Craigslist is the most consistently effective marketing piece at CLASS. It is a free marketing tool and contains controlled content, which enables the poster to determine which specifics are highlighted about the community. With a goal of obtaining inquiries from your post, you must first find a way to stand out amongst the sea of listings.
Below, I have put together a list of the top ten tips that can lead to more leases.
- Make Your Title Unique. Since a Craigslist ad is only beneficial if it gets clicked, your ad needs a catchy title. Posting that you have a “Great 2 Bedroom Apartment Available” is neither catchy, nor original. Make your ad stand out by trying something completely out of the box. During the Tiger Woods scandal, we had a leasing specialist that posted an ad with the title “Tell me a good Tiger Woods joke and your application fee will be waived!” This was a unique title that had the phones ringing off the hook.
- Stand Out From The Crowd. Scrolling down on a page of Craigslist ads is very similar to watching the Matrix screen from the movie. It is a screen of convoluted gibberish that all seems to run together due to similar fonts and punctuations. Try using a font that no one else is using. My favorite ads that pop off the page are in all caps. It’s something simple, but it allows for the title to break up the monotony of an entire page of listings.
- Post Pictures. At the end of each post’s title, if the individual has posted pictures to the ad, you will see the abbreviation IMG. Many people screen their search by looking for posts with pictures. Without pictures, your “Amazing 2 Bedroom Apartment” is no different than the 30 other ”Amazing 2 Bedroom Apartment” ads listed on the same page. Pictures are great but choose them wisely. There does not need to be anything in your pictures that can raise a possible red flag for a renter. Make sure you use pictures of a model unit or exterior shots taken during the summer months.
- To Post, Or Not Post The Actual Price? There’s always the burning question whether or not to post the actual price of the apartment. This all depends upon the property type and your target market. If your property is having a problem with a majority of your traffic being unqualified, then post the actual price. If your property is a little bit higher in price than your competitors, post your market rate and save your incentives for closing. In the end it doesn’t hurt to mix-up the pricing to see what responses you get.
- Get Creative With Your Ads. Just because Craigslist offers a generic format does not mean that you need to make every ad the same. Get creative. Try using a blind ad, in which you post the ad to make it appear as if a single individual is subletting an apartment, rather than a leasing agent at a community. Oftentimes, people will be more inclined to call a single renter, because they feel they may be more likely to get a good deal. Also, there are many template making sites (i.e., Postlets, Vflyer, TinyMCE, etc.) that can be used to spruce up your ads and make them stand out from the crowd. In turn, by posting different types of ads, you are less likely to have an ad flagged, or ghosted.
- Post All Throughout The Day. Just as you should post many different types of ads, you should also post ads at different times throughout the day. If you are someone that is posting three ads a day, all in the morning, then you are not posting to your best advantage. Once an ad is posted, all it takes is 100 more ads to bump you to page 2. You never know when someone is going to hop on Craigslist and do a generic search for “Apartments in Atlanta,” so you want to increase your chances by having an ad towards the top of the list all throughout the day. In some cities this is a very easy task to accomplish since there are not that many ads posted daily, but with a city like Los Angeles where there were roughly 1,300 apartment ads posted yesterday, it’s much more difficult. Therefore, post throughout the day and keep track of which ads you post at each time to determine when you get the best response.
- Post In Surrounding Areas. This is a technique that you may try, but you still want to make sure you are posting in your primary location. This is advantageous if you are in a location that is in between two major Craigslist cities. Try posting ads in both locations to see where you get the best response.
- Target Key Words In Your Ads. It is very important that you list key search engine friendly terms in your title and throughout the body of your ad. In listing these highly searched terms, you are increasing the likelihood of your ad coming up in a search. Does your community offer a walkable lifestyle by being located near shops, restaurants, etc.? Are you within a prominent school district? Is the area of town a desirable location that people would search for by name? These are all key points that you want to have listed throughout your ad. In addition, Google has increased the relevancy of Craigslist ads on searches, so there is a strong possibility your Craigslist ad could pop up in a general Google search.
- Determine The Number Of Ads You Should Post. As a general rule, we instruct our leasing specialists to post 3-5 times per day. If you are located in a city in which there is no one posting for apartments, then just post enough to ensure you are located near the top of the page throughout the day. If you are located in a city where there is an extreme amount of postings, such as Los Angeles, it is a good idea to aim at posting large amounts of ads. Many people are indifferent about posting this many ads and say that if you post this frequently, then the ads are going to be ghosted, which is always a possibility. Therefore, make sure you are posting 10-15 unique ads all throughout the day while rotating accounts and computers to change up the IP address.
- Be Consistent. Be consistent in how you post on Craigslist. If you post 3-5 ads on Monday and don’t post again until Saturday, don’t be surprised if you aren’t getting any phone calls. Craigslist is what you make it, so you have to get in the habit of posting daily. Don’t give up on Craigslist if you aren’t getting an immediate response, because after all, it’s a free marketing tool!