Marketing for eBay Sellers: Part 3 - Promotions
By Phil Dunn and Amy Balsbaugh
Customer retention is so important. If you cultivate a base of loyal customers, you'll find that repeat business flows in effortlessly. Why? If you target existing customers with marketing campaigns, you're much more likely to make a sale than if you're constantly out hunting for new prospects. Retained customers have bought from you in the past, they enjoy your products, and they know first-hand that you deserve your reputation as an outstanding seller.
So, how do you keep them coming back?
All you have to do is ask. Of course, you're going to have to "dangle a little carrot" and offer them some sort of impetus to return to shop again. Special promotions and discount offers are a great place to start. One of the most basic human instincts is "What's in it for me?" and if you offer a special deal or discount, they'll be much more motivated to return to your eBay Store or Web site.
Traditional retailers have mastered the art of promotions, so take a few tips from them. Think of car dealerships or big department stores - they use every occasion possible to generate buying excitement. Consider:
Seasonal promotions - Holiday sales, Back to School, Christmas in July, March Madness . . . your options are endless.
Loyalty discounts - Offer coupons for discounts or for free shipping on return business.
Tell-a-friend promotions - Your current customers are great resources for finding new customers. Offer them referral bonuses or other gifts in exchange for new business.
Fortunately, several new Web-based businesses have sprung up, making it easier to launch and manage promotions, discounts and coupons. MyStoreCredit (http://www.mystorecredit.com) automatically establishes a store credit for your buyers based on the amount they spend on their first purchase. This credit can be used toward future purchases from your eBay Store or listings. Sellers have the ability to set their own schedule of credit amounts based on a range of initial purchase prices. MyStoreCredit then automates a follow-up email reminding the customer that they have credit available for your eBay store or listings.
If you choose, you can cross-promote other items in this reminder email, which allows your items to show up in others' reminder emails, as well. It's a self-perpetuating buffet of choices and advertisements akin to Google AdSense and AdWords.
Other services, like Paycodes (http://www.paycodes.com) and Aucser (http://www.aucser.com), offer similar online promotional coupons that allow sellers to create their own promotions and set specific discount codes that are redeemable through PayPal purchases.
Be sure to include your promotions in your newsletter and/or email them directly to customers. (Remember to allow customers to opt-in to receiving additional marketing correspondence from you.) You should also include a printed promotional offer in every package you send out.
Promotions encourage buying behavior. Sometimes all it takes is a gentle nudge to keep them interested and buying, and to keep your profits rolling in.
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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