5 Steps to Optimize Your Craigslist Ads

If you’re like a lot of property managers, you have a “love–hate” relationship with Craigslist.  You “love” how effective the site is at connecting perspective tenants with your vacant units.  But you “hate” the hassle and time it takes you and your staff to keep your listings fresh and at the top of the site.  Here are some tips on how to optimize your Craigslist marketing.

But putting the effort into optimizing your Craigslist ads can pay big dividends – even increasing the number of leads by 50% or more.  How can you turn your hate into love?  Here are five things you can do that are guaranteed to streamline your ads and increase the traffic to your vacancies.

Mix Up Your Craigslist Content

If you always list your property in the same way — with the same photos, title, and ad copy — people who have seen it already will move on.  However, by mixing up the content every time, an ad that failed to grab a user’s attention the first time may be effective later.  Creating different versions of content improves response rates, helps you find buyers faster, and positions your business as a top source for real estate in the area.

Example of mixing up content in your Craigslist advertising

Less Is More

Many property managers make the mistake of trying to describing their properties in great detail — they mention everything literally down to the kitchen sink.  The problem with this approach is that it can cause “information overload” with your potential tenants.  They may skip right over your property and move on to the next Craigslist posting.

When writing your Craigslist ad content it’s important to focus on just a few selling benefits that meet the specific needs of your prospects.  Be sure to include HTML formatting (Craigslist does limit what HTML formatting you can include) that helps you format your ad copy so it’s easier to read and absorb (e.g. section dividers, bullet points, etc.).

Example Craigslist ad with less copy.

By cutting down on the amount of copy in your ad you are more likely to attract interest in your property.  After all, the goal of your Craigslist efforts is to generate interest – the details are better communicated over the telephone or during a tour of your space.

Include a Call-to-Action

In marketing, a call to action (CTA) is a specific instruction you include in your ad copy that provoke your audience to an immediate response or action.  This typically includes an imperative verb such as “call now”, “find out more” or “schedule a tour today”.

CTA’s are typically inserted near the top of of your ad and makes it obvious how you prefer prospects to contact you and why they would want to.  A CTA is a slight push that will lead to more responses.

Example of inserting a Call to Action in your Craigslist ads

Include Your Contact Info

This next point should go without saying, but you’d be surprised how many property managers create listings without including contact info — you may be one of them.  We fondly refer to this as “sales prevention”.

Ideally, you want your phone number and website URL highly visible, such as near the beginning of content or better yet as part of your featured image.  This will make it easy for prospects to find out how to contact you.  If they need to wade through ad copy to uncover the information, they will likely give up and move on to another property.

Example of a Craigslist featured image that includes your contact information.

Post Consistently

When we are coaching our clients we often explain that Craigslist marketing is a lot like fishing.  If you don’t have your fishing line in the water you are not going to catch any fish.  The same goes with Craigslist, if you don’t have your ads coming up throughout the day and each day of the week, you aren’t going to get the traffic you want and need.  Although this requires time and effort, being consistent with your posting will generate the most improved in results of any of these tips.


Maintaining an active strategy on Craigslist is hard work. It is even harder when you take all the above into consideration to create high-quality ads that generate interest and convert. A better option than trying to handle everything on your own is to use Direct to Tenant.

Our service is a low-cost, no-risk solution for Craigslist ads that allows you to continue focusing your energy on other business activities. We have more than five years experience, meaning we know what works and what doesn’t. Contact us to start selling your properties.

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