Chapter 9 eBay Advertising 101: How to Advertise eBay Listings and Boost Sales

Corinne Watson / 10 min read

eBay Advertising 101: How to Advertise eBay Listings and Boost Sales

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eBay represents a giant opportunity for ecommerce businesses of all sizes.

The “original online marketplace” is bustling with shoppers in every category — eBay estimates about 250 million searches happen per day on their platform.

But setting yourself apart on eBay is tough if you sell high-volume or on-trend products that everyone wants. (Some of the most popular categories include electronics, men’s and women’s fashion/accessories, and collectibles.)

So, how do you attract more of that aforementioned valuable traffic to your listings when so many businesses are crowding the eBay market?

One way is to promote your listings, but that’s just a surface solution.

To really work, eBay advertising must go deeper. If you use it the smart way, you WILL stand out and get your products seen and sold.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

  • When to use advertising on eBay.
  • Your options for eBay advertising.
  • How promoted listings work, including where they appear on eBay.
  • How to set up and test promoted listings.
  • How to optimize your eBay listings for SEO.

When Should You Use eBay Advertising?

Not everyone needs eBay advertising to sell successfully on the platform. The need for ads depends on factors like:

  • Your products,
  • Pricing,
  • Customer feedback, and
  • Current listing visibility.

If you can answer yes to any of the questions below, you should consider advertising.

1. Are your listings getting pushed down?

How are your current listings doing in your eBay store?

If they often show up on page two or three of search results, you might benefit from the extra visibility boost you can get from advertising on eBay.

2. Are you selling widely available products?

Are there 20+ pages of the same product on eBay’s search results? If so, you may be selling in a highly saturated product market, and investing in eBay ads could help you stand out.

For example, a newly designed version of the game Minecraft has seen a surge in popularity. The search results include over 31,000 individual listings. It would be extremely hard to make your listing stand out there.

ebay search results saturated

On the other hand, if you sell rare, unique, or hard-to-find products, your listings will most likely pop without any effort on your part. No ads required.

3. Are your prices within ±5% of your competitors?

Let’s say you sell video games on eBay at $60/game. If your competitors (mostly) range from $57–$63 per game, you have a low possibility of getting a sale with so many other sellers offering a similar price.

Using Minecraft again as our example, look at these nearly identical listings. There’s not much to differentiate them, as they’re all brand new, similarly priced, offer free shipping, and are all digital downloads:

ebay search results similar price

Long story short: If you don’t stand out with pricing, eBay advertising can help boost your listings.

4. Do you have plenty of positive customer feedback?

If you’ve racked up some sales on eBay and have positive feedback to show for it, you should definitely try advertising on eBay — especially if you answered “yes” to the other questions we’ve covered.

Positive feedback is very important on eBay. If you have a 66% feedback score, advertising may be a waste of money. Many customers won’t even bother to look at your listing, let alone buy from you.

5. Are you selling seasonal items?

Seasonal items are high-volume as long as the season lasts. For example, try searching for “Halloween pumpkin decorations” in September and October. There are a staggering number of results (over 127,000):

ebay seasonal product listings volume

Whether you sell pumpkin décor in the fall or twinkle lights in November and December, you might want to boost your listings to get more views and sales on these high-volume items.

6. Do you have great products, but no one is buying?

You have great products. You know they’re high-quality and relevant to shoppers, but they’re still not moving.

If you don’t match any of the above reasons and are still struggling to get traffic and sales, eBay advertising may be the boost you need.

2 Main Types of Advertising on eBay

eBay offers two main ways to advertise your products on their platform:

1. Promoted listings.

To put it simply, promoted listings are a type of eBay advertising that pushes your products to the top of eBay search results (much like the way Google Ads work).

Here is an example of a promoted listing in action. The seller paid to have their listing in this #1 position. The listing is marked as “sponsored”:

ebay promoted listing example

Promoted listings are what most sellers use for eBay advertising. They’re not only affordable, but also very easy to set up and track results.

2. Large brand advertisements.

Brands with big marketing budgets also use eBay’s branding solutions to optimize their listings. It looks different from promoted listings because it’s more in-depth and customized.

eBay has a few featured case studies for large brand advertisements so you can get a feel for what this high-cost service entails. In particular, read about how this top clothing and accessories brand partnered up with eBay.

How eBay Promoted Listings Work: Products, Ad Fees, and Eligibility

Promoted listings boost product visibility and shoot your listings to the top (or at least a high-up) position on the eBay search results.

Here are the nuts and bolts of how promoted listings work. This is must-know information so you fully understand how to advertise your eBay listing.

1. What are the types of products you can promote with eBay advertising?

eBay suggests you promote products that fit into these categories:

  • Bestsellers.
  • Moderate sellers.
  • Seasonal items.
  • New listings.

You can’t promote items in these categories, ever:

  • Vehicles.
  • Real estate.
  • Travel.
  • The “everything else” category.

In addition, eBay only lets you promote fixed-price listings, not Auction or Auction Buy It Now. (However, don’t worry too much about choosing the right listings. As you set them up, eBay will automatically recommend which listings you should promote.)

In general, you shouldn’t attempt to promote listings that aren’t converting well, aka your “slow sellers.” Driving more traffic to these listings probably won’t result in more sales. In other words, you’ll waste traffic.

For your slow sellers, try to optimize your listing before you do any promoting (more on that later).

2. What do eBay promoted listings cost?

Promoted listings cost as much as you’re willing to pay. You input the budget for a sale, but you’re only charged this amount when a sale occurs.

These costs can be anywhere from 1%–20% of the sale. Obviously, the higher you bid, the more likely your listing will appear to advantage in results.

The amount you will bid depends on the current trending ad rate, which is the average rate for similar items sold through promoted listings. For example, right now a general trending ad rate for video games is 4.46% of the sale.

ebay trending ad rates video games

In their “Getting Started” guide, eBay recommends bidding at or slightly above the trending ad rates for best results. (You’ll find information on precise trending ad rates in your Seller Hub.)

3. What are the other eligibility requirements for advertising on eBay?

Only select eBay sellers have access to use promoted listings:

  • eBay Stores subscribers.
  • Non-store sellers who have either Top Rated or Above Standard status.

If you don’t qualify as one of these types of sellers, you’re out of luck.

Where Do Your Promoted Listings Appear on eBay?

Promoted listings can appear in many places throughout eBay, including both mobile and desktop search results. eBay will pull your promoted listing based on its relevance to the search and the going ad rate.

These are all the possibilities for where your ad can appear:

1. Top of the search results.

If you do a really good job with your listing’s quality and relevance AND bid with a competitive ad rate, it has a better chance of showing up at the top of the search results.

This means your product will be in the highest possible spot on the page. (Sometimes the highest possible spot is NOT #1, but #4 – it depends on what you’re selling.)

2. Throughout the search results.

eBay advertising isn’t the same as Google Ads, where the paid results show up in a few designated spots.

Instead, promoted eBay listings can show up smack in the middle of the results page, like these two promoted listings for the Kirby: Star Allies video game:

ebay promoted listing example middle of page

3. Next to your non-promoted listings.

If your listing already appears in the organic search results, you may have a sponsored listing appear side-by-side with an organic listing.

How to Set Up Promoted Listings: 5 Easy Steps to Advertising on eBay

Setting up promoted listings is super simple. These are the five basic steps for how to advertise on eBay:

Step 1: Visit your promoted listings dashboard inside the Seller Hub.

Managing and creating promoted listings begins and ends with your Seller Hub. To get there, log in and navigate to https://ebay.com/sh.

Once you’re in, click on Marketing >> Promoted listings.

Step 2: Click “Create a new campaign.”

If you’ve never created a promoted listing before, your dashboard will look like this:

ebay promoted listings dashboard1

To get started, click “Create your first campaign.”

Alternatively, scroll down to Campaigns and click “Create a new campaign.”

ebay promoted listings dashboard1 1

Step 3: Select listings individually or in bulk.

You’ll need to choose whether you want to select individual listings to promote or multiple listings in bulk. You can select up to 50,000 listings in a single campaign (!) for the bulk option.

ebay promoted listings dashboard2

Step 4: Apply an ad rate.

Once you’ve made your listing selection, it’s time to apply an ad rate.

1%–2% works well in the beginning. This is the cost of the ad — if your promoted listing leads to a buyer clicking on and purchasing your promoted item up to 30 days after you start the promotion, you’ll pay that percentage of the final sale price.

ebay promoted listings dashboard3

Note that the up-to-date trending ad rate is helpfully displayed below each ad rate toggle. To the right in the gray text is the total price you’ll pay for your promoted listing if it sells.

Step 5: Name your campaign and launch.

To advertise your eBay listing, you need to finalize everything.

After you set the ad rate, name your ad campaign so you can easily track its progress later in your promoted listings dashboard.

ebay promoted listings dashboard4

You can also set a start date and end date for your promotion. Once you’ve done all that, hit the checkbox to agree to the terms of service, then click Launch. Your ad campaign is ready to go.

Simple, right?

How to Get Your Promoted Listing to Beat Competitors

For high-volume, saturated searches on eBay, competition for listing visibility can get pretty tough. In many cases, the ad rate you bid makes a huge difference, but your product title keywords and relevancy also matter.

1. Bid more.

The higher you bid, the more likely you are to win a promoted listing — as long as your listing quality and relevance to the search are both up to snuff, too.

For example, if you and a competitor are both trying to promote the same product in search results, the seller who bids more will win the more visible listing.

2. Use well-researched product titles.

Doing diligent keyword/query research will help your listing show up as “sponsored” when a potential customer searches for your products. If your title is irrelevant, you’ll most likely get only a few impressions on less profitable search queries.

3. Optimize your listings for eBay.

If you have well-optimized listings, you’ll have a better chance of showing up as an uber-relevant result for a user’s search query. This will work in your favor for eBay to promote your listing, too. (We’ll cover techniques for eBay SEO in the next section.)

How to Optimize for eBay SEO (Even While Advertising)

Along with advertising on eBay, there’s another way to zoom your listing to the top of the results page: optimization.

When your listing is optimized for the search term your buyer is looking for, you’ll have a better chance of customers seeing, clicking, and buying your product.

Without optimization, both your advertised and non-advertised products will be lost in the eBay results.

1. Find the right keywords for eBay advertising.

The first step to optimizing your promoted listing is hitting on the right keyword for the item you’re selling.

If you’re selling leather bracelets, don’t title your listings “Stephanie’s Homemade Non-Vegan Wrist Straps.” Nobody is searching for leather bracelets using those terms. Instead, you need to use the key terms people are actually searching.

To find them, use a keyword research tool like Google Keyword Planner, or do some research right inside eBay.

  1. Think of keywords and synonyms that describe your product.
  2. Search them on eBay and see what variations come up.
  3. Hone your wording to reflect the unique features of your product.

For example, after searching eBay for “leather bracelet,” we can see that adding the color, details (wrapped, braided, cuff, beaded, etc.), design, and style make sense for that product.

ebay kw research

2. Use multiple keywords per listing.

eBay gives you a certain number of characters per listing, but it’s more than enough room for you to try at least two different phrases (e.g., “Handmade Leather Bracelets – Beautiful Leather Wristbands”). Two different people may be looking up “leather bracelets” or “leather wristbands,” so include them both.

3. See what your competitors are doing.

Look at how your competitors are using keywords in their product titles. Are they adding “men’s” or “women’s”? Are they specifying their product is “handmade” or “genuine leather”?

Consider adding special wording if it will help your target customer find the exact product they want (yours!).

Test and Tweak Promoted Listings Frequently for Better Results

For the best visibility on eBay, you should be constantly testing and tweaking your promoted listings. This will help you find what works and what doesn’t for optimum performance — more clicks, more conversions.

Additionally, eBay tends to prioritize new, fresh listings over old, stale ones. If your product listing has been sitting around with no engagement for months and months, eBay will not want to prioritize it in search.

Thankfully for eBay sellers, eBay allows you to make changes frequently to your listings.

1. Perform keyword research weekly or monthly.

The keywords customers use to find the items they want to buy aren’t static. To make sure you’re targeting the most up-to-date, accurate keywords for your product, do keyword research and update your listing titles on a regular basis.

2. Adjust product description length.

As a general rule, you should try to make your product descriptions as detailed as possible. Play with different lengths and test to see what works best for your particular product.

3. Raise the price to offer free shipping.

Free shipping is a big sell to any type of shopper, no matter the item. Adding free shipping can immediately boost interest and sales if the rest of your listing is highly optimized.

4. Change the featured image.

Another step in tweaking and refreshing your listing is changing the featured image. Make sure to upload a high-res, clear image that really highlights the product you’re selling. When relevant, include multiple angles, including close-ups.

Improve Your Listings and eBay Advertising with Prior Data Research

eBay offers back-end statistics that help you see what’s doing well and what isn’t. The smart eBay seller will use this data to improve their listing performance.

You’ll find this helpful data in your Seller Hub under Performance and in your Promoted Listings Dashboard (under Marketing >> Promoted Listings).

Here’s a breakdown of the most important metrics to watch.

1. Impressions.

Impressions happen when your ad (or eBay listing) renders on a user’s screen. Impressions are defined by the potential that your target customer saw your listing — whether they actually did isn’t the point.

Did you make some adjustments that caused your impressions to triple? If so, what were they? Did you outbid a competitor? Tweak your listing optimization?

Pinpoint what you did, then duplicate that action to see if you get similar positive results.

2. Clicks.

Clicks, or click-through rate (CTR), is the percentage of people who saw your listing AND clicked on it.

Clicks trump impressions. That’s because a click is a definite sign your listing is relevant. It engaged someone enough for them to follow that up with concrete action.

However, if clicks aren’t followed up by sales, that means you lost the customer somewhere in the content of your actual listing. That means you need to look into tweaking your product photos, product description, and seller details.

3. Products sold.

The most important metric of them all: sales. It’s important to track this stat both before and after you implement any optimization or begin promoting listings.

Conclusion

Standing out on eBay can be hard, but only if you don’t take advantage of the tools and data at your fingertips.

You have to know how to advertise on eBay.

  • First, do your research. Figure out if investing in promoted listings on eBay is right for your eBay store and boosting your products’ current visibility.
  • Then, estimate what you can spend on promoted listings. Some categories are extremely competitive and hard to win, but others are pretty easy.
  • Use eBay’s tools to optimize and promote the right listings. Do your keyword research, tweak your titles and product descriptions, and give your listings their best chance.
  • Use Performance tools to track your progress and measure the metrics that matter.

The right strategy can drastically improve your business’s eBay performance — so get out there, seize the day, and sell smart.

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Table of Contents

    Table of Contents

    IntroThe Retailer’s Guide to Selling on eBay in 2020: Tactics, Tests, and Stories From The Experts
    Chapter 1 The eBay Marketplace: Opportunities for Ecommerce Shops + eBay Statistics in 2020
    Chapter 2 How 5 Online Businesses Increased Revenue By Selling on eBay
    Chapter 3 How to Start Selling on eBay: Tips for Success
    Chapter 4 Determining What To Sell on eBay To Make Money
    Chapter 5 Improving eBay Product Listings (To Rank + Convert)
    Chapter 6 The eBay Shipping Guide: How to Ship on eBay (+ Calculator)
    Chapter 7 Understanding eBay Selling Fees (Benefits + Challenges)
    Chapter 8 Using BigCommerce and eBay Integration for Cross-Channel Management
    Chapter 9 eBay Advertising 101: How to Advertise eBay Listings and Boost Sales

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    Corinne Watson

    Corinne Watson

    Corinne is a writer and researcher at BigCommerce, where she works directly with agency and technology partners to bring their tools, services and ideas to the commerce industry at large. Before BigCommerce, she was an education specialist at Skills Fund, where she built resources and ran trainings to give students access to life-changing skills. Corinne holds degrees in graphic design and psychology. After college, she transitioned into the marketing and research space through a self-taught mindset – and works to bring the value of that skill and mindset to others. When she’s not writing, she’s volunteering with nonprofit organizations, traveling the world, or digging into a new book.

    View all posts by Corinne Watson

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