EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 165 - April 16, 2006 - ISSN 1528-6703     3 of 9

Turn eBay Data Into Dollars: Cross Promotion Strategies

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Below is an excerpt from the book, "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006), by Ina Steiner from Chapter 10, "Marketing Strategies: Market Like a PowerSeller."

See the introduction to this article at:
http://auctionbytes.com/cab/abu/y206/m04/abu0165/s02

When you want to kick your business up a notch, marketing is the way to go. eBay sellers fall into two camps: those who sell exclusively on eBay, and those who sell on multiple channels or marketplaces. Your approach to marketing will vary depending on what kind of seller you are, but every seller should actively market his or her business to drive traffic to listings and increase sales.

The biggest challenge is figuring out which marketing efforts are working most effectively so you know where to spend your time and dollars. You can use eBay data tools to measure the results of your marketing campaigns to determine what works and what doesn't to boost your traffic and sales.

eBay sellers can market their listings and their business in lots of ways: via advertising (online and offline), paid searches, coupons, e-mail marketing, newsletter marketing, and flyers inserted inside packages. Even simple things like posting information on online bulletin boards and including a signature in every post that includes a link to your eBay Store or website is marketing. Or new approaches, such as publishing a blog about the product or market in which you sell, can also prove effective.

It's up to each seller to determine which marketing techniques are worth measuring and how frequently to run new tests. Time and money are valuable resources, so most sellers focus on testing techniques that require a large amount of one or the other to justify these expenditures and get the best return on their investment.

All major marketing efforts are categorized into the five strategies reviewed in this chapter:

  • Cross-promote your listings.
  • Increase repeat sales.
  • Improve your advertising and publicity.
  • Enhance your reputation and credibility.
  • Expand your presence.

Marketing Strategy #1: Cross-Promote Your Listings

If you are not cross-promoting your auctions, you are throwing listing fees out the window. When a buyer visits your listing, it makes sense to let the buyer know what else you are offering, particularly if you offer complementary items. Someone looking for women's shoes might want to see matching handbags, for example.

Not long ago eBay sellers had no way to cross-promote their listings. AuctionHelper (http://www.auctionhelper.com) was the first service to develop such tools, and eBay and other vendors eventually jumped on the cross-promotion bandwagon.

The concept of cross-promotion hit home for a lot of people when eBay introduced its cross-promotional tools for eBay Stores. When someone views one of your store items, four of your other items are promoted to the buyer in a display box, as shown in Figure 10-1.

Figure 10-1: eBay's cross-promotional tool allows sellers to display photos of four other items at the bottom of the View Item page, so visitors can view more of a seller's listings.

Note: eBay has a strict policy about what you can link to in your listings. Most rules apply to off-eBay links. Be sure you are familiar with and conform to its latest policies, which can be found in the eBay help files at http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/listing-links.html.

eBay's Cross-Promotions Tool

You can learn about eBay's cross-promotions tool in eBay's Help files. The "Cross-Promoting Your Items Overview" section can be found at http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/cp-overview.html. You can also find more information at http://pages.ebay.com/sell/crosspromo.

eBay's cross-promotions appear in the following situations:

  • When a buyer bids on your item
  • When a buyer wins your item
  • When a buyer views your listing (for eBay Store sellers only; non-storeowners can use a non-eBay tool, such as AuctionHelper or Auctiva, discussed a bit later)

As the seller, you can create rules to set up how eBay decides what other listings to cross-promote for each type of listing being viewed. This is where testing is important. You might find shoppers looking at dresses are more likely to click over to other dress styles, or they might be more inclined to look at matching shoes. And it might even vary depending on whether shoppers are still browsing or if they are checking out to pay for their purchase. (You have several opportunities to cross-promote items, including during the checkout process.)

All these factors need to be considered when you set up rules for various cross-promotional tools, and testing and measuring to see which items do the best in real auctions is the best guide you will have.

Other Cross-Promotional Tools

You can use your own cross-promotional techniques. You can keep it simple with some text links pointing to your store, or you can jazz it up with buttons that link to store categories.

You have several opportunities to cross-promote:

  • In your listings (View Item page)
  • On your eBay Store Home page
  • On your About Me page
  • In the Checkout process (many sellers use an auction-management service that takes buyers to their own website for the checkout process)
  • In all e-mail correspondence with customers and potential customers

Tip: A great cross-promotional technique is to reward shoppers for buying additional items from you, such as offering combined shipping for multiple purchases.

In addition to your own tools and linking devices, many auction-management services provide cross-promotional tools, including AuctionHelper (http://www.auctionhelper.com), Vendio (http://www.vendio.com) and Auctiva (http://www.auctiva.com). Check with your service provider about tools that may help you not only cross-promote but also measure their effectiveness and help you refine your marketing techniques.

Tip: Most savvy sellers use auctions to drive traffic to their eBay Stores inventory, since for the most part, store items don't show up in search results, but auction listings do. (Store items have significantly lower listing fees but higher Final Value Fees.)

Including links to your store categories in auction and store listings is a free, effective way to cross-promote your items. You can study how other sellers cross-promote their offerings - whether it's through hyperlinks or a third-party tool - to get ideas.

PowerSellers Do It Their Way (Cross-Promote, That Is)

eBay sellers are a varied bunch, and many like to manage their businesses in unique ways. Cross-promotional techniques are no exception, and you'll find a lot of different ways to tempt visitors to your listing to click through to another.

eBay Platinum PowerSeller Andrew Evan Green (Taximarket) included the following hyperlinked text at the top of his auction description for an office chair: "Click here to see our complete line of office chairs & furniture in our eBay Store!" Clicking the link brought visitors to the Taximarket Store, with a gallery view of all the other office chairs for sale by Taximarket.

Toward the bottom of Taximarket's auction for the office chair, Andrew included other links to his eBay listings: another link to office chairs, a link to office desks, and a link to telescopes, an item in which Taximarket specializes. By linking to the entire office-chair inventory in his store, Andrew is driving people in the market for an office chair to a wide range of offerings and hoping at least one of his chairs will satisfy a shopper's needs. (It also may give shoppers a sense of security knowing Taximarket has a store and is selling a range of chairs.)

Another eBay PowerSeller, Platinum PowerSeller David Yaskulka of Blueberry Boutique, creates boxed areas with headings to organize links. This is effective since the store sells a lot of designer items; in one box on his About Me page, for example, he includes a heading "Shop by Designer" and lists top designers. Each designer name is hyperlinked, so visitors can click to listings that feature items from that designer.

eBay Titanium PowerSeller ACityDiscount includes a hyperlinked list of store categories in the left column of the store's listing description and puts a list of related items at the bottom of the listing description. Underneath that is a list of eBay Store categories with thumbnail pictures of the types of items found in that store category - for instance, a picture of a dishwasher appears just above the category name Dishwashing Sinks - Tables.

If you are a golfer, it would be hard not to click on some of the links to other items on 3balls Golf's stores homepage. Throughout the store's pages on eBay, boxes list items for sale with effective titles like "Stock up now," "This week's hottest sellers," and "3balls Golf Dollar Store." These eye-catching boxes entice customers to click through to other products. In addition, buttons let viewers browse by category and manufacturer.

Tip: Keep an eye on top sellers. Look beyond your own categories and see what eBay PowerSellers in other categories are doing. You might get some useful ideas you can apply to your own cross-promotional activities. You can find lists of eBay's top sellers on several sites - one is located at http://www.nortica.com/UserArea/ebay500_15.asp. Periodically peruse these sellers' listings to see if the techniques they use would make sense for your listings. You don't have to be a copycat, but you can keep your eyes open for effective techniques and best practices.

Study the Cross-Promotions Data

You can use tools such as eBay Traffic Reports and Sellathon ViewTracker to determine which listings are most popular, and use those popular listings to drive traffic to other items you are offering.

If you have a Featured or Anchor eBay Store, you have access to path data. This shows you how shoppers are navigating your listings so you can see from where they are coming, how they move from one listing to another, or whether they leave your store after viewing one item. This will help you understand shopper behavior and how visitors are navigating through your listings and can help you improve your cross-promotions. We reviewed eBay's Traffic reports in Chapter 3.

If you have a Basic eBay Store, you should look into tools such as Sellathon ViewTracker, which can track data through eBay's cross-promotions tool (but not through other vendors' cross-promotional tools). ViewTracker will indicate whether someone clicked a listing using eBay's cross-promotions tool and will identify from which auction the visitor came - look on the Details page on ViewTracker, as shown in Figure 10-2. This allows you to run tests and see which cross-promoted items are getting the most hits with which listings.

Figure 10-2: ViewTracker's Details page shows you how visitors got to your listing (Method of Arrival); here, ViewTracker shows that visitor number 28 came through a cross-promotion link and indicates the listing number of the auction from which they came.

Unfortunately, no tool at this time lets you easily summarize and compare the effectiveness of various cross-promotional techniques. The eBay Traffic Reports Full Paths report consists of a list of each visitor's path through your listings. If the first visitor came to one of your auctions and exited, you can see that information. If a second visitor arrived and moved from one auction to another of your auctions and then exited your listings, you can see that. But nowhere does it summarize this information. You have to peruse the list and look for cross-links.

Your auction-management service may provide information about cross-promotion effectiveness through its reporting tools.

Note from the author: When designing cross promotional strategies, make sure you understand eBay's policies regarding links (http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/listing-links.html) and keyword spamming (http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/keyword-spam.html).

Link to this story's Sidebar:
http://auctionbytes.com/cab/abu/y206/m04/abu0165/s04

This is an excerpt from the book, "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars: Tools and Techniques to Make More Money on Every Transaction" (McGraw-Hill 2006) by Ina Steiner, you can find the book online at Amazon (http://digbig.com/4fwpf).


About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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