Up Your Craigslist Game

Did you know that Craigslist has been around for nearly a quarter century? Despite its mid-90’s internet aesthetic, Craigslist has long been the first stop on a prospect’s journey for a new apartment — and shows no signs of slowing. Even with a variety of new ILSs sporting modern UIs and polished brands, Craigslist continues to be a requisite for any property.

Before you continue, we suggest brushing up on some Craigslist basics of how to avoid getting flagged or ghosted. Once you are confident that your posts will be seen by your prospects, here is our list of pro-tips to convert interest into community tours.

1. Make Regular Posting Simple

If you are using a CRM system and its not integrating with Craigslist, you are most likely wasting valuable time posting, and losing track of prospects once they contact your property. With a properly integrated CRM system you will be able to post units with auto-populated fields, monitor team performance, and ensure that all communications are tracked, attributed, and nurtured through the pipeline.

Pro Tip: Save time when posting and be sure to bookmark your city’s CL page. Simply go to Google and type in “{{city}} craigslist” in the search bar. Click through on the top result and bookmark that landing page. This will save you time by having to search for your city every time you want to post. Paired with the Knock CL widget, you can post your 20 listing per day max with ease.

2. Diversify your headlines, grab attention with a descriptive story

It is critical that Craigslist posts catch the attention of the prospect and invite them to learn more about the available unit. You should be doing your best to recreate what it is like to tour your property in person. That means creating a captivating story and painting a descriptive picture in prospects heads as to what your unit / community has to offer. A/B testing with Craigslist headlines is a great way to hone your posting strategy and understand what works well in your local market.

Here are two CL postings from our very own Seattle market — albeit with varying levels of effectiveness, let’s see if you can tell the difference.

$1250 / 300ft2 – $1250 Studio with big windows!!!!”

$1695 / 436ft2 – CRISTALLA Belltown – 7th Floor City Views – Open Studio w/ Wallbed (Belltown / Pike Place)”

As you can see, not all CL posts are created equal, and a bum headline can be the difference between filling that unit or letting it freeze in the vast tundra of thousands of Craigslist pages. The former only states price, size, and an ill-contextualized amenity — hard pass for us. Whereas the latter gives us a fuller picture of what the unit offers — size, location, community name, and contextualized amenities and features. We can’t wait to move in!

Pro Tip: The headline is your first opportunity to sell the unit. Highlight what is unique and desirable about the unit and location. Avoid generic headlines and descriptions by creating unique individual listings. Renters want to know exactly what size and kind of unit they will be leasing and its features. To make this process frictionless, create individual folders on your computer which have unit-specific copy and images.

3. A picture says a thousand words — so you don’t have to

If we step back and break down the structure of a CL ad page, priority is given to images — rather than text. It may seem a bit pedestrian to suggest posting only professional photos, but it’s surprising how many communities continue to post the same old dingy, blurry, and skewed images to feature their units. In many cases, this is probably doing more damage than having no photos at all. Take a look at these two examples. Which one would you want to live in?

$1495 / 1br – Bay Ridge 1 Bedroom Apartment Unit (Bay Ridge)

$2850 / 1br – 759ft2 – A Boutique Building in SLU with Spectacular Character (A True Work of Art)

Renters want to interact with communities that they perceive as trustworthy and professional — after all, they are committing to giving you tens of thousands of dollars. If you can’t even hire a professional photographer to document your product, what makes you think that a renter will trust you to hire a professional who will keep their heater running in the dead of winter? Craigslist has continued to put emphasis on images, and with the click-through carousel feature, few people will even click through to your ad copy if they aren’t first compelled by brilliant photos.

Pro Tip: Sequence your images, in the same manner, you would give an in-person tour. Think about how you walk prospects through your community and then emulate that tour with your photo album. If you show prospects the unit first, and then your community amenities, your photos should be ordered the same.

4. PLEASE STOP WRITING IN ALL CAPS!!!

Caps are lazy and are often used as a substitute for compelling copy to grab attention. Plus, headlines like this get flagged and pulled all the time for being perceived as spammy, and it just looks sloppy. It’s best to establish an internal template for how you promote all of your units.

If we look back at our exemplary post from the CRISTALLA we can see that they have a clear, organized, and easy to digest layout. There is a clear hierarchy of information, an in-depth summary of the unit, full list of amenities and features, and clearly stated leasing terms. Listings that are short or leave out key details can project a sense of secrecy and incompetence, making prospects feel like you aren’t telling the whole story or that you are withholding important information. Transparency and honesty in your listing will not only increase traction but will attract higher quality leads and help to streamline your process.

Pro Tip: Optimize your geo-location search strategy and get your unit in front of all prospects in the region. Compile a list of relevant keywords that pertain to your community and unit. This list should include related and nearby cities, neighborhoods, street names, local businesses, transport hubs, restaurants, retail locations, sister communities, and local attractions. By putting this list at the bottom of your body copy and separating keywords with commas, you will get all the benefits of search relevancy without muddling your post.

Conclusion

Craigslist is a critical channel that can significantly reduce your cost-per-lead, but it is a crowded marketplace that calls for all marketers to take a customer-centric approach. Posting often and responsibly, enticing the prospect to learn more through descriptive titles, and telling a story of what it will be like to live in the unit within the body copy will all improve Craigslist performance for your community.

If you want to learn more about Knock’s award-winning Craigslist features, be sure to schedule your demo today!

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