How to optimize your e-commerce listings to match eBay's Gold Standard
This is a guest post from the ListSmart team. ListSmart is an e-commerce listings optimisation apps which lets you compare your eBay listings to those of your top selling competitors. This means you can see where you need to improve to match and even overtake the competition. Try ListSmart out free today to see just how much of a difference it can make to your listings.
What makes a perfect e-commerce listing? The kind of listing that will get your products seen and have people falling over themselves to hit the Buy Now button? When it comes to eBay, there is a handy guide to creating just that kind of listing and it’s called the eBay Gold Standard.
The Gold Standard covers all the elements you need to focus on to create really effective eBay listings and explains how to optimize each of these elements to achieve the best possible results. These elements are broadly split into two categories – Listing Content and Listing Features. Get both right and you should see a significant improvement in your visibility and sales.
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In this article we break down the most important parts of the Gold Standard and how you can leverage these to increase the effectiveness of your listings and have a direct positive impact on your eBay store.
Listing content is the actual information contained in the listing which describes your products for buyers. This has to be made as enticing as possible, of course, to help you stand out from the competition.
There are four main areas of listing content that you need to get right to generate maximum interest in your products. These are Titles, Images, Item Specifics and your Product Description.
All of these affect both your search visibility i.e. how prominently you are featured in user generated search results, and your click-through and conversions rates, so it’s absolutely vital to get your Listing Content just right.
Your title is one of the first things most potential buyers will see, along with your featured image. It therefore needs to grab their attention while efficiently conveying exactly what customers need to know to make them click on your listing rather than the ones above or below it.
Getting your eBay title right
When creating eBay titles there are a few simple rules to follow:
- You have 80 characters to play with, so make sure to use them wisely – keep your title clear, concise and professional
- Clearly state what the item is, even if that means repeating the category name – include things like Brand, Colour, Type, Condition and even MPN (Manufacturer Part Number) where appropriate
- Avoid synonyms e.g. “bag”, “backpack” and “rucksack” – eBay already accounts for these when generating search results and should know they all mean roughly the same thing
- Stay away from special characters and words that don't describe your item e.g. "wow" or "l@@k"
Pro tip: If you need a little more space to include additional information about your products, you can add a subtitle for an extra fee (£1 for most listings, 50p for cars and motorcycles) which gives you another 55 characters to use.
The old cliché goes that a picture is worth 1000 words, well, when it comes to eBay it’s more like 1000 click-throughs. Okay, so it might not be quite that simple, but what is true is that images are one of the first things any potential buyer will focus in on, so you need to make the most of them.
Getting your eBay images right
To optimize your images on eBay, remember the following:
- eBay allows you to use up to 12 images for free
- The highest converting listings have 8-10 images on average
- However, more than 85% of images (excluding vehicles) only use a single image
- This gives you a fantastic opportunity to raise your game and stand out from the crowd
- The optimal number of images varies depending on your category, so you need to look at your top selling competitors for a more exact estimate of how many images you should be using
- eBay’s Picture Policy says that your pictures should be large and clear, show any defects in the product and if you use a watermark it should take up no more than 5% of the image and have a transparency of 50% or less
- Try to make your images high resolution and 800-1600 pixels on the longest side – eBay will then automatically enable zooming
- When uploading through eBay’s Basic Uploader, there is a file size limit of 7MB – this provides a guideline when thinking about what resolution to go for
Item specifics are one of the most crucial parts of your listings when it comes to being found in user searches. They allow you to define your products in a structured way that eBay understands, making it easier to match your products correctly with users.
For example, if you are selling a jumper and specify in the item specifics that the jumper is “blue” your listing is much more likely to appear when someone searches for “blue jumper”. Item specifics allow you to specify a whole range of product details, including brand, size, color and style.
Item specifics also help when users start filtering search results using the options on the left hand side. Good use of item specifics can therefore also help you avoid your products being wrongly filtered out by people with a very precise idea of what they are looking for.
Getting your eBay item specifics right
- It is essential to use Product Identifiers such as a MPN, EAN, UPC or ISBN wherever relevant
- Type, Style and Brand are the most commonly used item specifics among top selling listings
- Which item specifics are most important massively depends on your category e.g. Main Color is the most common item specific in Clothing
- Be as specific as possible – the more item specifics you can include, the wider range of search terms you are likely to be matched with – just make sure you keep it accurate as your listings could be removed by eBay if you select a load of item specifics that don’t actually match your products just to increase your visibility
Once potential buyers have clicked through to your listing, the product description can make or break their decision to buy. A detailed, professional description should answer any questions a buyer is likely to have and engender trust that you are a professional seller.
Getting your eBay product description right
- Make your description as detailed as possible – look at competitors, manufacturers websites and other e-commerce platforms such as Amazon listings of your product for an idea of what to include
- Use clear, professional language and make sure all of your spelling and punctuation is correct to help establish trust that you are a professional seller
- Optimize for mobile devices – according to eBay 40% of purchases are “touched by mobile” i.e. the buyer looked at the item on a mobile device at least once somewhere in their journey towards a buying decision – use a responsive template where appropriate and make sure to check your listings on a mobile device to make sure they are appearing correctly
- Avoid complex, HTML heavy descriptions or unusual formatting – this may be eye-catching but it doesn’t look professional and often won’t appear correctly on mobile devices
Listing features generally describe your service, but also include useful information such as promotions. They act as trust factors and added incentives to buy from you, rather than a competitor. The following are the most important listing features when it comes to influencing a buying decision, so are likely to have the biggest impact on your click-through rates and sales.
Fast & Free shipping
If you provide free shipping and can get items to buyers with 3 business days, eBay will classify your listings as “Fast & Free”. This can boost your search visibility and conversion rate, so is well worth going for if you can.
Top Rated Seller status
Anyone classed by eBay as a Top Rated Seller qualifies for their Premium Service which means you get a boost in Best Match results and a 10% discount on final value fees.
eBay has a number of criteria for who qualifies as a Top Rated Seller, some of the key qualifications are:
- Be registered as a Business Seller
- Have been an active eBay member for at least 90 days
- Have completed at least 100 sales transactions
- Have sold at least £1,000 worth of stock
- Late delivery rate of less than 4%
- 0.5% or fewer of your items reported as having defects by buyers
- Offer a minimum returns period of 30 calendar days
- Offer 1-day or same-day dispatch
- Provide an express delivery option (delivery within 1 day)
- Provide a free postage option.
Click & Collect
Click & Collect lets you offer the option for buyers to order from you, then have the items delivered to their local Argos or selected Sainsbury’s stores. This is much more convenient for some buyers and can make the difference in nudging them towards buying from you.
eBay’s Promotions Manager lets you offer incentives to customers to encourage them to make additional purchases from you. This can boost your revenue and increase the visibility of your other items while offering a better deal for customers.
Popular promotions include offering free shipping on orders over a certain threshold and discounts of additional items e.g. buy a mobile phone and get 50% off the cost of a case for it.
To enable Promotions Manager go to My eBay > Account > Marketing tools and then try it out.
Strikethrough pricing allows you to highlight discounts and sales to incentivize buyers and boost your click-throughs and sales. Using eBay’s Markdown Manager, you can create sales and discounts on individual items or across your entire store. Strikethrough pricing means customers can see both the original price and the current price, plus the percentage discount you are offering.
Notes on strikethrough pricing
To qualify for strikethrough pricing, an item must have been listed at the original price for at least 14 days. A sale has to last for a minimum of 1 day and can last for a maximum of 14 days. Sales can be scheduled up to 6 months in advance.
One alternative to strikethrough pricing is to include the Regular Retail Price (RRP) in your title or subtitle to highlight what a good deal you are offering.
Getting the most out of your eBay listings
When it comes to eBay listings, one of the most important things to realize is that there is no “one size fits all” approach that will result in best-selling listings across every product type and category. Although the Gold Standard applies to all listings, the precise requirements for each element will depend on the exact type of listing. Different elements will also likely have a greater or lesser impact depending on the kind of product you are selling and the category.
To get the best results from every listing, you need to make sure to do your research about what your top selling competitors are doing and experiment with different approaches to see what works best for your listings. Or, if you want to save some time, you could always make use of a listings optimization tool, if you can find a good one *cough* ListSmart *cough*.
Armed with the eBay Gold Standard, you should be able to start seeing a measurable improvement in your listings by focusing on these key elements. And while it might not be possible to ever get your listings absolutely perfect, you should be able to start making them stand out from the competition leading to a clear increase in visibility and sales. Also, consider other eBay alternatives to diversify your selling portfolio.