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There’s no question that car dealers see huge benefits from advertising their inventory on Craigslist. Dealers who post their new and used cars on Craigslist can successfully drive direct traffic to their website and gain leads from telephone calls and online contact forms. But Craigslist marketing can also cost you: dealers have to find time to manually post their cars and optimize how regularly they re-post. Preventing listings from getting flagged is another major problem for many managers, and it becomes costly for dealerships to repost ads on a daily basis. On top of getting your posts flagged and removed by random Craigslist users, you also have to be wary of competitors who may use black hat tactics like a program to automatically flag Craigslist posts. To avoid having your Craigslist posts flagged, follow these best practice strategies.
Strategy #1: Spread Out Your Craigslist Posting Over Several Days
Depending on your target area, every one of your posts stays live between 7-45 days. For dealerships with a large inventory of cars, it’s best to set up a schedule to spread out your Craigslist posting over several days. This practice regulates the frequency of posting, and prevents flooding Craigslist with your posts, which is often the key reason why listings are flagged for removal or “ghosted”. When a post is ghosted, it means Craigslist receives the listing but does not post it live on the website. A post can also get flagged or ghosted if you list a car that already has a live ad, so it’s best to keep track of your vehicles over a period of time before you post it.
Strategy #2: Post Less Than Your Full Inventory
If you’re trying to post your entire inventory on Craigslist, then your posts will most likely get flagged. Smaller car dealers can get away with listing their entire inventory on Craigslist if they have anywhere between 20 to 100 cars and distribute their posts across different areas and over several days. Larger auto dealers using Craigslist will need to patiently post a fraction of their full inventory during each period, and list a maximum of 80% of their used inventory.
Strategy #3: Use Multiple Unique IP Addresses
Craigslist automatically monitors the IP addresses of where posts originate, so if they notice that too many posts are coming from the same IP, then those listings will get flagged for removal. Craigslist does this to prevent one person from spamming their site with too many ads at once. Many car dealers at single locations only have one IP address to work with, so using the same IP address to post on Craigslist is often the cause of flagged posts. To aggressively advertise on Craigslist, you will need use multiple unique IP addresses. You can do this manually, or make use of an automated Craigslist posting service to do it for you.
Strategy #4: Post At Random Times and Strategize for High Traffic Days
Aggressive competitors from the same area may try to use an automated Craigslist flagging program to have your listings taken down. But to use these programs, they’ll have to find and insert the specific URL of the listing into the program. When you post early in the morning or late at night, you make it more difficult for people to directly target your posts. You can post at random times before high traffic days like Friday, Saturday and Sundays to avoid getting flagged by competitors. This also helps you target the days when many customers are on Craigslist searching for cars.
Strategy #5: Use Non-Identifiable Text and Vary Your URLs
The only way an automatic flagging program works is if it has your Craigslist post URL. Others can find your Craigslist posts by doing direct searches for your dealership’s name in the body of your listings. If you include your dealership’s name in either a URL or text-based content within your posts, then those listings have a chance of getting targeted by anyone trying to flag your posts. Instead, use image-based templates that include your dealership name, phone number, and location. Car buyers searching for specific car models can still see everything in your ad, but you’ll make it harder for anyone specifically trying to search for your dealership.
The Complete Solution: Using an Automated Craigslist Posting Service
These five strategies can dramatically decrease how often your Craigslist posts are flagged. The longer your listings stay live, the less time you spend posting each and every car in your inventory. Auto dealers that have a large inventory will naturally see higher costs to listing their cars on Craigslist, because it takes more time to deploy these strategies to make sure your posts stay online. For this reason, many large dealerships have chosen to pay for Craigslist automated posting services. The best automated Craigslist posting services use programs that have built-in functions to make sure most of your inventory is posted without getting removed or ghosted. Larger dealers who want to optimize selling cars on Craigslist often find that automated services are more cost-effective compared to manually listing and monitoring posts themselves.