From tutoring and car repair to clothes and used furniture, Craiglist is the ultimate online marketplace to find specific products and services. If you sell goods or provide services directly, Craigslist is a marketing tool you should consider. According to Entrepreneur, “Small businesses both online and off are realizing the marketing power of Craigslist.org.”
Here’s a quick roundup of the stats. Founded in 1996, Craigslist gets 10 million unique visitors a day. With an online classified ads format organized by region or city, Craigslist connects buyers and sellers in over 300 communities. Most importantly, posting ads on the site is completely free.
While you can find all sorts of (weird) ads on Craigslist, there is a right way to do it. If you want your small business ad to stand out and perform on this free platform, follow the Craigslist do’s and don’ts below.
Captivate your audience:
Writing the perfect Craigslist post comes down to two things: the headline and the detail. The headline is the bait, and the detail is the hook. For this reason, your headlines should be information-dense and to the point. In other words, the most amount of information in the least amount of space. What would attract your attention if you were looking for the specific product or service you’re selling? If it’s cars, you would probably mention the model, year, color and miles straight in the headline. However, if your business provides services, take a step back from “what you offer” and zone in on “what’s in it for them”. You want Craigslist visitors to immediately understand what they will get by going into business with you. So instead of titling your ad “I Am The Best Accountant in San Diego”, it should sound more like “Affordable Tax Preparation For Small Businesses – Quick Turnaround Time”.
Highlight your services:
Now that you’ve got the headline ready, you want to make sure the detail or body text delivers. Nothing is worse than clicking on a great headline and ending up disappointed because it was not all the ad promised. To avoid this, your ad body should be an expanded version of your headline. Outline exactly what your services include so that readers can easily decide whether you are a good fit or not. Listing out your services also works to make your ad more searchable, as people are using keywords in Craigslist’s search feature.
Focus on locality:
Craigslist is all about location; it’s how users search and find ads. When a future customer is scanning a page of advertisements, they are looking for headlines with certain keywords. For example, if they are looking for computer repair services, they will focus on ads that cater to their area. Including a city or region in the headline/description is a great way of checking off the customer’s boxes.
Add quality images:
Whatever you are trying to sell on Craigslist, you need to include images in your ad. Nobody clicks the ads without pictures. And if nobody clicks, nobody will buy. Make sure to add at least one high-quality image that best showcases your service. The more detailed and specific the images, the better the first impression. While high-quality, your images should be small in size. Craigslist allows images of 850 pixels wide, so you want to follow these guidelines to create a user-friendly ad.
Keep it short:
Craigslist is a utilitarian platform. Keep this in mind when crafting your business ad. Craigslist visitors are going to be sifting through dozens of similar posts, so don’t waste their time. While you might be inclined to craft an eloquent story, lists and bullet points are your friend on this medium. Start off your ad with a brief introduction and then go right into a list of details. You don’t want someone to have to hunt for the information, make it readily available.
Don’t act spammy:
If you’ve ever looked for something on Craigslist yourself, you know that 90% of the ads look like spam. Most of them are written in ALL CAPS, include *$% random symbols**##, and use ten exclamations marks!!! These “hacks” might seem like an easy way to stand out, but they put your company in a negative light. Prospects are automatically going to assume that your business can never live up to the headline hype and they might just dismiss you right off the bat. Don’t use cheap tricks to attract visitors to your ad.
Don’t overpost ads:
Depending on your location, your ad might move off the first page in a couple of hours or a couple of days. If you want to gain exposure, you’ll definitely be posting your ads on Craigslist more than once. The official rule is that you can put one item in one category every 48 hours. However, never post the exact same ad twice! When it’s time to create that new ad, adjust your headline and remix your description. Make sure to delete your old ad before posting the new one, so it doesn’t get flagged.
Don’t break the rules:
Craigslist users are quick to spot businesses that aren’t following the guidelines. Craigslist’s flagging system puts the power of spam control in the hands of its users. Users can be quite unforgiving if you break the rules, and will flag your ad so it gets deleted. So go over the Community Guidelines before you get started on Craigslist. You’ll find that putting your ad into multiple categories, posting in more than one city from the same account, posting identical content, or creating extremely commercial ads will get you flagged almost immediately.
Don’t be clever:
Creativity doesn’t really have a place on Craigslist. So we suggest staying away from puns, jokes, and cat memes. The more simple and straightforward your ad, the better. Even if you are a local advertising agency, keep your clever turn of phrase for your own website.
Now that you know the do’s and don’ts of Craigslist, check out our free Craigslist template.
Craigslist Ad Template
Get in on the action today by harnessing the marketing power of Craigslist. We have created a template so you can easily create a Craigslist Ad for your small business. It includes an example of a completed Craigslist ad for our Bizness Apps partners, who own their own mobile app companies. You can use the template to craft up your own ad. Let us know in the comments if Craigslist has worked for your small business.