Thanks to recent rule changes to Craigslist’s “housing” and “for sale” sections, property owners are no longer able to post enhanced listings. This is big news as many landlords and property managers rely on enhanced listings to generate tenant leads.
The recent changes may seem minor, but they have had a big impact on the real estate industry. Companies that once relied on Craigslist to generate a steady stream of leads have seen this referral traffic all but disappear. The changes:
– Craigslist no longer supports the <img> HTML tag. All images in Craigslist ads must now be uploaded through its native image posting tool. A maximum of 12 images can be posted.
– No support of <font>, <div>, <table>, and <span> HTML tags.
– Live linking has been disabled. You will no longer be able to link directly from Craigslist to your website or dedicated rental listing landing page. Now, users must copy and paste the URL into the address bar in their internet browser.
– Tracking codes have been disabled. Users won’t be able to track which specific ad listings are generating the most leads or conversions on their site.
– You can no longer set up tables or style the formatting of listing ads. It’s purely text based.
– No more logos, which will reduce a company’s branding capabilities.
How Should We Respond?
– Use professional photos. Now that users are no longer able to include slideshows of high quality images, they need to make sure all uploaded images showcase the property’s best amenities. Consider contracting a professional photographer.
– Include bullet points in your ads so that consumers can easily browse and locate the key amenities of the property. For example:
- Off street parking
- Central air
- New hardwood floor
– Clearly mark the URLs in your ad. Don’t bury them in the middle of a paragraph. Clearly explain why users should click on the URL (where they will be taken, and what information they will find). For example, visit our website to see a virtual tour of this apartment. Limit the number of URLs on the page.
– Publish your pet policy. A study by RentLinx showed that online ads that include a pet policy generate five times more leads than ads that do not include a pet policy.
– Include a phone number for your leasing office and make it prominent.
– Capitalize your brand name in the post. This will help increase brand recognition, and likely increase the number of direct traffic leads (those typing a company’s name directly into the address bar).
Craigslist is still a great source of leads for real estate professionals and property managers. The recent changes to the ad listing rules have not changed the way people perceive Craigslist. Many consumers still flock to Craigslist to find rental properties and homes for sale.
Craigslist is still a competitive landscape. So users will need to make sure that they are taking a strategic approach to optimize their ads and make them stand out from the competition. This is more difficult with the newly imposed text-based layout of the listing ads, but still doable. People posting ads will need to make sure they are including high quality images that showcase a property’s key amenities, include a prominent URL that users can copy and paste into their browser, include content in a bulleted format so that content is easily readable, include a pet policy and make the brand name stand out.
Users must remember that Craigslist is still free. Even if ad performance has reduced by 75%, it is still an incredibly cost-effective way for businesses to generate leads and brand awareness.
What other Craigslist workarounds did we miss?
By Robbie Richards.