Marketing for eBay Sellers: Part 1 - Email Marketing
By Phil Dunn and Amy Balsbaugh
Solid customer service practices - like honest item descriptions, concise terms of sale, friendly communication and prompt shipping - are the cornerstones of a successful eBay business. But what if you want to go beyond good and develop the kind of customer loyalty and customer retention that guarantees long-term success? We recommend that you employ a direct email marketing strategy similar to the ones Amazon.com and Buy.com use.
With an email marketing campaign, you can send customers and prospects periodic updates about new products and store promotions. If you have an eBay Store, the whole process is a piece of cake with eBay's new Email Marketing Program (http://pages.ebay.com/storefronts/emailmarketing.html). The program automates the creation and delivery of customized emails that include featured items with pictures, lists of items currently available in your eBay Store, and text with personalized messages, articles or any other element you wish to include. You can customize up to five different messages, allowing you to focus your campaigns on different types of customers and their buying interests.
The automated system delivers the email via eBay's mail server, which helps avoid spam filters and cuts down on the number of undeliverable messages. You can also do this on your own, sending email offers and updates via a customer list you manage independently of eBay.
Either way you'll want to make sure that your mailings are "opt-in." Anyone who receives your emails should be able to opt-out via a link at the end of the message, and those who are on the list should be there by choice. If you use eBay's Email Marketing Program, it's easy for customers to opt in. Provide them with a link that allows them to add your store to their "Favorites List." Do this with the macro on the "Inserts" pull-down menu on the Sell Your Item form. When they click the link, they will be given the option to subscribe to your newsletter(s). Include this link in all listings, emails, and on your eBay Store pages for maximum exposure.
If you manage your own email marketing campaign, you'll need to design your own opt-in process. Since eBay prohibits putting links to off-eBay sites in listings, you'll be limited to offering customers to opt-in when you contact them in post-sale emails.
While eBay's Email Marketing Program offers ease of use, it only works with your eBay Store. Creating your own email marketing campaigns will require more legwork on your part, but you'll have the freedom to market your business on different channels, be it your eBay sales, your own Web site, on other selling channels like Overstock and Amazon, or wherever else you do business. Which path you choose will depend on what's right for your business.
One thing is certain, though. Once you develop a sizeable list of readers, you'll notice sales spikes right after you release your latest updates. By keeping customers informed about new deals, you stay in their minds and increase your chances of bringing in repeat business and creating loyal customers. That's good marketing.
About the author:
Phil Dunn is a marketing and advertising writer and consultant for Fortune 500 companies, including Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Pitney Bowes and IKON. Amy Balsbaugh runs a lucrative eBay antiques and collectibles business, and has been a member of eBay's PowerSeller program since its inception. Phil and Amy co-authored "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, July 2005). See their Blog at http://ebay-marketing.blogspot.com, and their book at http://digbig.com/4dhwf.
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