How to use eBay (And Amazon, Or other Marketplaces) as a Marketing tool – Free advertising
If you have read any of my previous blogs, you will know that I don’t believe eBay and Amazon, are sustainable platforms for a businessesThis is especially applicable to Start-ups unless your profit margins are over 60-70%. You have no control over their policies and your account can be suspended at any time without any warning. For further info on this subject please read my other articles on this subject.
However, it’s not all bad news, there are plenty of low risk opportunities on both these platforms if you play it right.
eBay for example has much better marketing tools than Amazon. You are able to access customer information and you have far more freedom over what you can put in your description. Below are a few more tips on using eBay for marketing.
Using eBay as a marketing platform
There are a few eBay policies that you need to bear in mind if you don’t want your account suspended.
- You cannot directly advertise your website on eBay
- You cannot sell your products cheaper on your website
- You cannot promote offsite transaction (Outside of eBay)
However, you can put a link to your website where customers can click for something like a user manual / more information about the product you’re selling. Make sure this is not a direct sales page. eBay cracks down on sellers trying to divert sales through their own website directly. E.g., you cannot have something like “Get a discount if you buy direct from our site”. You need to be more subtle and divert customers to your site indirectly. This could be done usually by including additional information about the product on your website. Once your customer is on your site they has will most likely browse the rest of the content. If you have the right user interface and navigation menus. You can use clever plugins to pop-up a 10% coupon code for example. There are plenty of plugins. The one I use is from MailChimp.
It’s all about cross-selling online
The key to increasing your revenue is to sell cheaper / low risk products on eBay. And by low risk, I mean products that are of a lower value, and are less likely for a customer to return. For example, a cheap £30 printer, which would drive your customer to your website for the ink refills or drivers. Then their attention could be drawn to your special offers on ink cartridges, scanners and stationary, which in turn could give you repeat business from that one customer.
The great thing about eBay is you’ll have the customer’s email address and details. Send them a welcome email once they’ve made a purchase, and make sure they have the option to unsubscribe from your mailing list if they are not interested. There are many platforms out there that can help you manage your newsletters. One I particularly recommend is MailChimp. For more info on email marketing please see my other blog on this subject
To do be successful at cross-selling, you will need to make sure you sell relevant products. This approach will not work if you are selling everything under the sun on eBay.
For example, in my Chicken Business, I was selling basic cheap egg incubator models on eBay, and would cross-sell things like, Egg Candler, Feeders, incubator cleaning products, backyard poultry books, magazine subscriptions and many more through my webpage.
In my DJ business, I would sell basic cheap soundcards, mixers, speakers, and then cross-sell headphones, high end “upgrades” etc. This was rather successful with over 30% conversion rate / sales throughout each mail out.
Support phone line
If you have the resources to answer phone calls, then it’s a great idea to include a phone number for customers to “ask questions”
This will only work on platforms like eBay who allow control over your description.
Make sure there is someone to answer the calls, otherwise this could backfire on you.. The user will might consider you unreliable and move on to another seller. But if there are no phone numbers linked to your eBay page, you won’t have this problem. Instead your users will wait for an email response.
If you do have a potential customer call you, you could offer them a discount (Today’s special offer) and could offer to take the payment right there and then so they don’t miss out on the fabulous deal (This is sort of a grey area, as eBay won’t like it, , but if you are an authentic business, with all payment systems, ecommerce, PCI DSS (Meet payment regulations) compliance, in my view, there isn’t an issue doing so! As eBay is ONLY ONE revenue stream)
Also, this option could work out best for both of you and your customer. You can afford to sell your product it at a cheaper price, meaning you can offer a discount, and you are protected against eBay users trying to blackmail you via negative feedback threats, PayPal disputes, etc. Think about it, an average card processing company will charge 1.7% + £0.20 per transaction. PayPal fees + eBay fees can mount up to around 10-14% of your final sales price. I would rather pass that saving to the customer and avoid PayPal chargeback fees etc (I have an article about how buyers scam you on PayPal , read it here)
If you have a good sales person on the phone, they can also do cross-selling and offer products not listed on your eBay account.
Offline Cross-selling on Amazon and eBay
To increase your cross-selling products make sure you have good looking catalogue and discount codes on your webpage. (Have a unique code so you can track how many sales are coming through these type of advertising, placing your website detail in each package you send out. We’ve had many follow-up sales through these codes. Once you get the customer onto your site, the possibilities are endless. Make sure you have a great and consistence newsletter system in place.
It’s estimated that eBay and Amazon bring in over 50% ecommerce traffic, therefore it is essential to have some kind of presence on these platforms where possible. Be smart, and make the most of these sites. But remember, if it gets to the point where customers are blackmailing you, it might be time to move on from these platforms and spend more money on alternative solutions such as Google, Twitter, Instagram ads. (Covered in a different article)