12 Common Listing Mistakes on eBay

12 Common Listing Mistakes on eBay

How did we earn our stripes and gain national recognition for outstanding sales and conversion rate? The answer is simple: optimized listing descriptions. We launched ourselves into the eBay world of selling by drop-shipping items from wholesalers on eBay.

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However, due to our savvy method of drop-shipping directly from fellow eBay sellers, our prices weren’t the lowest on the market by any means. So the question begs – how did we boost our sales so rapidly?

By producing our listing editor, CrazyLister, we managed to refine and create stunning, professional eBay listings based on an acute focus to conversion rate. We set ourselves apart from the competition by fine-tuning our listing aesthetic and by presenting ourselves as professional, trustworthy sellers via CrazyLister’s optimized listing descriptions.

I have composed a list of key information gathered by team CrazyLister. All our information is based on years of experience, shrewd observation, and our own magnanimous success as sellers on eBay.

In addition to our own findings as sellers on eBay, this list is an analysis of thousands of case studies from CrazyLister’s very own user base which illustrates how to avoid the many common listing mistakes on eBay.


12 Common Listing Mistakes on eBay

1. Great walls of text

To put it bluntly: do not waste the precious (and very limited) time you have to convince a potential customer. eBay descriptions must be short and concise, similar to a roadside billboard.

Customers will zoom past your listing description without batting an eyelash. Use your limited time and space strategically: only include the most relevant and meaningful information. Go ahead and cut the rest. Don’t be afraid to edit.

2. Build rapport: Market products using indicators of social proof via personal testimonial

We encounter listings with tens or hundreds of sold items with no acknowledgement of this information in their descriptions. Don’t waste hard-earned success: capitalize on your own social proof via successful previous sales to build rapport with future buyers.

Think about adding a simple phrase to any bestselling listing: “The search is over! We are the best deal you’ll find on eBay for a leather wallet! More than 500 items sold to our happy customers!” A future buyer is likely to think, “If 500 people decided to buy this wallet, I can feel safe buying it as well.”

3. Endless scroll listings – forcing customers to work to make a purchase

Never make a customer work to discover relevant information about your item. On average, a seller on eBay has seven seconds to captivate their potential audience or lose them to a sea of competition.

That is why it is absolutely crucial to keep the most important info at the top of listing descriptions.

All elements of a listing description must be easily discoverable; a customer should never have to scroll endlessly to find critical information.

A great way to save space and organize your listing so that all relevant information is found in seconds is by organizing your seller policies in tabs discreetly at the bottom. An example of how serious eliminating this “endless scroll” is featured by Amazon. Amazon enforces a mandatory rule that requires merchants to display the five main features of the product at the top of the product page because this is how absolutely vital it is to keep the most important information at the head of a listing.

4. Highlight at your own peril!

If you simply must highlight or love highlighting sections of your text,choose one color to do so and do so sparingly. Using more than two colors will distract your visitor and make it overwhelming for visitors to read the listing description.

A bit of highlighting goes a long way! Always remember that the purpose of highlighting is an extreme form of emphasis. As such, when multiple colors are used it can often overcrowd text and make the content illegible. Below is an example of highlighting gone terribly wrong.

Can you even read the highlighted section below? Does this resemble a professional advertisement listing or a child’s art project? You be the judge.

5. Unnecessary graphic elements

Everyone wants to jazz up their listing description. While the sentiment of creating highly aesthetic, eye-catching listings is a great idea, we stress that a smart lister is a pragmatic lister: don’t just add icons and images for the sake of making a listing more attractive.

Sellers often have blind spots for their listings and are aren’t able to look at their descriptions with a critical, editing eye. It is crucial, however, to strip away all unnecessary design elements and emphasize the most important listing aspect: making your product shine.

Your listing description is a mere vehicle to sell this product and as such, your product must be the visual focus of the listing description. Only add must-have elements that will encourage visitors to make a positive buying decision. Take a look at the listing below. Can you find the unnecessary design elements in this listing? (Hint: pianos have nothing to do with cell phones.)

6. Showcasing irrelevant products at the top of a listing

Let’s say I am a buyer on eBay and I would like to buy a wallet. I enter a seller’s store which offers wallets, bags, shirts, shoes and other accessories. Similar to many merchants, this store has placed a scrolling gallery at the top of their listings showcasing OTHER products they sell.

Wait a moment – I’ve clicked this particular listing because I was interested in a wallet! Why am I being bombarded with these completely irrelevant items?! No, I do not want to buy a woman’s tank top – where is my wallet?!

The buyer’s mindset initially reads: “I’m interested in this wallet – let me check out this wallet listing so that I can quickly find what I need.”

Rather than encouraging the potential buyer to click “Buy It Now” the seller has managed to completely distract and possibly infuriate the visitor by advertising irrelevant products.

The takeaway here is that it is imperative to never stand in the way of a potential buyer from making a purchase by cluttering your listing with irrelevant advertisement, and to always create seamless and easy listings which promote positive buying decisions from store visitors.

So what is the most successful way to cross sell other store items? The best placement for cross selling galleries is at the BOTTOM of the listing. By the time your visitor has reached the bottom of your listing they have already made a purchasing decision on the item they originally wanted to buy.

It is only after the buyer has made this decision that it is helpful to display different products and cross sell related items.

7. Including product review videos – a HUGE plus for listing!

It’s hard to find a product that doesn’t have a positive review video on YouTube. Including such a video in your listing might just be the final push a visitor needs to hit that “Buy It Now” button. A picture is worth a thousand words. A video is worth a thousand pictures.

8. Including photos is a MUST!

This may sound absurd, but we see TONS of listings that are complete walls of text. Visitors don’t have the time to read through each long, tedious description. People want pre-digested, easy access information. As such, photos are the best way to combine information and save the limited time you have to convince your buyer.

Communicate through images when possible. For example, if you want to convey a sense of security why write “100% secure to buy from,” when you can say it with pictures of your team, office, or warehouse? Photos tell a more convincing story and build a sense of rapport far more effectively than a line of text ever could.

Another example of showcasing crucial listing information via photos is by applying the following concept:

Does your item come in three different colors? Rather than writing out the name of the colors, simply include three corresponding images showcasing the product in its available color choice.

9. What’s in the box?

Leave as little to the imagination as possible by making sure that visitors understand exactly what they are paying for. People don’t want to waste money on mystery items, as such it is crucial to close the gap between visitors and your product by communicating explicitly through images, such as: A. Show the box content in images.

Do not rely on written descriptions when photos can offer exact information. B. Show photos of your staff, offices, or warehouses to convey authenticity and trust. Don’t forget about social proof and building a trustworthy rapport with your visitors!

10. Beware of image overdose: Descriptions with solid images and zero text is an SEO killer

We sometimes see listings that are 100% images. While it can be a good solution for sellers who simply grab images from manufacturer web galleries, this will result in a substantial loss of traffic to your listings. eBay’s search algorithm (as well as Google and all other search engines for that matter) reads through your listing text content to “understand” how relevant your product is for search results.

If your description consists purely of images, eBay, Google and other search engines will not recognize your listing as a practical search result. That why it is crucial to have refined text content in your descriptions. Images are great, but they are not stand alone advertising tools.

11. Always enforce a sense of urgency

This concept is possibly the oldest trick in the seller’s book, yet only few eBay sellers use use this timeless slogan – “Buy it now while supplies last!” There’s a reason why this phrase is timeless: because it works. How do we know?

Take Amazon for example, a company which always instills its shoppers with an intentional sense urgency by listing items as “only X amount of units left in stock,” despite the fact that they certainly have a countless number of inventory in their warehouses.

12. Attention grabbers – don’t over-do it!

Sometimes sellers work so rigorously on creating attention grabbing listings that they can’t see the forest for the trees. The human attention span is a fragile and limited thing, so it is crucial to emphasize only the most important aspects of a listing and to do so sparingly.

Too often we see eBay sellers who simply cannot decide what the most important part of a description is, so they just arbitrarily bold, color and super-size almost everything! The result is a confusing, unattractive word jumble.

Make sure to grab attention only when emphasizing the most critical parts of the description. Always keep the seven second rule in mind (i.e. you only have seven seconds to convince the visitor to click the “Buy It Now.”) Think hard – what do you want your future buyer to understand about the product, your business and service during these limited seven seconds?

By Viktor Levitin

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5 Responses to “12 Common Listing Mistakes on eBay”

  1. Florence says:

    Great list! I especially like the one about too many scrolling items. PLEASE! Just let me see what I clicked for! And so agree about HUGE lettering and in your face descriptions. When I list, I put my description in blue so it’s easy to see and differentiate from all the other surrounding black printing. Easy to see.

  2. Brian says:

    Great tips. I agree with list and incorporate into my day to day listings. I often forget about #11 however so I need to get that one to stick as you are right, you hear it in all marketing materials.

    • Paul Salmon says:

      Thanks, Brian.

      I haven’t mastered the “sense of urgency” idea myself, but I have noticed from a personal experience that it does have an effect. There aren’t too many marketing materials or websites that don’t utilize the tactic.

  3. Chuck says:

    I agree that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. No matter how demanding the product you have been trying to sell is, potential customers will check out the pictures and videos first.

  4. TIMOTHY THOMAS says:

    I LIKE ALL OF THESE TIPS IT WOULD BE A PLUS IF I KNEW HOW TO ADD VIDEO TO A LISTING .THANKS FOR ALL THE INFO AND HAVE A GREAT DAY

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