The Ultimate Craigslist Posting Strategy
Lately I’ve been studying testing and implementing the best tactics for Craigslist posting. I’ve been experimenting for over 4 months now, and I’ve gotten measurably better responses (ad views and click-throughs to my website) by using the strategies outlined below, and for the first time ever, I’m sharing them with you.
Tip 1) Don’t Blend In.
Your first goal on Craigslist is to not get lost in the crowd. To view your ad, visitors have to find your title in the category page, which is easier said than done these days.
- Include the keywords for whatever you’re listing in the title. This way, users can search ‘titles only’ and still have your listing come up. Avoid the obscurity and confusion by being clear and upfront with your audience.
- Use a special character or six to help your title stand out. In addition to the asterisk (*) I recommend using a limited set of alt characters to attract eyes to your post. For example, a pair of right arrows ►►, diamonds ♦♦, or stars ★★ before a key word in your post can really do wonders to draw eyes. You can use these characters in your ad by copy-pasting them.
- Never use low-credibility words. Craigslist readers are smart skeptics who don’t fall for dollar signs $$$ or ALL CAPS, and tend to not be enticed by the word ‘Free.’ Anything that seems too good to be true or smells like a dairy (cheesy or B.S.) won’t get a great response. Craigslisters are bargain hunters, though and are interested in limited-time discounts.
- Use the appropriate verbiage. If you’re posting in the real estate section, it’s okay to use industry terms like ‘W/D’ for washer/dryer or ‘A Space’ to describe the building class. I’ve found it’s not okay to use terms like ‘ROI’ (for Return on Investment) in the computer and creative section since most viewers in these sections don’t have a basis for this term. I used ‘Increase Sales’ or ‘Get more Customers’ with better results.
- See our post on Craigslist Title Writing for more details.
Tip 2) Post When Your Audience is Looking.
Anyone who’s spent more than 5 minutes on Craigslist understands that newer posts are always located at the top. Your goal as a poster is to be near the top when your audience is browsing. This is especially important for sections that receive hundreds of posts per day, and less important for those that receive only a handful.
- If you’re targeting consumers with a day job, post right before lunch or right before quitting time. Most people are hard at work until 11:30 or noon, but when lunch rolls around, they’re on their own time, and much more likely to browse Craigslist than during work hours.
- Post your B2B service around 10am and 1:30pm. Since I advertise web design services, I know my audience gets to work in the morning, gets through their emails and messages, and finally gets settled to look for my services around 10. Right after lunch, it’s the same routine.
Tip 3) Create an Appealing Ad.
Once your target has clicked on your ad title, the battle has just begun. You have to convince him or her that they need to take the next step.
- Present a visually stimulating layout.Craigslist is covered with plain ads formatted using the default settings (Times New Roman font, text spanning the entire width of the window, and a meager – at best – photo gallery feature). By using colorful (but not obnoxious) graphics and formatting, you can make your ad appear to be more worthwhile. Since you’ve invested more time into making a great ad, your viewerwill spend more time reading it. Craigslist only allows some of the basic HTML elements to help you arrange your ad, but with a little skill and patience (or by hiring someone else to do it), you can have a stellar design that appeals to your target.
- Don’t go for the hard sell. I know you want to close your visitors by giving them all the best reasons to buy from you, translating features to benefits, handling objections, and closing all along the way, but DON’T. The typical Craigslist viewer isn’t looking for Pushy Joe to tell them what they need. I’ve had success summarizing a few benefits, showing my past work (on-page images of my latest completed websites), and putting my contact information on the page.
- Back up your title in your ad. Follow the lead of your title. If a visitor clicked the title, they want more of the same. Don’t surprise them – they spook easy. Expand on your title and provide a call to action so they know where to go from there.
Tip 4) Run Multiple Ads.
There is always more to be gained by increasing your exposure. Craigslist has devices in place to make sure you don’t over-post (account posting limits, duplicate content algorithms, telephone verification), but you should take advantage of every opportunity to run an ad.
- Focus each ad on a single item or niche. Don’t use one post to describe everything you do – break it into categories. I used to have an ad that read: “Web Design, Graphic Design, SEO, and Internet Marketing.” Now I run 4 different ads (one for each service area), and I can target each one a lot better. Guess what… you get more views this way too.
- Write 3 slightly different ad variations so you can post daily. Craigslist limits a single ad to one post every 3 days. Instead of only advertising twice a week, create two additional ads with the same offering that are different enough to not be called ‘similar’ by their ad-checking scripts. This also allows you to test which verbiage works better with your audience. For example, if your second ad variation tends to get more attention, figure out what is special about it, and use that to mold your two other ad variations, in hopes of improving their conversion rates.
Tip 5) Measure, Analyze, Adjust, Repeat!
To gauge the effectiveness of your ad, you HAVE to track it. I signed up for a free analytics account at getclicky.com which allows me to put a tiny image in the bottom of every ad, which effectively lets me see how many people viewed my ad. This measures how effective your title is.
The links on my ad all go to my website, which has Google Analytics installed (also a free service). I can see how much traffic I get from each ad, and the quality of that traffic (based on bounce rate, page views, time on site, etc.) . Then, I combine the data from my Craigslist account (which has my posting titles) with data from GetClicky (which tracks the number of views each title gets) and combine those with data from Google Analytics (which tells me which ads got visitors to my website) in a spreadsheet and run the numbers.
From this data, I can see if an ad gets 40 views but only 2 clicks to my website, I have a good title (depending on the category) but the ad needs quite a bit of work. By using this method to measure, analyze, and adjust my ads, I have optimized my Craigslist campaign! Now it’s your turn!
If you enjoyed this article, please share it on your social network using the buttons below!