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Choosing Listing Enhancements


Choosing Listing Enhancements

When you're creating an item listing, eBay provides all sorts of listing "enhancements" you can use to make your listing stand out from the millions of others currently running. All of these listing options cost extra, above and beyond the normal listing fee, whether they actually improve your success rate or not. Let's look at each option in more detail.

Subtitle

eBay lets you supplement your main title with a subtitle, which appears below the title on your item listing page and on all search results pages, as shown in Figure 21.1. It's on the search results pages that a subtitle has the most value, as it essentially provides another 55 characters for you to describe your item to potential bidders. Of course, you pay for this option, in the form of a $0.50 fee. Is it worth the cost? It depends.

Figure 21.1. A listing with subtitle.


In some categories a majority of sellers have adopted the use of subtitles, so if you don't choose this option, your listings will look naked and somehow inferior. Other categories have less frequent use of subtitles, which might make a subtitled listing stand out in the search results. Or not.

In addition, it's worth noting that adding a subtitle doesn't help potential buyers find your item. The text in a subtitle is not included in eBay's standard title search; it comes into play only if a user has expanded his or her search criteria to include the item description.

So, all things considered, I'm not a big fan of the subtitle optionunless you're forced to use it. My advice is to use it if you have to (in those categories where all the other listings employ it), but otherwise not.

Gallery

eBay's gallery option started out as a way to display your items in a separate picture gallery. That gallery still exists, although few buyers use it. Instead, the gallery option today displays a photo next to your item listing on all browsing category pages, as shown in Figure 21.2. This is particularly important if you're selling a highly visual item, such as a painting or collectible. It's also important in those categories where a majority of other sellers use the optionwhich is an increasing number of categories, these days.

Figure 21.2. Two listingsone with a gallery picture, one without.


At just $0.35, this is one of the few listing enhancements that I recommend.

Gallery Featured

eBay also offers a second gallery option, called Gallery Featured. When you pay for this option, your item will periodically show up in the special Featured section above the general gallery.

Pricing for the Gallery Featured option is $19.95. It's a fairly expensive enhancement, and I'm not sure it gets you much; most buyers look beyond the first listings on a page.

Gallery Plus

eBay's newest listing option is Gallery Plus. Not to be confused with Gallery Featured, Gallery Plus puts an Enlarge icon below your gallery image on search results pages. Users who click the icon, or just hover over the icon with their mouse, display a larger (up to 400 x 400) version of your gallery picture.

You pay an extra $0.75 for the Gallery Plus optionalthough this fee also gives you the standard $0.35 Gallery option, so it's really just 40 cents extra on top of the regular Gallery, if you think of it that way. While Gallery Plus is too new for me an offer an informed opinion as to effectiveness, it smacks somewhat of opportunism on eBay's part and seems a little pricy for what you get. I'd wait until other users render judgment before embracing this feature.

Bold

How do you make your item stand out on a page full of listings? How about displaying the listing title in boldface? This option, which costs $1.00, displays your item title in bold in any category or search results listings. A boldfaced item listing is shown in Figure 21.3.

Figure 21.3. Two item list-ingsthe second one in bold.


Note

To use Gallery Plus, you must have your pictures hosted by eBay Picture Services.


Because of the high price and minimal visual impact of this enhancement, I can't recommend you use it.

Border

Want something a little more attention-getting than a bold title? How about putting a frame around your listing?

The Border option puts a dark border around your listing on every search results page, as shown in Figure 21.4. This option is more expensive than the bold option, costing you $3.00. I don't think it's worth the money.

Figure 21.4. An item listing with the Border option.


Highlight

If you want to spend even more money, how about creating a shaded item listing?

When you select the Highlight option, your listing (on any category or search results page) is displayed with a colored shade, as shown in Figure 21.5. This little bit of color will cost you $5.00and, as with the bold option, I find it too high-priced to recommend.

Figure 21.5. Two item list-ingsthe second one enhanced with the Highlight option.


Featured Plus!

The Featured Plus! option displays your item in the Featured Items section on the appropriate major category page, as well as in the Featured Items section at the top of any search results page, as shown in Figure 21.6. This option will set you back a whopping $19.95, and I can't recommend it; it puts your "featured" listing at the bottom of the page, which is hardly a prominent position!

Figure 21.6. The Featured Items section at the top of a search results page.


Home Page Featured

Ever wonder how much it costs to have your item featured on the eBay home page? Here's the answer: $39.95. (And this option doesn't even guarantee how often your item will pop up. What a dealnot.) All you have to do is select the Home Page Featured option, and your item will periodically be displayed on the home page, as shown in Figure 21.7. (And for the same low price, your item also gets displayed in the Featured Items section of normal category and search results pages.) This is another option that I can't recommend, unless you're selling something really special.

Figure 21.7. The Featured Items section in the middle of eBay's home page.


Gift Services

Think your item would make a great gift for a specific occasion? Then pony up $0.25 to add a Gift Services icon beside your item's listing, as shown in Figure 21.8.

Figure 21.8. An item enhanced with a Gift icon.


When you pay for the Gift option, you can also choose to promote any extra gift-related services you might offerin particular, Gift Wrap/Gift Card, Express Shipping, or Ship to Gift Recipient. It's an okay option for some sellers during the Christmas season, but otherwise fairly ineffective.

Counter

This next option available is a free onea hit counter that appears at the bottom of your item listing, as shown in Figure 21.9. When you opt to include a counter in your listing, you and (in most cases) potential bidders can see how many other users have visited the page. The more page visitors, the more likely you'll receive a substantial number of bids.

Figure 21.9. A hit counter at the bottom of an eBay listing page.


You can choose from three different types of counters: a basic gray-on-black "odometer"-type counter; a green-on-black "retro-computer" style; and a "hidden" counter that is invisible to bidders but visible to you, the seller.

Tip

eBay also offers two specially priced packages of listing enhancements that you may want to consider, if you want all the individual enhancements. The Value Pack offers the subtitle, gallery, and Listing Designer options for $0.65. The Pro Pack offers the bold, border, highlight, Gallery Featured, and Featured Plus! options for $29.95.


Should you add a counter to your listing? If you think you're going to get a lot of traffic to your item listing page, by all means display a counter. (It's free, after all.) A high number on a counter will make bidders think they have to bid now to get in on the action. If, on the other hand, you don't want to tip your hand as to how many potential bidders you might have, go with the hidden counter. After all, it doesn't matter if you have 2 or 200 visitors, as long as you have one really good bid!

Skype Real-Time Communication

One of eBay's recent acquisitions was Skype, a company that offers Internet phone servicethat is, the ability to make phone calls from your PC, over the Internet. Many people wondered just what Internet phone service had to do with online commerce, but here's what eBay had in mind.

Sellers now have the option, in many product categories, of including a Chat or Voice button in their listings. This lets potential buyers contact you in real time, using the Skype service, to ask any questions they might have about your listing. This option is free, if you choose to use it.

Should you offer live chat or voice contact for your buyers? This is one feature that most sellers are not supportive of, for the simple reason that offering live customer service costs moneyeven if the technology itself is free. To offer this real-time support, you have to be available to answer the live questions. That means putting yourself (or an employee) in front of your computer for hours on end, just in case somebody asks a question. That's a huge time expenditure.

One of the appealing things about an online business, for many sellers, is that they don't have to have constant one-on-one interaction with customers. That's what makes online retailing more cost-effective than a bricks-and-mortar retail store. Do you really want to take live calls from customers? Most sellers I know don't.

Even if you're a large seller, eBay's customer support option might not make sense. If you're large enough to have your own customer support department, you don't need eBay to offer this service for you. You can simply put your own toll-free number or email address in your auction listings, and answer customers questions through the normal channels. Tying into eBay's Skype-based support simply isn't necessary.

Does it sound like I have a strong opinion about eBay's real-time customer communication? I admit that I do. This smacks of being nothing more than an ill-guided attempt to justify an overpriced and poorly thought-out acquisition. It offers nothing to sellers except more work, and is unlikely to be embraced by many buyers. Avoid it.



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