Listing Enhancements That Make 'Cents'

Myriad choices exist, but which are right for your listing?

by staff writer
- Mar 21, 2008

Like death and taxes, eBay fees are unavoidable. But your total cost can be managed, if you know which extras it pays to add to your listing-and which ones aren't worth the money.

There's a lot of debate among eBay users about whether enhancements are effective promotional tools or unnecessary noise in the visual din of the online auction arena. Although flourishes like Bold and Gallery Plus might help your listing stand out—particularly in a crowded category—most users agree they don't always translate into higher bids.

In most cases, you can attract more bidders with an effective title and description, and a few good quality photos.

So why bother with enhancements? Well, to get noticed. Have you ever searched eBay for a particular item only to find hundreds of listings that matched your query? What factors led you to choose those that you ultimately clicked or bid on?

Given the sheer volume of eBay items with Quick Look links in gallery view, lots of sellers out there are either throwing money down a black hole or finding tremendous benefit by adding listing enhancements.

It's fair to say that if your item is priced for less than $25, it probably doesn't make sense to go all out on decorations—the additional fees can quickly eat up your profits—unless you get them as part of your listing service through a vendor, such as Auctiva, which provides extras like professionally designed templates and multiple images per listing as part of the monthly service fee. But with higher value items that will net a higher return—say, items priced in the hundreds of dollars—certain paid enhancements can pay for themselves.

Giving buyers a sneak peak at your item saves them time when they're scanning over scads of auction listings

Notice me

Title enhancements, such as Bold and subtitles are a way of catching the interest of buyers sifting through endless lists of similar-looking items. They work like visual speed bumps, forcing eyeballs to pause and, hopefully, take a closer look at your listing. That's all well and good. But it's worth noting that buyers typically don't care a whole lot what the title looks like.

So even though they might stop and momentarily gaze at your blinking neon window display, they won't necessarily step inside the store unless they spot something with more lasting and relevant appeal. On the whole, it's more effective to use good keywords and a great headline to grab attention and get people to click on your listing.

If you can afford the additional 50 cents (or $1.50 for Good 'Til Cancelled) per listing, subtitles can be a good investment. Fill your main title with relevant keywords, then use the subtitle field to add other important information such as "free domestic shipping," "lots of extras," or additional keywords you didn't have room for in the title field.

The Gallery Plus option works in a similar way. This feature enables a 400 x 400 pixel image of your item next to pop up next to the title when a viewer mouses over it, and includes a link for a Quick Look.

There is some merit to this. Giving buyers a sneak peak at your item saves them time when they're scanning over scads of auction listings.

The best approach might be to let the expected final value of your auction be the guide. If your item is going to bring in big bucks, and Gallery Plus might help potential bidders, then 35 cents may be a good investment, just to give you that slight competitive edge. If not, you're probably better off to spend a little more time making your title sing.

Cross-category promotion also falls into this class. By allowing you to list an item in two categories, this option-in theory-doubles your exposure, but it also doubles your fees. Is it worth it? Here's where it pays to do research. Find out where buyers are looking for items similar to yours. Is one category clearly drawing more buyers than another? Then list your item there and save yourself the extra fees. If the research doesn't favor one category over the other, roll the dice and list in both. Just make sure you can absorb the cost in case you don't get the higher bids you were hoping for.

Some listing enhancements aren't worth paying for simply because you can get them for free elsewhere

Picture this

One of the better bargains eBay offers in the way of listing enhancements is Picture Pack. For 75 cents, eBay will host up to six photos, or up to 12 for $1. Priced out separately, this would cost almost twice as much.

This doesn't make sense for every listing, however. If two standard-size pictures (15 cents) are all you really need to make a good impression, don't blow a buck for the sake of posting more and bigger images, especially if they're not adding any value. If it won't persuade buyers to bid up your price, it's not a good deal. If you're selling a new book, this isn't the option for you. If you're auctioning off an antique or collectible item and detailed images are required to illustrate condition, it may be.

Some listing enhancements aren't worth paying for simply because you can get them for free elsewhere. For instance, Scheduling (10 cents on eBay) allows you to time the start of your auction so that it will end at a time when more bidders are on eBay, increasing the chances your item will fetch more and higher bids. Some third-party listing software vendors, like Auctiva, provide the same capability at no charge.

Auctiva also offers unlimited image hosting, and allows you to include up to 24 images per listing with supersize, for no additional fee.

Used sparingly, enhancements can help to set you apart from the competition and give your listing an edge. Just take care to choose the ones likely to give you the biggest bang for the buck.

About the Author

Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.

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