Using Online Classifieds to Generate Leads

Using Online Classifieds to Generate Leads

If you’re lacking leads, feeling low on opportunities, dealing with a small marketing budget, or even fearing that you’ll have to go back and join the 9-5 working class again, using online classifieds to generate leads could be your winning strategy.

generate leads

Getting more leads fixes a whole lot of problems for struggling real estate investors, and using online classifieds is a low-cost, nearly free way to generate leads.

And if you generate leads this way and turn it into a system, you’ll have an abundance of leads, more opportunities to seize, and more income to enjoy… and it will all be consistent.

Ultimately, you will begin to experience the financial independence you signed up for as a real estate investor in the first place.

5 Principles for Using Online Classifieds to Generate Leads

Today, I’m going to walk you through my system for generating leads with online classifieds. You can either do this yourself or train VAs to do it for you.

Principle #1: Why Would It Make Sense for You to Incorporate This into Your Marketing Plan?

Well, there are a few reasons:

  1. It’s essentially free. Time-consuming, sure, but free all the same.
  2. It’s a pretty simple process to attract your ideal prospect.
  3. It’s online, where people’s attention is, and the cost to put an ad in front of them on these platforms is zero dollars.

In short, this method gets you the most bang for your (non-existent) buck.

Principle #2: Where Do You Want to Implement This Strategy?

Let’s address the 800-pound gorilla in the room first: Craigslist.

I mean, you want to be there. There’s a lot of noise so it can be tough to get eyeballs on your ad, but you have to be there – it’s one of the biggest websites in the world. That’s where all the eyes are.

And with what I’m about to share with you, you’ll be able to cut through that noise significantly.

With that said, go ahead and run a Google search for “websites like Craigslist.” You’ll get another 20 websites you can work with in the same fashion.

Most of your results will probably come from Craigslist, but don’t limit yourself to just that one site. You can get results from every website with this process.

generate leads

Principle #3: How to Capture the Lead and Follow Up

To capture a lead’s information, you can use any of the following:

  • A website
  • A phone number
  • A texting opt-in service
  • A messenger bot

Whatever you choose, make sure to record each lead’s name and email address/phone number.

The fortune is in the follow up, and you now have the ability to follow up with any of these leads.

Methods of Communication

Which lead capture system you use may depend on the site you’re posting on.

For example, clickable links are probably the best way to drive traffic to your website or landing page, but some sites don’t allow them.

It can be hard to get people to your site without clickable links, just as it can be hard to get people to actually pick up the phone and call you. So my advice is, use everything the classified website allows you to use.

Everyone has a different preference for communication, so offer as many methods as possible. However, make sure all of the methods will put the lead’s information into your CRM. They should also all lead to the same call to action.

The all-new REI.Solutions has all of this integrated underneath one umbrella. It’s very intuitive and economically priced, so I suggest you check it out if you haven’t already.

Most CRMs these days should do the trick, though. You just might need a third-party integration here and there to make it all happen the way you want.

Principle #4: Putting Together a Message That Evokes a Response from Your Ideal Prospect

This is my favorite part.

This is what separates success from no success.

Everyone can follow what I’ve said up to this point and be on a level playing field, but right here – putting together a message that will provoke your prospect to respond – will separate success from no success.

If you go through the classifieds, you’ll see just about everyone doing the same thing you are – and in my opinion, they’re doing it all wrong.

Most people are essentially just screaming at their prospects, and they’re all asking for things. This approach just plain doesn’t work, and it hasn’t since I started working this strategy over a decade ago. I’m not sure why everyone keeps trying it over and over.

So change your message to be all about what’s in it for THEM, not what’s in it for YOU.

This is a common concept. It’s not new, it’s not even my idea, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who disagrees with it – yet very, very few people actually focus on and implement it.

Take advantage of the fact that you’re now one of the few people who will! Focus on your prospect and give them what they want. If you do this, they will later give you what you want.

Give Them What They Want

To do this effectively, you must identify what it is that your prospects want.

For example, let’s say you’re looking for sellers. Sellers want:

  • Speed
  • Ease
  • A bargain
  • No hassles
  • A fair deal
  • Competence
  • Discretion
  • Someone who will get the job done without any overwhelming burdens on them

These are all things that should make up the dominant portion of your classified postings targeted to sellers, both in the headline and the body of the posts.

And, again, don’t ever shift the focus to you. Keep it all on them.

Now, let’s say you’re looking buyers. Buyers want:

  • Equity
  • Return on investment (ROI)
  • Cash flow
  • Opportunity
  • A deal – they want to strike gold!

Again, for a listing targeted to buyers, these are the things that should make up the bulk of it, both in the headline and body of the posts.

A Tip for Maintaining Focus

If you’re finding it difficult to keep the focus off of you and on your prospects, try to write your entire post (including the headline) without use of the word “I.” Every time you feel the need to do so, ask yourself, “How can I reword this by using the word ‘you’ instead?”

Cut the Crap

Another tip is to avoid the use of fluffy adjectives like:

  • “This amazing deal…”
  • “This cute little house…”
  • “This unbelievable deal…”


generate leads

This is pure BS and everyone knows it. Focus on the facts instead – particularly, the facts your prospect wants to hear about.

A straight, to-the-point headline that appeals to sellers might sound something like, “Get a Cash Offer Quickly and Easily That Will Close as Promised.”

For buyers, it might sound something more like, “25% Below Market – Investor Liquidating Inventory.”

Notice that neither of these incorporate any fluffy adjectives. They’re both short, intriguing, and appealing to their given audience.

How to Keep Your Ads From Being Deleted

First off, you’ll want to avoid posting the exact same headline and ad copy over and over. Many websites have algorithms in place that will detect and delete duplicate content.

So mix it up. You don’t want your account to get shut down or your ads to disappear without your realizing it.

Second, make sure not to over-deliver or stretch the truth with your ads. Craigslist (and a lot of communities like Craigslist) have community policing that might flag and remove anything that looks like a scam.

And If You Have a Couple Dollars to Spend…

Some sites will let you boost ads for higher visibility. It’s usually pretty cheap.

Every site is different, so just look to see what they offer and use it to your advantage.

Principle #5: How Often Should You Do This?

A lot of you won’t like this answer…. but the answer is daily.

This strategy isn’t just placing a few classified ads, sitting back, and watching the money roll in. It’s a strategy of consistency and persistence, and if you’re not prepared to take that on, don’t start. Don’t even do it.

Yes, it’s possible to get a deal right off the bat – but it’s not common. And if you can see yourself giving up after 60 days of effort and no deals, don’t even start.

This is a strategy for the long run. It compounds and snowballs over time until you have ads all over the internet. For most sites, you might not even be able to find your ad later when you search for it, but they stick around forever in random places of the internet.

The Fruits of Your Labors

Eventually, you’ll recognize this as you do deals with people who have found your ads. A certain number of these people will have seen your ad, realized that you were offering exactly what they wanted, and boom – contacted you.

And with other leads, you’ll find that they found your ad completely accidentally. Something I get pretty often when I’m going through the whole “How did you hear about me?” conversation is that a lot of people don’t even remember when or where they heard about you. Their answer is more like, “You know, I don’t really remember. I was just clicking around and I saw your number, I wrote it down, and I came back to it later.” It’s pretty amazing.

That’s what it’s mostly going to be after you’ve done this for a long period of time, but you HAVE to be consistent and put in the work to make it happen.

Remember, you can either do this business fast by buying your way in or over a really long amount of time by earning your way in. One method takes dollars and the other takes sweat. I don’t know that one is better than the other, but I will say that sweat is a perfectly acceptable way to get in as long as you adjust your expectations accordingly.

A Word on Frequency

Frequency is very important here. If you make the perfect post on Craigslist right now – a perfect headline, a great offer, the whole deal – it will still sink into oblivion within a few hours.

That’s just what happens on Craigslist. The volume of posts is huge, and as more people put their ads up, yours will continue to get shoved down to the bottom.

To combat this, I suggest making a post at 8AM, 12PM, and 5PM. Three times per day total.

This is a little time-consuming and tedious up front, but once you have a good circulation of these ads, all you’ll have to do is log in once per day and click a button to repost. And you could easily hire a VA to do this step for you, too.

Your Online Classifieds Game Plan

Now, let’s look at some actionable steps that you can take to incorporate the 5 above principles into your business.

  1. Get your lead capture tools in place. At the very least, you need a phone number and website so people can contact you after finding your ads.
  2. Identify your prospect and make a list of what they want.
  3. Create at least 10 headlines that include what your prospect wants. It’d be a good idea to make sure you can actually deliver on these as well.
  4. Create at least 3 ads. This is the body text of the ad, and it should include more details of what your prospects want.
  5. Pick one of your 10 headlines, one of your 3 ads, and post it. Do this 3 times per day. Then go to the next website and repeat the process, making sure that you’re only taking on as many websites as you can reasonably handle.

Remember, the best marketing strategy is the one that you’re going to do consistently. You need multiple marketing lines in the water, so don’t pick any more than you can implement consistently.

generate leads

The Richer Richardsons

What inspired me to write about generating leads through online classifieds was the Richardsons.

The Richardsons were a couple who drove out to one of our Grub N’ Grow Rich events in Atlanta. I got a chance to sit down with them and hear their story – and why they were willing to drive so far for our event.

The Richardsons had learned a lot from our podcast, The Epic Real Estate Investing Show, and they’d implemented a lot of what they’d learned. With zero dollars, they’d worked the online classifieds – Craigslist, specifically – and despite a slow beginning of nearly three months of no bites, they got a deal. Soon after, they got their second deal, and then a third, and they were on their way.

At the time, they were both working full-time jobs – he as a delivery guy and she as a waitress – but they were consistent with their activity.  Their coordinated their schedules so that one of them was nearly always available to answer the phone, and that was it. They placed the ads and answered the phone when it rang, and they found deals.

Learn More On the Go

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generate leads

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Matt Theriault

Real estate investor and educator.