Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Overcoming That Impersonal eBay Feeling

Excerpt from The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing

A Little Personality Goes a Long Way
Another drawback for customers shopping online is that the Internet can feel a bit impersonal, isolating, and detached from reality. You can achieve the opposite effect by implementing a few simple strategies to personalize your customer interactions. Small efforts to reach out to customers in such a way can reap huge benefits in customer satisfaction.

Consider the appeal of an old-time general store, with a friendly proprietor who knows her customers by name, treats everyone with sincerity and warmth, and conducts her affairs with dignity and honesty. Retail corporations spend millions trying to cultivate the mom-and-pop vibe. This is where

Figure 6-2 Selling Manager Pro’s e-mail interface features pull-down menus with e-mail options and click-and-send efficiency to save you time and effort.

small businesses have a distinct advantage over their larger counterparts. If you are, in fact, a mom-and-pop–style business, that exact vibe is an easy and natural one to convey. Cultivating personalized interactions helps build your eBay brand, too. It gives your customers a solid, positive feeling about your personality and how it is reflected in your business.

A simple way to inject personality into your business is through youre-mail correspondence. If your business does a small enough volume, you may have the luxury of writing a personalized e-mail for every customer interaction. However, as soon as you begin to sell in any sort of increased capacity, you need to automate those communications while still conveying a personal and friendly demeanor. It’s easier than you may think to accomplish this.

Edit E-mail Templates in Selling Manager Pro
eBay’s Selling Manager Pro provides you with prefabricated e-mail messages for a variety of situations. However, the standard text provided in these messages is a bit sterile and cold. You can revise the templates to use your own voice. Simple efforts to make the text more personable greatly improve customer perceptions of your business. It also disguises the fact that you are essentially sending form letters to your customers.

You can customize your e-mail messages in a myriad of ways. To begin, click the edit template hotlink of Selling Manager’s e-mail. Figure 6-3 shows the edit template interface. Use the pull-down Insert menus to create macros that automatically insert your customer’s name, a link to the item listing, shipping calculators, and dozens of other options. Edit the text itself to convey your personality, and use a friendly tone and style. Add colloquial greetings—a cheerful "howdy" suits some sellers. Consider messages specific to seasons or holidays, such as "Warm wishes for a Happy New Year." A little flattery is always nice, too: "It’s been a pleasure doing business with you" is a timeless classic.

Take some time to find your "voice," and rewrite your e-mail templates to communicate that style. Your customers will notice and appreciate the effort, and it will increase their satisfaction in your business transaction.

Tip: If you use a third-party listing management service over eBay’s Selling Manager Pro, be sure to explore all options available for automating and customizing e-mail correspondence with your customers.

P.S. Amazon.com knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing"(McGraw-Hill, 2005). Walmart.com sells if for 36% off!

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