In truth, however, for the small-time seller it can sometimes feel as though visibility on eBay is a tough nut to crack. After all, the presence of so many buyers and sellers also creates a much bigger pond than many smaller fish are prepared to cope with. More to the point, given eBay's rules on promoting your own website or alternate storefronts from auction listings (hint: linking to other websites is generally forbidden), it can also seem as though the promised land of eBay-as-promotional-tool is ultimately little more than a mirage.
Still, aside from using visibility-oriented seller features, there are actually a few simple techniques you can use to promote both the listings that you post on eBay and the retail activity that you engage in outside of eBay.
- Take every opportunity to promote your business without linking directly to it on eBay. When you deliver your items, deliver stickers, business cards, postcards, or whatever else you can think of that includes your web address and contact information. Change your eBay member ID to the name of your website (i.e. "jaysteddybears" if your website is "jaysteddybears.com"). Mention your website in your listings (but don't link to it, since such links aren't allowed as per eBay's links policy.
- Cross-promote like crazy. In every item description, be sure to include the text "Please check out my other auctions!" Make it large, bold, and bright, include it several times if necessary, and connect it to your seller's items page (accessible by clicking the "View seller's other items" link at the upper-right of any one of your item listings) using the following HTML tag in your listing:
Please check out my other auctions!
(Replace MyMemberID with your own eBay member ID and augment with other HTML tags to make it more visible, of course!)
- Post links to your eBay auctions from other websites. Don't just list your items on eBay and forget about them. Link to your auctions from your blog and on your own e-storefront. As search engines like Google index your storefront, they'll also pick up and index your eBay auctions. The more links from external sources, the better.
- List in multiple categories, multiple types of items, and high-demand items. This is especially helpful in the context of cross-promotion (linking between auction listings) and when you're selling many of the same type of item that could conceivably categorized in several ways. Sell separate accessories, list multiple items across several relevant categories and cross-promote them—anything to bring in a wider variety of prospective buyers and make them aware of your business. List at least a few very high-demand items that are likely to be seen by a large number of potential bidders.
- Nuture a repeat customer base. Your promotion and visibility don't end with your auction listing. At every stage in the process after your auction closes, you can promote your business to your buyer. Send an email closing the deal that also points to your e-storefront. Use letterhead on your invoices that advertises your seller name. Pointedly ask bidders to add you to their list of favorite sellers. Include courtesy gifts with your delivery—an inexpensive baggie of jelly beans or mints can bring back a surprising amount of repeat business. State constantly that you want to earn repeat business and that you want buyers to be happy enough about the sale to promote your eBay auctions to their friends. They will.
These are just a few simple techniques—requiring very little overhead and applicable to virtually every eBay business model or market—that can help to increase your visibility and promote both your eBay listings and your e-storefront off of eBay.
Have other promotion tips you'd like to share? Post about them in the forum.