Improving your eBay Auctions By Testing
Back when I was doing free weekly eBay coaching sessions, I did many eBay auction reviews. During the reviews, I suggest changes
and things to test. In today's article I am going to discuss
testing. Specifically what to test, and how to test.
When I was in college, I had a instructor come into class the
week before finals and hand out a sheet of paper with information
about what would be on the test.
The sheet said one word. . .
I wasn't happy back then, but it's appropriate here. You need to
test everything because tracking and testing to incrementally
improve your results is a wise strategy.
When I worked as a marketing analyst we tracked and tested
everything. You don't need to be as diligent as I was, but
tracking and testing will certainly help you increase your
One note here, some things aren't worth testing. For example, it
would be a waste of your time to test including images in your
auctions because we know photos increase bids. You might want to
test the size and locations of your photos, but you wouldn't test
running an auction with and without photos.
Before you start testing things, here's 19 Ways To Quickly Improve Your eBay Auctions.
Some of the things I have suggested testing during the web
coaching sessions are:
- Trying to stand out from a crowd by offering free shipping or
lowering prices and raising shipping costs.
Changing the keywords in the your auction titles. Did you know
eBay will tell you the five most frequently searched phrases
for each category. Well eBay does. Even better, eBay even puts
them in order. You can find these five most frequent searches
by going into any category and looking at the "Related
Searches" links found just under the search box at the top of
every category page.
Removing links to store items. I've seen a lot of auctions with
columns of links to store categories. Do these links help
people find additional items or distract them from the single
listing? I don't know.
Trying different eBay categories, or using the two category option.
I know from my past results a Marx toy train accessory will
usually bring more money listed in one of the Lionel
categories. (Lionel and Marx are different brands of toy
trains.) I wouldn't know that if I hadn't tested it.
A short aside here. EBay's rules say you must list the item in
the most relevant category. Because there is a Marx category, the
item should be listed there. To get around this, I list in BOTH
categories, and include the words "USE WITH LIONEL" in the title.
That is also an acceptable way to get a keyword into a title.
"USE WITH," or "FOR" and the secondary keyword.
Remember to pay attention to the eBay listing fees when
selecting prices to test. An auction listed with a starting
price of $9.99, will cost you 25 cents less in listing fees
than the same auction with a starting price of $10.00.
I once sold a case of the same product one at a time over the
course of a few months. Every week the same listing with the
only change being the starting price. Prices above $7.00
brought the lowest results, while prices under 2.99 brought the
Starting lower resulting in higher bids tends to hold true across
all items I have tested to the point where I now list almost
everything at initial prices below a dollar. This also saves me
Photographs. I am starting to see a correlation between having
lots of large clear images and lower selling amounts. I think
this is because the bigger photos exaggerate the defects. Today
I am using fewer images in auctions for items I expect to sell
for under $500.
I have also seen some results leading me to believe having small
clickable or thumb nailed images leading to larger images lowers
bidding on items with values below a few hundred dollars.
Especially when the thumb nailed images lead to images that are
slow to load. More on eBay photos.
Having extraneous information in your auction descriptions is
another thing to test. I don't like to put anything in my
auction descriptions except a short link to my eBay Me page, a
detailed description of the item for sale, a statement
explaining shipping charges, and a clickable link to my other
auctions. I see a lot of auctions with exhortations and
warnings to non paying bidders and other distractions. I never
use these in my auctions, but if you do, you should test
removing this from your listings.
Your Guarantee. We tend to be afraid of offering liberal
guarantees because we think people will take advantage of us.
Start with a simple guarantee offering the purchase price back.
With one of the books I wrote to sell on eBay I found the best
guarantee was to tell the buyer to write his name and address
written on the inside front cover then rip the cover off and mail
it to me. I didn't start with that guarantee, I worked my way up
to it as my confidence and comfort grew.
One last thing to test, your audience. I know my toy train
buyers are either collectors, operators, dabblers, or dealers.
Writing my listings geared toward collectors or operators
forces me to address their concerns in my listings and helps
identify specific keywords. (Dealers and dabblers will respond
well to descriptions aimed at the other two groups.
You might not be able to identify your audience by testing
keywords. You might have to ask your buyers why they are
purchasing the items. And your audience might not be who you
think it is.
Here's an example. Dr. Peter Dixon attended a
web coaching session and asked about finding related affiliate
products he could sell to his eBay buyers. Peter sells trees on
eBay so my first thought was his audience is made up of
gardeners. Thinking this I showed him how to find gardening
When I talked to him later, he said he thinks his buyers are not gardeners, but people
seeking naturopathic and home remedies.
That's two different groups of potential buyers. But it's more
confusing than that.
You see, during the coaching session, I recommend Peter
insert a tracking code provided by Sellathon.com into his
auctions so he could see what keywords were bringing people into
After a week of data provided by Sellathon, it looks like many of
his buyers are nostalgia buyers looking for plants from their
homelands. (The trees he sells are grown from seeds his wife's
family ships him from the Philippines.)
Any three of these groups could be the bulk of Peter's market.
Knowing which one is the majority will take more time, but once
he knows, he can tailor his auctions to the biggest group while
including information for the smaller groups.
There are a lot of other things you can test, but the ones I have
listed here are the ones that will have the biggest return for
PS. Here's an article on common eBay selling mistakes.
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