Last week’s discussion about marketing apartments on Craigslist stirred up a lot of questions. So many in fact, we wanted to follow it up with a Part II to address some of the great questions that came in.

Here are some of the questions we were able to address in this second session, along with a recap of some of the highlights of the discussion:

Is there any downside to using Craigslist to market your apartments? If so, what is it?
(Question submitted by Tara Smiley.)

  • Jennifer Kennedy: The only downside I could see if the time spent on Craiglist isn’t bringing any qualified leads.
  • Eric at Buildium: You limit yourself to those that search for apts on Craigslist. Great start, but only a piece of the marketing pie.
  • Carrie White: The search feature on Craigslist is not ideal … it is hard to cut through the clutter.
  • Darcey Forbes: Downside is working with current residents who are in a lease and want that new price & communicating why the price is as it is.
  • Sara Goberdhansingh: Craigslist is very easy to use for apt seekers, but I’ve noticed it’s used more on an individual basis, not really so much by communities.
  • Carrie White: In my market, CL is viewed as being over-run by Locators and is not trusted by many apartment seekers.
  • Kirstin Williams: Another downside is the time sunk on posting, reposting, reposting. Hard to track this hidden cost, does anyone try to?

Should you have the renter email or call you? What’s best?

  • Carrie White: I prefer email…I have had my phone ring at all hours of the night b/c of late night surfing.
  • Sara Goberdhansingh: BOTH! You need to let your prospects decide what the best way is for them to get in touch with you.
  • Eric at Buildium: Whatever the prospect feels most comfortable doing. Keep them in their comfort zone, but be responsive either way.
  • BakeExtraCookies: During business hours we see that most people call our users. After hours, the number of emails spikes.
  • Eva Panagiotopoulos: Interesting question – Anyone using SMS?
  • Paulette Barrett: Would suggest using a unique email address though for tracking purposes where possible.
  • Brian Owen: We need to be able to adapt. If the customer wants to send a smoke signal, you better have a campfire ready to respond.
  • Tamela Coval: Phone call Leads are a useful tracking & training tool, as well as measuring effectiveness of lead quality vs quantity.
  • MyNewPlace: Around 70 percent of our users expect a response to email within 24 hours.
  • Paulette Barrett: We see roughly 5 calls to 1 email response with the clients we work with.

We’ve tried Craigslist several times and it doesn’t seem to work. Does it vary by market?

  • Tara Smiley: We get local primarily. We average 3 calls/month from people moving to the area.
  • Just speculating here… could it be because in some markets renters look more for privately-owned apts?
  • DriveBuy: CL Austin is somewhat of an Arms Race. Your ad will be on page 1 for maybe an hour.
  • Paulette Barrett: Phoenix and Dallas are two [of the more challenging markets.]

My boss is worried about scammers. How can you get scammed? How can you protect yourself?

  • Nashville Web Design: Renter sends a big check, letting us deposit it, keep our part, and ask us to send the remainder to somebody elsewhere.
  • DriveBuy: You can get scammed by identity thieves using your complex as a carrot to steal someone’s identity.

Does Craigslist help our Google rankings? Is there a certain style we should be using? What keywords should we use when we write ads?

  • Ann Padgett: I don’t know about rankings specifically, but it can increase your digital footprint.
  • Nashville Web Design: Craigslist has “no-follow” on all their links and does not affect Google rankings or page rank.
  • MyNewPlace: Google crawls Craigslist and properties (or units) will rank on their SRPs. passing SEO [authority] to a given site is another story.
  • BakeExtraCookies: Optimize your ads to come up in Craigslist searches. Use key words that have high # searches in your area.
  • PageRank is definitely important. However, sometimes just getting the spider to a page quickly is good too (see Twitter).

There was an interesting side conversation about the value of ads on Craigslist and ILSs in terms of search optimization for your community. ILSs have LOTS of data about this subject. If you are advertising with any of the ILSs, make sure you’re asking how they can help you optimize your ads to get the most out of them for your community. Other good side conversation topics included ad formatting, expected response time for new leads and the real cost of posting ads to Craigslist. You can read the full transcript here.

I think we’re officially worn out on Craigslist and the rest of the free classifieds sites for a while, but feel free to leave us your comments to let us know what is (or maybe isn’t) working for you. And if you have another topic you’d like us to discuss on a future #AptChat, just let us know!