June 9, 2016

Three Terrifying Craigslist Apartment Marketing Mistakes

Posted by Jake Meador


Craigslist can still be a wonderful marketing tool for apartment communities despite the new challenges created by the many changes they have made in the past year and a half.

Unfortunately, many apartment communities have not figured out how to put Craigslist to work for their leasing staff since the changes made late in 2013. There are three main errors we see that limit a community's success on Craigslist.

Over-posting leads to green ghosting.

One of the most common Craigslist apartment marketing mistakes we still see on a semi-regular basis is green ghosting. Green ghosting is what happens when Craigslist determines that a specific account is spamming their listings and begins blocking them. When in your account, the post will have a green tag next to it, indicating that it is live. But if you try to see it when logged out of your account you won't be able to find it—hence "green ghosting."

The most common reason a community would be ghosted is that they are over-posting and, therefore, violating Craigslist's terms of use which in the past made it very clear that similar content can only be posted once every 48 hours. Most typically this is a community posting the same floorplan multiple times a day.

Where this becomes particularly nasty is when we think about the type of community most likely to get ghosted. If a community is posting the same floorplan 2-3 times a day it's likely because they have poor occupancy numbers and need a boost.

So the community is already in a bad state, which is why they are posting more than they should. Craigslist observes this behavior, green ghosts them, and now that community is in an even deeper hole. Now they have to find a way to generate more leads and they have to do it without the aid of the world's largest ILS.

You need to ask for the lead.

A second problem we see regularly is that communities fail to ask Craigslist users to act on what they're sharing in their post.

The ad below is one example of this but we see loads of posts with this issue:


The photos are fine and there's good detail, but they aren't asking for prospects to call them anywhere above the fold. In some cases if you scroll down far enough you'll see "Call us at (phone number)!"

But when prospects first look at this ad there is nothing trying to prompt them to act. There are some fine photos and good information, but nothing saying "Hey, if you like this you should call us." Given the sheer amount of posts on Craigslist competing for a prospect's attention, you need to get them to act as soon as possible in order to increase your chances at converting them into a lease.

Posting Bad Photos

We have discussed this in the past as well. Your photos may be the most important part of your Craigslist post. Your photos are the best place to stand out from the competition. Everything else about Craigslist is standardized across all their posting accounts. You can't change the ad format. You can only do so much with marketing copy. There are plenty of other communities that are in your general price range and offer comparable amenities—and they're also advertising on Craigslist. Photos are where you can establish yourself as being a cut above the rest. Don't skimp on your photos.

Here are some of the traits to look for in your photography:

  • Focused images
  • Good lighting
  • Furniture and key features not cut off on the edges of the photo
  • Room looks large thanks to the angle at which the image is taken
  • No distortion in the corners due to poor photography techniques or equipment

If your images aren't well-lit or are out-of-focus, it will be harder to stand out on Craigslist or even look professional as a management company.

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