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Marketing Your Business on Craigslist

From e-commerce websites to furniture wholesalers, small businesses both online and off are realizing the marketing power of Craigslist.org. Founded in 1996 by Craig Newmark, Craigslist.org gets an estimated 10 million unique visitors per day. With an online classified ads format organized by either region or city, Craigslist connects buyers and sellers in more than 300 communities; for the most part, posting on the site is free.


If you've never heard of Craigslist or never considered using the site to market your business, the following tips will help you determine whether it might be a good fit for you and offer another outlet for marketing your products and services.


What Sells Best on Craigslist
From services like tutoring, car repair and real estate to products such as wholesale furniture, consignment goods and retail e-commerce, Craigslist is the ultimate destination for online marketers. If you manufacture goods, provide services directly or sell products regionally, Craigslist is a marketing tool you should consider. You can also easily promote an eBay store, a franchise operation or a referral partner. And it's a bourgeoning business opportunity for affiliates and webmasters looking for new ways to find customers.


Identifying Your Market
Like any other advertising medium, Craigslist requires some strategy, though paramount to its usefulness is simplicity. To start, you need to determine which city or cities you're going to post an ad. If you're a service provider, you can identify available cities on Craigslist that encompass your service region. Keep in mind that some regions overlap. For instance, if you're a mobile groomer working in Orange County, California, but service from Los Angeles to San Diego, Craigslist reaches your service area across four cities. So you'd want to develop your messaging and a posting schedule in each of these regions to increase your exposure. If you sell a product or offer a service nationwide, the opportunity to reach new customers is even greater.


Posting on Craigslist, either nationally or locally, requires an understanding of the rules. Craigslist has in place--a set of rules that prohibits advertisers from over-posting or spamming users. You can follow these rules and still get excellent exposure. To start, develop unique ads for each city you post in, focus on specific products and rotate them on a promotional schedule. Never post the exact same ad within 48 hours, and be careful to delete your old ad. Craigslist users are quick to spot businesses that misuse the system and can be quite unforgiving. The Craigslist flagging system puts the power of spam control into the hands of the users.


Building Ads
Building an ad on Craigslist can be as simple as typing in some text, or you can incorporate html and images. Typically, what works best is the direct approach. For instance, if you're a real estate agent using Craigslist to promote properties for sale, build a text ad that incorporates images of the properties for sale--you don't need to know html to do this. Simply define what property specifications best sell the property and keep the sales pitch to a minimum. Be sure to include important search words, such as "three bedroom" or "condominium," as well as regional identifiers including a ZIP code, city or community name. You do this so that people who search for specific items find you in the search results.


Craigslist's search function isn't based on a search algorithm; instead, search results are displayed first by date, then by keyword. This makes the text content of your ad extremely important. Ads with images only increase ad effectiveness. And adding images to your ad isn't difficult. If you're not web savvy, use the "upload image" function available during the posting process. (If you want to feature a large image or more than one, you'll need to upload your images to your own web server and reference them inside your ad using basic html.) Images, however, are not required. Often the best performing ads on Craigslist are simple text ads that get straight to the point.


Tracking Results
If you plan to post in multiple cities and offer specific promotions, tracking which ads produce the best results is important. You can track a Craigslist ad by e-mail, phone number or website referral. Each tracking mechanism should feature a unique component like a custom e-mail address, telephone extension or website referral code. How you choose to track should depend on your industry and the typical methods customer use to communicate with you. Unlike eBay, Craigslist does not provide you with any demographic or tracking data.


Regardless of whether you sell a product or service, it's important to understand the competitive landscape on a daily or weekly basis. Supply and demand for certain products or services will fluctuate. Take the time to get to know the other players in your cities or categories. If you see a rush on a certain product, focus on something complimentary. For instance, if you're a mattress wholesaler and see that a large number of a specific brand and/or size mattresses are flooding your market, either price match or focus your energy on a different size or bed frame until the market stabilizes. Also, take into consideration the season and the demographic (both income and recreational) of the cities in which you post. In the winter, a snowmobile will not sell nearly as well in California as it will in Vermont.


Community Commitment
As an open market, Craigslist welcomes sellers from all walks of life. Keep in mind that as a business owner, you're just as likely to compete with everyday people selling the contents of their attic as you are a national brand retailer with sights on breaking into your market. The community element sets Craigslist apart from its competitors. Harness the power of your community by doing more than just posting. The most trafficked area of Craigslist is the forums. Use the forums to communicate with fellow sellers and potential buyers or to establish an active, ethical voice for your business.


Selling Safely
Fraud exists in every corner of the business world, both online and offline. The anonymous nature of Craigslist--the very thing that makes it so popular--is also the reason you should take measures to protect yourself against fraud. With no member or seller ratings system, Craigslist can fall prey to scam artists. Make an effort to talk to each new customer via phone, only ship items once payment is received, and always use your best judgment when it comes to business transactions.


Craigslist continues to experience rapid growth--additional cities have come online in recent months and more are expected to launch throughout the next year. The buzz about this great resource is sweeping the nation, and every day people from all over the world are visiting the site, looking to buy from trusted sellers and service providers. Get in on the action by harnessing the marketing power of Craigslist.





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10 Tips For Effective Craigslist Marketing

It’s not very often that powerful marketing tools are offered to the masses for free. Whether you are looking to sell a vehicle, real estate or furniture or offer cleaning or childcare services, Craigslist is an extremely valuable marketing platform that should be included in your digital marketing campaign.


For those of you who aren’t aware of the power of this highly trafficked site, consider that 60 million Americans use Craigslist each month, and that the site ranks in the top 50 of most visited sites worldwide (comScore).


Convinced you should be using CL to market your business or product? Then read our top tips for effective Craigslist marketing below so you can begin posting ads for your offer today!


  1. Catchy Title – The title of your post is undoubtedly the most important component of your ad. Be clear and descriptive when including price and key details of your product or service, and avoid using too many characters, exclamation points or anything that might seem ‘spammy.’
  2. Keyword Rich Text – Most users filter before searching, making keywords very important. Keywords should be used throughout the title and body of your ad.
  3. Keep It Simple – Craigslist sees heavy HTML code as a sign of spam or fraudulent post. Keep your ad mostly text based, with simple code only and working in creative bolding.
  4. Include Pictures – While Craigslist users prefer text ads, they also love pictures. Many times, visitors will use the filter to exclude posts without images. Use the photo uploader provided by the site, or upload images to your own site and embed (This is also useful for getting your images above the fold.)
  5. Include A Link – Somewhere in the text of your ad include a link to your website. This link should not go to your homepage instead link directly to a specific product page.
  6. Post Often – It has become widely accepted Craigslist practice to post and re-post often – in extreme cases multiple times daily in order to say on the first page of results. Be Warned: Craigslist’s policy states that the same ad may not be re-posted within a 48-hour window. If you do so your ad will not show within search results – known as ‘ghosting.’
  7. Delete Old Ads – Once 48 hours has passed, you may post a similar ad, but remember to delete your previous post to avoid being flagged for removal.
  8. Use Varied Ads – To avoid being marked as spam and flagged for removal it is helpful to use varied ads. Do not use duplicate content, switch up the title, etc. It’s helpful to have multiple variations of your ad ready in advance, which will make posting throughout the week a very simple and efficient process.
  9. Track Results – Keep track of which versions of your ads are getting more clicks. There are many Craigslist tracking services, but the most popular tracking service is Craiglist Ad Tracker, which offers free and premium account options.
  10. Test – Use A/B testing to create the best possible performing ad. To get started, post an ad for your product/service and track the results over a given period of time. When you’re ready to re-post the ad, make sure this newer version incorporates a few subtle changes (e.g. tweak only the title or one component of the ad), keeping the rest of the ad as similar to the original version as possible. Once posted, be sure to track the results over a specific time period, and then compare the results of the new version to the results of your original to determine which one generated more click-throughs to your website and ultimately more inquiries.


With a little preparation and a consistent posting and testing strategy, Craigslist can be an effective source of clicks and leads for your business at little or no cost.

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Craigslist Job Posting

Posting job ads to Craigslist can be tough

It can be hard to get noticed by the right job seeker, even while you get a flood of the wrong ones. But it can't be ignored. Craigslist is one of the most popular job boards in the world - for many positions it's the go-to job site to get your role in front of applicants, and it's inexpensive in most markets. 


To help you take advantage of this powerful channel for broadcasting your job openings, I'll show you how to post a job on Craigslist that gets people's attention, with step-by-step job listing instructions, and a quick tip for cutting through a flood of applications


For most job boards, having a paid job ad means your you'll get more exposure, with your listing appearing above free ads. 


Craigslist used to be a free job board in many locations, mostly smaller towns and sparsely populated regions. The last time we checked though, you'll nee to pay for a listing just about anywhere you post a job in the United States these days. 


The nice advantage of paying is that it allows you to post job openings using HTML, which gives you some nice formatting options. Free ads didn't allow this. We'll go into using HTML in-depth below. 


Craigslist unfortunately seems to be in a never ending war with spammers and people trying to promote job scams. Because of this they have fairly strict limits on how often you can post.


If you research their posting limits on Google, you'll find lots of people in forums trying to figure out why they've crossed the posting limit for their account. 


Craigslist may have some special rules that apply if they suspect you of being a spammer, but the general rule, according to Craigslist itself, is that you can post to one category and in one city once every 48 hours.


They also note that, if you're trying to post something similar to an active post, you may get a blocked message. Craigslist says removing the similar active post should help, unless it is less than 48 hours old.


Generally, if you want to avoid being labeled as job spam, employers should include as much detail as possible about the position. If it's an online job this is especially important. Being specific about compensation is also helpful.

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