An eBay listing is an advertisement. This may seem like common sense to some, but I’ve seen enough poorly-presented listings to know that it’s worth repeating.
Now this doesn’t mean that visual presentation is the most important factor in creating a successful listing. Obviously, price, title, and shipping cost are more crucial in obtaining a successful sale. But as eBay grows more and more competitive, oftentimes it’s not possible to underprice all of your competitors all the time, nor always offer free shipping, nor create a title that’s always significantly more effective than all the others for the same product.
As a result, convincing a buyer to purchase your item instead of someone else’s can often come down to other factors, and one of the most important of these (if not THE most important) is visual presentation.
Why is visual presentation important?
Whenever you see advertisements in magazines or on TV, they look really professional, color-coordinated, and well-organized. Think of how many car commercials there are that show the car looking really shiny and perfect, driving along a deserted winding, mountain road, with lots of trees and greenery, just overall beautiful scenery. How many cars do you think the manufacturer would sell if the commercial showed the car dented and covered with rust, driving through a dirty city street with lots of garbage on the ground and graffiti on the buildings?
Or think how you would feel about the car if, during the commercial, the camera kept shaking incessantly and tipping back and forth the whole time. Would you want to buy the car? Probably not.
And if you think about it, this concept is even more important on eBay, where all of the other “commercials” are right next to yours, breathing down your neck. It’s amazing to me how many eBay sellers forget that fact. They create their listings as if in a vacuum, as if their listing is going to be the only one on the search results page.
Why do you think eBay emphasizes the fact that it’s so crucial to have a gallery picture? Visual presentation, folks -- don’t underestimate how important it is.
Drawing eBay visitors in
So let’s say that you’ve got a good title, a nice gallery picture, and a competitive price. That’s enough to “open the door”, which is when someone clicks on your item title and looks at your listing.
So they pull up your listing, and they see a larger version of your gallery picture, which still looks nice, of course. They also see your title, but they already saw that in the search results. And they also see your price again...but yep, they already saw that in the search results too, as they did your shipping cost (in most cases).
So what’s new for them to look at? What’s going to seal the deal? Need I answer this question myself?
So let’s talk some more about what happens when someone has seen your gallery picture, price, title, and shipping cost at the top of your listing and is getting really excited about your item. That is, until he scrolls down the page and looks at your description. Then all of a sudden, his excitement deflates to mere mild interest, or maybe even worse, to outright displeasure or disgust.
A poor item description can significantly devalue your item like almost nothing else.
If your description looks like it only took you 5 minutes to create, then how valuable could your item really be? If you didn’t even take the time to create a half-decent description, your item must not be worth that much, right? Or at least that’s what many buyers will think when they see a description chock full of misspellings, grammatical errors, poor spacing and format, etc.
But let’s say that you put forth a certain amount of effort to make sure that all of your words are spelled correctly, you use correct grammar, and you even think to separate your text into a few different paragraphs. Now you’ve got a very neat, clean..........and possibly very boring description.
Plain black text on white background. Plain black text on white background. How compelling is it to read plain black text on white background? Maybe if you can’t sleep.....
The average person spends about 8 seconds looking at an eBay listing.
If you can’t grab the buyer’s attention within that time span, you may not grab it at all. There’s this funny thing that happens in the human brain when it sees long sections of plain black text on white background -- it sort of shuts off, tunes out, loses interest....
Back several years ago, when eBay was young and nubile, you could sometimes get away with having a less-than-stellar item description. After all, the only way to NOT have plain black text on white background was to put in your own HTML code, and how many people could really do that? Not too many.
But these days, eBay and others have made it so painfully simple for you to create a fantastic, gorgeous, visually appealing item description that to not do so is a big mistake.
How to create listings that go 'pop'!
Between the Text Editor and Listing Designer options that are present by default in eBay’s Sell-Your-Item form, you don’t even need to use a separate listing tool to create a really great description. Everything you need is right in front of you, right there in the toolbar that has been placed conveniently across the top of the description field.
Here are all of the amazing text editing and formatting options available to you in the toolbar:
- 9 different font styles
- 7 different font sizes
- 120 different font colors
- Left Justification, Centering, and Right Justification
- Bullet-point lists
- Numbered lists
- Left Indentation
- Spell Check
- Inserts (automatically add links to your other items and/or to add you as a saved seller)
Getting back to the comparison between listings and advertisements, really good ads also create an entire "ambiance" related to the item being sold. Think of how effective a truck commercial would be if it had lots of pink flowers, lace and pastel colors? Trucks are targeted primarily towards men, so a truck commercial with bubbles and ballerinas isn't going to nearly as effective as ones with mountains, rough roads, splashing water, and construction workers.
By the same token, when you're listing an item on eBay, think about what types of people are the most likely to want to buy that item, and create your listing according to the tastes of those people.
Before listing your item, it can be helpful to create an outline for it, and to use a predetermined layout, such as the following:
Heading restating the item you're selling
- Centered at the top of your description
- Written in large text in a prominent color (oftentimes red)
- Bolded and underlined
- No more than 1-2 lines at the most (usually just a few words)
Short introductory paragraph (2-3 sentences long)
- Disclose the item's condition
- Present item's main selling point(s)
- Slightly smaller text than the heading
- Different color
- Left justified
Bullet-point or numbered list of features (should be fairly long)
- Underlined heading announcing the list
- Same text size as 1st paragraph
- Different color
- As long as possible
- Left Justified
Short concluding paragraph and/or closing statements
- View my other items
- Add me as a saved seller
- Bid with confidence
- Larger text size
- Different color
- Link to view other items
- Link to add you as a saved seller
Separate sections with headings for each of your logistical/policy areas
- Contact Us - How to contact you, response timeframe
- Payment - How quickly to pay you, payment method(s) accepted
- Shipping - How soon you'll ship, shipping carrier and methods used, shipping costs, where you'll ship
- Returns - Return timeframe, money back or exchange, any other instructions
- Warranty - How long, how to redeem, what it covers
This may seem complicated and time-consuming if you’ve never spent much time on your descriptions before, but you really only have to create this once. Then you can use it as a template for all of your other listings, oftentimes only making a few changes to it.
Of course, it’s important to note that there are several eBay listing tools you can also use to create visually impressive item descriptions, but it’s good to know how to do it from “scratch” as well!
How do you create your eBay listing descriptions? I'm keen to get your feedback so please comment below!