51

Using Craigslist to Generate Business

Perhaps you used it to sell that refrigerator you no longer need or to find a new apartment; whatever your need may be, you’re almost guaranteed to find what you need on Craigslist. How about a writing gig or a part time job at a small, local restaurant? Once again, Craigslist comes through. With such simplicity and versatility, Craigslist presents to consumers and sellers alike a marketplace conducive to an array of products and services. Bearing this in mind, why not utilize such a platform to advertise your business? With a proper grasp on demographics and targeted marketing, procedures in appropriately creating a Craigslist ad, and tracking methods to determine posting effectiveness, Craigslist can be a valuable asset to your company’s business development.

Demographics and targeted marketing
Do your services cover just a small locality, a large metropolitan area, or an entire national region? Craigslist regulates mass advertising efforts by limiting posting to only one city or region. If posting in Eastern Massachusetts, for instance, you’d have to determine your service area and see which Craigslist provided geographic region encompasses your city. Regardless of this limitation, you can still target other cities or geographic areas; however, you’ll need to identify your market in these areas and create multiple ads that specifically target them. In doing so, you create ads that are discernibly different and won’t fall prey to accusations of posting identical/similar content to multiple cities/regions. Just be sure to allow at least 48 hours between posts in any location (Craigslist mandate on posting same/similar website content) and remove your old posting. Basically, you’re creating an advertising cycle to maximize exposure of your material.

Also, you must consider to which category your business is posted. Chances are, even the small business that provides tangible goods won’t be posting products in the “items for sale” section; therefore, you’ll be utilizing the categories in the “services” section. For instance, instead of posting a general ad for your real estate services in the “housing” section, it should be appropriately listed as a real estate service. Be aware that you can’t post to multiple categories, so use prudent judgement in your selection.

Creating a Craigslist ad
Craigslist’s very openness presents a harder-to-control infiltration of spam or false advertising, so take care to ensure viewers will readily recognize your postings to be legitimate. Flashy advertisements, absurdly good prices/package deals, all capital letters, excessive use of exclamation points, and poor grammar are among some tell-tale signs that an ad might be too good to be true. In general, avoid this by employing professionalism in your design tactics.

Where simple text advertisements may convey the necessary information, HTML formatting allows for an eye-catching, aesthetically pleasing document with flexibility in image size. Moreover, HTML formatting allows for the use of tracking of views (I’ll discuss this later).

To optimize search results, know that Craigslist search results are dependent entirely on title content and posting date; thus, it’s highly important to use keyword-laden titles and cycle your posts as frequently as allowed.

Tracking
Tracking views is a powerful means of verifying or disproving advertisement effectiveness and whether or not the region to which you’re posting is populated with prospective clients. Since Craigslist does not offer visitor tracking, the best way to achieve this is by using an HTML formatted posting and a visitor analytics service. The service will provide a tracking code, which you will post directly into the HTML coding of the advertisement.