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Using Craigslist to boost your online business
We all know what Craigslist is, and we all know you can post things there such as items you're looking to sell, things you want to simply give away, or post a job for someone to complete an make a few bucks. The overall design of Craigslist hasn't changed much since it came out, making it look extremely outdated, but that shouldn't turn you away from this powerful system that can boost your business. Craigslist has millions of people visit their pages each month and tapping into that traffic is sometimes just as good as a strategic Adwords or other PPC campaign to bring in clients
Now that you know how great Craigslist is, regardless of its design, you might not be a right fit for it. Not every business will succeed when using Craigslist, and that's because you're more of a B2B type website and not a B2C that focuses more on consumers. If you're trying to sell to other businesses, you'll have a hard time converting leads into sales, mainly because everyone there is looking to purchase something and not sign up for marketing software or a backlink package lol
In this discussion, I'll be going over how you can use Craigslist to boost your business, such as:
Types of services and products that sell easier on Craigslist
Services like tutoring, automotive repair, and anything else you could sell to a consumer is a good fit to be on Craigslist. This means you will usually be a good fit if you're selling something that isn't business related and has some success by posting on Craigslist. Dropshippers and Affiliates love using Craigslist because they can tap into the millions of potential buyers across specific regions since their system is set up to be sectioned off into small groups based on location.
Do you know what your ideal market is?
Just like every other marketing platform or PPC platform, Craigslist takes some time to learn how to master and will reward you if you take your time to learn all the moving parts of their system. It could be a daunting task to figure out where your ideal market is, and then target them because you can post advertisements in almost any city you can think of across the world. You can get specific with the cities in your area or you can target the ones that simply have the most people within them. Each option has its benefits, but you have to know what you're selling prior to choosing your target market.
If you can sell to anyone in the world, you'll likely want to target the towns/cities that have more people in them and not just a town you're familiar with that could have a few thousand people in it.
Think of it this way, if you have a mobile business like a detailing center that can go anywhere within 50 miles, you can target anywhere near you and likely get customers. Now, if you run this business, you won't target a city overseas because you won't get any sales, and if you do get a sale, you won't be able to finish the work and still turn a profit lol
Craigslist has some rules you need to abide by, mainly to stop people from spamming, but that's understandable because people would be posting 100 ads in every section on Craigslist if they could. You can't post too much, so your targeting needs to be on point. If you're selling "Mobile detailing service in (city name)" you'll probably want to just target that town. Now, you can alter the title of that service and switch out the city name, then target that specific city and move on, just be sure to not post more than where you're willing to travel just to stay within the guidelines set forth by Craigslist.
To stay off of the Craigslist Sh*tlist, you should have multiple titles for each post and also have unique images and descriptions for every city you want to post in. This keeps your posts unique, which Craigslists loves, and you'll likely see your ads stay up longer without getting deleted
Setting up your ads on Craigslist
When it comes to Craigslist, you don't have to get too creative when setting up your advertisements. What you should know is that people don't have time to read a wall of text, and they don't want to see a bunch of jumbled images, so be sure to put bullet points and a few images that explain the product or service you're providing.
Think of it this way, if you had a snow plowing service, you would list your rates and have a few images of your truck plowing snow. You would also list if you focus on residential, commercial, or both to show people if they will be able to hire you.
The search function within Craigslist isn't as sophisticated as Google of Facebook. Their system focuses on the time a listing was posted and the keyword within the listing. This makes the content of your ad very important since it could be what gets you shown first. Usually, you'll just have to worry about the time of posting, but that's not really in your control after it goes live.
Another thing to remember is that people can filter out listings without images, so you should always have an image uploaded to avoid being removed by that specific filter feature. The image doesn't even have to be yours, just make sure it's related to your business or service, and you will see more people contacting you
Some of the best performing ads are simple and have a basic image, this is because there isn't a ton of text trying to convince people to purchase and there aren't a bunch of images to distract users from the service itself.
Tracking your Craigslist ad performance
Not all of your ads will perform exactly how you would hope, but if you're not tracking all of them, you won't know which ones are actually working and which ones are total flops. You can track each ad with a phone number, email, or use a custom UTM URL or bitly link that will help you track click-throughs and sign-ups. Using a unique phone number for each city you're posting in could get expensive, and that is why people prefer to use unique emails and URLs for their ads since they're free
Fraud is everywhere, so avoid it
Since Craigslist has an anonymous feature, it's extremely attractive to online scammers and con artists, which means you need to protect yourself as much as possible. A great way to do this is to talk with every single potential customer over the phone, only ship out an item AFTER the payment has been received, and never let a big dollar client convince you they are trustworthy. Some of my "bigger" customers were the ones that hit me with the biggest chargebacks, and the smaller customers were the more loyal ones. This is because the scammers who pay higher dollar amounts never intend to let you keep the money, so they don't mind parting with it for a week or two while the item you're selling is shipping. Once they receive the product, they will file a chargeback and now you're screwed. This is why you need to vet every customer you get through craigslist and be sure they are trustworthy.
Craigslist is a great place to advertise your services and products, as long as you can protect yourself from fraud. If you have an eCommerce service that sells all over the world, maybe focus on areas within driving distance so people are less likely to file chargebacks. If you have a mobile service, like a snow plowing company or mobile car detailing business, be sure not to overextend your range because you'll limit your posting options. Even though there are some fraudulent purchases going through Craigslist, it's still a great place to post your ads and bring in some great clients.
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