Classifieds Advertising – Best Practices

Online advertising is no longer a fad; it is here to stay. Not just that, internet promotion has branched out into a wide array of options. Search marketing (PPC), banner advertising, video marketing, social media and online classifieds advertising.

Classifieds sites make a different breed of marketing. Interestingly, they have gained their popularity not because they are casual online flea markets. But mainly because of their attraction as a form of social media. They have succeeded in building online communities around them where users like to engage socially. Few people realize that we check classifieds sites more out of curiosity than anything else. We enjoy them because we love to know what the neighbors are up to through their ad posting, selling and buying. Moving sales ads have become our local news of who is moving. Then there is the “deal” attraction part of it. We unconsciouly believe that any purchase from an online classifieds site is a “deal”. And many times, it is. But even if we pay the “Sears” price for it, we will still be convinced we snatched a deal.

Online classifieds advertising is gradually becoming the leading wagon in web marketing. It is expected to be even more popular as the rate of human interaction over the internet is breaking an all-time record. But for classifieds advertising to work, certain steps must be followed. First Things First.

Have a plan

It is important to lay down a plan before you get started. It could be as basic as a list of goals you want to accomplish. For example, driving an extra 100 visitors to your website per month from classifieds sites or a particular classified site. Such plan will allow you to review and evaluate what has been accomplished, what worked and what did not. The results of such evaluation will enable you to adjust your advertising strategy going forward.

Make a list

You will need this both to avoid random ad posting and to track your campaign’s performance. Some sites are worthy of your time and some aren’t. Here are some tips:

  1. Exclude spam-ridden sites that allow cheap ads and postings from outside the country.
  2. Only select local sites that have built an online community around them. These are usually dominated by local listings. Local is best. If you’re targeting visitors from the US, there is no point posting ads in a classifieds site in India.
  3. If the site contains business listings in your industry, it is a good enough place to have yours listed there, too. Do not dwell too much on the site’s popularity or number of listings. Smaller sites have their advantages, too. One of them, your ad will enjoy longer visibility. After all, even one or two clients can be a valuable acquisition to your business.

Follow site rules

Reading the Terms of Service(TOS) and the Frequently asked questions (FAQ) is a good time investment. You may inadvertently find yourself violating them. Some common rules to bear in mind:

  1. Do not cross post. Always post to the right category and local demographics.
  2. Do not overpost. Two ads per day is a safe bet.
  3. Do not post same ad over and over (or with a slight variation).

Create Ad and Test it

Do you remember when your first posted your ad on CL late at night, then went to bed? What were you thinking?

Let me guess!

You were overjoyed and could not wait to wake up the next morning to find customers have flocked to your offer. And at least hundreds of queued orders placed overnight waiting for you to process.

Not so generously!

Not matter how awesome and affordable is the product or service, prospects still need to be fairly convinced. In this time of economic recession and fierce competition, your offer needs to be extra attractive. This is where ad copy writing comes into play. Here are some ad copy writing basics.

  1. Narrow down your ad’s demographics.
  2. Write your ad in plain english and keep it consize. Your ad should clearly define your offer.
  3. Make your ad’s headline stand out. Pick words that convey an appealing message. Only great headlines can get you those good and targeted visitors.
  4. Make your ad search engine friendly. Think of what words or phrases users use to search for similar offers. You need to include at least some of them. A successful ad is one that strikes a balance between a catchy headline and a searchable one.
  5. In the body of your ad, try and relate to what might motivate the buyer into purchase. Whatever motivation they have, try to relate to it. Whether it’s a problem and how you solved it. Or a goal and how you achieved it. Story telling is a powerful marketing technique.
  6. Ensure your ad works by testing it. Don’t settle on the first draft. Keep tweaking it till it works.

A free online ad is an effective, faster and cheaper way to test for a paid one (i.e AdWords PPC) or an offline advert(newspapers). What works online will work perfectly on print advertising.

Keep doing it.

Classified advertising works better as a long-term campaign. Continued exposure = Continued visibility. Repeated advertising will also help the message stick in your oblivious prospect’s mind.

Scenario 1:

Am passionate about your stuff that you posted for sale on Monday evening. But since I only check my local classifieds site Friday morning, I did not see your ad. If you keep posting regularly, you increase the chances of me spotting your offer. That simple.

Scenario 2:

I did see your offer on Friday morning but I did not care about it. Seeing the same offer in the same section repeatedly will eventually prompt me to check it out(at least out of curiosity).

Track ad performance

There is no point keeping on promoting a certain product that did not sell(Assuming you’ve done things right). Something needs to be changed. May be the price, the packaging, service guarantees, etc. May be a certain site did not bring any leads and needs to be dropped from the list. Consider this only if time is an issue as sites are dynamic entities that rise and drop in performance. Also make sure you have used it for an enough time period to be able to judge its performance.

But how do you track this?

There are various tracking methods you can use to calculate the return of your advertisements. You can track by using a unique coupon code on each advert posted or a site-specific one. You can also include a URL identifier.