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An Introduction to Split Testing on eBay!

April 30, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 9 Comments
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In my recent article on Selling Bundles on eBay, I alluded to how it is much easier to make more money from your current visitors/customers than it is to find new ones – even though most people focus almost solely on the former.

So following on with this theme, today I want to introduce you to split testing on eBay and how you can use it to increase your conversion rate and make more sales – and ultimately, more profit!

But firstly, for those who don’t know, what is a conversion rate?

To put it simply, it’s what percentage of visitors to your offer (in this case your eBay listing) are converted into a sale.

That means if 1,000 people click on your eBay listing and 50 of them buy from you, your conversion rate is 5% (to calculate conversion rate, just take the number of sales divided by total views times 100%).

So straight away you should be able to see how important your conversion rate is, as it directly affects your sales!

Imagine there are two sellers on eBay, both selling the exact same product and making the same amount of profit (£20) from each sale.

They both get 10,000 views to their listing every month, but seller A has a conversion rate of 5% whereas seller B has a 3% conversion rate. How does that affect their overall profit?

  • Seller A = 10,000 x 5% x £20 = £10,000
  • Seller B = 10,000 x 3% x £20 = £6,000

And there you can see what a huge difference your conversion rate makes to your bottom line. From a small 2% difference, one seller makes 67% more profit than the other!

Or think about it another way – to make the same amount of money as seller A, seller B needs more than 16,500 visitors to his listing every month. So 6,500 more views to make the same amount of money…

And that’s not even considering the additional positive benefits of having a high conversion rate, as it’s well known that eBay bumps listings with a high conversion rate further up the search rankings. This creates an extremely powerful positive cycle:

A higher conversion rate = higher search position = more views = more sales = higher conversion rate!

Alright, great – but HOW do we increase the conversion rate in the first place!?

Well that’s a very good question, and this is where split testing comes into play.

Split testing in itself can be a very complicated and in-depth topic, so we won’t go into too much detail here, but a simple explanation is:

Running two different variations of your offer and seeing which one has better results.

Very simple, right?

And here is an example if that doesn’t quite make sense to you:

I can’t decide what will look better to customers – selling an item for £9 + £3 shipping or simply listing it for £12 with free shipping.

Rather than just guess, I run a listing for both and compare the results.

If the first option gives me a conversion rate of 2.7% whereas the free shipping listing has a conversion rate of 3.9% then I know which one to go with and can make a data based decision.

And that, in a nutshell, is what split testing is all about!

One thing I do have to point out is that on eBay we are kind of limited in our testing, as the software is controlled and it’s obviously not your own selling platform. So compared to say your own ecommerce store, where you can implement much more advanced tests with the help of software etc, eBay is more limited.

But that’s not such a bad thing, as it also simplifies the process for us.

Really there is only one way to test on eBay and that is by creating two listings and seeing which one performs better.

The most important point to remember when running these tests on eBay is that you should only change one factor at a time!

If I create two listings, and they have different prices, a different picture and a different description, then I have no idea WHICH of these factors led to the difference in conversion rate. So always make sure that you are only testing one factor at a time, and once you have a winner, move on from there.

And just to reiterate, we are monitoring the conversion rate from each listing, and NOT the total sales.

After all, total sales will also depend on the amount of views to each listing and that’s not something we can control.

And that brings me nicely on to the final important point when split testing on eBay:

You should run your test for as long as possible (within reason)!

This is a mistake that people make all the time, but you cannot just end the test after a day or two or once a few sales have been made as that is not a statistically significant result!

My recommendation is that you run your tests for at least a week, preferably longer, as that way you have a full Monday-Sunday comparison.

Also, for a lot of people just starting out, you won’t be making enough sales to run these tests… but that’s okay, as really this is something for when you have a stable business, with a steady flow of monthly sales, and not what you should be concentrating on anyway, in the beginning our your eBay business.

But for those of you who are in a position to test, make sure you do! Split testing is one of the most effective methods for increasing your profit, yet it is completely overlooked by the vast majority of sellers on eBay!

If you want to sell smart and stay two steps ahead of your competition, this is the way to do it!

And to give you a helping hand, here are a few ideas for factors that you can test within your own listings:

  • GALERY Image (can make a HUGE difference!!!)
  • Listing title
  • FREE vs Paid Shipping
  • Different Free Gifts
  • Different Product Pictures
  • Item Description
  • Listing Design
  • Listing Banners
  • Etc!

I hope you get the idea here – pretty much any factor that makes up a part of your listing can be tested.

Well that’s it for this quick introduction and overview of split testing on eBay.

I appreciate that the concepts here might be new to some of you, so feel free to leave any questions you have in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to help.

Otherwise, until next time!

All the best,

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  1. Great post, I’ve Just started to look into my conversion rates now my business is starting to grow as always knew this was fundamental.
    However I’m curious how on ebay you can view your conversion rate, or at least the amount of views so you can work out for yourself?
    I don’t really fancy ruining any listings with a view counter or such.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Daniel,

      In selling manager pro reports you clearly see all this data – views in search, clicks in search, sales/conversion rates.

      If you don’t have that, you can simply use hidden counter, why not, and at least do basic calculations on conversion rates.


      1. daniel

        Hi Andrew,

        I do have selling manager pro, however when I click on reporting the only information I’m presented with is my sales and costs etc.

        Could you help me as to where to find the more in-depth reporting or do you have an article on this subject I can read?


  2. David John

    What I mean is that ebay do not seem to enforce the duplicate listing policy in the categories where I list. A lot of sellers sell the same product with a different looking auction, title sometimes with different pricing. One example is where they have a multi-listing with quantities of 1 to 5 and then individual BIN listings for 1/2/3/4/5 of the products and they don’t seem to get taken down as they change the title and look of the auction and vary the price.

    In my view this is still against ebay duplicate listing policies?

    I have taken the view not to try and have them taken down but ebay don’t seem to do it automatically.

    The other listing violation is around the pictures where they put borders, UK flags and “FREE DELIVERY”.

    Slightly off topic but I want to follow the rules but very difficult when you are up against others who flout the rules costing me sales.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, I totally agree David – many sellers still do this and they seem to get away with it… (auctions are ok though as you can have as many auctions for same item as you want, as long as there’s at least one bid on each).

      I personally just report such sellers to eBay and hope for best, not much else we can do.


  3. Hi Andrew,

    Great website, love the information you provide. I like this article and would like to implement this myself, however don’t ebay forbid duplicate listings?


    1. David John

      I was going to say the same thing although frustratingly ebay do not seem to enforce this in any of the categories I sell to the point where it is a joke.

      1. Andrew Minalto

        Sorry, what you mean David?

    2. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Paul,

      Yes, they do (for BIN listings) – so you do these tests on one listing (if it’s GTC) or run one version of BIN (fixed time) and then second version. With auctions you can run tests almost at same time as once you get first bid on your first auction, you can list second one.


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