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Never Stop Testing
To become successful you need to constantly test your marketing efforts.
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I originally wrote this article for the eCommerceBytes Newsletter.

Promoting auctions and fixed price stores in the highly competitive antiques and collectibles industry can be a daunting task. We all want to do more of what works and less of what doesn't - the key is being able to tell the difference. Fortunately, the Internet gives us the ability to test and measure the results of our promotion efforts. However, we have to use the tools at our disposal. Are you using them effectively?

If you own your own Web site, become familiar with your server logs. This is information you can get from your Web site host about your visitors. Hit counters are fine, but they don't tell the whole story. By examining your logs you can determine not only which pages customers visited, but also which link they used to find your site, where they were when they left, what browser they used, etc. If your host doesn't provide adequate information, you can get software that analyzes your traffic.

You can track your links with a simple trick. After the address, add a question mark and some kind of tracking code, like this... http://www.auctionbytes.com?test . The code won't effect the address - it will take you to http://www.auctionbytes.com - but when Ina and David look at their server logs, they will know how many of you clicked on this specific link.

After you have devised a method of tracking your results, you can experiment with every aspect of your selling process. Here are a few ideas...

  • Carefully monitor the sources of your traffic. Place specific link codes for each of your promotional activities, including your ebay "about me" page, classified ads, signature files and forum posts. Once you know where your traffic is coming from, maximize your efforts in those areas.
  • Test different auction templates. Here are some nice examples. Once you develop an attractive color combination and layout, you can then test headlines, pricing strategies, product descriptions, etc.
  • How well is your banner in your banner exchange working? Have you changed your creative recently? Maybe it's time to test a new design. This is true for the design of your "About Me" pages too.
  • Don't forget about after the sale. Do you include information about you or your Web site when you ship a package? Experiment with different offers. Find out which is more effective - a coupon for 10% off, or free shipping.

Testing different aspects of your selling process is a never-ending task. New promotional opportunities are being developed all the time. Try them, but always find a way to measure the results. Even if you don't have a Web site, there are still many ways you can measure the effectiveness of your efforts.

Once you develop a technique that works for you, maximize it. It's not easy to find something that works on the Web, so go with a winner when you find it. But never stop testing. What works today may not work tomorrow.