Sell It For More Or Sell It For Sure?

By Sean Eyring, Online Marketing Consultant

When you measure the success of an eBay auction, you probably care most about two things:

  1. Will the product sell?
  2. How much will you sell it for?

If you increase the likelihood of selling your product on eBay, do you increase or decrease how much it will sell for? In this article you'll learn how to find the perfect combination of listing features to sell for more, and to  sell more often on eBay.

To find out which factors increase your chances to sell or to sell for more, we'll need to use our eBay auction research tool, HammerTap.

Right now, the eBay community is buzzing about "eBay market research." What's all the talk about?

Here's what it comes down to: selling more listings and getting higher selling prices is not just "good luck." What makes it tougher is that no single aspect of an auction listing makes it a success. Some auction listing success factors include:

  • How desirable is the product?
  • What is the best starting price?
  • Which keywords should I include in my title?
  • Which category should I list my product in?
  • Which, if any, listing features should I use (gallery picture, bold, highlight,etc.)?

Each of these factors is like a number in the combination for opening a safe. If you knew your bank had a vault with a single number as its combination, I'm guessing you wouldn't want to keep your money there. But increase the numbers in the combination by even three or four, and your valuables are safe there. Why?

With a single number as a safe's combination, a child could crack the safe in a minute or two. If the dial on the safe goes from one to 100, that's only 100 possibilities to open the safe. If there's even two numbers, that grows to 10,000 combinations. With three numbers, that grows to 1,000,000 possibilities.

Determining the best combination of product, starting price, keywords, and so on for your product can get complex without rich market research to quickly and easily make sense of it all.

If you're trying to open a safe, getting just one digit wrong means you're locked out. In the same way, it only takes getting one eBay listing factor wrong to turn a potentially profitable eBay listing into one where you practically give the product away or it doesn't sell at all. Either way, you lose money. We'll show you how to prevent this from happening to you.

To consistently increase your chance to sell at the best margin takes real-world data, the kind that auction research software like HammerTap makes easy to find and quickly analyze.

Research helps you accurately predict the success factors to use before you ever risk a dime paying for listing fees on a failed auction or other listing. Sure, you can often act on your intuition and still sell your product on eBay at a profit. With auction research, you'll just do it more often.

Which Listing Factors Matter Most to Sellers Focused on Sales Volume?

If your goal is to quickly sell on eBay, you want to identify features which influence a buyer to make a quick purchase decision. This could include which selling format you use, such as the "Buy It Now" option, or selling your item as at a Fixed Price.

Which Listing Factors Matter Most to Sellers Focused on Profit Margin?

These are those factors which influence a buyer to bid higher. This is most often caused by creating a bidding frenzy, where each buyer bids just a little bit higher until the price goes much higher than any of the bidders really want to pay.

These seem like simple answers to these two questions, maybe no-brainers. Where the challenge comes is in determining how to achieve these goals with the auction factors we can change. Some factors, such as how desirable the product is, we can't change, so we focus on the factors, like starting price and listing features, we can change.

Let's use some actual market research to look at some eBay items. I have two old sports items sitting in my garage that I want to sell. One is a football and the other is a basketball.

Right now, I'd like you to make some guesses about selling each item based on the listing factor of Starting Day of the auction.  Here are two different scenarios:

  • Scenario 1:  I need to make sure that my auctions sell quickly. I'm leaving on vacation and don't have time to hang around waiting for a sale. What's the best starting date for my auction? Does starting date really matter?
  • Scenario 2:  I've got all the time in the world and I just want to make sure that I make the most money possible off my two items. What is the best starting date now? Again, could that really make any difference?

Pay attention to how confident you were when you guessed which the best start days in each scenario were. Without auction research, you make your most educated guess. Even so, to some extent you have no choice but to rely on your best guess because it's all you have to go on.

Best Chance of Selling vs. Selling Price

In scenario 1, we wanted to increase our chance to sell, without focusing on the selling price. Let's see what HammerTap research tells us about the best day to sell our items.

Figure 1 - Selling a Football on eBay

Figure 1 shows it's in my best interest to start my auction on Sunday if I am mostly concerned with having a successful sale. However, if I am concerned about getting the highest possible sales price (ASP) for my football I might want to start my auction on a Monday.

What about my basketball? Again let's look at the data and see what we find.

Figure 2 - Selling a Basketball on eBay

With my basketball, I'm better off to start my auction on Monday if I am mostly concerned with having a successful sale. However, if I am concerned about getting the highest possible sales price (ASP) for my basketball I'd want to start this auction on a Saturday.

Let's sum up our findings.


  • Best start date for auction success: Sunday
  • Best start date for high sales price: Monday


  • Best start date for auction success: Monday
  • Best start date for high sales price: Saturday

When you made your guesses earlier, were you right?

An important point I want to make here is that, with good data research our confidence level in our choices goes way up because our decisions are based on factual data not trial and error or lucky guesswork.

Now that I have the initial research to help me decide what day I should start my auction on to meet one of my two goals, I'm ready to make a much more important decision.

Up to this point I have been asking you to decide between two strategies: a better chance of selling or a higher price. Now, let's try, instead, to maximize them both.

So the question then becomes, what day should I start my auction on if I want to have the highest possible chance of a successful auction and at the same time maximize the final sales price? The answers to each of these questions is different for every product—sometimes even for every brand!

I'll find the answers to my questions, once again, on the Summary tab in HammerTap.

It’s clear that with my football, Monday is going to be the best day to give me the best chance of selling my ball and the best chance at getting a higher average sales price.



It’s clear that with my basketball, Saturday is going to be the best day to give me the best chance of selling my ball and the best chance at getting a higher average sales price.



Would you have thought that there would be such a difference between two balls from my garage?

It's important to remember here that these differences exist with every product listed on eBay and they change relative to every feature that you can choose from when you generate an auction on eBay.

Again, let's think about the “code” we needed to crack. Today we used data research to quickly discover one digit of our code, auction start date. Although the process was quick and easy, we now will need to continue with a few other features (end date, reserve price, bolding, highlights, photos, etc.) so that we can have the entire code to higher eBay profits revealed completely.

Once the process is complete we can sell with confidence that comes from knowing that guesswork has been eliminated and that our decisions are instead based on actual data.

It's my hope that after today's discussion we all understand that quality research software tools, like HammerTap, can help you decide the best time of day to end your auction, the best auction duration, the best starting price, categories and title words that will bring more buyers, and lots more.

With practice, you'll discover all kinds of treasures;and not just the ones in your garage.

Make the most of your auctions with research!

Try HammerTap FREE for 10 Days and remove the guesswork!

Determining what works and what doesn't when it comes to your listings requires research. Anything less puts you at risk of not making the sale or not making as much as you could be on each sale. A research tool like HammerTap helps you bypass the costly trial and error process by quickly giving you the key information you need for profitable online auctions.

Why not take HammerTap for a FREE test drive? We'll give you 10 days to put HammerTap to work for you. Use its power to determine:

  • Successful Keywords
  • Best Auction Type For Your Products
  • Best Listing Duration
  • Which Listing Features Improve Your Chance to Sell and Which Increase the Closing Price
  • Optimal Start Price to Use
  • Best Day of the Week to Start and End Your Auctions
  • Seasonal Trends
  • And much more!

As a bonus, you'll receive 10-lesson Power to Profit course to help you immediately see the effects research can have on your auctions. We'll also throw in selling tips from Industry Experts in our members-only Auctionography newsletter.

You owe it to yourself to take the guesswork and risk out of your auctions. Try HammerTap free for 10 days. If you are not absolutely sure you'll increase your eBay profits by the $19.95 subscription price, you're free to cancel. It costs you nothing to prove to yourself there's a more profitable way to eBay.

Click HERE to See How HammerTap Gives You the Power to Profit


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