Craigslist has been around since 1996. It’s one of the most long lived and consistently used websites in the world. But just how popular is it?
The kind of popular that consistently gets 20 billion monthly page views. Yes, that’s billion with a “b”. That number of page views represents over 70 countries around the world and around 700 local Craigslist sub domains. That’s a whole lot of eyeballs that could be looking at your listing and visiting your website, calling your office, or interacting with your brand as a result.
But isn’t Craigslist mostly just adult ads, creepy personals, and crummy job listings? Well, to be fair, yes those things do exist on the site in abundance. However, that doesn’t mean using the site in a smart way can’t generate some positive results.
How to Know if Craigslist is a Good Marketing Option for You
The core idea behind Craigslist is that it provides an online alternative to local listings. It’s important to keep that in mind when deciding whether or not marketing on Craigslist will be good for your business. Some enterprises are just not best suited for that environment. But a lot are!
If you’re wondering whether or not your business could benefit from marketing on Craigslist, you can start by asking yourself, “Would I benefit from a listing in my local newspaper?” (back when those were a much bigger deal) If the answer is yes, great! Proceed to the best practices below. If the answer is no, consider another question, “Would I want the ability to put a local listing in any any newspaper in any country in the world?”
Chances are you’ll find more value in the second proposition that the first. After all, thanks to the internet, many of us work from home and our customers are not necessarily concentrated in our physical location. But everyone has local interests and if they can come across your posting while they’re searching for a relevant listing in their area, then that works just as well!
You can use Craigslist to market in-person or virtual training/tutoring, workshops, consulting, affiliate marketing, and more. You can test different cities or regions to gauge where there is the most interest for your type of product.
To do that effectively, follow the Craigslist marketing best practices below.
Craigslist Marketing Best Practices
Whether you’re selling products/services for a local market or digital products/services for nowhere in particular, there are a few best practices you can follow to get the most out of Craigslist.
Write a Great Headline
Write great copy in general. This site is so heavily weighted towards text that you cannot ignore the importance of precise, even beautiful, language. Granted, you don’t come across those things too often on Craigslist but when you do it really stands out.
I’d recommend checking out this post series from Copyblogger. It’s geared towards writing great blog post headlines but the principles are the same.
Include Keywords in Body Text
The search functionality on Craigslist is first and foremost about recency and then filtered by keywords. That means your title and body text should both be keyword rich. We’ll focus on keeping thing recent in the tips below.
Use High Quality Photos
Adding a photo to your posts, of even average quality, will increase its effectiveness. But using high quality photos will set you above even the other ads who bothered to add a photo at all.
You don’t need to have a great camera to get high quality photos. Most recent smartphones have relatively great cameras. Focusing on simple lighting and composition will go a very long way.
Provide Contact Information
This might sound like a no-brainer but some people just will not respond to the default Craigslist reply email address. So try to also offer a separate email address or even a phone number. If you don’t want to give out your own phone number (or even that of your business) in that environment, then try using a VOIP service to set up a digital voicemail.
Link Out (But Not to a Paywall or Product Page)
Be sure to link out to your website or relevant social channel. Try not to go overboard on the links though, as the less options you have the more likely you are to get just the conversions you want. Also, don’t link directly to a sales page or product page as this may get you flagged as spam.
Pay Attention to Your Post’s Writing Style & Formatting
Any time you are writing for the web–whether it’s a blog post, status update, or Craigslist ad–you should be aware of your text formatting and writing style. Write in short, clear sentences. Keep paragraphs to around three sentences. And keep the insider jargon to an absolute minimum.
Post Often (But Within the Regulations)
A great way to get flagged on Craigslist is to post the same ad in the same place within 48 hours of the original posting. Instead, create a posting schedule for yourself using a spreadsheet or your calendar and create a new ad at the earliest time slots possible within Craigslist’s guidelines.
Clean Up After Yourself
This best practices goes hand in hand with the one last one above. If you want to look like a spammer, then a good way to do that is by leaving all of your old postings up on Craigslist. This will result in anyone who is searching through a category archive to come across the exact same ad over and over again.
Instead, clean up after yourself. Leave day or two’s worth of ads up but delete everything older. This will make your postings seem more urgent (as they’re more recent) and increase the likelihood of getting the response you’re after.
Mix It Up
Don’t write-up just one ad. Come up with a handful of variations on your original idea. This will do a few things for you. First, your copy will get better the more times you write it. The first few ads will probably be pretty bad, but somewhere along the way you will probably hit a good flow and turn out something nice.
Secondly, this will allow you to post more often across different categories without immediately standing out as a heavy poster. Users will be more likely to read your ads and take them seriously this way.
And finally, mixing it up with variant ads allows you to use our final best practice more advantageously.
Track, Measure, Test, & Repeat
Last, but certainly not least, we have our assessment stage. The important thing about this best practice is that it turns everything you did above into a rough draft. A first try.
A lot of times people will experiment with a new marketing strategy and if it doesn’t do great right away they give up and quit using it. To me, that’s like quitting track because you can’t run a fast mile your first try. It’s a process! And processes need refining.
So come up with a way of measuring your success, take notes on which variant ads perform best, and make the necessary changes needed in order to achieve incremental improvement.
Craigslist, believe it or not, is actually a lot more than the internet’s playground for weirdos, broke college kids, and those with too many pieces of old furniture. When used correctly it can yield traffic, leads, and clients across a wide range of interests and professions. Following the best practices above, will take you a long way towards success in terms of Craigslist marketing.
Do you use Craigslist to market your business? If so, we’d love to hear about the tips and tricks you’ve learned along the way. Please take a moment to share them with the whole community in the comment’s section below.
Additionally, feel free to share what you love or hate about Craigslist postings and cite examples of the kinds of ads you would respond to.
Email marketing is a fantastic way for you to keep in touch with your customers, learn about them, and create a loyal relationship between the two of you. It can be planned so that your customers receive your message at a specific time and that message is delivered right into their personal space: their inboxes.
Not many other marketing activities are such good all-rounders. With social media, it’s based on luck whether your message is seen or lost into the abyss that is a homepage feed. Direct mail sent via post is very personal, but it’s hard to measure the results. And your website could be top dollar when it comes to content, but it’s the decision of your customer whether to visit it or not.
So how do you make sure you’re using this fantastic marketing tool to its full potential? I’ve written five tips below that I’ve found to be essential when it comes to effective email marketing campaigns.
1. The Objective Of Email Marketing: Relationship Building Not Spam
If you’ve just discovered the magic of email marketing, don’t get overly excited and blast a message to all of your customers. Email marketing has garnered a bad reputation from spammers: those who send irrelevant emails, or possibly even phishing emails to get your bank details, and those who send multiple emails a day – usually without having sought permission from you to send you information.
Don’t be a spammer. You can segment your customers into lists, which we’ll get into later. This allows you to tailor the content of your email to certain customers, rather than sending all of your customers every single thing you want to say or item you want to promote.
Also make sure the language of your emails comes across as professional but friendly. You want your customers to trust what you’re saying as well as generate a warm feeling toward your brand. The objective is to build a relationship with your customer and you won’t get this if your language is all about sales promotions and how great your company is. Focus instead on how your customer can benefit from buying from you.
2. The Power Of Data
A huge positive for email marketing is the ability to collect data and then use what you know about your customer to build a relationship with them. You only get this chance through direct marketing and email is a great tool since it’s quick and easy to use.
Initially, your customers give you their email address for you to send them information. This first step in the relationship is actually a huge leap, as it signifies that the customer wants to hear more from you. You can obtain a few more bits of information on sign up too, such as their age and gender. You can then use this to send them more relevant communications.
You can also use this data to personalize your emails. The most obvious way to do this would be to add the customer’s name into the subject line or introduction to catch their attention. But be careful about too much personalization, especially early on in the relationship. Customers are wary of spammers or of having their data shared across the internet. So sending a special offer for the customer’s birthday is perfectly fine, but displaying their age might just freak them out a little.
3. The Design And Message: It’s More Than Just A Pretty Template
Looks do count, but you need to put some thought into what you want your email to do. Go back to point one above and think about the objective of your email and then build this into the message. What action do you want your customers to take? Tell them!
You’ll need a good design and engaging copy to get their attention – this includes the subject line to get past the first hurdle of opening the email and the headline or “above the fold,” which is the space you first see upon opening the email without scrolling. But you also need to make sure the main body of the message tells them what to do next. You can even do this visually with a call-to-action button.
This could be a link to a page containing your sales products, a landing page explaining further details about your service, or a blog post updating customers on the latest news. Just make sure that your customers know that you’ve sent them this email to encourage them to visit the page and that the page is relevant to your email. Overall, it needs to be a tailored piece of communication, rather than just throwing out some information in the hope that your customers will visit your website.
A couple of other design points include adding your social media links so that your customers can share your message, which is great for reaching more prospects. It also gives your customers the chance to build your relationship further if they choose to on another platform.
Also, make sure your email includes a message to add the “from” email address to their safe senders list to avoid it jumping into the spam box. And of course, you’ll need an unsubscribe option. This is legal but it also makes it clear to your customers that they’re in this relationship through their own choosing.
4. Learn From Your Results
Seeing the results of your email marketing campaign is the exciting part. There are the basics of how many people received, opened, and clicked through your emails – data which you should record and compare against each campaign to track its performance.
Email service providers like MailChimp and Aweber will go into more detail. You can often see visually where people have clicked, which can inform you how to layout your email and what type of content you should be including on your emails.
You can also drill down into the data for individuals so that you can build up a picture of their behaviors and preferences. Let’s say you’re an outdoor clothing retailer and your emails contain a variety of products on offer. If someone is only interested in biking gear, which you can see from the links that they’ve clicked, then there’s no point in sending them an email specifically about skiing clothes and equipment. You’ll get a much larger response rate and return on investment if you lump your biking enthusiasts into one pot and send them bike-specific content.
This level of detail in the data requires some work by a person with a technical mind and data analytics skill-set, but it’s well worth the investment. Once you know your customers, you can simply segment them into different mailing lists and select which message they are going to receive. It works for price sensitivity, lifecycle stage, and demographics too.
5. Test Away!
Of course you need to test your email on different devices and browsers before you blast it out to thousands of customers, but that’s not what I’m getting at in this point. Just like with your results, I’m talking about creating tests and learning from them.
For instance, if you have a new offer that you’d like to test, you can’t send this offer AND have a different background image on your test email to your original email, otherwise you won’t know if it’s your offer or image that’s created the difference. Similarly, if you want to change your email design, you’ll need to keep the original design and test just one new design at a time to make the test against the old design fair.
Testing also allows you to find out what works best for your brand. Search the internet for “best time to send a marketing email” and your search results will come back with many conflicting answers. The problem is that those times work best for the author or the sample that a study was completed on, but that’s not necessarily best for you.
So set up a test by sending the same email to different sets of data with a similar profile at various points throughout the day or week and this will give you a good indication of your most effective time.
There’s an animation doing the rounds at the moment comparing the 80s to the present, where in the 80s we were sick of receiving paper letters through the door but loved seeing an email pop up in our inboxes. Now, it’s the exact opposite.
As we’ve moved to these digital times, it is trickier to get your email and message seen above everyone else’s. This is especially so when you throw in the advertising and social media messages that your customers see online on a day-to-day basis.
But if you do it right, it’s incredibly an incredibly value tool for not only promoting your message and delivering it right underneath your customer’s nose, but for learning about your offer, brand, and most importantly; your customers. Build that relationship with your customers and they’ll keep coming back for more.