10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Matthew Ogborne

Here are 10 things you probably did not know about myself, until now that is…

#1 Unbelievably tames his ego

This is quite bemusing, especially when you consider “Is never afraid to admit he’s wrong” is in this list. I managed to tame myself down to meet the requirements of each of my previous roles, even working for myself, I needed to adjust.

When I first started this blog in October last year, my ego went berserk. Its only now I am realising through reading and new experiences that there times when it needs to be guided and times when it needs to be muted.

I’ve just finished reading the book called “The Trusted Advisor“, a very interesting read and amongst the several key points taken from the book (yes I do note these things down), that being able to mould ones persona to each client is critically important and that personal “commitment” is nothing to be scared of, in fact its needed.

#2 D in English Language

This is no surprise to anyone who has the earlier posts between October and December 2010 on this site. My writing needed those few months to pick up its structure again and for me to find a writing style that I could maintain.

I managed to earn a GCSE D in English Lanuage after private coaching and amazingly achieved a C in English Literature, this was down to the efforts of my parents, my tutor (which I hasten to add was unheard of at my secondary school, I think my parents panicked) and a deeper understanding an appreciation of the course material, which was Macbeth and a vastly more interesting use of the English language that thy sport here.

#3 Is harbouring a 14,000 feedback eBay account

Yup, the account is still there, waiting to be abused. But for now, “Project E” is more important.

#4 Held the first eBay PowerSeller meeting in his local pub

Technically not the UK’s first, there were a few eBay PowerSeller meet ups before, however this was the first attended by a eBay representative (a cool chap called Jamie Parkins) and paved the way for the eBay Universities that followed.

#5 Is scared of failure

I’m shit scared of it. One crucial difference for me now, is that I always have a plan to exit, even if I have no intention of using it.

#6 Believes that “knowing is everything”

This has become a fundamental to the way I approach tasks. Knowing that something is right, wrong or close, just measured is everything.

If you know that something is out, then you have the luxury of making two decisions, the first is to electively ignore it (yes this IS an option) and the second is that in knowing that its “out” to make changes to realign it. Only then can you know if you are going forwards or backwards and knowing you’re going backwards is a result, just not the desired result.

#7 Is never afraid to admit he’s wrong

OMG (Oh My God) do I make some screw ups. There are some monumental screw ups on this site and I’m the first to rip into myself for them and I choose wear them as a badge (or war-wound).

#8 Is learning when to “shut up”

I know this will make several people laugh whom have known me for sometime. What I think sometimes really does not matter, its in the conversation between two or more parties that underlying issues, problems and challenges are found. The same goes for a couple of the articles I’ve posted. Two ears, one mouth and all that :)

#9 Is a self confessed “online gamer”

Whom would have thought that running around shooting people would have fostered such a large gaming community for UKManDown and that the people I play with “online” fall into the closest-of-friends categories?

I am in ore at the way the community has ground and evolved over time, its been over four years now and I’m so happy to boast that directly because of the community I started so long ago, in honour of Alex (that’s a hidden 11th), that we now have a pregnancy in the ranks.

#10 Is just human, like you

In my favouite article to date “Be a Player not a Bystander. Get in. Get Mucky“, the meaning of an so-called ‘Expert” was broken down. Its also the only article I’ve used the F word in so far and again, I do swear quite a bit and make few apologies.


Matthew Ogborne

Thats me!

That’s 10 or so things you probably didn’t know about myself and what I’ve been up to.

In some ways I wonder if I should keep this blog purely professional, however sometimes, it feels right to give it that real ‘human’ touch and provide some intimacy. That’s why I’ve stuck a ‘phat’ image on myself to the right, lets keep this one personal :)

PS: I’ve hinted at a new project called “Project E”. I’m still working on what this should look like when its finished and then I have to work it backwards. Its going to ‘shake the ground extremely wide’ and it almost feels like the final goal that I have been working towards for the past few years. I’m looking forward to sharing this with you when its time.

eBay Customer Service Vicious Circle – Seller V’s Buyer

This article stems from a conversation I had with an eBay buyer I had on Saturday and after the call, it struck me… “Could the amount of eBay buyer contact actually be provoked by the sellers need to feel that they are giving ‘zealous’ customer service?”

In next few sections, I cover this realisation and perhaps have unearthed a new DSR that we could see in the forth coming months?

The Call

I had managed to keep away from the PC, iPad and phone for nearly all of Friday, although on Saturday I could not resist a few rounds of gaming. Mid game, I get a call from a buyer who was trying to contact the courier we use, so that she could collect her order for an night out that evening.

She proclaimed that

“I have already wasted 30 minutes trying to ring this damn courier”

eBay Seller CommunicationsAnd went off on a bender on how this courier (I’m not mentioning names as they all have lovers and haters) is crap and its a 30 minute drive to their depot and no-one is answering the phone.

Diplomatic me, suggested that they are probably not available as its a bank holiday and that I only have the same contact details she has from their website.  That I would personally not suggest driving for an hour for an unknown and it might be a better idea that if its urgent for that evening, she would be better off shopping locally and we’d be more than happy to accept her return after the bank holiday when it finally arrives, so that her evening is not spoiled.

That was me being proactive (finding a viable resolution) and reactive (quashing the returns question and adding reassurance) to her needs.

Now This is Where the Penny Dropped

The conversation then digressed into a pivotal statement that complete re-adjusted my line of thought on eBay buyers and they’re incessant demands on sellers.

“I am an eBay seller myself she proclaimed”

And the continued with:

“This really isn’t on, I don’t care if its a bank holiday, I give my  eBay buyers excellent service, it doesn’t matter if its a bank holiday, I still have to work”

I was a little dumb-struck by this and suggested my earlier suggestion of buying locally, as I’d hate for her to ruin a evening out, just for the contents of that order. She agreed and the call ended.

Dumb-Struck… What If…

I had not even considered this, what if the velocity (and verocity) of eBay buyer communications is not caused by the buyers fear of being ripped off?

This is a theory that I concluded a long time ago and ever since seen this in buyer to seller communications on eBay

What if this entire culture is actually being fostered by the sellers? Infact I’m sooo stupid not to have thought of this before. It is this, I did it myself.

To be absolutely clear, I fully understand the requirement of great customer service to a business, but the level of buyer to seller contact created on eBay is lubriciously high when compared to other channels.

If we look beyond the larger selling ID’s on eBay and focus on the macro (say 1-5 people) and micro businesses (1-2 people part time), then what are these business USP’s (Unique Selling Points)?

  1. Price, especially with the micro businesses being under the VAT threshold
  2. Quality of descriptions, images etc..
  3. Customer Service (email and through despatch etc…)

There are others too, but these are the main ones. In a marketplace that fosters the buyer to seller communication so heavily and the mix of buyer fear of being ripped off (caused by bad press sticking and a severe lack of good press, remember the WOM Factor? This also ports outside of eBay feedback too).

But… Fostered by all the micro and macro businesses, zealously trying to give the best customer service it can to compete?


That call really turned my thinking on its head for me. Maybe its not the buyers, its not ‘eBay’ (directly), instead is the inherent fundamentals of a the ‘eBay marketplace’; That buyers will ask questions regardless, but are continuously fostered to do so, by the over zealous sellers that make up the other part marketplace.

Closing Thought…

What if eBay deployed a monitoring system and a new version of the DSR (Detailed Seller Ratings), but for timed responses to eBay Questions?

Well quite like what Amazon have started to show in their seller performance dashboard, but one stage further where the DSR concept is ported to response times and then tied to the eBay TRS (Top Rated Seller) status?

Maybe in the next eBay Seller update eh?

Buyer-Seller Contact Response Time

Buyer-Seller Contact Response Time

How To: Using eBay Shop Keywords to Leverage the Extra eBay Shop Pages

In reviewing several eBay accounts for a client, I noticed that they were not using any of the eBay shop pages to promote niches of their products. Taking note that they were are paying for the anchor stores as well, that comes in at a cool £350 per month, none of the 15 customer pages are currently being used.

What’s an eBay Shop?

eBay ShopsCovering off the ground work first before we progress, as not everyone that reads this blog is professional eBay seller yet.

You may hear me and others mention ‘eBay Shop’ and ‘eBay Store’, this is because the USA have ‘eBay Stores’ and a few years back we ensured (via Jamie Parkins, who then ran the original (and in my opionon better) eBay PowerSeller Program) that the UK version was called ‘eBay Shops’, not ‘Stores’ as we felt ‘stores’ was sooo American.

An eBay shop is brilliant for the following reasons:

  • Its your own slice of eBay
  • Potentially cheaper listing fees
  • It features only your items
  • You can change the way it looks using eBay’s own feature addons or have a store graphically designed to follow the consistent branding from different channels
  • Categorise your items in a manner that makes sense to your customers (not you, I hasten to add) in up to 300 categories that can go three levels deep.
  • You can have a smaller eBay header on the eBay shop for Featured and Anchor levels
  • You can put all your live listings on ‘Hold’ for a holiday or similar time away.
  • Increased promotion, through various means, logo, relating shops etc…
  • Included cross promotion tools for listings
  • Listing frames, to ‘frame’ your listings
  • 5 Custom pages on the basic store, going up to 15 on Anchor level
  • Email Marketing, starting at a minimum of 1000 emails, right up to 5000 on the Anchor shop

There are other features as well, such as RSS feeds, reporting for both traffic and sales. The eBay shop is the most underrated tool available on the entire eBay platform.

I used to run the largest eBay UK group called ‘eBay Shops Making eBay shops work for you’, but someone closed it, to be fair I had not spend much time on it in a fair while, although I would like to find out whom closed it…

Open your eBay shop and watch the sales roll in…

ebay-shops-homepage-navigationWell maybe not, starting off on negative points, the eBay shop has slowly received less and less promotion by eBay. They used to be featured on the homepage header, that ran throughout the entire ebay site, that got dumped for eBay Outlets, its even been dropped from the main category menu and the left hand bar on the homepage. Its still on the homepage, but in a section that is rarely used and is sporting a colour scheme that only the sharpest of eyes could spot. See the picture to the right!

On a positive note, your eBay shop will be promoted in numerous places around the eBay site. However, just like a website, the only person who is going to reallllllllllllly push it is you.

You may also want to read my article called ‘A Previously Unreleased eBay Shop Exposure Tip‘ for a little tip that may help you expose your items to a wider audience than just by yourself. Also this article is one of a series of articles on eBay shops, check the related articles at the bottom of this page.

Custom eBay Shop Pages

Custom pages are the focus of this article and the keywords that you can use in them. For the differing shop subscription levels you receive a set number of pages, these are:

  1. Basic – 5 Pages
  2. Featured – 10 Pages
  3. Anchor – 15 Pages

I’d personally suggest that you do not upgrade your eBay shop purely on the amount of pages you are offered, while what I am explaining here will gain you extra, tarted exposure, a leap of £300 from Featured to Anchor levels are not worth the returns and such a increase should because the number of listings V’s fees dictate this shop level.

Note: I’ll be posting an article shortly that includes an excel file that tells you which level you should be using for the different subscription levels for the differing eBay sites

How to Access Custom Pages

This needs a special mention as I feel eBay do a good job at hiding most things, to navigate to the custom shop pages, follow these steps:

Go to My eBay > Hover on the ‘Account’ tab > Select ‘Manage My Shop’ > Left menu, under ‘Store Design’ select ‘Custom Pages

A direct link is here http://cgi6.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?StoreManageCustomPages

A screen shot of this section is below, I have removed the sellers ID and page names for animosity.


eBay Shops Custom Pages Overview

About Me Page

Its also worth noting, you can also have an ‘About Me’ page, these pages are special and are not going to be covered in this article.  You can find out more on this page type on this blog in a week or two’s time or read the help file on eBay here http://pages.ebay.co.uk/help/account/about-me.html

Standard Pages

The customer pages allow you to expand upon points or add content in more depth that what you could possibly do (without scaring people anyway) in a eBay listing. You should also try and keep information about your business to the About Me page, its best kept there and its better to leverage the custom pages for other information.

I would personally suggest that you start with two standard pages, these are:

  • Contact Us
  • Delivery & Returns

The reason for adding these two as pages of their own, because they are there for reassurance purposes. Even if people do not read them, by only their existence people will feel reassured (trust me on this one, I am not going on a bender about the factors that aid websites convert more through visual Talisman’s any further here).


Actually finding good examples of the custom pages being used was extremely hard, so few sellers use this functionality and its such a shame. However I found a few, which are below and most are poorly done, BUT top marks for using them!

Don’t skimp on the content either, Add Value

Please don’t be tight on the content and always add in some artwork too, don’t be doing a SuperDryStore and see this article for more information Part 3 : SuperDryStore eBay Shop – The Not-So Good Points.

Add value to the person who has clicked on the page by giving them the information they were after in a cleanly laid out format that is in plain English.

Using the Extra Pages

I’m sure without any creative thought you could think of at least three more pages to fill up with topics, however this is not the purpose of the article and would be a waste of what is about to follow.

With the extra pages, you can reinforce your dominance in a category by expanding upon strains of products and information and as I am about to show you, promote products too.

For example, if I was a DVD seller, I could make a couple of genre sections, such as:

  • Drama
  • Comedy
  • TV Programmes
  • Action & Adventure
  • Documentary
  • Horror

Then add some background or more information on popular series etc and maybe what makes a great Drama, great Horror and even add in some personal recommendations too.

You know more about your items than what I do, grab a sheet of paper and brain storm some ideas and use them as a base for the shop pages, you can always go back and alter them later. The next section may help with this task.

eBay Shop Keywords

There are several keywords that can be used in the eBay shop, its also worth noting that they do not work in listings and the About ME page has its own set of ‘tags’ that can be used.

Note: eBay call them tags, I call them keywords, if you see either of these terms, they mean the same thing, they are a special term like {eBayUserID} that can be used in the eBay shop and can be clearly spotted by the curly brackets either side of them. Also to help I will always mention them in a bold font face.

The eBay shop keywords that can be used are:

  • Your User ID
  • Your Feedback
  • Item List
  • Item Showcase
  • Individual Item
  • Item Details
  • Search box
  • Promotion box

I’ll now go through each of these and include where apt a use-case for each of the eBay shop tags

Your User ID

This tag is really handy for including your eBay ID and extra icons into a custom page. It does lack the extra control on choosing to show the different sections, but at least it shows the latest feedback count and the extra icons an ID may be sporting.

Keyword: {eBayUserID}
Example Usage:  My eBay ID is {eBayUserID}
Example Output:


An example using the {eBayUserID} shop tag

Your Feedback

This is handy for bringing the latest customer feedback into a a customer services page, its also handy to bring in and then take a screen shot of and use in your listings if you feel you need that extra little boost to them.

There are some extra attributes to this tag, that can change the way it appears, these are:

  • COLOR – Used for the main colour
    eg GRAY
  • ALTERNATECOLOR – The colour used for alternative feedbacks
    eg PLUM
  • BORDER – The border around the table
    ie 1 or 0
  • TABLEWIDTH – I’ve never tried fixed widths, the default is 90%, I usually set this to 100%
  • CELLPADDING – The default is 0, probably best left at 0 too.

You can play around with the different colours that you can use for the table, personally I prefer the simple version, however you could try a mash-up using these colours from http://www.w3schools.com/HTML/html_colornames.asp for the ALTERNATECOLOR and COLOR attributes.

Keyword: {eBayFeedback}
Example Usage: {eBayFeedback SIZE=”5″}
Example Output:


An example of the {eBayFeedback} in use, ID's and times have been blurred, they're not blurred in real life!

Item List

This is one I use a lot, its one of my favourites. The reason why is because you can create  a custom page, say to ‘High Heels’ or even ‘Horror’ using the suggested example and then set the keyword just to bring back ‘Horror’ or ‘High Heels’ items using the KEYWORDS attribute.

As a tip, you can also specify the shop category number too, if you wish to narrow the results even further using the STORECATID attribute.

This keyword is also handy if you are creating a custom shop homepage as well, so you can bring in live items, just like the default store does, but then without hard-coding anything, the latest items can be shown with your filters.

Again there are some extra attributes to this tag, that can change the way it appears, these are:

  • SORT – You can change the order in which the results are returned
    2 – Ending first (default), 4 – Newly listed, 0 – Highest price, 1 – Lowest price
  • DISPLAY – Using this, you can swap between list view and gallery view
    0 – List view, 1 – Gallery view
  • TABLEWIDTH – The default is 100%, I’d suggest you leave it at this value
  • STORECATID – This is a super option, as suggested you can narrow the results down using this option and the next. You can find the eBay shop category ID’s here
  • KEYWORDS – If you can sort by store category ID, then adding a keyword here will focus the results
  • MINPRICE MAXPRICE – When your products are very varied or you have ranges within ranges, then using a minimum or an upper cap with the MAXPRICE option can help you really drill the results.
  • LISTINGFORMAT – The two numbers you may want to abuse here are 1 for auctions only, this is super handy if you create a ‘see all our auctions’ page on the shop and 9 for fixed price listings.

Keyword: {eBayStoresItemList}
Example Usage: {eBayStoresItemList SORT=”4″ DISPLAY=”1″ TABLEWIDTH=”” KEYWORDS=”bag” LISTINGFORMAT=”9″}
Example Output:


An example using the eBayStoresItemList keyword to return just bags on a custom shop page.


Item Showcase

I’m utterly amazed that no-one has caught on to this keyword properly. Why? Because it could so easily be framed as a daily or weekly deal on your eBay shop and needs little to no formatting by yourself.

In the easiest example I’m refering to, pop the item numbers of say three items (max 4) and then it’ll automatically make you a featured item gallery.

eg: {eBayStoresItemShowcase ITEM=”w,x,y,z”}
eg: {eBayStoresItemShowcase ITEM=”280475881234,280475881234280475881234,280475881234″}

I covered this in detail in an earlier article called How to Make Your Own eBay Daily Deals & Weekly Deals check this article out to see a more detailed description.


The Example Code Output with Live eBay Items

Individual Item

This tag is handy for promoting a single item, say within a custom eBay shop page. Just because it brings through just a single item, if you combined several of these together with content, then the page would quickly fill out.

Although to be frankly honest, you’d be better off with the “eBayStoresItemList” keyword to return multiples or the “eBayStoresItemShowcase” tag for bringing through a larger picture.

The attributes for this are limited:

  • ITEM – Specify the eBay item number to be used
  • DISPLAY – Using this, you can swap between list view and gallery view
  • 0 – List view, 1 – Gallery view
  • TABLEWIDTH – The default is 100%, I’d suggest you leave it at this value
  • BORDER – The border around the table
    ie 1 or 0

Keyword: {eBayStoresItem}
Example Usage: {eBayStoresItem ITEM=”01234567890″ DISPLAY=”0″}
Example Output:

eBayStoresItem Example

eBayStoresItem Example

Item Details

This keyword, in the right scenario makes the inclusion of live listing data into a custom page very easy and also very simple for users that want that little extra power when making their eBay store custom pages.

Using the “PROPERTY” attribute you are able to bring in specific attributes of a listing and then format them as you desire. From the listing title, price, picture, prices and direct link to the item. Its the internal components of the larger modules we have been playing with up until now.

Note: If you are after this level of control, then its probably time you looked at making an external application to query the eBay and add the level of control you are probably after. Not that I’m saying this tag is not useful, just that you can gain far more control by other means.

This tag has several attributes as detailed below:

  • PROPERTY=”title” – The item title
  • PROPERTY=”price” – Current price
  • PROPERTY=”binprice” – Buy It Now price.
  • PROPERTY=”time” – Time left
  • PROPERTY=”picture” – Gallery picture.
  • PROPERTY=”URL” – The item’s URL.

Keyword: {eBayStoresItemDetail}
Example Usage: {eBayStoresItemDetail PROPERTY=”title”}
Example Output: This is the Listing Title

eBay Shop Search Box

This is one of the best eBay shop tags there is, as it allows a user to easily add the search box to custom pages.

A prime use of this is if you were making a custom landing page for your eBay shop (You can do this after creating a custom eBay shop page and then setting it as the landing page. I’m really tempted to mention some shockingly poor designs (and probably expensive) that a certain company produces, but I’m not, I’ll just leave this link and leave you to make your own mind up).

Keyword: {eBayStoresSearchBox}
Example Usage: {eBayStoresSearchBox}
Example Output:

eBayStoresSearchBox Tag Example

eBayStoresSearchBox Tag Example


Promotion Boxes

I’ll be quite honest, I never actually got this to work. It didn’t work when it was first introduced and I’ve not used them since. However, when coming back to test them for this article, they’re working and they must have been fixed by eBay in the last 7 or so years :)

The idea is that you can create your own promotion boxes, then using the name you have set for them, bring them into a custom page. This could be handy if you want dynamic data from the promotion boxes on all the custom pages.

Keyword: {eBayPromo}
Example Usage: {eBayPromo ID=”eBay Guided Setup Position 1″}
Example Output:





The eBay shop tags can be very powerful and make adding dynamic content easy-peasy for any level of skill user. Combine this in with the more powerful functions and methods, you have the components at your disposal to create a dynamic and rich custom page experience for your eBay shop.

Google Spams its Own Adwords Communications?

Yup, sounds ironic, however while clearing my inbox down this evening, I delved into the spam folder and noticed an odd email. The monthly Google Adwords results email that gets sent out was spammed by Google Mail.

I’ve included a screenshot below and I’ve blurred out the sensitive parts as it was for a clients campaign and my prolific use of filters & labels in Google Mail is worth an article of its own. However is it just me that thinks its a little ironic that Google would identify their own mail as spam?


The Top 5 Must-Haves for the Killer eBay Listing

In the next few minutes, we’ll be looking at what I currently class as the top 5 must haves for any serious eBay seller to be including in their eBay listings. Some of these you might feel as being obvious, like titles, but dig deeper and there is a fresh look on them.

#1 A Fantastic Title

I’m going to use a quote from a previous article about the SuperDryStore eBay Outlet on eBay and how wasteful their listing titles are:

The eBay listing Title is THE MOST Important Asset on eBay

Screw feedback, Screw categorisation, Screw a crappy looking listing, Screw everything.

Without a quality listing title you are knacker’ing up any chance of buyers finding you

It really is that severe and that is why #1 spot has to go to the listing title. I’m not going to cover the details on making a great eBay listing title, I’ve already done this in a previous article.

#2 Superb Images

Long gone are the days where just a poor webcam image would cut it, buyers now demand not just good images, but superb images.

Remember  it is your role to effectively describe the goods or services that you are selling and an image really does say a million words and several great quality ones, helps ensure that the customer is reassured exactly what they are buying is what they expect to receive.

While not the best images, the images in this listing do fall into the superb category because they are of a decent size, show all the angles, the product working and all bar them being linked to their originals is a pretty good job.

#3 A Professional Design

Unless you’ve been far too busy focusing IN your business lately, rather than ON your business, you can’t help but notice that there has been a huge influx of professionally (and sometimes not so professionally) designed eBay listings and eBay store designs.

From when I first started selling on eBay, it just made good sense to me to have a well structured template and a template that was well designed. In today’s ultra-competitive market, I’m just not sure you can cut it any more without one. Almost every seller that I have dealt with in the past few years has always had a design to help promote their business and their products with.

Typically, if you want to see some well designed templates, you should see the “art” section on eBay, as the majority are very gifted designers, their designs are normally very good, although the “layout” part can be lacking in some cases.

There are several companies out there who can provide such designs, I’m not going to suggest anyone in particular, because simply put, any design is better than something like the below, which involves none and usage of the H1 tag and probably a few others too:

Killer eBay Listing

Thankfully, pink and green was not used for this description :)

#4 The Top Key Points About The Item

Ironically, I have to credit the seller’s description above, not because of his fantastic presentation skills, but for their use of bullet points and being able to describe their item in  a few bullet points.

I read a while back that buyers make their decision of whether to continue looking at the item or to move on within just 10 seconds of the page loading. If you’ve ever watched my partner shop, she discards listings in seconds if its not what she’s looking for.

So with this in mind, its ultra important that we not only create a keyword rich listing title so that buyers can find the goods or services, fantastic images and a layout/design to match their level, however short, punchy description that a buyer can scan read in literally seconds.

If you account that a buyer is scan reading your listings, then you can tackle this by providing them with a few (say 5) bullet points on the products features. If they are ‘hooked’ then they will read further, into descriptions and other information and then hopefully buy.

A sub note here is that you may find a specifications table useful. This is not a specifications table that you’ll find in the Computing section, which is 10 miles long, I’m referring to a shorten table where the key attributes are shown. Most buyers are looking for it to be a USV web camera, they care little on the standard or the speed, just thats USB, has a microphone and has a few settings.

Pulling this information into either a specifications table or into five or so bullet points, makes not only good sense when it comes to showing punchy information to buyers, it also ports exceptionally well to both your own website and crucially Amazon who use a five (or so) bullet points for the main product details.

There is an article I have sketched out on the importance of “portability of data” between platforms that is due to be finished in the next few weeks. However for now, take a look at the image below and note its an Amazon listing and the four bullet points. These allow for the buyer to quickly scan and make the decision.

Amazon Listing Layout

The Amazon Listing Layout. I'm assuming you were not expecting to see or hear mention of Amazon on this page did you?!

#5 An Exit Strategy

This is something that businesses give little time or thought to. What happens if the item being viewed is not the right item? The worst case scenario of the back button being pressed or the tab closed, is going to be played time and time again if you do not plan for failure.

This could be as simple as including your eBay shop categories in the left hand bar as part of the eBay listing frame or the top search box also in the listing frame.

In more professional designs, you’ll find your eBay shop category structure included, integrated search, custom search and filtering options and in really smart listings, related items pulling dynamically using rules.

I once developed a keyword with a developer at eSellerPro that would automatically link to products in the same eBay category. Since then you can actually use scripts to dynamically pull in related and similar items using various parameters.

My point is, plan to fail, fail to plan. Know that not everyone that is going to view your item is going to buy and cater for it.

ChannelAdvisor Catalyst Europe Keynote Speakers Released

ChannelAdvisorI’m looking forward to finally attending this years ChannelAdvisor Catalyst in May. For the past few years when asked by clients whether they should go, the answer has always been a resounded yes, you should.

Not only for the actual even itself and the highly topical conferences, but for the interaction between the other people there, merchants like themselves and for a day or two out.

If you look past the conference itself, its also a chance to look at the ChannelAdvisor platform in detail, it really cannot be dismissed as viable platform for merchants to use and their IDS and SEM stuff is crazy.

I can hardly comprehend that “some” $3 Billion went through their system last year, you just cannot imagine the sheer amount of data movement and even back when MarketWorks were bringing in external help and the stark comment from Oracle of “Its not supposed to work like that”; ChannelAdvisor have nailed issues that only the likes of Facebook, Google and eBay receive public notification for.

Back on to topic, ChannelAdvisor Catalyst Europe shouldn’t be missed, you can register here and the email notification is below.

ChannelAdvisor Catalyst Europe - 17th & 18th May 2011 -  Riverbank Park Plaza Hotel - London - Register Now!
Register today to attend Catalyst 2011!
Don’t miss a special keynote presentation from Google at Catalyst Europe in May. 

John Gillan and Jens Münch of Google UK will explore the convergence of the fast-growing and fast-evolving social, local and mobile (‘SoLoMo’) spaces and share deep insight around the significant opportunities this holds for online retailers.

Catalyst is Europe’s best opportunity to learn from and network with 300+ leaders in e-commerce. Speakers this year include eBay, Amazon, Facebook, Practicology, PhysioRoom.com, B&Q, Republic, ChannelAdvisor CEO Scot Wingo among many others.

John Gillian and Jens Münch of Google UK
Don’t miss out, book your place now!
We have a limited number of tickets available.
Register Now
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Amazon: Navigate the Cloud at AWS Summit 2011

amazon-web-servicesThe UK Summit is in London on the 14th June 2011 and Navigate the Cloud at AWS Summit 2011 registration is currently open and there are also events in New York on the 10th June and 21st June in San Francisco.

The full details are below.

Navigate the Cloud at AWS Summit 2011

Whether you are new to the Cloud or looking for more knowledge to take you to the next level, these full-day conferences will provide the information to successfully navigate the Cloud. These regional events will feature a keynote address by Amazon.com CTO, Werner Vogels, customer presentations, how-to sessions, and tracks specifically designed for new and experienced users.

Reasons to attend

  • Gain a deeper understanding of Amazon Web Services, including best practices for developing, architecting, and securing applications in the Cloud.
  • Hear how AWS customers have successfully built and migrated a variety of applications to the Cloud.
  • Learn how Solutions Providers from the AWS community have helped businesses launch applications in the Cloud, utilizing enterprise software, SaaS tools, and more.
  • Discover how AWS’s services can help your organization meet growing business needs while reducing overall IT expenditures.

Who should attend

  • Developers and Engineers, System Administrators, Architects, IT Specialists, IT Managers and Directors, and Business Leaders.
  • Find sessions that meet your needs in our three tracks:Trailhead for those new to the Cloud, Base Camp for experienced users, or the Guided Trek to help you discover Cloud solutions.


8:30am–9:30am Registration & Solutions Provider Expo
9:30am–9:45am Welcome
9:45am–10:30am Opening Keynote: “State of the Cloud”, Werner Vogels, CTO, Amazon.com
10:30am–11:20am Customer Presentations
11:20am–11:45am Customer & Q&A Panel
11:45am–12:45pm Lunch & Solutions Provider Expo
12:45pm–4:30pm Break out Tracks:
Base Camp
Guided Trek
4:30pm–5:00pm Closing Keynote: “How Amazon Migrated to AWS”, Jon Jenkins, Director, Amazon.com
5:00pm Networking/Cocktail Reception


June 10 – New York
Roosevelt Hotel
45 E 45th Street
New York, NY  10017
Register for the New York event

June 14 – London
Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre
Broad Sanctuary, Westminster
London SW1P 3EE
Register for the London event

June 21 – San Francisco
Westin St Francis – Union Square
335 Powell Street
San Francisco, CA  94102
Register for the San Francisco event

301 Redirects & Do URL Shorteners Pass Anchor Text?

Do URL shorteners pass anchor text?
This article is a quick one as we’ll be needing a deeper explanation in a few days when I cover how to manage 301 redirects for your website and cleaning up your neighbourhood.

I’m an avid fan of GoogleWebmasterHelp on YouTube and equally a fan of Matt Cutts and his presentation style, something I aspire to.

Back on to topic, recently Matt covered recently whether URL Shorteners such as bit.ly etc… pass anchor text. Below is the video on this and the reason to include this is around the 301 redirects, as mentioned I’m documenting an article on this and crucially, you’ll spot the comment regarding the passing of anchor text and page rank as part of the 301 redirect.

301 Redirects & Do URL Shorteners Pass Anchor Text?

eBay Duplicate Listing Tool

Duplicate eBay ListingsIf you’ve been shelled up for the past few weeks, you’ll not have noticed that eBay are taking action on duplicate listings and from mid May in the eBay May 2011 update amongst many other changes.

eBay have released a tool so that you can check your listings in advance for duplicates and take action on them now before they end them automatically in mid may.

You can find eBay duplicate listing tool at the link below:

As mentioned in May they’ll be automatcially ending any fixed price listings eBay see’s as being duplicates regardless of sales performace and will be happening to all categories with the exception of Cars, Motorcycles and Vehicles, Parts and Events and Tickets.

eBay give you some tips in their update information for duplicate listings, if you’ve not done so already, check to see if your category is having the variation format introduced and learn this forma very quickly as it will change the dynamics of your category. You can learn more about this and the other changes in the previous article Making Sense of the Pending eBay UK Updates in May 2011

About iContact Free Edition

The following is a press release from iContact regarding their newly release free edition of their product, allowing users to manage up to 500 subscribers and to send upto 2000 emails free each month. Also for comlpeteness, I’ve included the video too, which I thought was rather cool:

New Product Brings Email Marketing & Social Marketing to Individuals, Small Businesses & Non-Profits for Free

iContact-Free-EditionRALEIGH, N.C., April 13, 2011 iContact Corp., a leading email marketing and social marketing company, today announced it is launching iContact Free Edition. This no-cost version of its flagship email marketing and social marketing tool makes it easy for individuals, community organizations and small businesses without a large budget to easily stay in touch with their subscribers and fans via email, Facebook and Twitter.

iContact Free Edition enables anyone to easily manage a contact database, select a professionally designed template, send out an email and social network message, and track the opens, clicks and social views.

“Today, we are announcing a major new product launch for iContact designed to make email marketing and social marketing available to everyone in both their professional and personal lives,” said Ryan Allis, CEO, iContact. “We want to provide easy access to free email marketing and social marketing tools backed by world-class customer service.” Here is more about iContact Free Edition in the words of our co-founders: http://blog.icontact.com/blog/helping-more-companies-causes-succeed-with-icontact-free-edition/

About iContact Free Edition

iContact’s proven email marketing solution empowers businesses to engage, educate and retain customers, targeted prospects and website visitors. Now individuals or small organizations with subscriber lists of 500 or less can have email marketing, social marketing, event marketing and surveying for free.

iContact Free Edition includes:

  • Email creation, sending and tracking capabilities for up to 500 subscribers and 24 designer templates for effective, eye-catching messages quickly and easily – http://www.icontact.com/messagebuilder-templates
  • Social Media Tools Integration with Facebook and Twitter allows users to create and share links to their email communications from within the application. iContact will automatically post a web version of the email message and report related views and clicks on the user’s tracking dashboard – http://www.icontact.com/social-tools
  • Compatibility with iPhone and Android mobile apps allows users to manage contacts, access and send messages, and view detailed tracking reports, all in real time – http://www.icontact.com/icontact-iphone and http://www.icontact.com/android
  • Built-in survey tool enables users to easily create questions and choose a response type, such as text box, radio button, drop-down menu or selector – http://tinyurl.com/3vgl5jj

According to a recently released 2011 Outlook report from Borrell Associates (ClickZ, March 11, 2011), the SMB market accounted for more than 70 percent of all online advertising expenditures including email, search and run-of-site display last year. While individual SMBs on average spent less than $12,000 on all advertising in 2010 – about $2,300 of which went online – they represented 95 percent of U.S. business locations.

About iContact

iContact is a purpose-driven company based in Raleigh, NC, working to make email marketing and social marketing easy so that small and midsized companies and causes can grow and succeed. Founded in 2003, iContact has more than 300 employees and more than 700,000 users of its leading email marketing software. iContact also provides the event marketing platform Ettend. As a B Corporation, iContact utilizes the 4-1s Corporate Social Responsibility Model, donating 1% of payroll, 1% of employee time to community volunteering, 1% of equity, and 1% of product to its local and global community as part of its social mission. iContact works hard to maintain a fun, creative, energetic, challenging and community-oriented company culture.

For media inquiries, contact Leigh Anne Varney, Varney Business Communication, 415.387.7250, media@icontact.com.

Visit us on online at iContact.com, Twitter @iContactiContact LinkedIn Group and our Facebook Fan Page.

Email Marketing. How to Win Friends and Influence People

John Hayes iContact

John Hayes iContact

The following is a guest article from a colleague John Hayes from iContact. I first met John via LinkedIn a few months back and we had a call and laid foundation for further communications.

After meeting John at the NEC for the Internet Retailing conference a few weeks back, it was only natural that when it came to looking at providers for the email marketing campaigns that were being worked on, that iContact would be a natural choice.

When the pricing turned out to be exactly the same as the other parties we were considering and the company being used for the marketing, said, “Yes, our largest client uses iContact”, that was it, the order was in.

As you’ll see from the article below, email marketing, just like business in general really is a personal affair. I’ve enjoyed reading the article, I’m sure you will do too.

Email Marketing – How to win friends and influence people

Put aside all the science around the art of selling for one minute. The first lesson in any sales course should be the basic fact that people buy from people they like.

If you don’t have chemistry with your clients you can kiss goodbye to their business.

As with any relationship, selling is a two-way street. It’s about engaging your clients in a conversation and like any decent conversation it is as much about listening as it is about talking.

In the online environment, where we are all getting more social, this has never been more important. The Shotgun approach to marketing just doesn’t cut it anymore. This is equally as true in a tried and tested medium such as email marketing as it is on the social networks like facebook and twitter.

How to lose friends and disenfranchise people

Bombarding your clients with untargeted, irrelevant and seemingly desperate sales messages will more likely turn your customers into ex-customers than win any repeat business.

Let’s look at an example of how a good deal turned sour when a lazy marketer didn’t want to make friends with me.

Attracted by a cheap park and fly offer at an airport hotel, I booked a family room the night before an early morning flight leaving the car in the hotel car park for the duration of my vacation. The hotel experience was OK, with smooth transfers to and from the airport, and I was more than happy with the cost which was only slightly more expensive than a week’s parking at a nearby airport car park.

And then the emails started arriving.

Seaside breaks, city breaks, wedding packages, free dinning, two nights for the price of one, turkey and tinsel Christmas breaks, happy hours – you name it, they sent it. Relentlessly. I received an email from them every single day until eventually I hit the unsubscribe button.

It was as if they were desperate for my business (I guessed they were having cash flow problems). They didn’t take the time to get to know me and swamped me with offers I just wasn’t interested in. The experience left a bad taste in my mouth and I’ll probably never stay with them again.

How they could have won me as a friend

The hotel had a lot of information about me and my family. They knew my home address, marital status and the age of my kids. They knew which airport we used, the airline we were flying with and our final destination.

From this information they could have made some educated guesses and targeted their email marketing campaigns more appropriately. They could have even used email to get to know me a little better by following up on my stay with a short survey. Just a little thought and a little targeting and we could have been friends.

Let’s work at this relationship

Email Marketing is perhaps one of the most mature marketing techniques available to today’s online marketers. So why do apparently sophisticated companies continue to blast out irrelevant, untargeted and plain boring emails.

The fact is Email Marketing works. Even for lazy marketers (like the above un-named hotel chain) email remains one of the most cost effective and successful marketing techniques available. Return on investment from Email Marketing can be staggering with an ROI of more than 600% not uncommon. But a failure to effectively target and engage with your customers will ultimately result in failure.

Just because something works in the short-term doesn’t mean it couldn’t be even better in the long term with a little time and effort in building relationships.
You might think you have a great offer that you need to shout about – but when you are selling to your friends the message really shouldn’t be all about you. It should be about your customer’s individual needs, desires and interests. Make them feel part of your business and not just source of income and they’ll stay friends with you for years to come.

John Hayes – iContact, EMEA Business Development Executive

iContact is a purpose-driven company working to make email marketing and social marketing easy so that small and mid-sized companies and causes can grow and succeed.

For a free 30 day trial of iContact’s Email Marketing software visit http://genieandthegeek.icontact.com

eBay as a Business – Three Different Ways of Approaching It

There are so many different ways that a business can be approached from, however I believe in keeping things simple where-ever possible and here are three top tips for when approaching eBay as a business.

#1 Think Like a Buyer

eBay buyers are a special breed, you need to at least try and understand them and thier whims, desires and fears when dealing with them.

After answering so many questions from buyers, I have come to the conclusion that they are:

  1. Scared of being ripped off
  2. Scared of being ripped off
  3. Scared of being ripped off
  4. Scared of being ripped off
  5. Scared of being ripped off
  6. Scared of being ripped off
  7. Scared of being ripped off
  8. Scared of being ripped off
  9. Scared of being ripped off
  10. Just like any other buyer

9/10 for being “Scared of being ripped off” is a bit harsh, but that is my personal conclusion. If you look at buyers emails, with this in mind, those mindless questions make sense. Why else would a buyer be asking a question, if it is not to test the seller to see if they are real (ignoring their thousands of feedback) and if they respond quickly, then they know if something goes wrong, they feel half assured that something will be done about it.

I never saw myself as a sales person ever on eBay, I saw myself as a provider of quality information, wrapped up in great customer service. Nothing else.

So its your job to ensure that the customer feels safe, by providing:

  • Good product images (although I am now certain that these need to be “exceptional” to make a real difference)
  • Accurate product specific information
  • An accurate description
  • Easy to read postage
  • A clear layout of the information provided
  • Quality branding of your business

The last one has almost become an absolute requirement. With the focus on customers, if you’re presented with something that looks like its been made by a blind monkey in a dog shed, to that of a professional, I’m pretty sure you know whom you’d buy from.

#2 Time Really is Money

eBay can be a very time intensive environment when compared to other marketplaces. There is a steep learning curve and the customer service requirements are high, its very easy to fall into a self centred trap, focusing on just plodding along, without focusing upon expanding and maintaining profit.

eBay can become very personal and its your job to ensure that it does not, a simple tool such as a time sheet can help you work out how many hours each week you are spending on each task.

Taking the time to make a sales projection can also be a good goal setting exercise, this does not have to be power point charts or excel sheets, literally by grabbing a peice of paper and writing “sales projection” at the top of it, will put you in front of 90% of the competition, because you are now working ON your business not IN your bussiness.

Shed Working

Ever considered working from a Shed?

Back to the sales projection, if you can use excel, that would be handy, using your previously recorded sales, use these to map out expected sales and what growth you would like to see. You do not need to worry about being accurate, that will loosely come with time and even the best strategies in hindsight, turn out to be a lot of luck in the right order.

Its also likely that you are working from a home office, if you are struggling with excessive hours, then why not take a serviced office, for what is peanuts a month and actually make the step of “going to work”. Most amusing, you could join the millions that work from a shed, see shedworking.co.uk.

#3 Know that eBay is Going to Change & Embrace it

I was looking at the eBay.com community boards and those on a few American sites and they are littered with people going nuts about the pending updates on eBay.com, there are some hefty changes going on in the eBay May 2011 update that I documented a few weeks back.

Fact. eBay always changes, it always has done and always will do.

My point is simple, let everyone else bitch about the changes, you should be smart and work out how they affect you and then plan to change with them.


Those who know me well, know that I commonly preach and personally aspire to the following statement:

What you focus upon, expands.

I sincerely hope I’ve given you a slightly different outlook on eBay and how to approach it. Not only as a buyer with their ‘concerns’, but as a business, with a simple timesheet and sales projection and finally that eBay always changes and its much easier to work with it, as with anything, than against it.