Q&A: How Can I Use All the Search Keywords for an Amazon Listing?

This is the second of a series of articles where I’m answering several questions that have come in via email in the past few days, that I feel that you’d gain value from hearing the answer too.


Maximising the Search Keywords on Amazon

Today’s question is in relation to using the extra keywords when creating or updating products on Amazon.

If you didn’t know about these, then dig in they can be leveraged to help drive extra traffic to your Amazon product listings and as we find out they complement the product title.

Here’s the question:

Hi Matt,

Amazon have 5 extra cells in excel that we can enter keywords into and they allow 50 characters per cell.

How do I use all these all to maximum benefit and can I put in more than one keyword into the cell, if so how?



So What Are Amazon Search Keywords?

eSellerPro Amazon Catalgue Tab KeywordsSo before dig in we need to make sure that we’re all on the same sheet, literally the same import sheet.

When creating or updating products on Amazon you can do this using an import sheet that Amazon provides. These import sheets vary from category to category and if you are using a 3rd party tool, then look for 5 boxes called “keywords” or “search terms”.

I’ve included a screen shot from an eSellerPro account to the right and these are found on the “Catalogue Details” tab and also they should not be confused with “Platinum Keywords” (Platinum Keywords are used for the Amazon Webstore and their categorisation)

There are a collection of inventory loading templates, the templates you need to use to create new products on Amazon with can be found here and they are at the bottom of the page (not the first ones).

In these workbooks, if you go to the sheet called “Apparel Template” (or similar) and scroll across to the right until you get to columns BW to CA (or about there, depends on the template being used). Here we’ll see “search-terms1” through to “search-terms5”, just like below:

Amazon Search Terms Template File

Why Are These So Important?

It’s these keywords that can help your products be found on Amazon, but they shouldn’t be filled with any old junk. Unlike eBay that has quite a complex search engine (which is going to get very smart next year with Cassini, whole different topic) the Amazon sites search engine is still very primitive in comparison.

And it’s because of this, these keywords can make all the difference in making your items found, especially when we consider that the search bar at the top of the Amazon site, takes up a minimum of 44% of the width header area, even the Amazon logo or cart doesn’t get that kind of treatment!

Amazon Search box 44 Percent Wide

With a search box area that size, we have to be assuming that at least 95% of all sales or more on Amazon are driven by the search this box alone. I think I’ve made the point, search keywords are really important.

What Does Amazon Have to Say About the Search Keywords?

Surprisingly not a lot! Quoting Amazon’s help file for sellers below (which is also worth a good read):

Use terms once

Because the words of the product name are already searchable, do not use search terms that are words also contained in the title. For example, the complete list of automatic search terms for Allison’s Cookies is allison, gourmet, organic, chocolate, chip, pecan, cookie, one & dozen. Good search terms for Allison’s Cookies, therefore, might be “natural,” “baked,” and “dessert.”
Use single words

Single words work better as search terms than phrases. If you use phrases, then customers must type each entry exactly as you entered it. For example, if you enter “natural baked dessert” as search terms for Allison’s Cookies, then that is what customers must type. If they type “natural” or “dessert,” your products won’t appear in the search results. However, by listing these terms separately, you allow for more combinations, such as natural, natural dessert, baked desserts, baked, dessert, and baked natural. If you aren’t getting the sales you expect, continue to experiment with your search terms until you find you have the best combination of product title and search terms for your products.

To summarise what Amazon is suggesting we do is to try and keep to broad words and not to repeat them.

That’s pretty straight forwards and good advice. But sometimes broad is not good enough and we need to be specific and this is where the next question/answer comes in.

How Do You use All the Space Provided in the Search Terms?

In each of the search terms fields, 1-5 you’re allowed to enter up to 50 characters and the trick to leveraging these is to use commas between each keyword. That’s 250 characters of search-for-me-find-me goodness.

That way instead of just entering one keyword into each of the 5 search term cell’s, you can now enter multiple keywords in each and because you can use more than just one or two words you can use phrases too.

Now before you go keyword spam-tasticly-crazy with these, it’s really important to take note of Amazon’s first suggestion, use keywords once or kinda taking notice anyway.

Sticking in “ipod,ipod,ipod,ipod,ipod,ipod,ipod,ipod,ipod,ipod” is going to be futile, however stringing keywords together to make mini phrases, well that’s targeted.

Staying with the iPod theme for a few moments and picking on the #1 selling iPod charger, if we look at the title “FreeLogix – White UK 3 Pin Mains Charger – iPod All Generations” and the keywords that are being used:

  • ipod charger,
  • ipod mains charger,
  • ipod nano charger,
  • ipod  charger,
  • ipod 3pin uk charger,
  • Portable Audio,
  • Portable Audio

While the last two are duplicates, the rest are phrases. In fact the last two are absolutely pointless, who the hell searches for “Portable Audio”?

With thanks to Wikipedia the versions of the iPod are as follows:

  • Classic
  • Mini
  • Nano
  • Shuffle
  • Touch

I’ve got a Shuffle (fab little thing, doesn’t play Podcasts though…)  and the socket won’t fit the shuffle, I’m not sure the others, but for the sake of example we’ll assume they’re all the same.

To make this #1 performing SKU even better, we would bulk these keywords out to include:

  • ipod classic charger
  • ipod mini charger
  • ipod touch charger

Plus seeing as we have 250 characters to use up, we’d also be wanting to play with some other keywords too. Such as:

  • ipod uk charger
  • ipod 3 pin mains charger
  • ipod 3 pin uk charger
  • ipod wall charger

Amazon Search Terms in Search BoxAnd then if you get bored or stuck with a keyword, we have the best tool available… It’s call predictive search.

Nipping over to Amazon and typing in “iPod Charger” and then pressing space, we are then given predictive keywords that users will search for

See where I’m going with this?
Yep, you’re right, it’s keyword data!

In this example, most of the keywords are not really useful, however these are:

  • ipod charger plug
  • ipod charger mains

Very quickly, we can get to our ideal limit of using all 250 characters in the search term boxes. And while yes there will be duplicates, they’re going to match what Amazon are presenting to buyers via that whopping great big search box.

So our final keywords to enter into the search terms fields 1-5 will look something like this:

Search Term 1
ipod charger,ipod classic charger,ipod mini charger

Search Term 2
ipod mains charger,ipod touch charger

Search Term 3
ipod nano charger,ipod uk charger

Search Term 4
ipod charger mains,ipod wall charger

Search Term 5
ipod 3pin uk charger,ipod 3 pin uk charger

Obviously you’d spend a little more time than what I have to do further research, but you get the idea, we can use the same keywords that are used in the title, but supplement them with phrases, not keywords in the search term boxes.

In Summary

We’re given 5 search term fields for enhancing the listing search visibility instead of stuffing these with mindless keywords or just single keywords, use phrases. Use what Amazon suggests in their own search box and copy those to your keywords.

We can use comma’s in search terms to enter more than just one term per search field and that means we can bulk these out to cover the common phrases that allow our items to be found. We’re given 250 extra characters, let’s make sure we use them all :)

Have you used this before and found that it works for you too, or didn’t know that you could use a comma and add even more keywords to the search terms fields? Let me know in the comments box below.

What Drives You Nuts? If You Had a Magic Wand…

Magic WandTime, we never have enough of it and as business owners, we always wish we had more, I know I do!

I’m published this on a Monday on purpose, you’re probably in the thick of it and just imagine you had a magic wand, what task would you like to see automated in your day? I bet there is more than one ;-)

So I have two questions for you and I’d love to hear from you to see if I can help solve them:

  1. Where do you feel you’re wasting time each day?
  2. What’s the one task or challenge, that if gone from your daily schedule, you’d breath easy knowing it was done?

It doesn’t matter if it’s something small or if it’s a huge task, what I’m interested in is seeing if there is a task or challenge that can be solved through some form of automation to make your life easier.


So if You had a Magic Wand…

If you had a magic wand, what task or challenge would you make go away?

Name and email are not required, but are handy if I need to contact you to delve a little deeper into what drives you nuts.

[contact-form-7 id=”6954″ title=”What Drives You Nuts”]

Looking forward to hearing from you.


Q&A: Gaining the Blue Buy Box for a New Amazon Account

Over the next few articles, I’m going to answer several questions that have come in via email in the past few days, that I feel that you’d gain value from hearing the answer too.


Gaining the Blue Buy Box on Amazon

The Amazon Buy boxToday’s question is in relation to scoring the Amazon Buy Box for the first time in a new Amazon account.

As always, there is history around this and the reason why the original account was lost, the point here is that ideally you’d try & avoid this from happening in the first place, but as well all know, sometimes one tiny mistake, can have a big impact.

Let’s hope the reply to this question helps them get back on track.

Good morning Matt,

Your site is great information.   You are welcome to put this in the forums, this was just the easiest for me to email you.

We had a very successful Amazon account with NN,NNN per month  in sales.  Due to some out of stock items, our account was suspended from Amazon. 

We have partnered with someone else in order to get a new account going. 

How do you get the feedback up quickly to get the buyer box. 

We are selling about 1 item per week.  I know it is due to being a new seller and no feedback, therefore we cannot get that little blue box!

Thanks for your help!

The part that is not pleasant is the part where I say, in 3-5 months time. Don’t panic just yet, there is an option that you might not be aware of and we’ll get to that in due course.

Limited Amazon Accounts

Sell on AmazonAmazon to the best of my knowledge sand-boxed new selling accounts. This is where they trickle you sales over a long period of time to see how the business reacts to increasing sales. It’s a good system, that works and this also highlights that Amazon is focused on looking after number 1 in the equation.

No that’s not the shareholders, but the customer. It’s the right thing to do, to protect the site from naughty businesses and the buffer of a few months is generally a good thing. We’re just on the wrong side of her, er Amazon (see note later), that’s all.

Talking from my personal history, Amazon is simpler to list on and you can in some instances sell more product on Amazon than you can in other marketplaces, however it is different and different means you can’t always just bump-in and splash product everywhere and not learn the ropes, this is their way of ensuring that you learn the ropes [and not put in place to intentionally annoy the heck out of us].

Amazon calls this process, “Velocity Limits” and the part that they neglect to mention in their help page is the time factor. (You can read the full details on their help page here)

Along the way of building a new Amazon Seller account, you’ll go through a few emails from Amazon and at least one account review. This typically takes 3-5 months to happen and as I mentioned is designed to build the expertise up in the business over time.

I only now about this as I’ve seen numerous accounts start on Amazon and when the switch is flipped, it is generally noticeable, as you get far higher than normal sales appear from no-where.

Thinking about a conversation last year, it came up that a business owner (again I am doing my best to keep this anonymous as possible) had been selling on Amazon for 4 months, but was saying he still hadn’t got the Buy Box access and Amazon was slow.

So we popped a ticket in with Amazon and they said that this was normal and their account was be activated for Buy Box eligibility as and when their account was reviewed next (or words to that effect).

What actually happened, was the next day, was about 10 times more orders than normal started to appear and the phone call I received was “I’ve got the buy box!“, understandably excitable. So sometimes Amazon just needs a nudge to make the point “Hi, I’ve been trading for a while, I’m a good boy“.

Note: If this is you and you’ve been trading on Amazon for 3 months or more and do not have the buy box yet, open a case and ask them how long will it be and is there anything you can do to aid the process.

Sooo…. coming back to the question, is there anything you can do. Ideally I’d suggest you just wait, take the time to build it up slowly again and earn the trust that was lost the first time around and play the slow game (Amazon is a slow game believe it or not).

Option #1 – Amazon Red Carpet Scheme

Red Carpet Scheme

Much better than just plain-old red carpet don’t you think? Source

That may not be the quick-fix answer you may have been looking for though. But there is another option.

If you’re in the UK and I am unsure about this in the USA, then there is a scheme called the “Red Carpet Scheme”.

This allows you to work with an Amazon representative to load inventory onto the marketplace as an account manager, a free Amazon seller central subscription for a year and crucially gain instant access to the Blue Buy Box (YAY!).

Dave has covered the details on the Amazon red carpet scheme in a post a few weeks back, you can view this here:


It’s an invitation-only scheme, but it wouldn’t be too cheeky to open an Amazon case and include a message something like this:


I’ve heard about a scheme that can help us with launching our X number of products on Amazon called a ‘Red Carpet Scheme’.

Is this something you can help us with?”

Amazon are not daft bunnies, if the products are unique and they spot that it’s a previously banned account, then making yourself stand-out is probably not the best idea and I’d play low, and cool for a few months and take it the slow route.

Another Note: If you’re reading this and have just started selling on Amazon for the first time, then it’s 100% worth your while to make a call or open a case with Amazon and nudging them to see if you’d be eligible.

Option #2 – Fulfilment By Amazon aka FBA

Fulfilment By Amazon - FBA

The other option is that you could leverage Fulfilment by Amazon (now on referred to as FBA as my spelling is pants) to put the more popular products into Amazon and gain immediate access to the buy box.

FBA doesn’t suit all products and I, as Amazon own notes, it’s not sensible to send in ALL your inventory, just the lines that you know will sell in the next 3 months or ideally less.

I’ve not covered FBA to any great degree in an article to date here on the LastDropofInk, so I’m going to leave you with the basics and give you a few links to find out more.

With FBA you send your items into Amazon for them to fulfil orders with, this has several key benefits:

  • You gain access to the blue buy box (the reason for the email)
  • You gain access to the buyers that have Amazon Prime (there are lots of those, trust me you want these, they’re the high-volume buyers)
  • Amazon does the customer services for you (I hear you screaming wooohooo!)
  • Amazon process the returns for you (good & bad)

This would give you the quick win you’re looking for, however there is one key downside. Amazon then handle your products and as such if you’re not welded down with a patent or trademarks, then it is not unheard of (see this thread over at the Wholesale Forums) for Amazon to locate the supplier or manufacturer and go direct, essentially cutting you out entirely.

Note. This thread is also worth reading: No Customer Contact is the Major Downside of Using Amazon FBA

But let’s be frank here (and this is also the contents of another email I answered 15 minutes ago), Amazon and the Amazon marketplace is one great big market research tool.

The key benefit other than the range of products that 3rd party sellers add to the Amazon platform, is that Amazon can then mine the data to see what they should sell themselves. They will do this eventually and there is a very interesting thread in our forums called “Amazon vendor invite“.

So trying to leave this on a positive note FBA could be what you’re looking for and you can find more about Amazon’s FBA schemes at these links:

In Summary

As a direct reply to the question, I’d strongly suggest you play the longer game and reap the rewards in a few months time, exposing yourself at such an early stage could knock you right back. Trees, fruit & nurturing roots and all that.

The Red Carpet scheme might work for you, depending if it’s available in your country and if the products are not too much of a give-away. But as mentioned, if you are a new business selling on Amazon, then this could be a easy way of you expediting access to the buy box.

FBA should also be considered it has many, many positive sides, you get the buy box access you were looking for , it has several other perks and can work out cheaper if you account for numerous items being sent in.

But we must remember:

Amazon, if it was a human, it would be a woman and she would be a ………..

She’d want babies, grand children, a ring, the whole white wedding cher-bang, but she’d divorce you at a moments notice if she found and cheaper or newer model.

(But I love her none the less).

Food for thought….

Excellent question, thank you for asking it and allowing me to reply publicly. If this helps you and maybe someone else too, then the time taken to write this has all been worthwhile.  I’m sorry to hear about the experience, unlike Amazon, the rest of the world is a little more forgiving.

Have a Question?

If you’ve got a question you’d like me to answer, you can either post it publicly in the forums here, the doors are always open or you can contact me directly here.

Alternatively if you can offer any suggestions, words of advice or just a few words of comfort to a fellow business owner that’s had a boot in the knackers, you can let us know using the comments box below.

Report a Buyer Now Live on eBay UK

In the eBay Autumn updates which we covered in-depth here, one of the sellers favourites was the ability to be able to report a buyer for naughty behaviour. This is now live on eBay, YAY!


Video with James Stewart

In the video below from eBay, James Stewart, Director of EU Seller Protection explains the reasoning behind this being included and how to leave a report for a buyer.

How to Report a Buyer that Exhibits Bad Behaviour

When the process is put live it will be really straight forwards to notify eBay of a bad buyer and it is important to note that this can only be done through the eBay website and cannot be automated using the eBay API.

Step #1 – Select the “Report a Buyer” Option

After an item has been purchased, on the Leave Feedback page here http://feedback.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?LeaveFeedback a new option will appear called “Report a Buyer” where the eBay account is the seller for one or more transactions.

Select Report a Buyer on eBay

Step #2 – Select a Reason

Next you’ll be able to select from one of the five options, these are:

  1. Buyer has made unreasonable demands
  2. Buyer has left inappropriate feedback
  3. Buyer abused the buyer protection program
  4. Buyer misused returns
  5. Other problems

And there is an appropriate link to solve unpaid items through the eBay resolution centre.

Report an eBay Buyer Step 2

Step #3 – Submit Report

After making your selection, you then submit the report, noting the text in the confirmation notice “Bad Buyer”.

eBay Confirm Bad Buyer

Have You Used This Yet?

So have you have to use this for a buyer yet, let me know in the comments box below.

The New eBay & What It Means for You (Podcast & Video)

You can’t of missed it, eBay has a new logo, but what they have released in the USA goes deeper, far deeper than just a logo change, the way that buyers interact with eBay is fundamentally changing.

In this Podcast & accompanying video we give you the inside track on what the new updates are and how they’re going to change the way that buyers interact with eBay as this is the biggest buying experience change in 17 years.

We’ve got a very special guest in this session, Chris Dawson from Tamebay.com who was at the unveiling of the “New eBay” in the USA and he gives us the low-down on what’s changing and we walk you through step-by-step through the changes.


The Podcast Version

Because this update is so important we’ve released this two versions, this is the first version which can also be downloaded from iTunes and is audio only. Ideal for downloading to your iPod or droid, choose this version if you’d like to get the inside track on the updates when you’re on the move.


Because this is may be new to you, above is a green play button. Press play and you’re listening!

If you’d like to download the Podcast for listening to on your iPhone, Droid or iPad you can do or you can press the “Play in new window” button to be able to listen to the Podcast while browsing.  If you use iTunes, you can subscribe here for free.

The Video Version

In the video below we actually show you and take you through each of the sections of the “New eBay” from start to finish and in the rest of this article I’ll be focusing in on what each of the changes are.

The New eBay, The New Home Page

You can see the majority of these changes live on eBay.com right now and I urge you to go there and open eBay.com up in a separate browser tab or window so you can follow these changes along with the video and this article.

“The whole eBay landing page has changed”

The whole eBay landing page has changed and we’ll be working top down looking at each element in-depth to see how it’s changed and is going to change the experience for buyers on our favourite marketplace.

New eBay Header Bar

The New Header Bar

You can’t miss it, the new header bar is huge and dominated by the massive search box. This search box is 51.2% larger than what we have on the eBay.co.uk site and is carried across all the eBay pages, right up to the checkout.

We’ll have a unified experience for all pages and really highlights the importance of the weighting that eBay are putting in their search right now and also in their pending release of Cassini (a brand new way of delivering personalised results on eBay) that hasn’t had a date put on it yet.

eBay browse by categoryIn the Podcast Chris felt it really important to stress that there are no changes to the way in which the search results are being delivered for searches. We know that eBay’s new search is coming, but for now it looks like they’re giving us these updates in bite-sized chunks.

We’ve got the core categories shown in the upper part of the page and also the ability to browse by category using the link to the left of the search box.

I’ve highlighted these in the image to the right, and they appear as a new panel when you click on the right.

New Banner Area

New eBay Banner Area

It looks like the days are gone of homepage take overs, in the video version we saw that the eBay.co.uk homepage had been completely taken over by the Nectar points program. The Nectar points partnership is worthy of special note, but is this really what buyers want to see on their homepage? Hold on to that question because when you see what is coming up next, the answer is blatantly no.

The New eBay Feed

The New eBay Feed

The new eBay “feed” is going to complete change the almost pointless homepage (in comparison) which we have right now into a page that is higher personal and I can easily see this becoming the hub and sole entry point to items for buyers over time.

“The new Home page is a page dedicated to what you and only you want to see”

eBay have created a mash-up between Pinterest and Twitter, where you’re able to see products in a similar format to Pinterest, but you’re able to easily follow and search groups to return the results in your feed that are highly personal to you.

If we ignore how customisable the feed is for a few moments, this scale of this single change is immense, the homepage has turned from a flat, boring page that shows a few semi-related products into highly personalised stream of products that are focused on only your tastes, the tastes of your buyers.

Setting up Your Own Customised Feed

eBay Feed SuggestionsYou can test drive this by going to eBay.com/feed, on the left there is an option called “edit my feed”, using the same massive search box you’re able to enter your keywords of choice and see the potential results that would appear in your feed.

You’re also able to drill them down by category, format, condition and also price range to really home-in on products that only you are interested in.

Then after choosing your keyword groups, go back to the homepage and your feed, now personalised to your tastes, will be showing related items.

As you scroll down the page, the feed only stops when it runs out of items and as I found when looking for “BDU” (“battle dress uniforms”) sometimes you can pick up unwanted items, to remove these just hover on the product and click X in the top right and the item is gone.

Annoyingly you are taken back to the top of the page when you remove an item from the eBay feed, but eBay learnt from what you don’t like and admittedly after I removed about 15-20 baseball cards that had been appearing in my feed, I have seen little of them since.

You’ll also notice that the eBay “Daily Deals” are not featured at the top of the feed, I had expected them to be there, but instead you find them further down after scrolling.

Not what I had expected at all and if anything, this clear shows that eBay are expecting buyers to scroll this page and after you play with it for a few minutes, you can see that they will.

Dabbling in the Future of the Feed

eBay Hunch GraphWe do dabble in the future in the Podcast, suggesting that if eBay take their newly acquired Hunch technology which provides what they called a “taste graph of personalised recommendations” to what eBay might have install for us.

So as Chris explains, after buying a bed, why not show him other related items, as a bed is normally a once every few years purchase, but if you look at it from a wider angle, we now know he has a bed, so why not show him accessories, like linens or a duvet?

I’m a size 9 or 10 shoe, so I’m not interested in other sizes, if you’re a size 12-14, then why on earth would you be interested in a size 16 or size 8? Hunch could have the power, when combined with the item specifics we’re entering as businesses to really tailor the results exactly to your personal requirements.

Will ‘Hunch’ provide us with this kind of customisation? That is only to be seen in time, but if we’re thinking we know the boffin’s in eBay are too and as this is only the first incarnation of the personalised feed on the homepage, I’m betting we will.

The New eBay, The New Search Page

The New eBay Gallery View

Chris explained that it is only the formatting & styling of the search results that are changing, the way in which the results are returned on the rest of the eBay site is exactly the same as what it was before the update, but now they are clearer and have had a face lift.

There are two views of listings on eBay the list view, which is where you see one item per line and the gallery view where we see multiple items per line.

Currently in the UK we have four items per row in the gallery view, just like the list view, the main image is being increased in size from the current size of 225×225 pixels to 300×300 pixels, it’s a 33% increase and highly noticeable and there are just 3 items per row.

The New eBay List view

When it comes to the search results and also the feed, quality is really king here and we now understand why in the US that the use of image borders and extra junk in the images was removed, such distractions are not going to cut it in the new layout & design.

If we also look at the search results pages, the upper navigation has changed too, the format has moved to the left and also the filtering options above results have been made more compact and with easier access to sold & completed listings.

The New eBay, The New Item Detail Page

The New eBay Item Detail Page

The item detail page has been set up for a complete revamp and there is a little surprise we were not expecting in there too. I wondered where it had gone and Chris noticed it too, Dave spotted it after a few moments and we’ll get to that shortly.

The New eBay Image Gallery ViewWe’ve now got a more compact listing layout, but with the information the customers needs to make an informed decision if this item is the right item for them.

The Images area looks larger but in fact it is the same size as what it was before (500×500 pixels), but why it looks so much bigger is because the amount of wasted space that has been saved on the right-hand-side of the main image is huge.

While zoom is now enabled on images that are large enough, with the images, the biggest change is the size of the lightbox. When click on the main image, a huge lightbox layer appears and overtakes the entire screen.

You can see this in the image to the right, that is the entire web browser window taken up with the product images.

Just one image isn’t going to cut it for most items now and as we can see with this item, there are plenty of images to keep a buyer happy as they fall-in-love with the dress and make the purchase.


the new ebay quarters section on the listing pageWhen it comes to the right-hand-side panel of the listing page, we’ve also have some major changes here too.

Annoyingly adverts are still present and take up one quarter (but that’s a topic for another day), the action buttons now have their own quarter, item specifics have been moved from that huge bar where they occupy above the description to their own quarter and we have a new section that combines both the seller information and the key facts about the item

Chris did point out in the Podcast/Video that there are too many options for buyers to click on here, if we count the options in the screen shot to the right there are 11 buttons, way too many for one page. Buyers need an “or” option, so their decision process is simpler.

If we focus on buttons only for “Buy it Now”, “Add to Cart”, “Make Offer” and “Add to Watch List”, that is two, too many options and really needs to be nailed down to “Buy it Now” and if needs must “Add to Watch List”.

Note: eBay’s “action colour” is blue, we can see this throughout the site, even in the advert eBay mobile, the action colour is also blue. While there maybe too many buttons on the page and to me heavily diluting power of the blue “Buy it now” you don’t have to make this mistake on your own site.

One of my favourite marketers is a chap called Derek Halpern from SocialTriggers, take a look at the video in this article to understand what is your action colour.  The action colour on this site is green see the box below… Would you like to subscribe?


Item specifics still take up a load of space on the UK listings currently, it’s a good 2-3 inches of screen pace the buyer has to scroll in the fashion category and now we can see in the screen shot, that these are still available, but have been tidied into their own quarter and if you click on these any item specifics that are not being shown, will then appear.

eBay item details cardThe big change is in the top right quarter, the items key details. The condition now links to the description area, we’ve got the first delivery cost and also an ETA on when the item will be with us, along with a summary of the returns policy and the buyer protection notice.

The surprise I mentioned at the beginning of this section is in what is missing, next to the user ID we have the sellers feedback, but the eBay store icon is missing. Considering how much effort has been put into these updates that cannot be a mistake and raises the question, what is happening with eBay stores?

In the UK there are over 400,000 eBay shops (we Brit’s call them shops, not stores) which drive a massive revenue stream for eBay, some £81 million each year. So when I see them not being promoted, especially in such a radical update I’m concerned. The eBay shop has the been the hub for almost all eBay businesses and I certainly hope we’ll be seeing some changes here for the humble eBay shop.

eBay item description header bar

As you move down the page, we now have a unique bar that follows us down, so we can jump to each of the key sections, the description, shipping, seller info and the Q&A.

But what someone has overlooked, is the ability to buy from this bar. Where is the buy button? Seems to be the only major flaw we can find in the “New eBay”. Nice spot by Chris!

Note: In the video version of this article I’ve included an overlay to give a suggested impression what this could look like.

The New eBay, The New Profile Page

The New eBay Profile Page for Sellers

The next big change is to do with the “My World” page, you know the one, the pointless page where we’ve seen numerous failed attempts at getting users to update this custom page.

It’s had a complete revamp and you can see what yours will look like by going to http://www.ebay.com/usr/ and adding your user ID on the end of the URL.

Some important notes here is that there are now individual Facebook Like and Google Plus buttons and we again see a similar format of product images as we saw in the eBay feed page.

If you look at your own page, look on the right-hand-side, there is a feedback button that links to a survey here which asks “How effective was this eBay Page in helping you accomplish what you came to the page to do?” Is it just me or does that indicate to you too, that this page is somewhat useless? Would it linking to the sellers eBay shop not have been better and ditching this page all-together?

The New eBay, The New Checkout & Registration Process

The one part that we didn’t cover in the Podcast & Video is that eBay have changed the registration process and also the checkout process too.

New buyers to eBay only need to enter the bare information needed to start with eBay

The registration process now only asks for the information that is absolutely required to get started with eBay and then when an address is needed, that can be added the first time the buyer is in the checkout.

Linked eBay Accounts

Image borrowed from Tamebay

A massive change to the checkout process is the ability to link your eBay account and PayPal account together, so instead of having to login and move through some 3 or more pages, you can complete the checkout on a single page, because the PayPal account is attached and there is no need to sign in to PayPal too.

The New eBay, Summary

Personally I have for a long time suggested that eBay is becoming Amazon and that has been true up until now. I’ve got to eat my words as I hold Amazon in high-regard for the way that they market and re-market products, but eBay just dropped the bomb on that and has left Amazon for dust.

I’ve got to hold this has the largest single change to eBay, well since ever. We’ve now got the ground work for a highly customised, highly personalised home page and if the buyers take to this, for which I am sure of as it just works. If we sprinkle in some magic from the eBay developers team, then we have something I don’t thin k we’ll see change for another decade.

Patrick Munden Head of Seller Communcations at eBay UKI spoke with Patrick Munden, Head of Seller Communications for Europe, he had these words to add:

“With the new eBay Feed, the buying experience is now going to be truly customised to each of your buyers. This only has to be a good thing for sellers as we’re putting the right products in front of the right buyers.

As a seller, the focus really is on quality, quality listing titles so your items are found and quality images, as the eBay Feed is image centric”

Just as Chris did, he’s hit the nail-on-the-head. If there is only one thing we can take away from this update, that is the quality, size & standard of images now required by sellers has never been so high.

I’d like to say a special thank you to Chris Dawson for giving us the insight into the changes that are included in “The New eBay” and you can find more about Chris and Tamebay, the numebr one resource for marketplace and eCommerce news in the UK over at Tamebay.com.

What Do You Think?

What do you make of these changes and how do you think this will change eBay over the next few years? Let us know in the comments box below.

Are Multiple eBay ID’s Still a Viable Strategery on eBay?

So is using multiple eBay ID’s still a strategery that is viable on eBay? That’s the question M65 put to me in the forums, the answers are simple, but where it leads, no-one has gone there yet and I explore this with you.

Pull up the chair, grab a cuppa and let’s investigate this further.


The Question in Full

So firstly thank you M65 for posting the question in the forums and allowing me to have a stab at answering for everyone. This is what he asked:

I have been reading a lot of content on Matts website, there is a lot, and one of the issues Matt discusses is the ‘multiple id’ ‘multiple account’. In the posts:

http://lastdropofink.co.uk/mar…..ne-ebay-id &

Matt talks about using the multiple ‘niche’ opportunity to sell more, in principle I get this, I used it quite extensively when I had my previous online business. Anyway, I never thought about the possibilities of doing the same on Ebay, and after reading the articles above wanted to explore the opportunity when I launch again on Ebay.

So, I had a look at the examples you mentioned, Barratts, and looked for the ‘Love your shoes’ store (this shop doesn’t exist) and ‘Petit Feet’ (this doesn’t exist), have Ebay cracked down on the ‘multiple id’ issue?

So my first question is, if you create another ID do you have to create another Paypal account to cover your tracks?

Do you have to have separate VAT numbers?

The reason I ask is that if I have a company say X23 Ltd., and I wanted to have 2 or 3 trading accounts, say ‘cheap phones’, ‘expensive phones’ and ‘all phones’ as ids in Ebay would it not be easy for Ebay to see the same details for all, e.g VAT and trading address etc.?

What a stonker! Let’s dig in.

The Quick Answers

Right so let’s jump to M65’s two questions and answer those, because they’re dead simple to answer.

So my first question is, if you create another ID do you have to create another Paypal account to cover your tracks?

Surprisingly, the answer is no. This is not a requirement and I know a multitude of accounts that use the same PayPal account to run multiple eBay accounts off.

Generally the reason is ‘simple’, literally it’s simpler to run from one account.

Do you have to have separate VAT numbers?

Nope, this is not required also. You can have the same VAT ID registered on multiple eBay accounts.

So, I had a look at the examples you mentioned, Barratts, and looked for the ‘Love your shoes’ store (this shop doesn’t exist) and ‘Petit Feet’ (this doesn’t exist), have Ebay cracked down on the ‘multiple id’ issue?

In the original article on multiple eBay accounts I was using these as examples in the web world and was referring to their websites eg http://www.pricelessshoes.co.uk/ & http://www.bigshoeboutique.co.uk/ not eBay accounts. The same for Littlewoods too.

The Full Reply

Now this is where it gets interesting, I got quite a bit of flack for posting those two articles to begin with, but it’s got to the stage where the use of multiple accounts has become commonplace and advocated by account managers within eBay.

It’s got to the stage within quarter of an hour of surfing any category in eBay, if you know what you’re looking for you’ll spot the duplicate businesses. Some do it really well and even I struggle spotting them, but there are always tell-tale signs to what and how they are doing it.

So if you’re wondering if the strategy still works?

Hell yes it does, if it’s done right.

If it’s Done “Right”
Now let’s explore that a little further and what I mean by this. If we just duplicate your entire business and product range, then what value is there in that?

If you’re going to consider setting up another account, then there has to be value to all parties. That’s you, eBay and the customer. So one of the ways to do this is by going niche, so if you break your inventory up into say sub categories, will one of your sub categories support a business “persona” by its self?

The term “persona” is key here as it’s not commonly used so to quickly clarify:

persona in the word’s everyday usage, is a social role or a character played by an actor. The word is derived from Latin, where it originally referred to a theatrical mask.

Its meaning in the latter Roman period changed to indicate a “character” of a theatrical performance or court of law, when it became apparent that different individuals could assume the same role, and legal attributes such as rights, powers, and duties followed the role.

The same individuals as actors could play different roles, each with its own legal attributes, sometimes even in the same court appearance. Wikipedia

There are a multitude of attributes you can tweak in a business, especially if it is a business that you can alter it’s persona on to complement an existing business. The persona defines how it looks, behaves and interacts with the outside world (even if it is the same business underneath).

If we ignore the 90 days of hoops to jump through with new eBay accounts now, it always used to take 3-6 months for a new account to gain traction, now it just takes a little longer to take hold, but it will.

I’ve seen a new account get in, in front of existing business and outstrip the competition 2 to 1, but that was the once and required some very fresh thinking. There were also some existing dynamics that aided this, so this is not the norm.

But what is the norm and what so you be expecting?
The main reason why you want to start a second eBay account as I detailed before, is basic risk management and it also takes time to set up and get running.

Assuming nothing major happens in your niche, you can expect to get close to what you’re selling right now on eBay. In a set of combined articles here and here where I consider why sales could be so consistent on eBay and explored a “Best Match” position bias “hypothesis” so it will even out given enough time.

However, that is what is working today and the problem is we need to focus on tomorrow and tomorrow is not certain.

But the HUGE Unknown

What eBay have dropped in the last update has the potential to completely alter this strategy. What am I talking about? eBay are changing the exposure of the Anchor eBay Stores in Q1 of next year.

If you’ve not read the full breakdown of the updates, you can find those here, but the piece that I am referring to is to do with the “Upgraded eBay International Selling”. This isn’t just the fluffy presentations that are kicking around for “Cross Border Trade” (aka CBT, which I thought was a bike test? anyway…) this has some meat to it and next year we are going to be served a change to the floor-plan and it could change everything.

The eBay Stores at Anchor level are going to allow selling internationally across numerous sites for the same fees. It’s at least 14 eBay sites and there are some other key benefits too:

  • Zero insertion fees for 30-day and Good ‘Til Cancelled fixed price listings on domestic, European and Australian sites
  • $0.03 insertion fee for 30-day and Good ‘Til Cancelled fixed price listings on eBay.com.
  • Final value fees charged according to the site that you list the item on. (You’ll also be charged relevant feature fees.)

Can you see why I’m suggesting this may change the floor-plan of the use of multiple eBay accounts now? It’s simple, if your single business, even with the lure of cross border trade, warrant a single eBay anchor store at £350 a month, then this could be a challenge.

Now if we ignore this for a few moments, if the whole of the EU, Australia AND the United States for peanuts is being opened up, then we have a serious pending issue over data.

Again I’ll explain :) What is an excellent by eBay as it will change the layout of the accounts and somewhat unify them, but what we are faced with a data nightmare. While we’ve experienced some category changes in the past 2-3 updates to make this easier as the eBay categories have become more aligned with each site, what even the more advanced businesses out there are going to struggle heavily with is the data needed to power so many sites properly.

Even if we use the most flexible tool out there currently to be able to do this (eSellerPro) then you’re going to hit some hardcore limitations in tackling the multiple eBay accounts

In Summary

So let me simply what I’ve covered, if you are never likely to hit the requirement to use an eBay Anchor store at £350, even with the extra exposure, then setting up a second eBay account and working on it for the next few months is an excellent idea (once you have defined it’s persona that is).

I did go a little off-track from the level from where you’re probably playing currently in the latter stages of the reply, however I hope you can see why I suggested that it needed more than just a reply in the forums.

My point is simple:

The whole game is about the change and I don’t think anyone has picked up on this properly yet.

Have you got a question you’d like personally answered? Well it’s time to register and ask in the forums and if you have any feedback on the reply to M65 above, let us know in the comments box below.

Podcast 005 – Social Marketing Is a Waste of Time (For Product Based Businesses)

I’ve suspected it for a long time, the evidence is now out there to show that Social Marketing for product based businesses, is a waste of time.

We’ll get to the details that back this claim up in a few moments, in this Podcast, Myself, Dave and our guest this week John Hayes discuss this topic and as John’s background is also email marketing perfectly suited to make the comparison between Social Marketing and Email Marketing.


Because this is may be new to you, above is a green play button. Press play and you’re listening!

If you’d like to download the Podcast for listening to on your iPhone, Drioid or iPad you can do or you can press the “Play in new window” button to be able to listen to the Podcast while browsing.  If you use iTunes, you can subscribe here for free.


The Evidence

Forrester ResearchForrester, probably the world’s most credible research agency, conducted a study in 2011 called “The Purchase Path Of Online Buyers In 2012” in conjunction with one of eBay’s newly acquired companies “GSI Commerce” and it’s digital agency “True Action” to to evaluate how shoppers touched various marketing touchpoints, such as paid search and email, prior to completing a transaction online.

Let’s run through a few of the findings in the report:

  • Barely 1% of 77,000 transactions could be traced back to social links
  • Email has usually been an influencing factor in the transaction
  • 33% of new customers and 48% of repeat customers coming from multiple touch points
  • By far the biggest driver for purchases online are email marketing and search
  • 30% of transactions started with a click from an email marketing campaign
  • Email marketing is by far the most important channel for repeat customers
  • New buyers looking for a specific product or brand are more receptive to paid search than your loyal customers
  • Paid & organic search led to 39% of transactions from new customers
  • Still a significant proportion of buyer visits are driven by buyers typing in the websites URL
  • Directly typing the companies URL was found to influence a surprising 30% of transactions

Basically the study found that the impact on Social Marketing on actual sales was almost negligible.

Before Jumping on the Evidence

I chose John to join us on this Podcast for his experience with Email Marketing and yes this Podcast is going to be biased towards email marketing and iContact who John mentions in the discussion. This is because I wanted to give you an option that you can leverage immediately and for me that is Email Marketing.

I’m sure some of you reading this are going to be horrified by the study findings, as we’re all being told relentlessly that “we should be doing social marketing“, “we should be on Twitter and we should be creating Facebook pages and so on…” and there are a lot of companies that are purely focused in Social Marketing that want your money and want to give you a design and a service.

To be clear here, such offerings are beneficial to businesses in the right situations, John points this out too, there are other reasons to consider Social Marketing key to your business and even for me personally (as you’re likely to have found this article on Twitter) these are vitally important and we’ll cover those shortly, but as this report is showing for transactional volume, Social Media capability in the study for delivering transaction results, is tiny when compared to other methods of marketing.

When Should You Consider Social Marketing?

Getting the Marketing Mix RightJohn mentions in the Podcast a “mix” and this is simply referring to a “Marketing Mix” and he’s hit the nail on the head, with this study we’re able to say that Social Marketing isn’t carrying the weight that some would like you to think it does.

And instead for you to consider this as a one part of your approach to marketing your business and if I use the simple metaphor of a cake mix, that it’s likely that your balance through the marketing we’re all receiving is weighing too heavily towards the chocolate icing, imagine a cake made entirely of icing, ewww. So instead let’s change the mix and compare it to a simple cake mix:

How to Make a Cake / How to Have a Good Marketing Mix

  • 4oz / 120g butter
    This is your eBay sales
  • 4oz / 120g white sugar
    This is your Amazon sales
  • 4oz / 120g white self raising flour
    This is your website sales & other sales such as affiliates, PPC, CSE’s and so on…
  • 2 eggs
    This is your email marketing, that binds everything together
  • 1 tablespoon of milk
    This is what you’re up to on Social Marketing

Now I’m not a cook but milk is added to create a denser cake through its fat content. Now let’s think of this fat as being the reach that social has which is huge.

We’re adding it all in the right proportions and that is our point, as we discuss, gaining new customers is very costly and retaining them is generally of the highest priority and while Social Marketing can help this, Social is currently getting too much weighting when from shown in the study, the transactional volume is still coming from the traditional channels.

While I have a special note to the future of eCommerce and Social in the summary, right now Social should come at the end of the mix, when binding everything together as the high fat dose to give it the depth and exposure for the businesses.

Not to discredit social completely, there numerous are reasons why a company would want to use Social Marketing as part of their businesses and we’re not saying that you shouldn’t be using social marketing at all, just not in the weightings that some would consider you should be.

So what are some of the reasons why you should consider social marketing?

  1. Brand exposure
  2. Instant one on one contact with customers & Customer Service
  3. The potential reach of the internet world
  4. To be see as “human”
  5. To give evidence / proof to buyers that you are here and real
  6. To build influence
  7. With Google Plus specifically there is a search weighting applied to it

Note: I did also read a few days ago “because your competition is using social media”, for me that is a lame reason and I’m not including it.

I asked one of the businesses I work with what they thought of Social Media, the response back was interesting:

“We find it so different being able to give instant responses, sometimes lacking in emails”.

I didn’t see what he meant to begin with, as surely email support is the same thing, instant? However what he had inadvertently picked up upon is that social media for him was the most pleasing for both him and his team was when he was able to publicly demonstrate the excellent customer support that his team offers in a public environment.

I asked John & Dave the question

“Maybe why eBay and Amazon may need to think about publicly showing the response times to buyer/seller questions beyond just the detailed seller ratings and make a more comprehensive picture and clearer picture for both sellers and buyers alike?”

What John came back was with excellent as it’s a nice cross over between owning the content of the interactions and being completely transparent with customers, you can see for yourself and their latest stats from customer services here http://www.icontact.com/resources/customer-satisfaction.


Let’s make no-bones-about it, I’m absolutely saying that Social Marketing for product based businesses is not worth the hype that its being given and that out first point of call for expanding your business should not be social at all.

But what can you use instead? We can’t just say that and give you no option, that would be cruel so our suggested first point of call be as a viable alternative to social is Email marketing, for which we’ll take a closer look at now.

Why Email Marketing as an Alternative

We’re not just advocating using just iContact, John works for Vocus and I felt he by far the best person to speak to on this topic, proven by his experience and his input in this Podcast, there are many options for Email Marketing tools and I’ve included as many options that came to mind at the bottom of this section.

Having John as part of the Podcast was a huge help for us as John pointed us in the direction of this info-graphic from iContact that I’ve included below. It’s rather large and you can see the full version here (opens in a new window).

How effective is email marketing

What this info-graphic points out to us is that Email Marketing is not dead and infact it’s live and kicking and according the Forrester’s study, it’s kicking serious butt with “30% of transactions started with a click from an email marketing campaign”.

While the info-graphic give us a founding in the reach of Email Marketing, what I want to focus on here is the effectiveness and I’ve cut out several pieces to show you.

Dave while researching for this Podcast also found an interesting article and infographic from June this year that shows that for the first time that mobile devices combined are now on par with desktop email openings, that is just amazing!

The full info-graphic is here http://litmus.com/blog/email-client-market-share-stats-infographic-june-2012 and we’ve included a cut out of the cross over point we discuss in the Podcast below:

Mobile Email Open rates Now Take the Lead!

Email marketing is all of these and a lot more too:

  • Fully scalable
  • Highly personal
  • Extremely clear on what is working and what is not
  • Almost 100% reportable
  • Easy to split test and improve
  • Very easy to do
  • Its cheap
  • Widely recognised as the most profitable form of online marketing today

And ultimately it works!

Email Marketing Companies

I hope this gives you an insight into why Email Marketing could be lethal for your business, but to cover Email Marketing to the level that it deserves would need a couple of articles in a series to cover it back to back and we can’t do it the justice it deserves here.

I’m not going to cover the ins-and-outs of each of them here, but here are several options for you to choose from and you can find several of these covered in detail in the email marketing part of the solutions directory on this very site.

I also want to point out, none of these are affiliate links. That is I gain no commissions for referring you, to show that I am not biased here on this topic, it is genuinely what I feel you should be doing as a product based business owner to be doing right now instead of worrying about the hype behind Social Marketing.

About John Hayes

You can put a face to the voice from the Podcast and John is over to the left.

Not only is John our guest in this Podcast, but also he’s the author of an Amazing book that both myself and Dave have read called “Becoming THE Expert” which shows you how to use “Thought Leadership Management” to excel in your chosen field.

You can buy John’s book on Amazon or in the iBookStore and direct links can be found on the publishers website here: http://www.brightwordpublishing.com/products/view/865794/Becoming-THE-Expert/John-W.-Hayes/

In Summary

Personally I have been looking for this evidence for a long time, I feel that for small businesses that sell products online, that social marketing is currently a complete distraction and given the choice between Social Marketing of any-form and other methods such as PPC and as we’ve covered heavily in Podcast and supporting article, Email that there are many other options that can delivery tangible results more easily, for less money and are almost 100% traceable to the final result, the transaction.

Now before some new-age nut job writes us off as “traditionals”, I’d like to point out is the eCommerce arena that we play in is changing and while right now Social may not be worthy of all the hype it’s been receiving, as more and more people start to leverage it and discover how to use these still very new channels to market with, we are going to see the potential power of social influence on transactions increase.

So right now Social may-be-not for product based businesses, but wind us forwards 5 years, I think we’ll be seeing unique uses and unique ways of leveraging social marketing as stand alone businesses to drive transactions.

Now that we’ve covered our point of views, what do you think?
(Let us know in the comments section below) 

Sources/Credits: Image | Study | Views | Image