Around since what now seems like the dinosaur days of the internet (aka 1996), Craigslist has been a long loved and consistently used website for businesses and individuals alike. With over 50 billion monthly page views, it's hard to ignore this platform and its marketing potential. Not to mention, it’s absolutely FREE to use.
Originally built as an alternative to traditional local listings, Craigslist has opened the business growth possibilities even in the smallest of towns and cities. Whether you’re a realtor, run a home cleaning business, car dealership, or virtually any other locally run business, you’ve probably dipped your toes into the Craigslist lead-sourcing-pool once or twice before.
Just the “Wanted” section alone can prove to be very lucrative if you can find people looking for the product or service you’re offering. These days, even online entrepreneurs are seeing great results using the platform to market their virtual training, webinars, and consulting services.
If you find yourself in the group mentioned above, you also know by now how tedious the scrolling can be and how tiresome doing multiple searches is. To get more out of Craigslist, try these best practices for effectively sifting through results, and sourcing leads faster.
3 Ways To Filter Craigslist Ads For Leads
1. Start Broad
Typically when searching on Craigslist, so called “Power Users” tend to go a little crazy with the filters. The problem with immediately getting rid of more than one parameter however is that you might just miss a few good gems in the pile.
Let’s say you’re a car dealer scouring local listings for Ford model cars that locals have recently added to the website. You might think to immediately filter out anything older than ‘09, higher than 50km’s, and only automatic. While this seems a smart thing to do, and generally is, it’s important to keep in mind that Craigslist is not like your regular search engine.
This means that if any user posts a rather simple non descriptive ad title for a Ford truck like "truck for sale", you’ll miss it completely, and potentially risk your competitor nabbing a great deal.
Instead, start broad, and first filter by year only. You can then add more filters as you scroll through the ads that pop up.
2. Watch Out For The Wild Cards & Keyboard Cowboys
Since Craigslist is available to anyone with an internet connection, chances are, you’re going to find more than a couple ads that read, well... a little funky. Poor spelling and grammar is inevitable and can mean you might miss a lead. To help mitigate this, you have a couple different options.
We’ll use the example of a home stager searching for “for sale by owner” type leads. For sale by owner situations usually result in homes filled with personal touches like photographs and children's toys, which in the real estate industry can actually hurt the sale of a home (as buyers can’t picture themselves living there). By finding these types of listings, the home stager can approach the lister and approach them with her services to help make their homes more attractive to potential buyers.
The first thing she’d do in this situation would be to do a simple search for terms like “home for sale” or “for sale by owner” or “house for sale” which would yield great results, undoubtedly.
But what about listers that may have misspelled (for any number of reasons), yielding a result like:
“home for sale” being written as “home for sell” or even a slip of a finger resulting in something odd like “home for sale”
In this case, the stager would not have found these ads and missed an opportunity to approach the seller. To help prevent she’d simply have to add an asterisk in the place of certain letters to show all results that may have resulted from misspellings.
So, “home for s***” would match up with any number of four letter keywords starting with an "s" including “home for sale”
3. Cover All Your Bases In A Combination Search
Using the example of a car dealership again, if you’re trying to get an idea of what your competition in the area is like you may be interested the verbiage they’re using on their ads, monitoring the price of certain vehicles and more. With this information in your hands, you can not only run deals and promotions that draw customers into your dealership over the other guy down the road, but also see what’s working for your competition and whats not working.
Let’s say you’re interested in running a deal on pickup trucks and would like to quickly see what pricing your competition has their vehicles set to this week. How do you make sure to catch all models in one search?
Two things to keep in mind here: pipes, and parentheses.
Use your pipe “|” between models like this:
And your parentheses to catch all possible variations of “truck” your competition may be using such as (Truck)(Pickup)(Pickup Truck)
Put the two sections together and you end up with a formula to search along these lines:
This casts a big enough net so that you can see all ads falling under Toyota Truck, Toyota Pickup, Toyota Pickup Truck etc etc.
Craigslist Automation: Harvest Data The Smart Way
Collecting data on Craigslist is fairly simple once you’ve mastered a few tricks like the four above, but if you’re sitting there thinking “This is great, but it just means MORE work for me doesn’t it?”
We certainly agree with you there and while using these tips is much more effective than sifting through page after page of listings, it’s still a big time buster. Oh, there’s also those fussy Google Recaptchas you have to solve.
So how can you harvest data the smart way, without the trouble of manual effort?
By using a dedicated craigslist scraping service like Craiglist Pro, you’re able to significantly speed up the process and get to closing your leads faster. Instead of doing multiple searches, a scraper service can quickly pull all your desired data in a matter of minutes.
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