Craigslist has been an incredible source of leads and revenue for car dealers, but doing business with the site hasn’t come without peril. There are a multitude of posting issues: over-posting, posting too quickly, listings get flagged, accounts get banned, certain computers get blocked, entire dealerships get banned from posting… and the list goes on and on. The bottom line is that Craigslist was not created for commercialization, but instead as a community service – so they have absolutely no desire to cater to businesses using their website.
So how do you conduct regular business on Craigslist? I’ve unpacked the top ten Frequently Asked Questions about Craigslist from our dealers to help you make Craigslist a successful part of your marketing efforts (and ideally, drastically increase your sales).
1. How come I can post from home, but not from my dealership?
Craigslist has either blocked your IP address or you MAC address. An IP Address is a numerical label assigned to any network device (a computer or network router, for example) and is used for communication on the Internet. Generally speaking, every computer inside your dealership network goes out to the Internet with the same external IP Address. If your IP address has been blocked, then any computer using that IP address will be unable to post to Craigslist.
A MAC address is a unique identifier assigned to your computer for communication on a network. If your MAC Address has been blocked, then that specific computer is banned from Craigslist. The monitoring technology used by Craigslist can detect abuse and block either (or both) options.
2. I could post earlier today, but now I can’t post. Why?
Craigslist issues temporary bans on accounts without notice. They don’t send you an email or call you, you’ll just suddenly wonder why you can’t post listings. In many cases, this is brought on by over-posting or posting too frequently.
3. Why aren’t my listings showing up on Craigslist?
In most cases, Craigslist will take 15 to 20 minutes to add a new listing to the site. If your listings don’t appear after 20 minutes, then something is going on. They’ve probably placed a temporary ban on your account, but they continue to let you post on the site. Our recommendation is to take a break from listing today and try again tomorrow.
4. I’ve been banned from Craigslist. How can I continue listing on the site?
Assuming you have been banned in every way (IP Address, MAC Address, Craigslist account, and duplicate content), you will need to create a new Craigslist account with a new email address and then post from a different location (a different computer on a different network).
5. Can I post my cars directly to the site without a template?
Yes. In fact, it is a good practice to vary your listings so you don’t get flagged for “duplicate listings”. After logging in, simply click the “post to classifieds” link and follow the wizard. It is a bit more work to copy and paste content and then upload photos, but it’s well worth the diversification of listing templates.
6. How can I post to multiple cities on Craigslist?
We get this question all the time from dealers, but even still, we do not recommend this strategy. The best strategy is to post in your specific (or nearest) city and play within the policies of Craigslist. If you want to try to beat the system and try multi-city posting, then you’ll need to use a unique email address for each account. Make sure that each account is always tied to the specific email address associated with it. You’ll also be better off posting to each city from different IP addresses.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Multi-city posting is the fastest way to get banned from Craigslist. They DO record the location of your IP Address for each post, so eventually they will detect the over-posting. It’s like playing a clam shell game – you might get lucky a few times, but in the end, you’ll lose.
7. Why are my listings getting flagged?
Several conditions can contribute to your listings getting flagged, but the two main contributors are most likely other community members flagging your listings (because they’re trying to keep companies off the “community” website) OR a competitor is probably flagging of your listings to reduce competiton. Best practices to avoid flagged listings: do not post the same vehicle twice in less than 7 days, randomize your posting template, and don’t post 100% of your inventory every day. Your best option is to post less than 15% of your inventory each day, with no more than 10 cars posted daily.
8. How does Craigslist know what city I’m in?
Whenever you post, Craiglist records your IP address. Your IP address can provide the geolocation of your network. Now that Craigslist knows your geolocation information, it can serve up the nearest city and know pretty accurately where you’re located. Don’t believe me? Go to www.whatismyipaddress.com and see for yourself.
9. Who can I call at Craigslist to talk about my issues?
Nobody! Amazingly enough, there aren’t any service agents for you to speak with. Earlier this year, I tried calling the phone number listed on their WHOIS information for craigslist.org. After navigating the auto attendant for an hour, I finally got a billing person on the phone, who then sent me to “some guy” who told me exactly “we have less than 30 people working here and don’t have time for this phone call. –click.” True story.
10.Is there a better time of day to post?
No one has reliable data to show that certain times of day are better to post. Prior to the April 22, 2011 changes made by Craigslist, much of the monitoring of the site was manual or done by the community. The theory was that posting earlier in the morning was advantageous, because most of the site police volunteers were on the west coast. As of the update on April 22, we now believe that many of the monitoring and security measures have been automated, so posting at certain times to avoid manual detection is no longer relevant. Our recommendation is to diversify your listing times (morning, afternoon, and night).
I can sum up all of these issues with one question: “Why is it so difficult to work with Craigslist?” The answer: Craigslist is an online classified community. The biggest misunderstanding that dealers have about posting is that Craigslist simply doesn’t care that you are there… period. The site deems itself a “community service” for individuals, not companies, so they don’t care about making it easy for you to post.
If you’re already using Craigslist, these guidelines will help you improve your listing strategy, and if you’re not using Craigslist, this list will help you drastically boost your sales. If you have any tips you’d like to share, please share them in the comments below.