, so I could use it in my calculation.

From some, I could get the inventory size at once (disclosed on their web pages), or at least check each geographic area one by one (kind of laborious work) and sum up the total number of listings.

And here are my results, also including pricing information:

Website/ PortalPricingTraffic per MonthInventory SizeTraffic per Rental per Month
Zillow Rental ManagerFirst posting for the year free, then $9.99/ week256,660,00054,7094,691
Realtor.comCommission based136,570,000202,012676
Apartments.comListing free, advertising from $50 per month38,620,000120,049321.7
Hotpads (is actuall part of Zillow Group)First posting for the year free, then $9.99/ week7,160,000202,76535.3
AirbnbListing free, service Fee from 3%58,340,0004,400,00013.3
ApartmentListProvider reply pending4,800,000624,4327.7
Sublet.comFrom $14.99 for 90 days, depends on location417,11059,3477
Padmapper/ Zumper ProFree for one rental property, commission based, inventory information pending.707,130195,4793.6
Trulia$29 per month53,600,00054,709,0001
Live LovelyProvider reply pendingn.a.Provider reply pendingn.a.
Rent.comListing free, advertising $80 per Month9,780,000Provider reply pendingn.a.
Rentals.comProvider reply pending2,330,000Provider reply pendingn.a.
Rentdigs$0697,870Provider reply pendingn.a.
ApartmentFinder by Apartments.comListing free, advertising from $50 per month4,190,000Provider reply pendingn.a. by Apartments.comListing free, advertising from $50 per month1,530,000Provider reply pendingn.a. by Apartments.comListing free, advertising from $50 per month150,990Provider reply pendingn.a.
NextdoorListing free, advertising fee-based, costs undisclosed121,210,000Provider reply pendingn.a.
WalkScore (part of Redfin)Free for basic listing, from $100 per month for 5000 views per day928,420Provider reply pendingn.a.

So, from the available data, we can make out two winners in terms of best when it comes to traffic per rental property listing.

In the free category, the winner is Craigslist, with average monthly traffic of 234.3 page views per listing.

Zillow’s Rental Manager is the winner in the partially free category, with 4691.4 page views per listing per month. 


Now that you know about the whole range of different marketing channels, I wanted to remind you of the infographic from above and that just picking one without considering the other factors (e.g., your goals, constraints, etc.) isn’t wise.

You can do the one without the others with high odds of success.

This leads me to….


4) Assess Your Goals and Resources (Constraints)

Picture assessing your goals and constraints as a journey, your personal real estate odyssey. 

Just like any journey, there are some vital things you’ll need to consider. 

Think of these as your travel companions – your gross commission, brokerage commission split, income tax rate, and average income from each apartment deal you seal. 

With these pals by your side, you’ll be able to figure out how many successful closings you’ll need each year, and even each month, to reach your starry goal.

But the journey doesn’t stop here, does it? 

You’ll need to set your timeline. When do you want to reach this net commission milestone? In a year, two years, or maybe three? 

The answer might surprise you, as it can rule out some of your marketing channels immediately.

Imagine feeling spry and wanting to sprint towards your net commission goal within 12 months. 

But you’re also contemplating content marketing, also known as inbound marketing. 

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s akin to trying to win a marathon on a Pogo stick. 

It’s fun, sure, but it’s likely to take you longer than 12 months to see results, even if you’re pretty experienced.

Next, you’ll want to consider your monthly marketing budget. 

Knowing this and the average cost per lead is like having a map for your journey. 

It helps you figure out if you can drum up the necessary monthly leads to reach your annual net commission goal and whether your timeline is realistic in the first place.

And what about your “sweat-equity” budget? 

This is when you’re willing to invest in lead generation methods that may not cost money but do cost something potentially even more valuable – your time. 

Your monthly budget isn’t exactly overflowing? 

In that case, the answer to this question will determine if you can generate the needed monthly or yearly leads within your desired timeframe.

The next question you need to ask is how well you know your ideal real estate clients or target audience

Also, whether you need more apartment buyer, seller, rental leads, or all three equally? 

This depends on your real estate niche and the USP I discussed earlier.

The answer to this question determines which marketing channels you should use to target the particular apartment buyer, seller, and/or rental prospects. 

Finally, what is your advertising or lead generation skill level for each potential marketing channel?

For instance, if you are highly skilled and have already experience with one or more, it can shorten the lead time to get to a reliable lead-producing apartment advertising campaign.

Picture you cooking for the first time vs. the master chef in your family knowing a receipt by memory or improvising something within twenty minutes with remaining ingredients from your fridge.


5) Improve Your Apartment Advertising Conversion Rates

Traffic is not everything we need to analyze when finding ways for apartment advertising.

We also need to consider what influences your apartment ad’s conversion rate.

Because the higher your conversion rate, the more you get for your hard-earned advertising dollars.

So, what is it?

It’s applying copywriting principles and the benefits of your offer (your apartment). 

The two are connected because without knowing the benefits of your offer and who (the type of tenants) may benefit from them, you won’t be able to write a good ad copy.

So, we need to prepare before we write the ad copy.

You will first need to do the following:

  • Collect or research your potential tenants’ buyers’ or sellers’ needs, wants, motivations, and desires.
  • Research also the pain, hurts, and problems.
  • Collect the benefits and features of the respective apartment rental and ask yourself how they align with the first two points.

Some features and benefits for potential buyers are, for example:

  • A convenient location (e.g., walkability, close to amenities)
  • New appliances and/or energy-star-rated appliances
  • Oversized suite
  • Open concept
  • Modern design
  • A contemporary kitchen with granite countertops
  • Parking
  • Nearby highway access
  • Lots of natural light
  • Panoramic views or a nice view
  • Air conditioning
  • Affordable rent
  • Friendly neighborhood

This is the rough overview of things you can do first.

There is much more to it, persuasion and psychological wise. 

Some of it I already covered in my article about how to market a unique property and my real estate copywriting article.

Further information you also may want to think about is the following:

  • The rent and security deposit
  • When will the apartment be available
  • Which utilities are included
  • The tenant screening process
  • Your pet policy
  • Your contact information

Once you have done the preparation, we can start writing the ad copy using elements of the well-known copywriting formula AIDA (Attention, Interest/Problem, Desire, Action).

For a high-converting rental apartment ad, the anatomy of applying the AIDA principle in a variation would be this:

  • An attention-grabbing headline (Attention/Hook) and/ or high-quality visuals such as photographs, virtual tours, and floor plans.
  • Describe the “dream” of living in the apartment and neighborhood and contrast it with the problems you might have found during your research about your type of tenant (Interest/Problem).
  • Adding a differentiator (Interest/Problem): How do your offer and yourself compare to other competing apartment rentals or your overall competition (think USP again)?
  • Describe your offer and how it solves the respective problem of your potential tenants (Desire).
  • Motivate them to act and contact you for an appointment, which is the call to action (Action)


6) Apartment Advertising Reputation Management (More Relevant to Developers and Investors)

Reputation management is more relevant to developers and buy-and-hold investors regarding advertising apartments since they are usually “stuck” with the same “product” (e.g., the apartment complex) long term.

But this doesn’t mean that realtors shouldn’t do reputation management.

Then why reputation management?

Reputation directly impacts a potential renter’s or buyer’s decision. 

A well-managed reputation can make your apartment property the most sought-after place to live, while a poorly managed one can leave your listings gathering dust.

And this is what you can do to manage your reputation in apartment advertising…

  • Ensure your advertising reflects your property accurately and positively, making sure all information is correct and images are high quality.
  • Encourage satisfied tenants or buyers to leave positive reviews and handle any negative reviews professionally and promptly. Show your prospects that you care about your tenants or buyer and that their satisfaction is your priority.
  • Regularly posting, responding to comments, and sharing behind-the-scenes looks on social media can all help craft a positive image of your brand.
  • Be upfront about your properties, fees, and processes. An authentic and transparent approach not only builds trust but also helps to avoid any negative reviews due to misunderstandings or unmet expectations.
  • You want to maintain a high level of professionalism in all interactions. This includes everything from responding to inquiries promptly to resolving disputes effectively.

7) Apartment Advertising Performance Tracking and Analytics

Finally, the last section of this long article: apartment advertising performance tracking and analytics.

As you may know already, I like the data-driven approach in marketing, and not tracking your apartment advertisement campaign(s) is like cooking a recipe without tasting it along the way.

So by measuring your campaign’s success or “failure,” you can understand what’s working and what’s not and adjust your strategy accordingly.

You want to track marketing KPIs relevant to apartment advertising, such as the number of inquiries or form submissions (number of leads), website traffic, conversion rates, cost per lead, and return on ad spend.

You can use tools such as Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, and others to do that.

Of course, to steadily improve your campaign(s)’ conversion rates, you must do A/B or split testing.

This involves tweaking one element of your ad, lead capture forms, landing pages, etc., to create two slightly different versions and see which performs better. 

Unfortunately, like advertising other products and services, apartment advertising is not a set-and-forget thing. It’s an ongoing process. 

Regular monitoring allows you to spot trends, catch any issues early, and pivot if necessary. 

The data guides you, so be flexible and willing to make changes based on what it tells you.

This article has been reviewed by our editorial team. It has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.