Craigslist's Demographics are Good for Your Business

Friday, 01-20-2012

I constantly get skeptical responses when I recommend that business owners advertise on Craigslist. First of all, advertising on Craigslist is completely free and the process of posting (and re-posting) only takes about a couple minutes a day.

The perception that Craigslist only attracts low end customers and cheapskates is wrong. Business owners will often say "I tried that already. It didn't bring in any quality customers." When I see one of their ads, the problem is almost always because the marketer didn't put any effort into their ad. Often there are misspelled words and the whole message is in plain text with everything clumped into a single paragraph. Hardly an effort that would deserve any success.

The benefits you get out of running your ads (anywhere, not just on Craigslist) is a direct impact on the effort you put into constructing it.

If you're still skeptical about Craigslist buyers being "low-lifes", I will list the demographic facts for you:

  • 24% have incomes between 30 to 60k
  • 29% have incomes between 60 and 100k
  • 32% have incomes over $100k
  • 44% have attended college
  • 16% have graduate level degrees
  • 46% of visitors are between 18 and 34
  • 35% are between 35 and 49

The news media loves to publicize each time a tragedy or something negative happens. However, people who only deal locally and in accordance with Craigslist's terms of service seldom have any problems. Most fraud incidences occur with selling items to people who are not local and involve payment systems such as Western Union.

Craigslist is no more dangerous than anywhere else if you use it properly. In the physical world, being somewhere after midnight is generally more dangerous than if you were at that same location in the middle of the afternoon. The same principal applies on the web. If you are dealing locally, you should make sure you are in a neutral, safe, public place when meeting someone for the first time.

You should also never include your email address in your ads. Craigslist already embeds an email reply service that hides your email address. Although you will get a spam email through this occasionally, they are far less common than if you list your email somewhere publicly on the web. There are software programs that scan the web looking for email addresses. So, be careful where you list your email.

It is also important to note that your most serious customers will call. An individual who only emails is less likely to take any action when it comes to buying your product or service. Many times, they use email as being an easy way to shop around for the cheapest price. It's vital that you display your phone number in bold at the top and bottom of your ad, especially if it's long and users have to scroll down to read the entire message.