Testing Different eBay Strategies

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Testing for Success

In 2005, when I attended eBay Live! In San Jose, I attended a class taught by one of eBay's top sellers. He repeated several times something very important regarding selling on eBay.

The message was the secret to running a successful auction business. It's very simple:

Test, Measure, Repeat.

Plain and simple. List an auction, check the results, and try again. With each new listing, the goal is to improve on the results of the previous listing.

Now in the "normal" world of eCommerce, testing is a very simple matter. It's so simple, in fact, that all one needs to do is plug the results of a test into a simple mathematical equation, and SHAZAM! You'll know right away the good and the bad of the results.

Typically, a test sample has to be pretty good sized to make the data truly relevant. eBay is a strange beast, however, when it comes to this. eBay is not your standard eCommerce website.

Because of this your sample size would have to be huge, the result of data gathered over several years, in order to be truly useful. Well, the fact is we don't have that kind of time on our hands to make it big with our eBay business.

The good news is, even if you go about things the "bad" way, you're still likely to make money. That's another unique feature of eBay; even a monkey could probably make money selling stuff on eBay. Well, at least a very well trained monkey that has read this eBook!

For corporations making money on the internet, just making money isn't good enough. They are always looking for ways to make more and squeeze every last penny out of what they've got. That's why large corporations literally spend millions just to make hundreds. To them, it's worth it so long as the bottom line is a little higher than it was before they spent the millions.

But on eBay, you want to figure out the results as quickly as you can without messing with any fancy scientific equations or spending millions of dollars. You just want to know what works better for you.

I'm happy to say, you can do exactly that without spending the equivalent of a small country's annual military budget!

The solution is really very simple. The idea is to run multiple identical auctions at the same time with different listing options, styles, durations, etc.

Preferably you want to do this with multiple user ID's. Using the same user ID has the possibility of tainting your test results. This is because a potential buyer can always click the "View seller's other items" link and see all your other identical auction listings.

I know what you're thinking… "Well gee Stuart, why not just list the auctions so they're not running at the same time?"

In the regular eCommerce world, that would work just fine. But on eBay, things change daily. What is a hot seller one day might go cold the next, only to be hot again two weeks later.

Additionally, things can be easily thrown off by some new buyer who doesn't know what they're doing coming in and buying a $12 item for $25, simply because they don't know what they're doing.

This can also happen off eBay too. You compensate for it by gathering a large amount of data. Doing so minimizes the amount the "newbie" throws the data off. However, again, getting a large enough of a sample size on eBay can take years, and we don't have that kind of time.

Again, eBay's unique nature can actually help you when the newbie factor comes into play.

If a newbie (or some other unexpected wrench) gets thrown into the mix, at least you'll know that the newbie had the opportunity to see all your other identical auctions, and yet they still picked one in particular. You've still gathered useful data from the test!

Let me show you exactly how I might run a test so you can see how to go about it. I'll then examine the data at the end of the auctions and create a new plan for the next test.

I'll create two fictitious user ID's. One I'll call stuartsuniverse. The other I'll call waresfromstuart.

I'll list an auction for the same item with both user ID's. Both auctions will be completely identical, save for one difference: the auction listed through stuartsuniverse will utilize the bold listing option, whereas waresfromstuart will not.

At the end of the auction, I find that stuartsuniverse received more page views, and as a result received more bids. Having discovered that, I'll probably decide to start using the bold option more often, assuming the extra bids were enough to make up the difference in the higher listing fee.

You'll probably want to try the same test a few times to confirm the test results. Also, if you had more than two user ID's, you could test more than just two different listings at the same time.

Next, I'll run an identical test, except this time one auction will use bold, the other will use highlight. At the end I'll gather the data, determine which auction performed better and why, then run another test.

I know what you're thinking, "Stuart, running all those tests is going to cost me money!"

What you've got to decide is whether you're running a long term business, or some kind of quick-buck scheme. If you're serious about running a successful eBay business, then you need to understand something: running a business costs money.

If you simply cannot afford to do heavy testing, then do light testing. Even if it means only listing one auction at a time and comparing your results with those of other sellers who sold the same item.

Get the idea? Test, Measure, Repeat. It's that simple.

As you can see, this can be a lengthy process. But the truth is testing should never end. Every listing should be a test to look for new ways to get the most out of each and every listing.

Next: Tracking Your Traffic

Subchapters:

Testing for Success
Tracking Your Traffic
Chapter 3 Summary & Takeaways

Jump to another chapter:

Chapter 1: Driving Traffic to Your Auction Listing
Chapter 2: Listing for Higher Profits
Chapter 3: Does Any of this Stuff Work?
Chapter 4: eBay Stores
Chapter 5: Auction Management
Chapter 6: What to Sell on eBay
Chapter 7: Finding Products to Sell on eBay
Chapter 8: Mining eBay's Traffic
Chapter 9: HTML Tutorial
Chapter 10: Acting Like a PowerSeller
Chapter 11: Final Words