With 244 million registered users, eBay is an opportunity you don't want to miss. Yet few people realize what an incredibly useful tool eBay can be for promoting a "regular" internet business.

There's a right way--and a wrong way--to use eBay for promoting an off-eBay website. The right way can drive waves of qualified visitors to your business. But the wrong way can get you banned from ever doing business on eBay again.

It's first important to understand what you can and can't do under eBay's stringent regulations. That way, you'll be able to continue tapping eBay's enormous pool of eager shoppers.

Be sure to avoid these eBay "don't"s:

  • Don't include any links to your off-eBay website in your auction listings.
  • Don't include any links to your website in your eBay store or custom pages.
  • Don't include an opt-in offer in your auction listings or eBay store.
  • Don't automatically add your auction customers or visitors to your opt-in list.

In short, don't overtly try to send people off eBay or collect their information for marketing purposes on your auction listings, your eBay store or any of your custom pages. By now you're probably wondering how you can use eBay to drive new visitors to your website.

There's one place you can include a link to your off-eBay website: your "About Me" page. And you can put an opt-in form there to collect people's e-mail addresses, so you can build a relationship with them and promote your products to them in the future.

Your "About Me" page is the most important weapon in your eBay marketing arsenal. Here are some eBay "do"s for using the page properly:

  • Do include a link to your off-eBay website on your "About Me" page and encourage visitors to see what other products you have to offer.
  • Do include an opt-in form on the page with a compelling offer--an interesting newsletter or valuable free report--that encourages people to sign up.
  • Do use every possible opportunity in your auction listings and your eBay Store to encourage people to check out your "About Me" page. For instance, tell them to go to your page to read your FAQs, learn more about the products you sell and find out about more important information, such as your shipping policies.
  • When people buy something from you, send them one follow-up e-mail to thank them for their purchase and invite them to sign up for your newsletter or free report, so you can get them on your opt-in list. But they have to opt in for you to e-mail them. If you just start mailing them out of the blue and they complain to eBay, you will get kicked off the auction site.

Create as many reasons as possible for people to visit your "About Me" page and then give them a compelling reason to sign up for your newsletter and check out your off-eBay store. If you do it right, you'll discover that eBay is an excellent customer acquisition tool for your business.

In fact, you might find it more effective not to sell your main product on eBay, but to sell related products for minimal profit, simply to grow your customer base. For example, you sell an e-book teaching people how to cure their tennis elbow. E-books are great products in the off-eBay world because you get to keep 100 percent of the profits from each sale. But on eBay, e-books tend to sell for relatively little. So don't sell your e-book there, where you'll take a loss in profits.

Instead, sell tennis-related drop-shipping products on eBay for very little profit. You won't make a huge amount of money on the front end, but you will be able to grow a large customer base of people interested in tennis. Once you've persuaded them to sign up for your opt-in list, you can promote your "tennis elbow" e-book to them later--as well as scores of other tennis-related products. And that's when the money will really start pouring in.

Finally, keep in mind that eBay does regularly change its polices, so it's important to check often to make sure you're following eBay's official seller regulations.