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TOP 10 TIPS to Get the MOST Out of CRAIGSLIST Apartment Ads

Craigslist, when smartly used as part of your marketing/advertising campaign, can become one of your apartment community’s top traffic generators. If it’s not, you’re not getting the most out of your Craigslist ads.

Here are the TOP 10 Things You Need to Know to Maximize Your Craigslist Ads for your Apartment Community:

  1. Generally, web traffic is highest during the week, especially during working hours of 8:00AM – 5:00PM. For the apartment industry on Craigslist, the highest traffic day is actually on SUNDAY. According to Yield Technologies, their RENTSENTINEL product, a web-based application that manages posting content for rental properties, they have noticed that Sunday’s see much less posting activity for apartments than any other day of the week. Couple that with higher traffic, and your posting efforts will get the biggest audience with less competition! (SUNDAYS have the HIGHEST average views/ad than any other day for our apartment industry!) This is true of every portfolio class, geographic location or market segment.
  2. Although Craigslist is “free,” there are TONS of different services available that can help you manage your content, produce “snazzier” looking ads, track traffic, provide analytics, and MORE – OH MY! Some more common ones include RENTSENTINEL and POSTLETS. Depending on your needs and preferences, these may work for you, are pretty affordable, and provide lots of extra’s to help you maximize your craigslist ads. There are TONS of other services available – if you know of some additional ones, leave a link in the COMMENTS section of this blog post and share with everyone! OR Leave a comment about your experience with the services listed here.
  3. PICTURES PICTURES PICTURES! – And not just any old snapshot – make sure to have good lighting, take pictures of clean, rent ready or model units – try to make an positive impression that gets your target market to pick up the phone and call you! Don’t turn them off with the wrong picture.
  4. Many people ask me, “what generates more traffic? The traditional organic craigslist ads or the jazzed up ones with hyperlinks, pictures, formatting, etc?” The answer is that they BOTH work. The key to a successful craigslist campaign is VARIETY. Switch it up between your traditional craigslist ads and fancier ones.
  5. Speaking of VARIETY, switch up your posts! Make sure you have an ad targeted specifically to attract your 1 bedroom renters, or your pet lovers, or one to attract roommates, or one to highlight the fact that you are near a bus route, etc! Be sure to keep within fair housing rules, but there is nothing that says you can’t switch up your ads and highlight specific features. Variety is the spice of life, and so it is with apartments on craigslist!
  6. Speaking of PETS, whether your building is pet-friendly or does NOT allow pets, there IS a specific market for THAT! Make sure to have a specific ad targeted towards your pet lovers (for those apartment communities that accept pets) or ones that specifically state that you do NOT allow pets. Believe it or not, there are those people who look specifically for pet-free buildings, due to allergies, conditions, fear, etc. If you are targeting pet-owners, be sure to use the Craigslist “Meow” and “Woof” options to state you are pet friendly, in addition to including this information in your title/content.
  7. And since we are drilling down on specific life style choices, a choice that is becoming increasingly popular in apartment searches is “smoke free apartment.” There are new organizations promoting living smoke-free popping up everyday. Here in Minnesota, one that is making quite a splash is LIVESMOKEFREE. Make sure to include those words for the craigslist search engines (as well as all other search engines) to pick up!
  8. While we are on the topic of search engines, make sure to include search engine friendly terms in your ad! If you are near a bus-line, post that. If you are near shopping/retail, make sure to mention the shopping or retail center name. If you are in a highly sought-after school district, name the school district or even better, name the schools. If you are nears parks, name the parks. People search for apartments based on their lifestyle choices, and if those choices are based upon transportation, schools, shopping, food, retail, etc – YOU will get picked up in their search, and your competition might get buried in the masses….
  9. Another question I get asked constantly – “how often should I post?” From my perspective, it’s not a matter of “how often,” but more importantly, CONSISTENCY. According to Eric Broughton of Yield Company’s RentSentinel product, ”the most important global trend is for communities to post their available units on a consistent basis, don’t take a day off from posting an available unit, your competitors aren’t.  Equally important is respecting the craigslist community and not posting multiple ads in a short period of time.  Never post more than 1 ad in the same hour, and never post for the same unit type more than once in 24 hours.  Our analytics show that following these simple rules will provide far greater results than someone that spams a region with multiple ads over and over again.”
  10. And lastly, and MOST importantly, be a good Craigslist Citizen. Common sense folks! Pay attention to things such as knowing the Craigslist Terms of Use, posting only available Units/Unit Types, not over-posting (never more than 1 ad per hour and 8 total ads in a day – this is for LARGE sites – many of you may not have larger enough sites, where posting every other day is more than enough), and posting to only one category and region at a time.  As an industry we can all be more effective and increase our traffic if we use the craigslist environment for which it was intended which is bringing renters and landlords together in an open marketplace. Let’s not ruin the “free” part of craigslist, by over-doing it. In some regions, and some industries, craigslist DOES impose fees. (See Craigslist FactSheet.)

Please leave comments on any tips I might have missed, leave comments about other craigslist applications or services, and your experiences with these services!

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am not affiliated with Yield Technologies or Postlets. Yield Technologies has provided me with information for this blog post. THANK YOU! (Roboblaster, another posting service also provided information for this blog, however, at the time of publication, they have folded.)

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-Daisy Nguyen in Minneapolis, Minnesota MN

CEO/President

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Business, Operations & Marketing Consulting to the Apartment Industry

Web: RentSoda.com Email: Daisy {at} RentSoda(.)com

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11 Comments

  1. Kim Cory says:

    Thanks for the great tips and reminders Daisy! Living on Craiglist each day I have learned to try different approaches to see what get’s us the most traffic and I have to be honest it’s really about the tagline or “Deal” we are offering. I have done everything from traditional, photo bucket, Vflyer, Postlets and so on and as long as there is a tagline that shouts for attention or a “deal” we get traffic. Of course SEO key words help in search results and photos add a nice touch, but the reality is Craigslist is a GIANT flea market. If you think about it what’s the first thing that grabs your attention when searching on Craigslist…TAGLINES!! Be creative and unqiue with it and see if that changes anything for your next Craigslist postings.

  2. Kathie Cook says:

    A great idea that I got from one of my clients is each leasing person has their own Craigslist ad. They are responsible for posting their own ads and make it a competition to see who can be the most creative and get the most calls.
    We have also seen a lot of Results from Weblisters.com.
    Happy Leasing!

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by The Apartment Nerd and Daisy Nguyen. Daisy Nguyen said: my latest blog: TOP 10 TIPS to Get the MOST Out of Craigslist Apartment Ads! http://bit.ly/bzlUjQ [...]

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The comment’s server IP (208.74.66.43) doesn’t match the comment’s URL host IP (74.112.128.10) and so is spam.

  4. Daisy, Great advice!
    * Monday is consistently the highest day for renter traffic on the RentLinx servers (nearly 3 million page views/month). So, posting on Monday morning is a great idea!
    * Answer your phone when renters call. 80% of renters who get voice mail simply hang up and call the next ad.
    * Finally, check out the free Craigslist Helper at RentLinx.com – a simple copy and paste gets you a nicely formatted craigslist post with your first 16 photos.

  5. @Kim ~ Vflyer is great too! I totally agree with the tagline comment! We post things like “Your mom wants you out? Low deposit here!” It really does grab people. Posting in more than one region is also very very helpful. Don’t limit yourself!!!

  6. daisynguyen says:

    KIM: I agree with you on the titles/taglines! If it doesn’t grab someone’s attention when there’s hundreds of other adds….you get lost in the shuffle! AND, thanks for tweeting me!

    Kathie: I love the idead of each leasing agent posting their own ads. Then you get a unique look/feel to each ad – GENIUS! I will check out Weblisters!

    Amanda: GREAT advice. ANSWERING phone is SOOO key – you wouldn’t believe how many people ask me if they should post on Sundays if they don’t answer their phones! And absolutely, Mondays are a HIGH traffic day. I will check out RentLinx.com – do they provide any analytics?

    Megan: Your listing would DEFINATELY catch my eye!

  7. Kathie Cook says:

    Something to think about regarding missed calls. AT&T did a study saying that only about 10% of people leave messages. Check out the math:
    If you receive 100 prospect calls in a month and you are missing 24% of those calls (industry average), you are missing 24 calls, right? If your conversion ratio from call to appointment is 50% (industry average), you are missing 12 tours. If your tour to lease ratio is 30% (also industry average), then you are losing 4 leases a month…just from missing phone calls.

  8. Daisy, Yes, Rentlinx provides lead and traffic tracking, pie charts, bar charts, etc. Phone call recording is included with RentLinx Plus!

  9. [...] key factor is to know when your audience is reading.  Studies show that Craigslist sees the most traffic from apartment-hunters on Sundays.  If you’re posting to [...]

  10. Ryan says:

    Thanks for the ideas, they are great. I find that people that don’t leave a message probably weren’t worth the time anyway, especially when you have low end rentals available. I personally screen all the calls to see if they are even worth showing, and I have added a google form with the typical questions I ask. This filters out the people that don’t like to talk on the phone, and also makes things easier.

  11. J. Mattocks says:

    Great article. Thanks for the tips. However, it seems that Craigslist doesn’t enforce the limit on number of posts any more. Check out the number of ads posted from just one realtor (ok, technically two since they’re a husband and wife team).
    http://miami.craigslist.org/search/apa?query=ROSELLINI%20&srchType=A&s=800

    I see over 800 posts in just one day! How is this possible? Clearly they must be using some auto-poster to make this happen.

    With noise like this up there, how will anyone ever find the few ads I post a day?

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