Classified Ads: 8 Ways to Optimize and Create Traffic

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In the offline world, there has always been one marketing tool that small businesses have turned to again and again to reach HUGE audiences with a minimal investment. I’m talking here about newspaper classified ads - which you can find in just about every newspaper on the face of the Earth!

The good news for online businesses is that classified advertising is not only a valuable marketing tool offline, it is also a powerful way to reach thousands of potential customers and generate incredible profits online - all with very little investment!

In fact, online classified ads are even more effective than traditional newspaper classifieds, because they give your potential customers the opportunity to click through a link to instantly get more information about the product or service you are selling!

Think of it this way: When people are perusing the classified ad section of their Sunday paper, they're not always looking to buy. They're just snooping to see what they MIGHT like to purchase or to see if there are any good deals out there. So when they come across the perfect puppy, or the perfect pair of skis, or the perfect leather sofa, they may be tempted by the offer, but unwilling to make the effort to pick up the phone, arrange an appointment to view the product, drive out to see what's being offered, and then write the cheque.
This is a LOT of effort when you're only curious or slightly tempted.

This is why online classified ads have a HUGE advantage over regular classified ads. Electronic classified ads remove the hassles and barriers - giving people greater incentive to investigate your offer and BUY!

Suppose you've posted an ad for your product. A curious shopper is surfing around, reading various offers, when they come across your ad. Your offer intrigues them and they want to know more, so they simply click on the link that you have conveniently provided them with.

They arrive at your site, where they can view your product, read your sales copy. and easily make their purchase online. It's quick, it's easy, it's hassle-free - and you capture the sales of impulse buyers!

Online classified ads can be a quick, cheap, and easy way to increase your online income and sales because they allow you to:

1.    Promote your product or service: While it's unlikely that you'll make your fortune with a classified ad that reads "Click here now to buy my product”, you will certainly get at least a few sales ... which is better than nothing!

2.    Test your headlines, banner ads, and text links: Rather than waste money on ineffective advertising, you can use classified ads to test your headlines, banner ad copy, and text links. You'll know which ads and headlines are profitable, which are duds, and which to roll out in a full-blown ad campaign.

3.    Test your sales copy: If you have different sales copy that you would like to test, place several identical ads - but have each ad link to different copy. Track the response you get from each piece of sales copy separately, and you'll know which pulls the most sales.

4.    Collect the email addresses of targeted potential customers. Design a classified ad that offers readers a free article, eBook, or newsletter. When the reader clicks your "click here now” link to claim their copy, they will be prompted to enter their email address and the article will be sent to them via an autoresponder.

This is a really easy way to collect the email addresses of people who have a sincere interest in your product or service, so that you can begin developing a relationship with them - and selling them your product!

The truth is that online classifieds can be a great source of income. Unfortunately, the majority of people don't know how to take advantage of them. I’ll explain why in a moment but next let's take a quick look at the two places where electronic classifieds can appear - e-zine classifieds and classified ad sites.

Classified ads in newsletters and e-zines

The beauty of purchasing ad space in online newsletters and e-zines is that you can target your market with laser-like precision. Online newsletters tend to narrowly focus their content to meet the needs and capture the loyalty of a very specific readership - giving you the perfect opportunity to get your ad in front of your best potential customers
What's more, provided that the newsletter you are advertising in doesn't permit more than four or five ads per issue, you need not worry about your ad disappearing among the others.

Of course in order for this type of advertising to work you need to be very careful when choosing which newsletters to purchase ad space in. There are several factors to consider, including:

1.    Who are the readers? Do they fit the profile of your best potential customer?
2.    How many subscribers are there? This question is particularly important when deciding what you're willing to pay to advertise in a particular newsletter. Work out what you're paying per subscriber.
3.    Where will your ad be placed? Will it be at the top of the newsletter? The middle? The bottom? Will it be surrounded by other ads?
4.    How big can your ad be? Will it only be a few lines of text? A paragraph? An entire article?

These are all factors that you should take into consideration when deciding what an ad in a particular newsletter is worth to you.

If you're trying to keep your advertising costs to a minimum, then you may wish to either consider trading ads (i.e. they place your ad in their newsletter and you place their ad in your newsletter), or offering the newsletter owner a percentage of the profits made from sales that the ad generates.

You may also want to try approaching the newsletter owner to present your ad as a "resource" that their subscribers could benefit from. Point out that by recommending your product or service they can actually position themselves to their subscribers as a source of valuable information - a relationship that can be translated into increased sales!

If you're interested in advertising in a particular newsletter or e-zine, your best bet is to contact the editor or the Webmaster. They will be able to answer your questions about submission, costs and formatting.

Locating newsletters to post your classified ad

The best way to find targeted newsletters is by surfing the Web and contacting the sites one by one. If you do this, you’ll likely find a number of excellent newsletters with a loyal subscriber base that have not yet taken advantage of their advertising potential. There are plenty of sites that have developed a strong relationship with their readers, but that have never offered advertising before and likely don't know what it's worth.

These can be some of the most profitable newsletters to advertise in. Not only do you get quality advertising at bargain-basement prices, you also get first crack at advertising to a readership that is "ripe for the picking'.

However, if you are not having any luck locating ad space, then you may wish to search the sites for newsletters that cater to your industry or niche:

Classified ad Web sites

Did you know that there are thousands of free classified ad sites on the 'Net? These classified ad sites will allow you to post your advertisement at absolutely no cost, giving you a cheap and easy opportunity to drive more traffic and more sales to your Web site.
Of course, you need to be prepared to work at it. Placing your ad on one or two sites isn't going to do much for your business. While an ad site might receive a reasonable amount of traffic, there might only be a handful of people - even just one or two - each day who are interested in the category that you've submitted your ad to.

Depending on how much traffic a particular site gets, it may actually be a few days before someone clicks through your ad to your site - and then it's up to you to convert this visitor into a sale. If only one out of every 100 people who visit your site buy (this is pretty standard), it could take months of posting your ad on one particular site to finally close a sale.

That's why submitting your ad to the free online classifieds is a numbers game. If you want to generate the most sales and traffic, you need to submit your ad to as many sites as you possibly can.

However, it's for this very reason that most entrepreneurs will never harness the full marketing potential of electronic classified ads. This gold mine of potential sales will never be within their reach for one simple reason: Manually entering classified ads at thousands of sites is just too time- consuming!

First, you would need to locate the URLs for the various ad sites. This can be a daunting task in itself! How do you know which sites are worth your time ... and which aren't?
And once you've located the sites, you can expect to spend anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes PER SITE submitting your ad. This means that, in order to submit your classified ad to 1,000 ad sites, you would need to work full-time for THREE weeks - repeating the same mundane steps over and over again!

Do you have the time - and patience - to sit in front of your computer for three whole weeks, submitting your ad to classified ad sites? Probably not! And this doesn't even include the time involved in actually maintaining ad placement within the sites!

And once you've submitted you ad, it doesn't take long before it starts to slide down the page of these sites as other advertisers submit their ads. This means that to stay on top, right where you're most visible to your potential customers, you need to resubmit your ad when it starts to slide!

I've discovered a piece of software called "Power Submitter" that allows you to automatically submit your ad to the top 2,000+ free classified ad sites - all with the click of a few buttons here and there.

Here's how it works: All you do is type in your ad, pick the categories and sections of the classified ad sites that you would like your ad to appear in, press "Start" - and then just walk away! At a rate of approximately 30 ads per minute, Power Submitter will begin automatically submitting your ads leaving you free to look after other aspects of your business.

In less than one hour, from start to finish, Power Submitter submits your ads to the top 2,000+ sites, and it only takes a few minutes to set the whole thing up.

It's an easy way to give your sales a dramatic boost and begin seeing results in only a few short hours!

This means that if you were not using Power Submitter, you would be forced to submit your ad to each town, country, and category separately. You could spend an entire day submitting to this one site alone and still not be finished!

Power Submitter lets you type in your ad, choose any (or ALL) of the 2,000+ classified ad sites that you wish to submit to, hit "Start," and that's it! Power Submitter will automatically submit all of your data to each and every classified site that you've chosen.

Plus, with Power Submitter you can automatically resubmit your ad when it starts to slide down the page.

Throughout this course, we talk about the importance of diversifying your income and automating your e-business. This software allows you to do both.

If you're not going to automate your classified, ad submission, then I honestly don't recommend that you bother with this technique at all It's just too time-consuming - your time will be better spent on other aspects of your marketing campaign.

Designing your ad

Writing a winning classified ad involves many rules similar to writing any other form of sales copy and I’ve covered that early on - however, there are a few ad design tricks and techniques that I would still like to mention here ...

Make your ad copy compelling

The first thing that people will look at is your headline. If it doesn't grab their attention straight away, they won't bother reading the rest of your ad. Use power words like "free," "guarantee," and "save" to grab the attention of your readers.

Your headline has the power to increase the response by up to 1,700%, so be absolutely certain that you use the very best one possible!

Avoid getting too 'wordy"

People commonly make the mistake of writing a "lengthy" ad. Don't feel that you have to say a lot to capture the reader's interest - keep your message short and sweet.

Focus on a single benefit when writing your ad, avoid any mention of price and make it compelling. Worry about actually selling them your product or service later - right now your focus should be persuading them to take action by presenting them with a single compelling benefit. Get them to click through to your sales copy, request a copy of your report, sign up for your newsletter or take whatever action you are trying to get them to take.

Make your ad fit the category it is posted in

Classified sites are typically broken up into multiple categories making it easier for visitors to narrow their searches. If you think your product is suitable for more than one category, feel free to post in all of the ones that you deem appropriate. Just be careful that your ad is appropriately worded for the category that you're submitting it to. Consider writing different ads for different categories.

Post your ad in multiple categories

Always place your ad in multiple categories and sub-categories. An ad in 10 categories running for one week will generate a better response than an ad in one category for 10 weeks.

Check out the competition

Before writing your ad snoop around to see what kinds of ads your competition is placing. Determine the strengths and weaknesses of their ads and then use this information to make your ad more compelling than theirs.

Check the position of your ads regularly

As mentioned earlier, classified ad sites change quickly - one day your ad will be at the top of the page and the next it will have disappeared four pages down. Be prepared to resubmit your ad on a regular basis.

Use a dummy email address

If you post your email address in your classified ads, you will have your email address harvested by spammers. To avoid having your inbox swamped with a heap of unwanted junk mail, I’d recommend setting up a "dummy" email account through a free service like Hotmail.

To sum up, online classified ads can be an effective way to both test your advertising and increase your traffic and sales. Of course when it comes to the free classified ad sites, it is important to realize that you will earn the highest profits if you aggressively target a specific market and play the numbers game.

We've talked about how you can track down newsletters and e-zines in which you may be able to post your classified ad. For many businesses, e-zine advertisements provide by far the best return on investment of any method of advertising.

Although classified advertising in online newsletters and e-zines can be very profitable, even with exposure to a small list of subscribers, to profit from classified ad sites you'll need to focus on submitting and resubmitting your ad to as many sites as you can.

This is most effectively done through software automation. In fact, I recommend that you don't bother submitting to the classified ad sites unless you have an automated way to do so, such as by using software like Power Submitter.
If you do decide to submit to the classified ad sites, be sure to follow the seven tips I gave you in this lesson for designing your ad. These tips are the result of years of experience designing online classifieds and will maximize your profits - while minimizing your headaches.