If you have tried advertising on Google, Facebook or Amazon you know it is possible to spend a few hundred or even thousand dollars and get zero sales.
eBay offers a feature known as Promoted Listings where you are only charged a fixed commission if and only if you make a sale. eBay is essentially your commission-only sales person. No sales? You pay nothing.
It is a way for eBay to differentiate and remain relevant in an age when Google, Facebook and Amazon are the dominant platforms.
This article will show you exactly how to use Promoted Listings to great effect. While I won’t reveal what products I sell (for obvious reasons), and I won't try to sell you a "system" (ahem, ahem :)) I do share the process I use to get as much as 8x-10x ROAS on some eBay listings without risking or losing any money.
For example, I recently spent $63 on ads to get $659 in sales and $226 in ads to get $1,955 in sales. In that month eBay showed my promoted listings over 300,000 times (impressions), leading to almost 800 clicks to my listings and eBay STILL didn’t charge me for any of this extra promoted traffic until an extra 19 items sold totaling $1,955 in sales for just $226 in ads.
That’s why this seemingly little known advertising opportunity on eBay gets me so excited. eBay has become my own sales force and they only charge me when I actually get sales!
Here’s the step by step of how you too can.
First you need an eBay account
You need this to list your products on eBay. And while you may get lucky with a few organic sales here and there, more often than not just listing your products on eBay won’t generate an impressive number of sales.
Next you are going to want an eBay store subscription
For just $8 per month of $60 a year you can get an eBay starter store, which almost instantly pays for itself BEFORE I even get to the part about advertising your products.
It generally costs a few dollars to list an item for sale on eBay, and now with a starter store subscription you can list up to 250 fixed priced product listing per month for FREE.
You also get a store, which is a branded page on eBay where all your product listings live. You can drive your customers directly to this one page on eBay and they can see everything you are selling.
But the best part of having a store is access to promotions (advertising)
Once you have a store subscription, you get access to eBay promotions, which is their advertising platform. You will then have access to run promotions on your items like discount coupon codes, running a sale or markdown event, or offering order and shipping discounts.
But that isn’t the exciting part. The exciting part is you get to promote your listings on eBay.
You are going to want to promote your listings on eBay
A promoted listing is how eBay advertises products on their site. A promoted listing appears more often at the top of search results on eBay and in prime locations for customers to see and consider your product.
You can only promote your listings after you have an eBay store subscription, but the $8 per month or $60 per year starter store fee is easily worth it to promote your listings.
In order to promote a listing, you access your “marketing” tab which you gain access to with your store subscription and select “promoted listings”. From there you can choose as many of your eBay product listings to promote.
For every promoted listing, you are promising eBay an advertising commission above and beyond eBays typical selling fees.
So for example, if I sell a $100 item on eBay, and promise eBay a 10% commission for the promoted listing fee, then ONLY WHEN IT SELLS will I owe eBay $10 as the advertising fee for that product. (Keep in mind this is on top of the typical ~14% fees eBay takes from every sale.)
With eBay promoted listing, you can’t lose money advertising.
That’s part of the magic of eBay’s promoted listing. eBay essentially starts advertising your product for you for FREE, and only charges you when it actually sells
Compare this to Facebook ads or Amazon Pay Per Click (PPC) ads, where you have to pay for every click and hope someone actually buys and that there is still profit let. But in both of these cases it is possible to spend $200 and not get ANY sales, or spend $200 and only get $100 in sales so you are still losing money.
That’s the magic! Other than your $8 per month or $60 per year store fee, you basically will only have to pay eBay AFTER you sell products.
How to pick your promoted listing commission fee
When you select your promoted listing fee of 10%, you are essentially guaranteeing yourself a 10x return on ad spend on eBay. Which is a pretty amazing stamen in and of itself.
But you may be wondering why not just offer 5% and get a 20x ROAS and so forth. Well, obviously eBay’s algorithm will show promoted items more often when they make more money from the sale. So I have found that by offering a higher promoted listing commission, I get more impressions and sales for my products, up to a certain point.
eBay will give you an average estimate of the promoted listing fees for your product categories. For most of my products the average is about 5%. I find that offering a commission below the average doesn’t get you too many promoted listing impressions at all.
I find you need to be at or above the category average. Right around average you should start to see some good impressions and hopefully sales for your products, but for me the sweet spot has been to offer a 10% commission. I find I get a lot more impressions and sales.
I have also tested a commission rate of 20%, and for my products specifically I did NOT see much of an improvement in promoted listing impressions or sales, while eBay was taking a bigger bite out of my profits, o I ramped it back down to 10% and have pretty much let it there over the past year or so.
Also note that over time, almost regardless of the commission rate you offer, if customers don’t end up buying your product, you will see your promoted listing impressions drop off, so make sure your product picture and description is as good as possible to get lookers to convert to buyers.
Once you prime eBays algorithm with some good sales, you should see a steady stream of sales from your promoted items. 84% of my sales on eBay now come from my promoted listing ads!
The benefits of promoted listings
I find that products I promote on eBay get anywhere between 5-6x MORE IMPRESSIONS (views of my product) than my products would get without being promoted (organic views) which really means 5-6x more SALES!
BUT that isn’t even what I think is the coolest part of eBay’s promoted listings!
Once you start promoting a product, eBay gives you ANOTHER way to convert more sales. And that is called “send offers to buyers”.
What this means is that eBay knows who has looked at your product listing and maybe they have viewed it a few times or even “saved your listing” to check out later, but they have NOT bought it yet.
When eBay’s algorithm identifies a “hot lead” for you, they allow you to send custom offers to up to 10 potential buyers at a time (depending on how many are interested at the time) where you offer at least a 5% discount off the listed price.
Then these potential customers get an alert in their account that the item they liked is now 5% or 10% off if they buy in the next 48 hours!
Let me pause there and let it settle in just how amazing the “send offers” capability really is
I am not aware of any other platform giving us access to interested customers in such a direct way. Nothing converts lookers to buyers like a limited time sale just for them!
It is almost as if you can send a push notification to potential customers phones to stir up business on demand!
Now this ability is limited to just one offer per one potential buyer. So if they don’t accept your offer you won’t be able to ask them again for that product. I think the assumption there is they either don’t want your product or bought something else like it.
Also I find that once you send a batch of offers (up to 10 at a time) for a specific item, you won’t be able to send new offers for that specific item for about a week or more. That way you can’t just spam all of eBays customers relentlessly until they buy.
But what I will say is I have sold MANY items through this and find this feature to have increased my sales.
Be sure to note that if a customer accepts this special offer, you will be charged the promoted listing fee as this counts as a special promoted listing capability. Also keep in mind to make this work you are offering a discount on top of paying the promoted listing fee on top of eBay’s typical final selling fees.
I have found success baking all of this into the price of my items on eBay even if they start a little higher than what I might list the item for on Amazon for example. Some customers just like to buy on eBay over other platforms (weird but true!).
I think eBay is smart to offer such a seller friendly advertising platform, you really can’t lose money on promoted listing because you don’t pay anything until the item sells, and then you are only charged the promoted listing fee that you control and promised.
The dominant platforms don’t need to do this and make you take all of the risk. Because eBay is older and struggling for relevance you and I benefit.
By following the steps I outlined above, I have found certain products of mine actually sell better on eBay than they do on Amazon.
And even if you already list products on eBay, if you are promoting them, you may be missing out on the majority of your potential sales.
One last piece of motivation for you
While writing this article I sold a $299 item on eBay through my promoted listings! My phone and eBay app just went “Cha-Ching”.
As we speak, eBay is showing all of my promoted items at the top of search results without asking me for any money until I sell a product so don’t miss out on this seemingly little used “secret for success” on eBay!
Wishing you all the best of luck and many promoted listing eBay sales!
Guest post by Tom, founder of NightEntrepreneurs.com