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Brent Williams' Apartment Blog

Thoughts, comments, and ideas about the overall multifamily industry, as well as a property-specific focus on resident retention and apartment marketing.

Trending Up: Social Media, Email Marketing, and Pay Per Click Advertising | Trending Down: Craigslist Ads?

We recently released our 2017 Apartment Marketing Strategies Report that surveyed marketing pros throughout multifamily about their strategies.  One of the questions we asked was the use of several marketing strategies, including social media, email marketing, pay per click advertising, and Craigslist, as well as their marketing budget overall.  Here are some trends based upon responses by 111 marketing professionals:


Craigslist is an interesting topic, in that it was the hot marketing location 4+ years ago, but then spiraled downward following changes to the Craigslist platform.  In fact, many people had left Craigslist for dead, but at the NAA Education Conference and Expo, Lauren Curley, Chief Operating Officer of Bonaventure Realty Group, stated that Craigslist is still an excellent driver of leases.  She then posted a response on this forum post with great data:  Questions on Craigslist Posting

So what is your take?  Is Craigslist still dying, or were we too quick to call a time of death?  Share your experiences with Craigslist in the comments below!

Also, if you would like access to the full marketing research report with loads more data on virtual reality, remarketing strategies, marketing budgets, marketing metrics, and more, you can download the full report for free here (must be logged in)  > >  What are the latest trends in apartment marketing for 2017?

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  • Craigslist is dying for two big reasons.

    The first is that a majority of apartment research is conducted on mobile devices nowadays. Most people don't have a native Craiglist app on their phone, but they most certainly have a native Google search app. And because we live in an on-demand society, few people want to take the extra steps of heading to Craigslist.org, filtering to city/state, clicking on apartment search, filtering for price and bedroom, etc. etc. when they could (alternatively) just type "studio apartments in Philadelphia $1200" into Google and get hundreds of results IMMEDIATELY. And make no mistake, this is also the same exact reason Pay Per Click is on the rise: It allows you to rank directly on Google for these very precise searches.

    The second reason has to do with demographics: Millennials don't use craigslist too often. And Millennials are the largest renting demo. The only Millennials who might use Craigslist are those who live in college towns, where most rental properties are converted homes and duplexes, rather than large rental communities.

    That said, I'm not sure if multifamily should ignore craigslist altogether. If you have the time, any lead generating source is nice to have. But if you're stretched for time/resources, you definitely should be putting more effort into PPC and paid social media than you put into Craigslist.

  • Thanks for the comment, Jeff. Did you see the post by Lauren at Bonaventure about Craigslist? I think it would be interesting for you. I think some of this is a now versus future question, where your points about Craigslist are valid as Craigslist is not optimized for how Millennials search, but in the short term, Bonaventure is definitely doing well by it.

  • 55% of Millennials go to google first for product discovery (the largest source) and Craigslist outranks any ILS by more than half a million keywords. Millennials aren't a threat to Craigslist if you look at real data...

  • Mike Whaling

    Craigslist isn't dying, but they made it a lot harder for marketers to use and track ... so as the study indicates, many marketers aren't using it as frequently as they were a few years back. The disconnect is that CL is still quite popular among consumers, and they've actually done a decent job to make their interface usable on mobile devices.

    Some points to note:
    * CL claims more than 60 million monthly U.S. visitors. Their traffic has dipped, but it's still incredibly significant (https://www.similarweb.com/website/craigslist.org)
    * CL actually has slightly more overall searches than it did five years ago (https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=today%205-y&geo=US&q=craigslist)

    Simply put, a lot of our potential prospects still use Craigslist. Lauren's data validates this: the more you post to CL, the more likely you'll see more leads and leases at your property. Yeah, it's harder than it used to be because it takes time and effort to track, but it's nowhere close to dead as a viable marketing channel.

    I love hearing that more people are using email marketing (and I hope that means drip campaigns)!

  • Great feedback, Mike - thanks for chiming in.

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