How To Drive Traffic To Your Sports Card Website Like A Pro
Subscribers to my sports card dealers newsletter got an exclusive sneak peek of this article …. which means I’ll barely need to promote this article via other sources because over 1,000 people will visit from sending out one e-mail. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could send 1 e-mail and drive thousands to your website???
So you’ve got a domain, website, and things for collectors to buy – all you need now is customers. Seems simple enough, but getting people to not only visit a website but also pull out their wallet or login to PayPal is the critical step most e-commerce sites that fail don’t properly think through.
The #1 mistake I see the vast majority of sellers make is they use ebay only as a selling tool rather than a traffic/lead generation tool. Sports cards is a high volume type business where you’re making lots of smaller sales over the course of a month. Even smaller sellers can sell 50 – 100+ items a month on ebay, which is a tremendous opportunity to acquire a large customer list over time.
Most sports card sellers on ebay are just happy when they make a sale, which triggers the pack/ship process that follows. However, many top sellers on ebay look at a sale as an opportunity to acquire a customer. Instead of looking at every sale on ebay in terms of profit/loss from a bottom line result – look at it as an opportunity to grow a user base that will re-order next time on your e-commerce website.
But I might be getting ahead of myself …. as I probably haven’t convinced all of you why using ebay as a lead generation/advertising tool is a much better idea than as your main selling/revenue source.
Let’s assume you’re selling 100 items per month, and we’ll assume for an average selling price of $10 dollars each.
Sales = $1,000/mo
ebay Final Value Fees = ~10% per sale
ebay Fees Per Month: $100
ebay Fees Paid Per Year: $1,200
Would an extra $1,200 in your bank account at the end of the year be nice? For most people that’s a mortgage payment, a few car payments or a few weeks wages. Not to mention, $1,000 a month in sales is really small, imagine if you sold $2,000, $5,000 or more a month on ebay … the money you are giving to ebay would be even larger.
Now I’m not suggesting pulling the plug on ebay sales 100% …. but as you can see, paying ebay 10% FVF’s off the top of every single sale adds up to lots of money over time. What I recommend instead is to use ebay as a customer/lead generation tool to drive traffic to your website where you don’t have to pay 10% of sales off the top to ebay. A reasonable goal is trying to reduce your final value fees by 20% – 50% over a period of time … which would be significant savings, and we haven’t even calculated the other added benefits from acquiring a customer.
How do I drive traffic from ebay to my website?
Good question. First, you’ll need a website. Luckily this isn’t 2002 (when I started my first sports card website) and it’s exponentially easier (and cheaper) to setup a website today. So I’ll assume most of you know how to setup your website. If you don’t know anything about how to setup a website – I suggest you teach yourself or find someone trustworthy to at least help you with the setup process of the website. For a fee – I’d be more than willing to help anyone looking to setup a website.
Okay so how do you use ebay as an ad network than a selling platform?
The first thing you need to do is look at every ebay sale as an opportunity to acquire data from your customer, not just get his/her money for that one sale. Your goal with every ebay sale should be to get the customer to grant you permission to contact them again so you can get their money over & over again … not just once.
– E-Mail list/Newsletter/Social Follows
This is e-commerce 101 but so few actually execute it at all. I still get e-mails from Blowoutcards, DA Cards and other places in this hobby that I haven’t shopped with in a long time. However, (as you can see) these companies are at the front of my mind because they consistently market me so when I do need something I’m far more likely to remember I can go directly to their website than buy from their ebay store.
Don’t have the inventory/selection of the big guys? That’s ok. I never said you needed to blast your subscribers & followers offers/deals/product in every e-mail/tweet. An effective e-mail campaign will actually include some informative e-mails, contests, and other updates. Ultimately if you can’t compete on selection or even price – you can compete on service and the way you develop that service relationship is by reaching out to your customers even when they aren’t buying from you.
But I’m getting ahead of myself …. and I think it’s obvious that an e-mail newsletter for just about any size business works. The real challenge with newsletters is building your e-mail list so you can regularly send them out to hundreds or thousands of customers. Remember, a customer must opt-in to you contacting them again or it’s considered SPAM. I will say that many ebay sellers (especially coin dealers) will automatically add me to their e-mail lists – which is something you can do, but I consider it bad form and is likely considered SPAM. The methods to collect user information have gotten easier over the years, and instead of sending out e-mails from your own web-server … I’d recommend using a 3rd party designed for sending out mass e-mails.
What E-Mail Newsletter Software Do I Use?
This is perfect for the small/medium seller because MailChimp will allow up to 2,500 subscribers (which is a lot) before they start charging you. Even if/when your list grows past that, the fees aren’t tremendously out of line and you can always export your list to a different provider if need be. Also by the time you reach a few thousand subscribers – the list will be generating significant income that will pay for the service itself.
Now that you have a tool to design & send out newsletters here is essentially how I (and lots of other ebay sellers) collect user information from ebay buyers:
I can think of 4 legitimate (non-SPAM) reasons to contact a customer who buys from you – which gives you 4 opportunites to get the data you need.
- Order Confirmation
I know ebay/PayPal do this automatically, but it’s so informal & most buyers don’t open these e-mails anyway. However, a more personal “Thank You” or “Congratulations” confirmation e-mail is the perfect opportunity to see if you can suggest the customer to sign up for your e-mail ‘newsletter’ or ‘coupon club’ or follow you on Facebook/Twitter/YouTube.
- Payment Confirmation
Again … I know ebay/PayPal does most of this automatically for you now (they didn’t back when I was selling) …. and it actually hinders your ability somewhat to get the customer data you need, but I still would recommend sending out your own payment confirmation “thank you and you’re product will ship soon” email and here’s why. Once a customer pays, you want them to know you are thinking of them because most buyers are aware ebay/PayPal is generating an e-mail automatically anyway. Inside my payment confirmation e-mail, I’d include an invitation to sign up for my ‘newsletter’ or ‘coupon club’ again – this time maybe include an incentive like “10% off your next order” or “Free Shipping” if they sign up for your newsletter.
- Item Shipped Confirmation
After a buyer pays – all they want to know is when will the item arrive. This again is the perfect time to make your buyer feel warm & fuzzy by letting them know the item is shipped, the tracking number … and this time, I’d present them with your social feeds again (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) to see if they will engage with you there too.
- Item Delivered Confirmation
Finally the item has arrived. This is the perfect time to check in with the buyer to make sure everything went as planned. It’s also your final chance to acquire the right to blast marketing materials back at this customer again in the future. This is where you bring out the big guns. Offer a generous incentive to someone that subscribes to your ‘newsletter’ with either a “free” item with purchase, a discount code for an order placed through your website … ect. After you find out how much an e-mail subscriber is worth to you (more on that later) you can tailor your offer so it fits inside your customer acquisition budget.
I realize ebay/PayPal automatically do much of this for you these days – and that’s by design. Customers are worth a lot of money, that’s why ebay/PayPal tries to insulate them as much as possible so they don’t realize the customers can buy the items from you directly. Be sure to do your own due diligence on ebay policies about what you can/can’t send inside invoices and other customer communications as I’m sure it’s changed since I was selling online over 10 years ago.
Use ebay to acquire e-mail signups & social followers so you can market that customer later on. When you are just starting out building your e-mail list, incentivise a user signing up for your e-mail list by offering them a discount on a future purchase. Your goal with acquiring these customers is to get them to re-order on your website where you don’t have to pay 10% final value fees to ebay.
Other Things ebay Sellers Can Do:
- There’s a 1% Cash Back Application you can install for FREE in your ebay dashboard that is an effective tool to generate recurring business.
How To Drive Traffic To Your Website:
Okay, so you’re going to now look at every ebay sale as an opportunity to get the customers e-mail & social following so you can market that customer again to visit your website to buy next time. Remember, if you don’t have many sales/customers … don’t expect to grow your e-mail list very quickly. Instead, view it as a long term marketing strategy that will pay off if you work hard at it. If you are an existing seller with many customers already – you’ll be kicking yourself wondering why you didn’t implement this strategy sooner.
But there are more ways to market an e-commerce website than an e-mail list and Facebook. Below are some more advanced techniques that more experienced sellers should be working on as well:
If you want my honest advice – I suggest ignoring organic (SEO) traffic entirely in the beginning. One reason why is because you could easily rise to the top of Google search results and get traffic – but there’s no guarantee that those visitors will be willing to whip out their credit cards to buy something. Remember, the goal with a web-store is to drive sales … not necessarily traffic. You’d much rather get 10 visitors to your website that all buy something than 1,000 that don’t buy a thing.
The other thing with SEO traffic is unless you are selling an item that you will regularly have in stock (maybe like trading card supplies) it’s not worth your time to SEO a page that will be gone once the item goes out of stock.
Ultimately organic traffic will come & go. Personally I’d much rather a visitor come to my site directly or through direct communication (e-mail newsletter) than randomly finding me through a Google search. Also, properly marketing your website via e-mail & social feeds is one major part of SEO, so you’re actually going to see a boost in organic traffic the more you market your website.
That all being said, SEO is not very complicated and not something you need to pay for. Outside of not worrying about Google/search engines at all – I suggest just putting up good content. I see lots of sellers tweeting valuable information about products … which is great for Twitter, but would be more effective on your own website. I’m not saying don’t tweet the information – but maybe at the end of the day summarize your thoughts in a blog post so those that don’t read your every word on Twitter will see that you offer valuable information. This content will be what ranks in Google, which will then bring eye-balls to your website.
Just remember, a good website doesn’t need any SEO or fancy tricks to get to the top. Speak to your customers & not Google when you write and you’ll never worry about your Google rankings because the customers will come to you.
When people ask me what “I do” I normally say I setup websites even though that’s only a small portion of my income. The followup question is usually “how do you get to the top of Google?”
To which I reply – just pay for it.
The fastest, most reliable and often cheapest way to get to the top of Google is just pay for it. What I love about buying ads on search engines is that once you dial-in the ad … it’s a gift that keeps on giving. The other fact is sports cards is NOT a competitive industry like plumbers, realtors, or other e-commerce sites …. honestly it’s downright cheap to buy traffic on Google, Bing and Facebook in the trading card business if you know what you’re doing.
The fact is most sports card sellers have no idea how to effectively buy traffic from popular search engines. Honestly, most people in the internet marketing business don’t know how to effectively buy traffic – so I’m not going to provide all the secrets to success here for free … but I’ll give you some basics to think about.
- Landing Page
You need to be very specific targeting buyers online. If you are buying ads and sending the clicks to a home page or the page with your inventory … you are wasting your money. Your landing page needs what is referred to as a “call to action” – which can be a signup for a contest, newsletter, phone number, coupon/discount … ect. If you are paying for traffic only with the hopes for exposure or orders – you’ll run out of money to pay for ads very quickly.
Just like your landing page, you need to narrow down your keywords to match the landing page. It does the seller & buyer no good if your keyword is “green bay packers cards” and you send them to your home page. Also, instead of using a keyword like ‘green bay packers cards’ …. more effective keywords would be:
‘cheap green bay packers cards’
‘2014 green bay packers cards’
‘aaron rodgers green bay packers cards’
‘free green bay packers cards’
‘green bay packers rookie cards.
There’s lots of amateur online businesses that buy ads on Google or popular collector blogs and don’t realize what they are getting back on that investment. Some think the exposure alone is going to make the advertising worth it. However, an online marketing pro knows if the ads aren’t profitable you won’t be able to afford the ‘exposure’ for long. After an initial testing period (2 – 4 weeks) you should be able to identify what it’s costing you per click & measure the effectiveness of those ads by comparing it to the call-to-action you created on your landing page.
Ad Buying Summary
You need a call-to-action on your landing pages so you can compare that to the cost of the ads. If it costs $1 worth of clicks to sell 1 item on your landing page … that item needs to generate more than $1 in profit to be a sustainable ad. Testing different landing pages, keywords, ad-text … ect could yield some easy sales, and not to mention ability to market those customers again like we discussed earlier.
There’s way more to ad buying than I can possibly explain here. However, it’s worth investing some time & money in testing some ads on popular search engines & social media websites. I spend more on Google ads in one month than I pay for my home, car and all other bills combined every month because they work. Google even sent me a Google Credit Card to pay for my ads and they get one of the recent college grads who work there to call me every month. Microsoft/Bing, Facebook and others do the same. Spend enough on ads each month and they’ll extend the same treatment to you.
Even if you were to practice the techniques I preach above to a tee … buying and then reselling stuff on ebay isn’t a very complicated business model. It has a very low barrier of entry, that’s why sellers are always ‘undercutting’ your prices online. Not only that, trading cards is a seasonal business with ups/downs that make it even harder to sustain income month after month. That’s not saying you can’t live comfortably on ebay sales – but it should not be the be-all-end-all of your business. Truly wealthy people often have multiple sources of income coming from numerous investments. The skills you learn marketing your sports card website can translate into other business models … and those business models can often be even more lucrative.