Online Marketing Tips: Search Engine Marketing vs. Online Classified Advertising

Here's a deeper look into when a small business should use search engine marketing, Craigslist or both.

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3. Doesn’t offer measurement tools.

There is not an adequate way to measure who has clicked on your Craigslist advertisement other than a tracking code embedded in the html for a flyer or infographic you created. Otherwise, tracking inbound calls or link click-throughs to your company website (conversions) are other viable options.

There is third-party software available to track Craigslist ads, however Craigslist does not monitor or publish the analytics.

Search Engine Marketing vs. Online Classified Advertising

While Craiglist provides certain pros and cons for small business advertising, search engine marketing (SEM) may be an even better marketing tool for your company because SEM:

1. Efforts are highly targeted.

Search engine marketing (SEM) is highly targeted and likely to gain your business higher value customers who aren’t looking for a bargain, when compared to Craigslist users.

2. Provides real-time analytics and metrics tracking.

Search engines (such as Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc.) offer tools to track searchers who view your small business advertisements so you can measure ad performance. If you don’t measure your advertising efforts, you cannot manage them effectively.

3. Offers a larger audience of prospective buyers.

The number of active online searchers on search engines is significantly larger than the Craigslist community. For instance, Google collects over 3 billion searches each day while Craigslist receives over 10 million visitors each day. Also remember that a segment of Google searches are comprised of individuals searching for information, however many online searchers are looking for a product or service.

Which is Better For My Business?

If you have a conservative marketing budget and you’re interested in selling a product or service at or below cost, Craigslist is a great channel for your business. In contrast, if you want to spend a little more and track leads, search engine marketing is the better marketing channel.

I won’t make the decision for you, but you can discern from the above information which channel will yield the revenue and return on investment (ROI) you require.

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Photo: Bebe

Justin Croxton is a founder and managing partner at Que Commerce, a digital marketing consulting firm. Justin helps small businesses leverage digital opportunities to find more customers, implement search engine optimization, and benefit from pay per click advertising.


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