Email marketing services are all the rage for internet marketers. The catchphrase "build your list" has been a blog and article topic for years. The philosophy is to build a list of quality subscribers, who are interested in your product or service so that you can sell to them at the touch of a button. eBay offers a newsletter feature where sellers can have buyers sign up for email updates from specific sellers. The eBay help center says this:
"With email marketing, interested buyers can subscribe to one or more of your mailing lists by adding you to their Saved Sellers list or by clicking the "Sign up for Store newsletter" link on your store home page. Using our email design tools, you create newsletters that promote your store and send them to members of your mailing lists. You can even create newsletters that are automatically sent on a regular basis, such as a weekly newsletter that promotes your latest listings."
Email marketing can be an effective way to communicate with your buyers and sell products, but is it worth the time and effort to build this list for eBay buyers? Here are some things that most eBay sellers don't understand about email marketing that might affect your decision to start email marketing.
What Will You Tell Them?
If you aren't already a blogger or writer, you probably don't realize that content is the core of email marketing. You must have a plan for your message before shooting out an email blast or newsletter. What will you tell your audience? And more importantly, how will you differentiate your message from what everyone else is telling them? We all get way too much email, and nobody has time to read it all. Your message must be compelling and unique. Keep in mind that there are 25 million eBay sellers, and if all of them are sending out newsletters to eBay buyers, you will get lost in the crowd unless there is something very special about your newsletter.
Will you inform them of sales, markdowns, new merchandise in your store, or seasonal products you will offer for the next holiday? For example, if you sell arts and crafts supplies, you could provide some easy tutorials for your buyers as a complementary freebie to go along with your items. If you sell a mixture of different kinds of items that you get at thrift stores and garage sales, what kind of content will you provide in your newsletters?
eBay is very strict about what sellers can include in a newsletter. These items are not allowed:
- Offers to sell items outside of eBay
- Links or images references to items not on eBay
- More than 100 HTML tags
If you wanted to share an interesting article or link to something on social media, like a collector's Facebook group or informative Pinterest board, eBay won't allow it.
How Will You Build Your List?
Building the list is a process that takes time, sometimes years. How will you compel buyers to sign up for your list? Blogs and article sites often entice readers to sign up for the newsletter by offering a free download as part of the trade. Blogger gives a freebie, subscriber gives their name and contact info to the blogger in exchange. On the eBay platform, there is not a way to offer a buyer a freebie to sign up. eBay sellers may not send emails or messages to buyers to ask them to subscribe.
The only way to get subscribers is to place a "Sign up for my newsletter" button on your store, and hope buyers will see it, click on it, and subscribe. eBay's exact verbiage reads:
Buyers can subscribe by adding you to their Saved Sellers list or by clicking the "Sign up for Store newsletter" link on your store home page. To attract even more subscribers, consider adding a "Newsletter Signup" promotion box to your store.
This method is not conducive to building a list because eBay sellers cannot (per eBay rules) reach out to buyers to specifically ask them to sign up. The buyer has to see the button and decide to take action. This is a passive way to build a list since the seller must simply wait for the buyer to subscribe.
Will Readers Even Open Your Newsletter?
If you are able to get subscribers and create an interesting and informative newsletter, will your subscribers even open it? Remember, eBay sellers are not marketers. What you may not realize is that there is a metric called open rates associated with email marketing campaigns. Open rates vary by industry, and e-commerce is one of the lowest. So if you are writing about online sales, this qualifies as e-commerce. According to Mail Chimp, an established email marketing service, open rates are only 16% for e-commerce.
When you send out a newsletter, the objective is to get the recipient to take action. You want them to click something, sign up for something, or buy something. Click rates are much lower than open rates. The click rate is the percentage of people who actually click on whatever you are trying to promote. A 3% click rate is very good for a newsletter in any industry.
So let's do the math. Let's say you build your list to 1,000 subscribers. When you send out an email, an average of 16% will open it. So now you are down to 160 people. Only 30 will click on whatever you are trying to promote or sell. That is 30 people out of 1,000. The question is, do you want to bother with planning, writing, and sending a newsletter when such a small percentage of people will ever see the information?
eBay Does Not Provide Newsletter Metrics
All successful marketers study analytics so they can see if their efforts are working, capitalize on things that do work, and avoid doing things that don't work. Unfortunately, eBay does not provide analytics on newsletter open rates. This can be very frustrating for a marketer because you won't be able to see if the emails are being open, and what if anything is being clicked on.
eBay email marketing is probably not worth the time to bother with. Not only are sellers limited in how they can entice subscribers, but we are also limited in what content can be included, and we are working blind because we are not provided with data about open rates and click rates. Your time is better spent finding and listing inventory.