Our four eBay marketing tips are based on what former Harvard business school professor Theodore Levitt once said of marketing, that it views “the entire business process as consisting of a tightly integrated effort to discover, create, arouse and satisfy customer needs.”
Whether you sell products on eBay as part of a much larger ecommerce strategy, or just starting out as a hobby to make some extra cash, you can improve your chances of success by following these four marketing tips based on Levitt’s idea.
1) Do your research
Whatever you’re selling, be it car parts, children’s toys, or anything in between, research what’s out there and what’s selling well. Thankfully, the level of specificity in eBay’s categories makes it easy to start. As you look for what’s already around in your niche, make a note of the kinds of titles and descriptions that you’re seeing.
Those two examples are typical of the results in the category ‘TaylorMade Cart Golf Club Bags’ - a very specific category, but important if that’s your industry. As you can see, the titles contain the brand name, the product name and the colour, while the descriptions go into a lot more detail on the various features.
To go back to Levitt, the research phase is about discovering existing needs. Another way of doing this is to go beyond the existing listings and look at the sold listings. Looking at the sold listings for TaylorMade bags, we can see that the vast majority of recent sales were second-hand bags from non-professional sellers that tend to be in the lower end of the price range that we saw in the current listings.
For sellers, sold listings crucially help you to learn more about what your audience wants to buy, so they can’t be ignored when you’re researching how to present your products on eBay.
2) Don't ignore advertising and promotion
In order to create needs, your audience needs to see products before they naturally arrive at your listings. This is how you reach a wider group of people than you might already. There are a number of ways to do this, and which one you choose depends on your available time and money.
If you’re selling as a hobby and you don’t want to put any extra resources into your activity, a good thing to do is simply to talk about your sold items on your social channels. Simply sharing on Facebook is an easy way to put your items in front of hundreds of people, and as they’re your friends they’ll likely pay more attention than they would to a regular ad. Keep it natural and unobtrusive (i.e. don’t post again every hour), and more people will naturally see what you’re selling.
If your eBay selling is an ecommerce business in itself (or part of one), it’s worth considering and trialling advertising. eBay’s product promotion works on a pay per sale basis, so it’s pretty low risk, and it increases the exposure of your products on the site. If you’re promoting a lot of products and increasing your sales as a result of the ads, the extra cost will be offset (if you’re not selling more, it’s not worth continuing). You can find eBay’s overview of their promotion service here.
3) Optimise your listings
If advertising is about creating needs in your audience, optimisation is about turning them into sales. By the time someone’s looking at your product listing they’re in a position where they’re willing to buy, and the quality of the listing is going to be a big factor in whether or not they part with their cash.
Your title, image, price, postage options and description all come into play when customers are making up their mind whether or not to buy. This is why it is so important to do your research and position yourself competitively in the first place.
Your descriptions are the easiest things to play around with. They should give the customer all the information about the product in a way that is interesting and compelling. Remember that you’re not only selling the product, but yourself as a seller. On eBay multiple sellers are competing to sell the same things, so let your viewers know why they should pick you. Are you offering fast or cheap postage? Do you have great reviews? Are there other deals they could get? These are all variables that you can leverage to convince viewers to buy your products right now.
4) Pay attention to existing customers
Returning customers are important sources of income that are often ignored. Sure, it’s important to attract new customers, but if existing customers have a good experience with your brand they’ll want to come back again. That’s why satisfying needs, Levitt’s final point, is so important.
At a basic level, it’s an absolute necessity that customers get what they’re expecting. Your product should be exactly as advertised in the listing. Beyond that, what can you do to make the customer feel valued, or to make your business feel different?
Something as simple as a handwritten thank you note is a nice touch, and who doesn’t love a freebie? You can often add something extra to a package without increasing the postage cost.
The packaging itself is also a crucial part of this side of marketing. Make sure your packaging reflects the quality of your brand - it should be the right size and strength to protect the product adequately, and it’s fun for customers to receive a package that looks nice.
If you give customers any reason to come back to your products, they will. That’s why satisfying the needs that you discovered back at the start of the marketing process is an essential part of increasing your long term success on eBay.