How To Write Winning Craigslist Ads

Craigslist is steadily becoming a go-to resource for prospects who are looking for apartments. For one of my clients it’s the #2 source for all of their traffic beating out most of their paid Internet Listing Sources! This was not the case a few years ago when they were trying to capture qualified traffic. Craigslist has recently changed their terms of use to not allowing advertisers to use automated posting tools, the use of HTML templates, and using hyperlinks as a way for advertisers to attract potential prospects. So how can you promote your property and still stay within Craigslist regulations? I’m glad you asked! Here’s the list:

1. Create a library of ready-made ads that you can customize. You can create these in a Word document. Just customize the information to the apartment that you’re advertising.

2. Create eye-catching headlines as this is what catches a prospect’s attention to click on your ad. This is your only chance to stand out from the rest of the headlines.

  • Add in a concession (if you’re offering one)
  • Highlight 1 or 2 key features/amenities
  • Mention how close the property is from local hot spots or well-known area conveniences (such as major highways, businesses, shopping, etc.).

TIP: You can also create a headline that poses a question to the user: “Want Everything? We’ve Got It! W/D, Pool, Gym, Close to I-95 & More!”

3. Be attractive by adding high-quality, professional photos of your property, esp. the kitchen, bedroom, fitness center or swimming pool, and a photo of a key feature in the local area (Metro sign, local hotspot or eatery, or a shopping plaza). Most users won’t click on an ad headline that does not have “pic” next to it.

4. Less is more, so don’t post ads that are too copy-heavy. Sticking with a format of bulleted points or numbers that list 5-7 key features that set you apart from your competitors, and contact information with professional photos will make it easier for the user to read.

5. Create as many unique ads as you can to help prevent flagging. Change the tagline, switch up the copy, and add in new pictures. Have some variation in how the copy is formatted, such as using bullets, numbering, italics or bold text to customize the ads.

TIP: Craigslist only supports a limited list of HTML for postings. See the list here: http://www.craigslist.org/about/help/html_in_craigslist_postings/

6. Stay away from live links. Craigslist no longer allows hyperlinks to be placed within ads. Instead of using a hyperlink, instruct the user to copy and paste your website address so that they can visit your website for more information.

7. Know when to post! You have to think like a prospect, so when are they most likely to go on Craigslist and view ads? The best times to post on the weekdays are:

  • Before work hours (8 a.m. to 9 a.m.)
  • During lunch break (12 p.m. to 1 p.m.)
  • After work (5 p.m. to 6 p.m.).
  • Weekends are the best time to post!

8. Look at what your competitors are posting. This will give you an idea about how to make your ads more effective to appeal to prospects.

TIP: Look for certain keywords that are being used by your competitor and be sure to include these in your listing. Keywords such as “commute”, “pet-friendly” or “large dogs”, “city” or “urban” can be used to enhance your posting views because these are keywords that prospect’s typically use in their search.

9. Once an ad is posted and you want to post it again a few days later, always renew the listing in your Craigslist account rather than reposting it.

TIP: Renewing an ad will prevent it from getting ghosted because a renewed ad is not considered a duplicate ad by Craigslist.

10. Post no more than 3 to 4 times each day and at various times throughout the day to prevent ghosting and flagging.

Are You Blogging?

It is becoming more and more clear that your property website is your most valuable marketing source.  When a prospect goes to your website, they want to know more about your property and they want to see if your property is a good fit for them.  There is constant chatter among the web community stating that websites should have fresh and relevant content.  But, how do you do that if your website hasn’t been updated in a week, month or year?  What can you do to start adding fresh content to your property website? Start Blogging!

What is a blog?

A blog is a place on your website that allows you to post your thoughts, events, news and just about anything.  Every time you create a new blog post, a new page with fresh content is added to your website.

How to use your blog?

You can use your property blog many ways to reach your prospects and residents.  Things you can post about include specials, upcoming events, and news about the neighborhood.  While posting things about your property gives your property a voice, don’t forget about your prospects and residents.  Allow them to have a voice too and create a conversation by posting questions, polls or having contests.

Why is having a blog beneficial?

  1. Blogs drive traffic to your website.  When you create a new blog post, you can easily share the post on all of your social media sites.  Also, search engines look for relevant content when displaying search results.  Increase your rank on search engines by having relevant and fresh content on your website.
  2. Having a blog shows your prospects and residents that your property wants to share information with them. This gives your prospects and residents a reason to come back to the website and share with their friends and family.

Give your property a voice and start a Blog today!