Make Your eBay Listings Get the Attention they Deserve

By Sean Eyring, eBay Consultant, and eBay Education Specialist


We've all been there. You visit a Web site looking for information. You're bowled over with bright "circus" colors, animations going everywhere, and text that's hard to read.

The site almost begs you to click your browser's "back" button. Many eBay listings look the same way.

eBay's "Create Your Listing" page makes it easy to use backgrounds, change text colors, add graphics, and so on. But the question is, does the look of the listing increase your chance to sell your product? Read on to learn when using eBay designs makes sense... and "cents."


"Branding" Yourself Online

Is there a time when consistency of appearance counts? Here's a quick mental exercise. Think of the Coca-Cola logo. What colors are used? If you thought red and white, their multi-million dollar branding campaigns did their job.

Why not blue and white? It doesn't matter, really. What matters is that they use red and white over and over to "brand" themselves into your mind. Put a Coke, a Pepsi and a Dr. Pepper at the bottom of a cooler filled with ice water. Even without being able to read the labels, if I want a Dr. Pepper, I reach for the dark red can.

Sure, you don't have the advertising budget of Coke or Pepsi. But you have one advantage. If you sell products on eBay, especially in any kind of specialty "niche" market, it's likely that many of the same people will see several of your listings. Here's where branding comes in.

Create a consistent and unique look for your eBay listings. Use the same background image if you choose to use one. Use the same text color and font. Create a unique "theme" and use it for all your listings.


Consistency Pays

What's the value of consistency? On eBay, people may fear buying from those they don't know. That's why eBay has their feedback system. It gives you some confidence in the person you're buying from.

If a person recognizes the "look" of your eBay listings, you increase your chances to sell to them. If an eBay buyer purchases from you and has a good experience, the next time they recognize one of your listings, you further increase your odds of selling to them.


Designing Your Unique "Look"

So now that you know the value of a consistent design, how do you create your own look? I'm an online marketing consultant. When I work with a client, the first question I ask is "Who is your audience?"

If you're mostly selling electronics, you probably don't want to go with a border with flowers and dolls. On the other hand, if you specialize in selling teddy bears and plush toys, this may fit your audience perfectly.

Think of your audience. Are they predominantly male or female? Is your product high-tech or high-touch in nature? Take a moment to write down what you know about potential buyers of your products. Keep this in mind when designing the look to use with your listings. But there are a few absolute do's and don'ts.


Absolute Design No-No's

Make your listing easy to read. First of all, let's choose the text color and background. Use black on white or on another VERY light color. Never use light text on a dark background. Especially on older monitors, it can be too difficult to read.

Use a font size that's large enough to read easily. Stay away from small print that many readers will have to strain their eyes to read.

Use a "sans-serif" font like Arial or Verdanna. "Serif" fonts like Times New Roman are easy to read in print, which is why they're used in newspapers and novels. Studies have shown however, they are much harder to read on a monitor.


Composing Your Listing for Maximum Effect

Studies have shown that any Web page (such as your eBay listing) has between 3 and 10 seconds to grab the interest of your reader. If you haven't made at least one "benefit" statement they connect to, chances are they're gone with a quick click of their browser's "back" button. And they're gone for good.

So how do you catch the attention of your audience in seconds? Simple. Put your best benefits at the top, and make them easy to read. Bullet points are great for that. Give short, to-the-point descriptions of why the reader should by your product.


Benefits vs. Features

I've read dozens of books on marketing. I'll save you a lot of reading. Here's the thing I've learned that's more important than any other. It's the value of clearly stating your product's benefits.

Let me illustrate the difference between two ads for computers, one based on features, the next based on benefits:


  • 3.0 Gigahertz Processor
  • 256 Megabyte Video Card
  • 350 Gigabyte Hard Drive


  • Fast processor lets you get more done quicker
  • Powerful graphics card lets you play all the latest games
  • Roomy hard drive, so you can install all your programs and still have room for music and video

A feature describes an attribute of a product. A benefit tells why you should care. For example, stating a computer has 256 Megabytes of video RAM says nothing to the average computer user. It's a feature. But they may be purchasing the computer for someone who's really into the latest computer games. Many of these require a lot of video RAM.

Now we've turned the feature into a benefit by telling how that feature makes the product more valuable. Make sense? But one of the strangest things I see as a marketer is how even professionally produced advertisements costing thousands of dollars to create and sent out break this one simple rule.

Well there you have it. A quick Marketing 101 course as it applies to creating a winning "brand" for your auctions. We also described how to sell more often by focusing on benefits, rather than features.

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