eBay.co.uk has recently introduced Classified Ads within the eBay Motors category, while in the US they have already rolled out this feature in a number of mainstream categories. In the UK this trend is only going to increase.

What does this mean for your business, whether you are currently trading offline, through your website or on eBay? And are you prepared for this great new traffic stream?

The potential is great, mainly for 1 reason. Unlike all other eBay listings, eBay classified ads can include your telephone number. Your contact number will be visible to both registered and non-registered users coming to your eBay classified listing, giving you access to a larger pool of buyers. You can this way redirect traffic to your phone lines and, as you may already know, convert customers far easierly by speaking with them on the phone.

The real entrepreneur will have already identified the great added potential of this new feature. One very powerful strategy is to setup a virtual answering machine (YAC is a very good service, they also accept requests for customisation) for each classified ad type, and then record a message where you give out the url of the webpage where the customer can complete the order, or sign up to a free info product, or download a relevant free ebook, in exchange for their email address and contact details (this is also known as a squeeze page).

This will allow you to build a large list of relevant contacts cheaply and on autopilot. You can then store customers data on separate lists, based on product interests, and even partner with local businesses to offer buyers in your lists products which you are not stocking yourself.

While you might be thinking that PPC is a better fit to achieve the same results (and in some contexts this will be true), don't forget classified ads are still very cheap compared to pay per click, and, most importantly, they qualify each lead much more in depth than ppc alone.

The strategies discussed above are by no means limited to eBay Classified Ads. Classifieds sites are one of the most visited sites on the web, make sure you are taking advantage of them fully (always check each site terms of service to confirm what you can and can't do on their site).