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Born in the late 90s, craigslist The barebones interface doesn’t meet today’s sophisticated design standards – in fact, it’s about as attractive as printed ink – but what the site lacks in aesthetics it makes up for in practical charms .
The classifieds service systematically ranks among the top 20 websites in the United States., generating $660 million in annual revenue and serving 700 cities in 70 countries. Why? Its simplistic user experience forces sellers to go back to basics and focus on what consumers really want.
Here are three lessons every retailer can learn from this relic of the internet’s past.
Let your story do the selling
One of my favorite things about browsing Craigslist is the narration. Even if you’re not buying what they’re selling, the best (most entertaining) ads are memorable for the personalities they reveal. In other words, good storytelling is the best way to connect with buyers’ emotions.
Studies show buyers buy based on their emotions, but then rationalize their purchases with logic. On a primarily text-based site like Craigslist, you can’t hide behind the design. Instead, sellers should provide meaningful descriptions of their items and which ones stand out and tell a story.
The art of product storytelling dates back to the days of catalog sales, but the principle of tapping into a shopper’s emotions is more relevant than ever, especially as more and more of our shopping experiences have moved online.
In physical stores, retailers have the clear advantage of providing consumers with a tangible experience where they can hold the products in their hands. What’s even better is when that tangible experience is paired with a knowledgeable product specialist adept at one-on-one real-life storytelling with customers.
As more than detail experience changed online, product art narration can get lost, but it doesn’t have to. Retailers who make the effort to write compelling product descriptions that appeal to both the consumer’s emotions and logical thinking can deliver a cohesive offer. client experience every time, at every level.
Ditch the “go big” mentality
For the most part, a Craigslist ad actually focuses on one product: winter tires (set of four); a black leather sofa; $100 mini fridge. This highlights a common mistake retailers do: expand a product line too soon or focus on too many new customer experiences at once.
There is an assumption in retail that offering more variety increases the chances of selling products. In reality, I think it’s more of a myth.
Instead, take the approach of someone selling on Craigslist: know what you’re selling and who you’re selling to, then personalize your site For this purpose.
Personalizationgiving users the impression that a product was made just for them, couldn’t be more important in today’s e-commerce market. Brands that implement large-scale personalization strategies have seen their income increase 6% to 10% –– but that’s tricky to do online.
When a customer visits a website, we cannot profile them as we would in-store. An e-commerce site must replace the seller with technological tools.
One way to do this is to ask visitors to identify themselves through surveys or voluntary information about what they are looking for to better understand their needs. It takes more thought about the right kinds of questions to ask and how best to select the right products, but the result is a loyal and engaged customer base.
Agony on your visuals
Although it lacks aesthetic appeal, Craigslist offers a lesson in the importance of visuals. If you’ve ever looked for an apartment on the site, for example, you’ll know that no amount of compelling text – not even a below-market rent title – can replace the power of an image.
Tenants won’t waste time arranging a viewing for a listing without a photo. Not only could this be a scam, but they can’t visualize themselves at home. Similarly, poorly lit photos, bad angles, and even a lack of drama can mean the difference between a bidding war and an ad that doesn’t hit the mark.
Visuals in electronic communications are the next best thing to brick-and-mortar product experience. This is why marketing that emphasizes visuals is 94% more efficient that marketing that doesn’t work.
Consider TikTok – aside from its addictive algorithm, its short and punchy visual format compels users to buy. This is the reason why 67% of users interrogates say TikTok inspired them to shop, even when they didn’t mean to.
It can feel like loyalty of the clientele is getting harder and harder, but Craigslist is proof that e-commerce doesn’t have to be cutting edge to keep buyers coming back. As technology advances, it’s important to remember that the basics of good trading don’t change often.
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