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What’s New with Craigslist?

February 11 2014

craigslistIn November, a flurry of articles covered some big changes in the way real estate is represented on Craigslist. It's been a few months, the dust has settled, and it's time to take another look at the reported changes and the current conditions.

The Sky Is Falling

The changes in Craigslist were greeted with a collective gasp. Many industry commentators called it a major change in the way real estate agents can market properties. The technical explanation is that Craigslist discontinued the use of certain HTML tags used for the creation of enhanced listings. The practical impact is that, if you were using an application that created pretty, branded Craigslist posts (you know, the kind that looked just like a flyer), your ads would now just look like everyone else's. And, just as important, you couldn't include any links.

Looking Good

I'm not a real estate agent, so I can't regale you with any personal experience. Instead, all I can do is tell you what I see from a consumer's perspective. I visited Craigslist and checked out some listings in my area. Guess what? They still contain all the information I want about a property – including property photos, a map, number of beds/baths, etc. I can copy and paste a URL to search for more information.

What about those companies that we talked about earlier? You know, the ones that created those shiny enhanced Craigslist ads. Well, they're adapting. We interviewed Scott Pierce from Listings-to-Leads to find out what they've done to address the changes.

"We've always had a lot of templates for Craigslist, including those that used hardly any HTML, as we found those were the ones that generated the most leads for our clients. But when Craigslist made their changes to not allow hyperlinks anymore, we implemented an automated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system that is fully integrated with Craigslist ads that actually generate better quality leads for our clients."

Up Your Game

Scott Pierce notes that the Craigslist changes are just a reminder that your marketing strategy needs to be incredibly multi-faceted. "You can't put all your eggs in one basket," Scott says. "Just imagine if Craigslist was your primary marketing vehicle. These changes would have rocked your world. Instead, you should be doing so much more. For instance, you should also be creating virtual tours, posting virtual tour videos on YouTube, building single property websites, posting on social networks, blogging, and sending email campaigns. All of these can have the same hyperlinks that your Craigslist ads used to have."

This is also a great reminder to take attractive property photos. When all the bells and whistles get stripped away, your property photos will be your only "eye candy." Effective property photos can be the key to an effective piece of marketing collateral – on Craigslist, or anywhere else.