Why Manually Posting Cars to Craigslist Sucks

Sucks to post on Craigslist

Looking at the best return for your marketing dollar, Craigslist has to be near the top for auto dealers. Instead of a monthly fee to market your inventory, Craigslist offers a transactional model. This allows dealers to post EXACTLY which cars they think will sell best on Craigslist. Hint: vehicles between $3k – $25k work best. New and high dollar cars tend not to move as quickly. Before 12/3/13, when the $5 per vehicle post change was implemented, dealers could throw everything they could at the wall to see what would stick. After the pay-per-post implementation dealers have to focus more on quality ads. Craigslist dropped HTML and links all in an effort to help the customer focus on finding the best deal in their budget. Standardizing the ads and making the ads paid has cut down on most of the junk and has further cemented Craigslist’s standing as a premier marketing site for auto dealers.

It is a great market that moves cars…but it absolutely sucks to manually post your inventory. There are MANY steps involved and Craigslist offers up very few ways to make things easier. They don’t even load your phone, contact name nor address! You’ll have to type those in every single time. Let’s take a look at the posting process.

Step 1 – we’ll assume you already have an account setup. They are free and easy to setup, shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. If you don’t have an account set one up here. If you do have an account login first.

Step 2 – pick cars+trucks under the for sale section.

Craigslist posting start


Step 3 – pick BY-DEALER ONLY. Don’t even try to avoid the $5 per post fee by posting in BY-OWNER ONLY. You’ll get flagged and if you somehow get through that it sends the wrong message to your customers. Not a great way to start the relationship.


Step 4 – for some reason Craigslist takes you to a general posting area and makes you start the process over. As I mentioned, they don’t make it easy! Pick for sale by dealer.

for sale by dealer

Step 5 – pick cars & trucks – by dealer.

cars & trucks - by dealer

Step 6 – next, pick your location. This varies by city. In Phoenix we have options for all over the valley. Pick the most appropriate place. You may need to check the main listings by area if you aren’t familiar with the areas mentioned.

chose location

Step 7 – FINALLY, we see a screen to enter our vehicle information! You are given 31 fields to fill in or make an either/or decision! Ugh, too much work for 1 vehicle. Note that fields in green are required for you post to go live.

create posting

Step 8 – fill in your information. Below is what an ad would typically look like. Craigslist does not allow HTML or links so there is a big emphasis on phone calls and call tracking. You can put a plain text URL in the ad, but the user is forced to copy and paste from the ad to a browser. You’ll see a low conversion on that. This step will take the longest amount of time as you want to spend some time making a great posting body. You can use some of the following code in your ad according to http://www.craigslist.org/about/help/html_in_craigslist_postings/details:

A, IMG, FONT, TABLE, DIV, SPAN, CENTER aren’t allowed in cars & trucks – by dealer.

Element Attributes / Values
<b><u><i><big><small> none
<font> size=[2, 3, 4, 5, 6]
color=[black, blue, fuchsia, green, maroon, navy, olive, purple, red, teal]
<p> align=[left,right,justify]
<br> clear=[left, all, right, none]
<blockquote> none
<hr> align=[left, center, right]
<h1><h2><h3><h4><h5><h6> align=[left, center, right]
<ul><ol><li> none
<dl><dd><dt> none
<a> href=[<uri>]
target=[<target window>]
<img> src=[<uri>]
<pre> none
<table> border=[<pixels>]
<tr> none
<th><td> colspan=[<num>]





filled out Craigslist ad

Step 9 – We are about halfway through. Confirm your location on the map.

confirm location

Step 10 – next, add photos! You can add up to 24 photos for your ad. This is a great place to have 1 photo with an overlay of the vehicle information and a call-to-action (CTA) to call the the dealer for more information.

Craigslist add photos

Step 11 – your ad is loaded and ready to be published! You’ll se the total cost for this ad is $5.00.

ready to be published

Step 12 – after clicking Publish Craigslist will tell you that further action is required. Apparently they don’t want your money just yet! You have to do an email confirmation.

further action is required

Step 13 – you’ll get an email that looks like this. Click the link given.

confirmation email

Step 14 – a few more steps! You’ll see the amount to be charged. You have 2 options to pay; either use a credit card for each transaction or buy a block of paid posts from Craigslist. The minimum has changed a few times, but is currently 100 ads which is $500. Note that you can only buy a block for certain cities and the ads are not transferrable to a different city.

pay Craigslist

Step 15 – if you are paying for individual posts you’ll see this screen. Enter your credit card information. One time saver is using a browser that saves your billing and credit card information like Safari. Then you’ll only have to enter your Verification Number. Click the tiny Purchase button..ONLY ONCE.

Craigslist payment

Step 16 – wow, we finally have a live ad in front of Craigslist’s 60 million people per month! With all that time spent, let’s hope it sells!

live Craigslist ad

Let’s do some quick math; manual posting only 1 vehicle will take you 10 mins. Let’s say you have 50 used vehicles you want to post twice per month, which is 100 posts/month. That is 1000 minutes or 16 hours and 40 minutes per month for someone to focus just on Craigslist posting instead of selling cars. This figure doesn’t include managing billing with Craigslist and of course email & phone call replies to your ads.

Seeing the 16 steps to post just 1 car makes it easy to see why using 1 click posting software or better yet, automated posting software saves a ton of time and gives a consistent dealership presence to your ads. Automated posting allows you to post according to a set schedule. For example, every car with at least 1 photo that is under $20k to Atlanta every Friday of the month. It’s a consistency that is hard for a human to do. Try out some posting software today, you’ll see dramatically better returns on your time and money!

June 13, 2015 - Written by

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