EPN Toolkit Ideas

I thought I’d follow up my previous post with some details on what I’ve found effective with the EPN (eBay Partner Network) toolkit sniplet widgets. You can probably gather some of these points by watching my review articles here on OpTempo. But, I wanted to get them all in one place. (Sorry about no fancy graphics today, I’m pressed for time a bit.)

Big Honkin’ Widgets

A while back I experimented with using huge affiliate banner ads and I found that larger sizes did better than small, discrete, 125×125 button ads. Likewise, I’ve found that using large EPN toolkit widgets do better than smaller ones. I usually do a custom size widget with a width of 570 pixels. This takes up a lot of the page space but converts very well.

Get Inline

Conversion rate on any kind of blog advertising rises significantly when you can place the ad inline with the post, particularly on the top left where English readers start reading naturally. You can see this method in action in my Boring Memo WordPress Theme or my Inline Ads Blogger Template.

Another technique, one that I use here on OpTempo due to the way the theme is laid out, is to interrupt the article with the eBay toolkit widget block. This is a technique I borrowed from MSNBC and some other mainstream news and entertainment sites. This seems to work rather well because search visitors should have purchasing and looking for a good deal on their minds.

Sort By Lowest Price

Sorting by the lowest price seems to drive the best click through rate (CTR). For example, many people will have curiosity over why someone is selling a Sandisk Sansa e260 4GB Media Player for a dollar. The one hitch I’ve found with doing this is that sometimes unrelated products or accessory products will be the only ones that show up. If that’s the case with a particular item you wish to display, try narrowing down the category more or raising the minimum price.

My other primary sort method is Ending Soonest. This usually yields a good mix of prices and products and works well for wider niches or as a second place listing like I’m using here. Sometimes I’ll use other sort criteria for a particular reason but this isn’t too common.

Include a Search

I always include a search form on the EPN toolkit widget. This can also encourage click-thrus for a couple of reasons. First, people may think it’s a blog search form, not an eBay search. Sorta sneaky but it works. Secondly, visitors may want to do a product search and this form provides them an easy way to do it.

Picture, Description and Price

I only include these 3 fields in most cases. I don’t include time left, number of bids or other fields. I want to keep it as simple as possible and give away as little information as possible about the underlying auction. Why? This means the visitor will have to click through to get these details and that action will set a cookie.

Blend In

I’ve experimented with the fancy headers that are available but I’ve found that not using one helps improve conversion. I don’t use a border or different colored header and footer. I just use the background color of the page for these colors. For the text, I use the same color as my link text for the blog and the best match for the font although I prefer Verdana when it blends well. I show the smallest eBay logo.

That’s the basics of what I’m doing with the EPN toolkit sniplet widgets both on OpTempo and elsewhere. If you have any questions or thoughts about this, leave a comment and let me know.



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2008-06-19 15:59:42

Thanks for the advice on the widgets.
I’ve been using them on one of my sites, and I will try some of your ideas to see if it improves.
I wish the custom option allowed a narrower widget. It is a bit too wide for a double column with my theme.

Comment by jfc
2008-06-19 16:22:17

Hi James,

You can reduce it down now from the default (and previous minimum) of 570 pixels. I think the new minimum is 360. This is a bit tight on longer descriptions but if you only have the picture, description and price it doesn’t look too bad.

Comment by Xeldec
2008-06-19 17:29:24

Hmmm.. no headers .. haven’t tried that. Didn’t know it is possible.

Comment by jfc
2008-06-19 18:00:49

Hi Xeldec,

You’ll still have the small eBay logo but by setting the colors to the page background color you can make it almost headerless. Here’s a screen shot of the settings I use for OpTempo.

Comment by Jason Slone
2008-06-19 21:23:57

Frank, I have a site where I put widgets in the middle of the post. It’s a blogger blog and for some reason the frame is exploded, it is hard to describe. I have never had this problem before. The items are intact but the whole thing is exploded. any ideas on what would be the cause?

Comment by jfc
2008-06-19 22:11:28

Hi Jason,

Some Blogger Templates and WordPress themes add spacing and so forth around pictures. This can cause the eBay widget pictures not to display correctly. I suspect that’s what you’re seeing.

Comment by Jason Slone
2008-06-19 22:40:14

ahhh, thanks, I will mess with it and see what happens.

2008-07-03 15:34:54

Frank , another fine post on the EPN and tool kit utilization. Sometimes I think you have been reading my mind. Those that are in doubt of the power of using the tool kit should know that my blogs utilizing the EPN toolkit are doing much better than BANS stores. So much better that I’ve put BANS on the back burner for now.

Comment by jfc
2008-07-03 16:39:32

Hi Fly Fishing,

I’ve had the same experience. If you have a high PR blog farm you can depend on and/or don’t mind living in the Akismet folder commenting on every dofollow blog in sight then you might be able to do something with BANS but if you don’t, using EPN is a better way to build sites that will get indexed and stay indexed and get search traffic.

Comment by Fort Wayne Indiana
2008-07-08 18:05:03

Just an FYI
If you haven’t read the EPN Blog, looks like they made some errors in tracking since launch. They are supposed to make it right with an extra check in July for those impacted.

2008-08-10 02:21:07

That term “Big Honkin’” really dates you! LOL! When I say “big honkin’” this or “big honkin’” that, it really makes my kids laugh.

2008-08-14 21:58:23

Interesting that you don’t show number of bids or time left. I might apply that idea to my BANS stores and see if that helps increase clicks and conversions. Very informative article.

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