Many small business owners across the country, even in Dallas (where this blog post originates), think of classified ad websites as an afterthought or not worth their time to post. Other internet marketing tools and strategies are seen as being more interesting, supposedly having broader reach, and even seen as targeting a “low class audience”. Intelligent business owners, in-house marketers, and marketing agencies know that these limiting beliefs can hinder their exposure to a qualified audience.
What you may not be aware of are the extra benefits which classified ads provide you, in addition to the likelihood of receiving a direct phone call/e-mail or walk-in to your store. When you are looking to acquire new customers or clients in a local market, assuming your industry does not have standards preventing classified ad website marketing, then you can benefit your company in any/all of the following manners:
- Direct sales of products or services in your local market
- Announcing open-to-the-public events (either free or paid) on the event calendars
- The links get crawled by the search engines and, if compliant with the site’s standards, can be a “supplemental” link building strategy for your search engine optimization efforts
- Some of the classified ad websites may syndicate your ad to other websites which you do not yet know exist
- Some markets have enterprising people create unique/customized classified ad websites which pull content from other sites. These may target specific parts of a city or even larger homeowners associations across the country
- Some of the sites permit the inclusion of your online videos
- Some of the lesser-known classified ad websites can have your ad rank on the first page of the search engines for some of the lower-competition phrases. This, of course, is on a case-by-case basis; but it still happens today because it leverages the classified ad website’s “authority” in the search engines
- You can test out text or graphic/image ads on local classified ad websites before rolling them out as part of your paid advertising efforts
- You can test headlines, price points, unique tracking phone numbers, specific “calls to action”, etc.
- Some sites allow for easy sharing of your ad with the readers’ social media or e-mail lists
The drawbacks to classified ad website posting are the following:
- Time consuming
- Not sure which “add on” features for which you should pay on those sites which charge. For example, you could pay for highlighting, bold font, etc.
- No guarantee of a ROI
- You think that you will look “cheap” and that your competitors will use it against you
- This usually is a false notion, but it can be perceived that way
- You go in with the belief that physical classified ads are worth the money and time instead of online classified ads
- Some sites force you to learn some basic HTML skills in order to get the ad to look the way you want it to look
Most of the listed drawbacks can be overcome easily, but you need to know the benefits of classified advertising before you can counter the perceived drawbacks.
At this point you may be asking, “On which classified ad websites should I place ads?” There are over 30 classified ad websites which permit ads for virtually any community in the U.S. Here are a few of these top sites, each of which gets a good amount of traffic including the Dallas Fort Worth region:
An often-overlook strategy for attracting new customers is to discover local classified ad sites specific to your local market. Let’s look at Plano Texas, which is a suburb just north of Dallas and south of the cities of Frisco and McKinney. In addition to the main classified websites listed earlier, you can type in a likely-entered phrase into the search engines. In this case, let’s enter “Plano Texas classified ads”. Here is a screenshot of what this search returned in Google tonight:
You can see two additional websites which are worthy investigating a little bit further. After the paid ad for Classifiedads.com, you can see two results:
Of course, you can modify the search and look for results if you want to market outside of the Dallas and Plano TX area.
Determine if these sites offer free or very low-cost advertising. In addition, you can follow some basic suggestions on how to determine if this site gets any respectable amount of traffic from your local area. If you need help on this then be sure to contact me.
Obviously, classified ads on these types of sites are hyper-targeted, but it is best to have a balance between these types of sites, Craigslist, and the rest of the major national classified ad sites mentioned earlier.
If you want to take this process to another level then you can do any/all of the following:
- use tracking phone numbers (if permitted in your industry)
- use tracking websites/domains to determine if the ad is working
- split test headlines, calls-to-action, colors, placement of images, etc.
- include helpful video or images when permitted
- include phone numbers in headlines
- test the wording of your ad and determine if “scarcity”, “invitation marketing”, humor, or if other underlying approaches work best for your audience in that specific market provided that you get enough traffic to your ad(s)
- include phrases to help your search engine efforts such as targeting specific HOA’s, demographic groups, etc.
I hope that by reading this far that you have a somewhat better understanding of how and why online classified advertising can help you with your objective of gaining brand new customers/clients who never heard of you previously, nor were referred by any friends or family. Again, the benefit may be passive (e.g. generating links to boost your main website’s home page in the search engines) versus direct benefit (e.g. getting a call directly from the ad or a walk-in to your location). By properly structuring your ads and placing them on the appropriate web properties you should be taking constructive steps toward boosting your benefits and doing things which your competition is not doing.
If you have any questions or need help with any aspect of your internet marketing in Dallas or elsewhere around the country then feel free to contact me.