This is a guide to some of the most simple but yet effective marketing strategies that are available to you on eBay. One of a series of no-nonsense, advert-free "coffee-break" guides I have written for new UK based eBayers, it's not too short, not too long, and I promise not to try to sell you anything. You can see my other guides by following the links at the bottom of this page but please let me know what you think, by voting for each one you read. Many thanks.
SPECIALISINGHow many eBay sellers do you come across who started out selling one type of product, but now sell something totally unconnected too? Having an eBay shop which sells car parts and childrens' clothes hardly gives the right impression, and yet the addition of childrens' clothes to a well intentioned eBay shop is quite common.
If you're struggling for sales, resist the temptation to add personal items to your main ID. Remember, you can have as many eBay ID's as you like. If you have the supplies, the knowledge and the enthusiasm, you can reap the benefits of specialising in one particular field, and this is very true for small sellers. You could be a book seller who has a few books on Carp fishing, or you could be a seller of fishing books who has quite a few on Carp fishing, or you could be the leading UK seller of Carp fishing books. Which option has the most clout with your potential customers?
If you specialise, you convey so many positive impressions to your potential customers that you can increase your margins without losing sales.
EXPLOIT YOUR KNOWLEDGE BASEDo you keep all your cards close to your chest? Is it possible that imparting some of your closely guarded knowledge could not only help your customers but boost your reputation too?
Take this example. A washing machine parts seller on eBay provides some mini diagnostic guides to help sellers choose the right parts they need. He may be giving away some trade secrets, but the overall impression is of honesty and helpfulness.
Pepper your listings with helpful tips, provide answers to commonly asked questions, or even write an eBay guide like this one, and watch your profits increase as buyer confidence leads to extra sales.
FREEBIESEveryone likes an unexpected extra gift, but it doesn't have to be the ubiquitous pen printed with your name.
As a book seller, I often include a free paperback book. I know a dvd seller who ships free dvds from damaged cases that have been discarded. How about creating an ebook on a CD and shipping to each customer. Consider grading your gifts according to the value of the order.
Whether you use a courier or Royal Mail, there's plenty of scope to ship extra items without increasing your shipping costs, so make sure your customer is getting more than they they expected.
YOUTUBEDo not underestimate the marketing potential of Youtube.
If you're selling a car, then the benefits are obvious, but there are a myriad of ways in which you can exploit this new medium. Remember the washing machine parts seller? How effective would it be for that eBayer to run a whole series of Youtube videos, demonstrating how to fit each replacement part. If you're not particularly keen on becoming a star, then find someone who feels comfortable in front of the camera or stick to hand shots and subtitles. There are lots of guides around to show you how it's done.
It's worth remembering that Powerpoint or other slide show based presentations can be uploaded to Youtube, if you feel this may give you a more professional look, when compared to video based footage.
It's easy to embed a Youtube video in an eBay listing, but just remember to keep within eBay's rules by avoiding any suggestions of an "off-eBay" sale.
TESTIMONIALSThey sound a bit cheezy, but in the right circumstances they can be very effective.
In fact, feedback comments are mini testimonials in their own right, and many sellers highlight the really good comments they have received. There's a delicate balance to be found, so have a look at some commercial sites and make your own assessment.
Remember that testimonials can be used in your listings, your custom shop pages, your "Me" page, your automated emails (if you use them), and your flyers, and each format may need to be handled differently.
NEWSLETTERSA potential customer who subscribers to newsletters is saying, "Yes, I'm interested. Tell me more because I want to buy stuff from you". But how many sellers really make eBay's newsletter facility work to their advantage, if at all?
Consider this. Instead of imploring your potential customers to "sign up for my newsletter", why not say, "If you'd like me to give you advanced notice of specific items that may interest you, then please choose from one of my four different newsletters I put together for my regular customers".
A newsletter is a powerful tool. Look at the ones you receive yourself. Companies from whom you've made purchases in the past will often send compelling newsletters. Have you ever been tempted into a repeat sale and, if so, could you perform the same feat yourself?
Ebay's subscription newsletter facility is very under-used, so remember that you could be stealing a march on your competitors if you use it and they don't.
TELL YOUR STORYAre you confident?
Everyone loves reading about how a seller got started. If you're confident enough, a brief bio on your "Me" page (and I assume you do have a "Me" page), giving some details about you, your business, how you got started and why, is generally good for sales. The human touch is difficult to quantify but it works well for many businesses, especially one person businesses on eBay
But there's a fine line to be drawn here. Potential customers are more likely to relate to you if, for example, your business has an environmental purpose, rather than simply funding your largely liquid lunches in the hot tub. Don't waffle about your children, your pets, or how much you love your partner.
Stick to business facts that promote you as diligent and trustworthy, and remember that a photo of yourself can be very effective, if you're confident enough.
COMMUNITY PROJECTSBusinesses, big and small, get involved in community projects either for genuinely philanthropic reasons or to help boost their image. But regardless of the motive, there's always the opportunity to do something yourself, and if it benefits your business then that's no bad thing.
Are you a member of your local trade body? Do you supply fairly traded goods? Do you provide local employment? Do you use environmentally friendly packaging? Do you walk to, and support, your local post office? Do you sponsor any charitable activities? How much do you contribute to the landfill problem? These are the sort of questions that are being considered by an increasing percentage of buyers, and your sales can be boosted if you can address these sorts of issues in a way that satisfies buyers' consciences.
The bottom line is that potential buyers are more likely to buy from you if you can genuinely and legitimately promote yourself as a pillar of the community and a protector of the environment. If you can show that your business activities benefit the community, particularly if it's self evident that your competitors' activities don't, you will not only gain more sales but will also be more likely to generate repeat business.
THE HOTLINEEven if a potential buyer never rings a seller, there's no doubt about it, having a phone that customers can ring will boost your sales.
Promoting a number that customers can ring may be a scary thing for some sellers, but if you promote the service as an "emergency number" in case of an email failure then you are unlikely to receive many calls. And you can always let those call go to voice mail and ring back later. Even if you provide a mobile number for a "Pay as You Go" phone, it's better than not having one at all. There's something comforting about being able to ring a seller that makes a sale more likely. But as your business increases, there's nothing quite as effective as a land line number operated between 9 and 5. It just makes you look so much more professional.
CROSS PROMOTIONDon't just rely on eBay's own cross promotion tool.
I'm not allowed to provide external links, but the are quite a few cross promotion tools that you need to take a look at. Do a Google search for Ayee, for example, to see what is possible.
And while you're about it, don't underestimate the power of changing your eBay shop settings so that all your shop categories appear in each of your listings.