EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 170 - July 09, 2006 - ISSN 1528-6703     3 of 8

Care for and 'Feed' Your eBay Store

By Greg Holden

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It's all too easy to forget about your eBay Store when you're scrambling to get your personal quota of auction sales online at the beginning of the week. But at the end of the week when you've sold more out of your store than you did online, you suddenly realize the store's value.

eBay Store promotion is a never-ending process. At least, it should be. The more time you spend updating your selection of merchandise and spreading the word about your store, the better your sales will be. The challenge is to set aside time for marketing in between acquiring items to sell, photography, uploading listings, packing, and shipping. Wouldn't it be great if there was a way to promote your store automatically with little or no work on your part?

Actually, you have two options for helping prospective buyers learn what's in your store: newsletters and RSS feeds. First, here's some news that you might find surprising: Every eBay Store owner has the ability to distribute a mailing list newsletter to advertise sales listings.

I never knew I had the option of creating a newsletter until I looked at my eBay Store configuration page and discovered that there had been two attempts to subscribe to this newsletter - a newsletter that didn't even exist. These two very smart shoppers had done me the honor of choosing me as one of their Favorite Sellers in My eBay. If I had a newsletter, I could send it to them via my mailing list. I figured I'd better determine what this newsletter feature is and take advantage of it.

To set up your newsletter, log in to My eBay and click the Marketing Tools link. Then click the Email Marketing link in the left-hand column. Click Create Email to access a simple form that lets you create your newsletter and pick the items you want to feature in it. You can select these items either from your store or your auctions.

As Mark O'Neill pointed out in a previous AuctionBytes article (http://auctionbytes.com/cab/abu/y205/m01/abu0134/s03), simply knowing you have a newsletter is only half the battle. You also have to:

  • Mention the newsletter everywhere you can, such as in your About Me page text;
  • Include the link in every electronic invoice you send;
  • Put the link on the business card you enclose with your packing materials.

Your customers sign up for your newsletter by clicking the link Add to Favorite Sellers/Stores on your storefront page, your About Me page, and your feedback page.

But email and HTML are so passé. These days, blogs and RSS feeds are the methods of choice for getting the word out about just about anything. The phrase "send an RSS feed of your eBay Store listings" sounds pretty high-tech and potentially intimidating. But it isn't, really.

RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication. It's a way of converting the contents of a Web page to an Extensible Markup Language (XML) file so it can be read quickly and easily. People subscribe to your RSS feed, and they receive it each time the contents are updated. They need a software program called an RSS reader to do so. RSS is a simple marketing tool that is widely used in the world of blogs, but not yet in widespread use on eBay. If you take advantage of it, you'll be ahead of the curve - and ahead of the competition, too.

The idea is to capture an RSS feed of your sales and offer it (you might say, "feed it") to customers who want to subscribe to it. To get started, follow these steps:

  • One: Go to My eBay, and click the Marketing Tools link.
  • Two: Click the button next to Distribute your listings via RSS.
  • Three: Click Apply.
  • Four: Go back to your store's home page. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, where you should see an orange button labeled RSS.

You or your buyers can click on that button to view instructions on how to subscribe to your feed and see updates as soon as they appear. It's as simple as that: RSS might stand for Really Simple Syndication, but given how popular it's becoming, it might just lead to Really Stupendous Sales.


About the author:

Greg Holden is EcommerceBytes Contributing Editor. He is a journalist and the author of many books, including "Starting an Online Business For Dummies," "Go Google: 20 Ways to Reach More Customers and Build Revenue with Google Business Tools," and several books about eBay, including "How to Do Everything with Your eBay Business," second edition, and "Secrets of the eBay Millionaires," both published by Osborne-McGraw Hill. Find out more on Greg's website, which includes his blog, a list of his books, and his fiction and biographical writing.


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