ADOTAS – For many industries like retail, auto, and multifamily, advertising on Craigslist is a must-do. That’s because this classifieds site provided a free, robust way to get the word out to local users about your products and services.
Up until now, Craigslist provided marketers with a way to upload extensive HTML listings, complete with multiple images and hyperlinks. But recently, Craigslist implemented some rule changes to ensure the site’s content stays true its original purpose of serving the needs of individuals using the site. For those companies where Craigslist is just one of many marketing channels they use to reach prospects, these changes to the Craigslist rules are not that disruptive. However, for those that relied heavily on this online classified provider, these changes have probably had a significant impact to their lead generation efforts.
Here’s an overview of the changes to Craigslist’s posting rules for marketers and how to get the most out of them for your business.
1. Create A Great Listing Without HTML. In an effort to keep postings consistent for all posters, including businesses, Craigslist removed the ability to use HTML templates, logos, image tags, and hyperlinks. As a result, the amount of and kinds of information you can place in your ads is much narrower now than it used to be. This means you need to be particularly strategic about what you’re posting. Make sure to optimize your posting with keyword-rich content that will show up when people search for what you’re selling, and be sure to include a call to action and phone number so people seeing your ad will contact you. Using a tracking phone number is an easy way to then track the calls that come from your Craigslist ad.
When it comes to formatting your ad, you are limited with what you can do, but there are a few tricks you can use. You can easily bold or italicize important terms like your property name or location. It’s also important to use short paragraphs and bulleted lists for easy scanning. And, even though the ability to hyperlink terms and images, you can still include full URLs (with http://) that link back to your website, blog, or other site.
2. Choose the Best Images to Convey Your Brand. Craigslist ads still allow you to upload up to twelve images, although you must now use their tool to do so. So it is extremely important to use quality images of your products and services, since pictures will serve as the focal point of the updated listings. First, be selective about what photos you want to take to promote your business. Then, if you have a professional camera or photographer – use them! But if not, that’s okay! You can get some great images using just your smartphone. Make sure you consider lighting and setting, and keep the camera steady so your pictures come out sharp. Plus, you can take advantage of basic photo editing software to fine-tune your pictures before sharing them on your listing.
3. Promote Your Listings on Social Media. An easy and cost-effective way to promote your Craigslist listings is using your business social media pages. Posting a link to your listing along with a compelling image can drive organic clicks from your fans and followers and drive shares to people who may be outside of your existing fan base. You can also considering promoting important content, like a new location or product launch, using Facebook advertising that is targeted to a specific audience of people who are most likely to be interested in your business. For instance, if you’re opening a new apartment complex, you can target your ad to people based on their current location, age, marital status, and interests based on the types of residents that you want. This is a great way to increase engagement and interest for your products and services and drive visits back to your Craigslist listing.
4. Focus More Effort on Your Business Website. Now that Craigslist postings contain a limited amount and type of information, it’s even more important than ever to drive prospects to a professional, informative website that features the products and services you’re promoting. Your website should immediately showcase your key products and services and a compelling value proposition that keeps visitors interested. Plus, it should be mobile-friendly and optimized for conversions, with a prominent call to action and phone number so prospects can easily contact you, no matter how they find your site. Despite the importance of these elements, Online Marketing Institute indicates that 50% of potential sales are lost because consumers can’t find the information they are looking for on a business’ website!
5. Diversify Your Marketing Tactics. Now that Craigslist ads are much leaner, prospects will have to do additional online research to learn about your business. The best way to get your property seen when prospective residents search is a comprehensive approach that includes paid search advertising, search engine optimization, and optimized local listings and review sites so that prospects can discover you in the search engine results. Plus, it’s important to supplement your search marketing efforts with online display and retargeting ads that build your brand and drive even more visits to your website.
Overall, these changes illustrate an important lesson for all online marketers: don’t just rely on one marketing tactic to bring you leads. A diversified marketing approach that addresses the many different ways that prospects look for your types of products and services is the best way to ensure they find you and take the next step to becoming a customer.