Guides

5 tips to boost eBay and online marketplace sales

Introduction

At the end of 2014, eBay estimated that during an unexpected holiday shopping day – versus Black Friday or Cyber Monday – ‘Super Sunday’ saw over seven million shoppers would be on their site in the U.K. alone, buying 1,800 gifts per minute from their selection of 800 million items. Did your retail business benefit from increased eBay sales during the holidays? How do you plan to scale your business during the remaining 11 months of the year? This white paper focus on offering five key eBay selling tips to help guide you in boosting your online marketplace sales.

You’ll learn:

  • How search engine marketing and search engine optimization impacts your eBay sales and ways to drive more traffic and engagement.
  • The importance of a Content Strategy and how to get started
  • The best ways to leverage social media and the strengths of each channel
  • Other advertising options to consider
  • Additional ways to boost eBay sales

Tip 1. Maximize Search Engine Visibility

The habit of using search engines to find and learn about everything has become such a large part of our everyday lives that Google is now considered a verb in the Oxford Dictionary.

What actions do you take to ensure people find your eBay store, your products and services easily? How has search engines like Google changed the rules, impacting previous tactics you may have taken?

Whether you are investing in AdWords and/or optimizing your website to appear organically, this section will cover the steps to help you improve on both aspects of search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO).

1.1 Start by analyzing your baseline metrics, then set achievable Goals.

Before making improvements to your paid and organic search marketing that impacts eBay sales, you need to know where and how you rank today. Use Google Analytics and Google’s Webmaster Tools to establish and monitor your key baseline metrics and gauge your website’s SEO health.

Start with visitor volume-based, outcome-based methods of Goal setting (i.e. how many visitors = how many sales). Key metrics to start analyzing per month are:

  • Sales – How is SEM impacting online sales overall?
  • Number of visits – How many total visits and how many unique (new) visitors?
  • Conversions – How many unique visitors typically convert to paying customers?
  • Best sources of traffic – Where are your new visitors coming from? Referral links / websites? Social media? Press and media (amplification)?
  • Cost per click (CPC) – the cost of a click on a paid search ad
  • Click thru rate (CTR) – the ratio of impressions received versus clicks
  • Quality score (QS) – how high this is will affect your CPC (the higher the better)

Once you have worked out your baseline, set realistic improvement goals around monthly visitor numbers and conversion-to-sale ratios. See our conversion guide to learn how to convert more website visitors to paying customers.

Be aware that SEO improvements can take months to serve your desired results. To get more immediate search engine visibility, complement your SEO tactics with paid search ads. As your organic search results kick in you can then taper off your paid search spending, continuing to fine-tune each, using your metrics as a guide.

1.2 Review keywords, phrases & landing pages.

Regularly reviewing your keywords, phrases and how well they match their associated landing pages is central to paid search and SEO success. Due to the large number of pages that an ecommerce site can have, a long-tail keyword strategy often works best.

On your eBay shop, remember to input keywords you want used to optimize your shop, and make a feed file (Excel file) available for shopping comparison sites.

When Google phased out keyword reporting in Analytics in 2013, it threw a wrench into everyone’s SEM tactics. Thankfully, there are workarounds to the “(not provided)” results for non-paid search traffic. Mining your paid search traffic or paying for 3rd-party applications are a few ways.

Google’s Webmaster Tools also provides a great alternative for Analytics keyword discovery beyond any other free SEO tool out there. Here’s how:

  • From Search Traffic, go to Search Queries.
  • The first tab, Top Queries, lists keywords that drovetraffic to your site
  • This is sorted by
  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • CTR (click thru rate)

You can filter by type of – image, video, mobile, web, or all – enabling you to drill down in detail or gain an overall view.

Clicking the Top Pages tab enable you to view the same metrics by each page – AND – when you click the URL for each page you can view the top Keyword search terms used to bring visitors to that page.

The disadvantage is that this data is not connected to Google Analytics, so it’s not trackable to provide historic reporting. It can offer insight to discover keywords that could boost underperforming landing pages, for tweaking description content in your eBay listings, and compare against AdWords keyword data for continual optimization on both ends.

The simplest, quickest tool, especially for long-tail keyword research? Google Autocomplete. Type away and see.

1.3 Speaking of paid search campaigns…A/B Testing is key.

A/B testing plays a highly valuable role in online marketing, from landing pages and email campaigns, to Calls-to-Actions (CTAs) and paid search campaigns.

When it comes to your AdWords campaigns, it’s important to continually test out which keywords and ad text is performing well or underperforming. Keep in mind and plan for seasonal traffic, from key retail dates to the change in seasons and when consumers take their holidays.

Testing keywords and keyword phrases against each other enables you to build intelligence around these keywords, search terms and landing page relevance. In turn, your quality score and your conversion rates will go up as your cost per click (CPC) goes down.

1.4 Staying on top of SEO to boost online marketplace and eBay sales.

The singular goal of these tools, tactics and strategies for organic and paid-search are to boost traffic to your eBay store and online marketplaces. There are also some things that are out of your control, but ones you need to stay on top of to make changes accordingly.

In May of 2014, Google’s Panda algorithm made the news as eBay’s website ranking dropped significantly, from the 6th to 25th. The company estimated it cost them $200 million over one quarter, showing the power of organic and paid search, even on a company of eBay’s size. There are various opinions as to why Google penalized eBay, but what is known is that the marketplace giant is committed to optimizing their own paid search and advertising tactics to be more specific versus generic, and focusing better on geo-targeting.

Take heed in their refined paid search and organic strategies by relying on and implementing your own online promotions, be it SEO, internet advertising, content marketing or social media. This keeps you in control of your company’s sales and connection to customers.

When it comes to organic search, also take heed of Google’s increased emphasis on quality of content. Not only will you reap SEO rewards, it makes good business sense, attracting potential shoppers to your own ecommerce store, eBay store, or other online marketplace.

We’ll get into developing an effective content strategy and social media plan later in this white paper, but first, let’s do a quick overview of basic SEO tactics and ways to improve ranking of your SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) organically.

On-Page SEO – Make sure everything on and behind the site is optimized for the search engines. This includes HTML tags, meta descriptions (what browsers see in the SERP descriptions), positioning, keyword density, internal linking, and again, quality copy.

Create proper page title tags that are relevant and including your keyword(s), keeping them to 65 characters or less. Optimize your permalink structure that directly reflects your page title and page content. Use Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and third-party SEO tools such as SEO Doctor, a Firefox plug-in which scores site pages and recommends enhancements.

Off-Page SEO (link building) – This is all about having good quality, external links that drive traffic to your website or eBay store. Doing this increases the authority of your site in the eyes of the search engines and pushes you up the natural rankings, a critical aspect to boosting your search engine efforts.

2. Develop a Dynamic Content Strategy

A great way of attracting increasing numbers of website visitors is to lure them in with remarkable content that complements your products and aligns with your brand. Creating engaging content that provides value to your potential or returning customers can also drive traffic to boost eBay sales.

Think about the market that you sell into. How can you build thought leadership and expertise so you become the trusted advisor and the place that people go to when they want to buy? When pondering potential topics, think about how your product fixes an issue, and then create a story around how it does just that.

For example, an eyeglass retailer might create a style guide offering tips on what might suit different face shapes and colorings. A guitar retailer might put together a series of ‘teach yourself’ videos, or a blog with the latest news and reviews on new guitar models.

At Brightpearl, we create content around issues affecting SME retailers, such as stock control, accounting or in the case of this white paper, offering eBay selling tips and ways retailers can use online marketing strategies to their advantage. We know small business owners often have difficulty overcoming common retail challenges of all kinds, and that our experience along with our software solutions can help solve many of their business issues.

Apparel brand Oaklandish does this with great success. By tapping into their customer’s passion for style, local community and ‘geo-pride’, their team continually creates interesting, non-product related blog content to attract them. They enable an opportunity for visitors to subscribe to their email newsletters, another touch opportunity. And they distribute the content they create through these newsletters and their social media channels, which are in turn promoted on their website. A content strategy that comes full circle, each connected to the other.

Get your creative juices flowing when planning and evolving your own content strategy. Content can take all forms, from blogs, videos, best practice and buyer’s guides, to online catalogues, photos on Instagram and Pinterest, to ebooks, webinars and webcasts. You may even act as a guest blogger for other websites that align with your company and target audience.

A good content strategy will transform your online and eBay shop from a website selling products to a sanctuary for customers who will keep coming back. The added bonus is that it can have a viral effect. As customers and enthusiasts link to your site from their blogs, websites, tweets and social media pages, the more new visitors will find you.

An active content plan supports your SEO efforts by driving good quality inbound links and boosting keyword inclusion. This enhances your SERP rankings, driving both new and returning traffic. If you’re ever pondering what’s popular with online shoppers in your categories, use Google Trends to add new keywords and topics that relate to your brand and product offering.

3. Leverage Social Media

As mentioned, creating your ‘remarkable’ content goes hand-in-hand with the distribution of that content through your social media channels. It’s the ideal way to promote it in a non-intrusive way while building oneto- one connections with your customers.

  • The other aspects of your social media strategy to boost eBay and online sales is:
  • Sharing third-party content that relates to your brand and product (‘weather’ if you sell bike gear, news of a holiday celebration, or partner content).
  • Images, not only on image-related social channels, but in Facebook and Twitter as well, are shown to have high-engagement rates.
  • Consider social media advertising, which we’ll get into later in this white paper, to provide a complementary channel for existing online campaigns.

Each channel has its strengths and advantages. Here’s a snapshot of each.

3.1 Facebook

Your Facebook page enables you to connect with customers, distribute content, promote product offers and attract online shoppers. Using Facebook’s advertising products, you can ‘Boost’ your posts to extend your reach and visibility, News Feed Placements for specific campaign promotions, both of which can target custom audiences. Ads can appear in the desktop News Feed, the desktop right column of Facebook, and mobile News Feed.

3.2 Twitter

In the last year, Twitter has evolved from a real-time, two-way information feed to an additional channel to boost online sales. This past holiday season Twitter saw 94% of Twitter uses in the UK engaging with mobile commerce.

In addition to using Twitter as a way to generate new traffic by promoting product offers and new content (videos, photos, blog post links, webinar invites) to your followers, consider it as one more tool in your advertising arsenal. Based on your goals, Twitter ads can be used to drive traffic website clicks and conversions and find leads through email address capture.

3.3 Youtube

One of the top digital trends for 2015 is the level of engagement of video, specifically on mobile. YouTube is widely known to be a fantastic traffic source and the second largest search engine, next to Google. As a result, this social channel experiences more than 100 hours of video uploaded every minute.

This is where the goal of creating quality, valuable, entertaining content comes back around, enabling you to stand out to your audience. Demonstrate and review new product arrivals. Promote customer testimonials. Share events such as parties at your store. This provides an opportunity to engage with the direct YouTube audience, to distribute this content to other social channels, and also use within your website. Remember to include links to your website and eBay product listing in the description, using copy that includes your long-tail keywords.

3.4 Instagram

As of the end of 2014, this photo social channel (owned by Facebook) reached 300 million active users with an estimated 75 million daily users. While you’re creating captivating photos for your eBay store and other online marketplaces, why not share them on Instagram as well to gain access to this actively engaged audience?

Using the same tactics to attract more shoppers, share photos that show your products in the right light and in action, adding hashtags that align with what you may share on Twitter or Facebook and with your keyword strategy. If you’re shooting video at an event, use your smartphone to do the same on Instagram, keeping in mind the 14-second maximum length.

Liberty London is using Tapestry, a free iPhone for fans of fashion, to offer Instagram users with in-store “points and perks on your phone with lots of little extras.” Bloomingdales introduced #Zoomingdales on Instagram to promote their holiday gift guide.

3.5 Pinterest

Another beloved photo social sharing site for online shoppers has been Pinterest. An early adopter, Nordstrom states, “Each month, customers engage with our Pins hundreds of thousands of times, generating millions of impressions and significant site traffic and demand.”

Including a PinIt button to your website’s product pages enables browsers to express their individual tastes and provides you with coveted word-of-mouth marketing opportunities. This complements your eBay product pages that each include a Pinterest button. If you’re looking for retail inspiration, check out eBay’s own Pinterest page https://www.pinterest.com/ebay/.

4. Extend Reach with Advertising

We’ve covered Google AdWords and social media advertising. If you have the budget, you may want to consider other online and offline advertising that’s been around for some time, but is still viable for driving brand familiarity and attracting online shoppers.

4.1 Google Display Network

The Google Display Network (GDN) allows you to place, manage, target, analyze and optimize the performance of ads displayed across member sites via your Google Adwords account. You can even create enticing display ads – text, image, interactive and video – through its display ad builder.

Another powerful aspect of the GDN is it’s re-marketing tool. This allows you to re-market specific product ads to people who have visited a particular product page on your website, but have not completed a purchase. For example, those customers who abandoned their shopping carts could be lured back in by showing them the product they were interested in again. This become a hugely popular way of boosting campaign performance and maximizing ROI.

4.2 Online Advertising

Traditional online advertising is another way to extend your presence online. Campaigns can be managed directly with media site owners or via a media buying agency, who may have the buying power to negotiate better deals on your behalf. However, they will also take a cut of the spend (usually around 15%) as commission.

On-site ads usually take the form of banners (MPUs, skyscrapers and leaderboards). These can be as basic as a static GIF, to complex, interactive flash banners. Familiarize yourself with the best practice rules around banner ads, keeping them simple, focused, and with a clear call to action (CTA).

Choose media websites that specifically align with your target market. Get details on volume and demographic of their online readership and understand how they charge, cost per click (CPC) or per impression (CPM), and if they offer a lead guarantee.

Finally, a media owner’s rate card price is typically a starting point. It’s wise to negotiate a discount.

4.3 Print Advertising

The use of print advertising has declined steadily since the rise of the Internet. However, it is still an option and can sometimes be negotiated as a value added component of an online media contract, or as part of a PR effort.

  • Here are some simple ways to maximize your return:
  • Target your media – Identify the titles that your customers are reading.
  • Keep it simple – Readers need to ‘get it’ in a second.
  • Keep it positive – People respond better to positive messages.
  • Strong call to action – Make sure you give the reader a next step.
  • Clear next step – Short URLs, or use QR codes

Try and secure genuine reviews or coverage of your products and/or company in that publication at the same time to maximize exposure and reinforce messaging.

5. Additional ways boost your eBay sales

In addition to linking all your listings, About Me page, and email to your eBay shop, consider cross promoting with other eBay sellers who offer complementary products to yours. It’s free and can get you additional exposure within eBay.

Take advantage of the Related Offer within eBay, which encourage buyers to add complementary items, such as a lens cap to a camera, or hat to a coat, to their purchases. You can specify which products you want to promote as a related item, along with any discounts you want to offer if they buy both or multiple items. It‘s a great way to cross-sell items and increase your revenue per buyer.

Auctiva shopping window produces a free eBay scrolling product bar that appears at the bottom of each listing, displaying scrolling pictures of the other products you have for sale. According to Vendio such galleries increase sales by 18%.

Conclusion

The world of online shopping has enjoyed continuous growth over the years, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

This is great news for you. It also means it has become more of a challenge to stay ahead of the competition. Focusing on your uniqueness – your brand, the personality behind your company and its people, your products and how people enjoy them – is your best asset.

Get creative and have fun in sharing all of your assets with the world, and then make time to use these technicals tools and tactics to fine-tune your online strategy.