Advertise Your Business On Craigslist – 10 Tips For Generating Results

by Josh Grillo

Last year I was contracted by a large company to manage all their Craigslist postings for their local business. 8,680 posts later it has become one of our top lead sources.

I attribute that to several factors: constantly testing headlines, descriptions, offers and different style of ads.

The Craigslist posting process is pretty straightforward and easy. It’s a text-based site based off classified style ads, so even if you’re not a techy person, you can do this.

So, Is Craigslist right for your business?

Yes, it is. Let me show you why it’s right for you:

  • Craigslist is a Google in its own right. It’s the 10th most visited site on the Internet, according to Alexa.com.
  • Craigslist posts show up in Google search results.
  • I’ve found that only a handful of businesses are using Craigslist. This means there’s an opportunity for you.
  • Businesses typically post poor quality ads.
  • It’s FREE and easy to use. And since it’s free, there is no cost to you to test it out for your business.

Based off my experience, I put together 10 steps that will help you get results on Craigslist.

10 Tips for Generating Results on Craigslist

1. It’s All in the Title:
It’s kind of like the yellow pages: you are sharing space with everyone else on the page; therefore you have to make your title stand out and get clicked on. Here’s what you need to do:

→ Have fun with your title, make it different, and make it stand out. Also, try to keep the title benefit driven, if you can. For example, some of my top converting headlines:

Happy Days Are Here Again
Hot Summer Specials Have Arrived
You’ll Say Yes To This Deal

→ Next, you want to capitalize all the letters in your title:

HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN

→ Finally, you want to add icons and make sure you use up the entire character length Craigslist allows for a title:

►►►HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN►►►
☀☀HOT SUMMER SPECIALS ARE HERE☀☀

2. Keep the Text in the Body of Your Ad Tightly Aligned:
I tested writing ads that go across the entire page vs. ads that are perfectly aligned top to bottom with only a few words per line. Short, tight ads converted better. You want to keep each line of text to 8 words or less. This makes it very easy for the Craigslist reader to scan your ad, read it fast and act.

3. Add a Testimonial:
Nobody does this. Consider this your Dirty Marketing Secret. Add a testimonial to the text of your ad.

4. Add Your Website Address:
I’ve tested ads with no website address vs. ads with an address attached. The ads with a website address win hands down. I’m assuming the reason is it gives the reader an opportunity to get more information about your business before making a decision.

5. Add a Benefit for Contacting You:
Why should the person take action and contact you? Give them an added incentive such as “Call now and you’ll get XXXX.” Better yet, add a guarantee that sells your product or service for you.

6. Know your Competitors:
Craigslist has a search feature, use it to search your category of business. See what others are doing. See how often they post. What they’re saying. This can give you valuable insight when writing your ads. If there are no advertisements in your category of business, that can be very good news for you.

7. Write Ten Different Style Ads & Post Twice Daily:
Start out by writing 10 different style ads. Then post these ads twice daily. Do not post more than this.  Here’s why:  Craigslist has a ghosting featured, where if they see you posting to frequently they will ghost your ads.  This means you’ll still receive a confirmation that your ad was posted, but it doesn’t show up.  If they ghost your ads, it can be days to weeks before they start showing again.

Twice a day is all you need, and make sure the style varies. That’s why you’re writing 10 ads to start.

8. Use CraigslistAdTracker.com To Find What Ad Titles Are Being Clicked:
There’s a cool tool that you can sign up for free at craigslistadtracker.com. This tool gives you some valuable insight as to how many people are clicking on your ad. This way you know which title is working best for you.

9. Use Photos in Your Post:
The verdict is still out on this one. I’ve used ads with full images as the actual ad vs. just plain text. I’ve found that using plain text with an image in the allowed spots worked best. Every business is different, so test to find what works best for you.

10. Use Keywords In The Body Of Your Ad:
People use the search feature to find what there looking for on Craigslist.  A good rule of thumb is to include several keywords in the body of your ad, so that if they search your keyword, your ad shows up.

These would be the same keywords of how someone searches for your category of business on Google. For example: San Diego Plumber, San Diego Emergency Plumber.

Summary
As a free traffic source with tons of benefits, it’s worth trying Craigslist: it is fairly simple, straightforward and another way to market your business. Have fun with your titles and do the opposite of everyone else. Don’t forget the icons, they are huge for making your ad stand out.  I hope you found this article helpful.  Now it’s your turn to take action.

I want to hear from you. Are you using Craigslist in your business? Was your experience positive or negative?

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{ 5 comments }

jewel3000 September 3, 2011 at 1:16 am

Excellent post and tips! But I’ve pretty much given up on using Craigslist. At least for now I have. They “ghosted” my account — made me *think* my ad was running, when in fact, it wasn’t showing up to the public at all. Uggh.

I suppose they did this because I didn’t allow enough days to pass before posting a new ad. Then again, it could be that some “competitor” wanted me out of their way, so reported my ad for having a click-thru link . . . Craigs doesn’t really like you to put links in your ads. Although many people do it any way, with great results.

I may eventually buy access to some CL accounts, but for now, I’m too turned off. Too many little-known rules and laws. Their TOS is long as the bible and too chit-chatty — hard to read through!

Plus, now, they’re CHARGING you to list in some of the categories that used to be free to advertise in.

I can’t wait until a really good option comes along. USfreeAds.com is okay, but they don’t get indexed as visibly as Craigs. I’ve gotten hits from it though.

Conversely, I didn’t get any traffic from Backpage. Maybe I didn’t do it right, but it didn’t work for me.

Since you’ve cracked the code at CL, you should publish a report on it. There are tons of people in the Forums who’re as frustrated as I am. Many would pay to learn how you’ve been able to stay on CL so long!

Josh Grillo September 5, 2011 at 7:09 am

Thanks Jewel3000. We’ve had many ghosting issues over the years and still encounter them. I share your frustration on it. Since it’s such a big free lead source for us, we keep at it every day, doing weekly monitoring of what ads posted and what ads didn’t. Keeps us on our toes.

Will Martin September 24, 2011 at 12:20 pm

I’m trying to promote my online business. I have a POD t-shirt business. After reading your article I went back and rewrote my ad then created 5 more ads using your suggestions. Question though, To keep them near the top should I delete older ads and repost them?

Josh Grillo September 25, 2011 at 10:47 am

Hi Will,

Thanks for the comment. To keep them at the top, yes, I would delete the older ads and repost them. Hope this helps.

Shayne S. November 15, 2011 at 1:11 am

Precisely what I was searching for, thanks for putting up.

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