Craigslist is a great resource for a number of reasons. Here are three reasons. One, everyone uses it. It’s ranked as the 10th biggest site in the US (per Alexa). Two, it’s very well organized. You start with a specific geography, browse by niche–finally, you can even search by keyword on top of that. Lastly, it’s free. Free and with no annoying ads! Man, that guy Craig is a good samaritan.
Now, for you to find customers on Craigslist, your particular niche has to be listed on Craigslist. I suppose that’s the catch.
Let’s walk through a few, different examples of how one can effectively use Craigslist to find customers.
- You’re promoting a service for musicians. Pick any geography, then go to the ‘community’ -> ‘musicians’ section. Any post here is likely from an active musician. Similarly, you can go to the ‘for sale’ -> ‘music instruments’ section. Any post here is from someone who plays a musical instrument.
- You’re promoting a moving service. Pick any geography, then go to any section under ‘housing.’ Anyone who’s posted here here will be moving soon and likely will require a mover.
- You’re promoting web design/marketing services. Pick any geography, then go to any small business category under ‘jobs.’ This includes ‘food/beverage/hospitality,’ ‘salon/spa/fitness,’ ‘legal/paralegal.’ Anyone who’s posted here is likely someone who either owns or works for a small business. Plus, the fact that this business is hiring indicates that it is growing and spending.
So, by knowing where to go on Craigslist, you have access to thousands upon thousands of customer contacts. You just need to email them. But, the task of opening up each listing and copying the email address is tedious.
Let’s automate things, then.
Most repetitive tasks on the web can be automated with a simple web scraper. A web scraper is just tool that simulates a manual process. In other words, instead of manually clicking to each Craigslist listing page and copying the email address from the top 100 times, let’s use a tool that can execute this task 100 times. In our case, we will use this free tool I created, Craigslist Email Scraper.
Use this Craigslist scraper and in no time, you will have 1000s of email addresses from targeted customers. It is important note that you can’t email all those contacts simultaneously. First, your email service provider (e.g. Gmail) usually limits how many people you can email in a single email. Secondly, Craigslist imposes a limit on how many Craigslist email addresses can be contacted by a single email sender within a certain time frame. These restrictions are in place to prevent email spammers. So, pace yourself and don’t be a spammer!
There you have it. This is exactly what I do to find 1000s of customers on Craigslist.