By Dan Caplan
The eBay message boards are filled with posts by sellers about how eBay’s new Best Match has taken seller’s items and made them nearly invisible to buyers. The result, of course, is a decrease in sales.
Trying to adapt to Best Match is a challenge for sellers and although time and energy should be put into maximizing Best Match results another essential course of action for eBay sellers is to rely less on eBay driving buyers to your listings and figuring out ways to drive buyers to your listings yourself.
I have compiled a list of ways to drive buyers to your listings to supplement Best Match. If any readers have any additional methods, please add them to the list.
Google Base Store Connector
Use Google Base Store Connector to get your listings indexed in Google Search results. Here is a link to the free program that will send your eBay listing info to Google.
Alt Img Tags
This is a little bit of HTML code that you add to the photos that you have within your eBay listing. Search engines can only read text. If you add this little bit of descriptive HTML code to your images, your images have a descriptive text attached to them and this can possibly aid in increasing your listing’s search engine ranking and Google Image Search ranking.
This won’t work if you use the eBay photo service to host your pictures.
Here is a link to a site that gives a more thorough explanation and simple instructions on how to add the ‘alt img’ tag to your photos that are inserted in your listings.
eBay Store Custom Pages
Use all the Custom Pages that come with your eBay Store. These are indexed by Google.
To create Custom Page in your eBay Store, sign into My eBay, scroll down the left column and click on “Manage My Store”. Under Management>Store Design, click on Custom Pages, then under Active Pages, click on ‘Create New Page’. The custom page is a good place to go into more detail about the items you sell, new products, instructions and tips on how to use your products, etc. Be sure to include lots of links to your listings and promotion boxes.
Ebay guides are indexed by Google and it is a great way to drive buyers to your listings. Did you just pick up a new product line-make it into guide. Do you sell some sort of collectible-create a guide that has tips for other collectors. Be sure to include lots of links to your eBay listings.
How often will your guides get viewed by potential buyers? I have had some that have gotten less than a 100 views but my highest has received over 29,000 views to date. That’s 29,000 potential buyers! Here is a link to one of my guides I created a few weeks ago:
Link to EBay Store in Email + Referral Credit
Every email you send to a potential eBay buyer should have a signature at the bottom that includes some enticing wording and a link to your eBay Store.
“To view our huge selection of XXXX, please click on this link to our eBay Store:”
“To save up to 40% off our 2008 models, please click on this link to our eBay Store:”
Did you know that eBay will give you a 75% credit on your final value fees for a sale in your eBay Store if the buyer got to your store by clicking your link (and you have added the special referral code to your link)?
To get all the information on how to receive the 75% FVF credit, here is a link to the eBay help page:
EBay Promo Flyer
If you have been a seller for some time you probably have a lot of buyers who have put you on their favorite seller list and have opted in to receive an email eBay Promotional Flyer from you.
These Promo Flyers are a good way to keep your customers up to date on your new items or sale items. If you want to get a better response, include a coupon of some sort (if your order processing system can handle it).
To see your opt-in list and create your Promo Flyer, go to My eBay>Manage My Store>Store Marketing>Subscriber Lists or Promotional Flyer
Again, be sure and include lots of links to your items in your flyer.
Email Opt-In List
Create your own email opt-in list and send the subscribers your email promotions directly. Include in your email what you think your customers will respond to such as sale items, new season merchandise or the availability of a hard to get item. If your links that are included with your email promo have the eBay referral link, you will get 75% off the FVF from any eBay Store sales.
What’s a great way to build your opt-in list? When you send your ‘Your item has shipped’ email to your buyers, include something in it requesting they join.
Here is what we include in our ‘Your item has shipped’ email:
“About 4 to 6 times a year, we send out a BIKEWEAR SALE email. If you are interested in receiving this notification, just respond to this email and type SALE INFO in the subject line. Your email address will not be given or sold to anyone else.”
Or, if you prefer to manage your email campaigns only through eBay, I think you can include a link in your ‘Your item has shipped’ email that takes the buyer to the page where they include you in their favorite sellers and subscribe to your email Promo Flyer
Invoice Sent With Order
If you send an invoice with your orders, there should be plenty of space on the sheet to include an ad with store info, current promotions and your eBay Store’s URL (web address)
Business Card, Post Card or Coupon
Include one of these with each shipment. I get mine from Vistaprint. My checkout system can process coupon codes and I sell hundreds of additional items each year because of the coupons I include.
Label Your Products if You Sell Consumables
There are a lot of sellers who will never get more of my business for a really dumb reason even though I was really happy with our transaction. They didn’t put a label with their contact info on the product they sold me. I am talking about things I buy over and over from eBay sellers-my shipping supplies such as postage labels, shipping envelopes, printer cartridges and ziplock bags. Instead of going through the process of finding a new seller, I would just prefer to reorder from a seller I was happy with, but most don’t bother to put a 2 cent sticky label on their item with their contact info.
Use eBay’s Featured First upgrade to get your item placed higher in search. The cost of this is $24.95 for up to 10 day listings and $74.95 for 30 day listings. With some of the items I have upgraded to Featured First, I have gotten up to 20 to 30 times the hits I normally do. Since your listing will probably get more hits, load it up with links to your other items.
This is eBay’s pay-per-click ad program where you select keywords (search words) appropriate to what you sell and create a little display ad with a link to your eBay items. When a buyer searches for these words in eBay Search your ad with a link to your eBay store will show up at the bottom of eBay’s search results. How frequently your ad pops up depends on the amount you are paying for each click through. If your search term is “laptop” you probably would have to pay a lot, but if your search term is a word that few (or no) other sellers have also purchased, you can pay very little.
The downside of this program is that you can’t see if any of your click-throughs resulted in a sale. If your keywords are only costing you 3 to 5 cents a click-through on an item that sells for $50, it is probably worth looking into. On the other hand, if your keyword will cost you 50 cents for each click-through on a $5 item, it is probably a bad investment.
Link to more info:
If you are an international seller, include appropriate keywords in your listings in French, German, Spanish or other languages that you think your international buyers may speak. The best place to include them (if there is room) is in your ad title, but it will also work if your foreign keywords are in the description too, because Google indexes the words in your description (if you use the Google Base Store Connector mentioned above)
For example, if you sell a shirt that you think will appeal to French buyers, include the search term “maillot”. According to eBay, this would not be keyword spamming, since the word does describe what is being sold.
Participate in Forums/Discussion Groups
Become active in (eBay and non-eBay) forums and discussion groups that attract people who have an interest in the items you sell. Many of these discussion forums normally don’t accept postings from sellers that have links to their items, but even a subtle, non-direct promotion of your goods can stimulate traffic to your listings.
One of the cycling forums I belong to allows a link to my .com store in my signature. Whenever I get involved in a discussion there, hits from this forum to my .com store spike noticeably and often times generate sales.
Blogs & Social Network Sites
I have frequently read that participating in these helps promote your items but don’t have enough experience in these to offer any advice on how to use them to promote your eBay listings effectively, although I know there are ‘widgets’ out there that allow you post your eBay items on sites like My Space.
Make a simple video and post it to YouTube. Be sure your eBay Store URL or your eBay member name is displayed prominently.
If you sell an item where a short hands-on demo would be useful in selling the item, film it with one of those simple to use Flip video cameras.
There is a site www.animoto.com that allows you to make short videos for free then you can upload them to YouTube. You just upload you photos, pick music and let Animoto do the rest. Very quick and easy.
Here is one I created for my .com but you could just as easily promote your eBay Store:
Link to YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6DXhIYEIug
Any more ideas? Please add them to my list.
By Dan Caplan