Right after you finish writing your Item Title, eBay tries to nickel and dime you on the very next line by offering the opportunity (how generous) to include a Subtitle with your listing. Like everything eBay, the pros and cons of the Subtitle have evolved over time and continue to change with every major eBay announcement. According to the Updated eBay Fee Guide, the regular cost of subtitles is 50 cents for auctions or 3, 5, 7, 10 day fixed price listings and $1.50 for fixed price listings with a 30 day duration or “good ’til cancelled” listings. Remember, if you are listing in multiple quantities the price will go up even further. You may have noticed an increase in the amount of listings that have included subtitles over the last year. This is because all sellers who offer “free shipping” can include a subtitle for free until June 30, 2009 on all listings other than “good ’til cancelled” fixed price listings. If your listing qualifies for a free Subtitle, eBay will tell you by crossing out the cost right next to where you finish typing in the Subtitle text. Subtitles are also free when listing in the books, movies, music, and video games categories regardless of shipping cost. Since I recommend offering free shipping to maximize listing visibility anyway, adding a subtitle is a no-brainer until the end of June. But what about adding one after the promotion ends?
Whether or not to add a subtitle is a contentious topic of debate. Personally, I recommend adding one. For 50 cents, buyers will be more likely to notice your listing, because the added line of text makes listings that have subtitles stand out. In addition, additional words mean a higher chance that something you say will catch a potential bidder’s attention. If the subtitle entices even a few bidders who would not have otherwise looked at your listing, you have a good chance that the final price of the item will be higher than it would have had those bidders skipped over it and bid on something else. Most things in life are about risk and reward. Risking 50 cents now, for the chance of receiving a higher price for your item, makes the subtitle an appealing bet. EBay will tell you that items with a subtitle are 18% more likely to sell. I take everything eBay says with a grain of salt, but there is some truth to it. However, there is another side to the argument. Many people who sell on eBay are against all eBay fees and would never dream of paying 50 extra cents for something that doesn’t cost eBay anything. At the moment, the subtitle has less value because so many sellers are adding subtitles to their listings free of charge. This means that paying for a subtitle may bring a lesser reward until after June 30, 2009 when fewer sellers are using subtitles. One important warning: If you are adding free subtitles to your listings, but would not add a subtitle if there was a cost, be careful about relisting items after June 30. When you relist an item, the listing will still include the subtitle upgrade, and you will be charged for it if you do not remove it.
What should you say in the item subtitle? First, the subtitle is not searchable by default. The bidder would have to check the box to include item descriptions in search, which is unlikely. This means that whoever is reading your Item Title has typed in your listing’s keywords and search returned the listing. So far, so good. Your goal is to include words in the Subtitle that will convince the bidder that your item is the best of the search results provided. Use the same technique you used in the Item Title guide and look at what other sellers have used as their subtitle. I would also recommend coming back to the Subtitle after you write your item description, when you have a better idea of what your item’s best attributes are. Some of the information you include in the Subtitle does not necessarily have to be about the particular item either. In fact, the Subtitle may be your best opportunity to tell potential bidders about your best qualities as a seller. You could reiterate that you offer free shipping because some bidders won’t look at the shipping price column. If you offer easy returns, immediate shipping, guarantee authenticity, or have 100% feedback you could say that as well. When listing a number of similar items, mix up your Subtitle wording so they’re all different. This will further guarantee that something you say will peak the bidder’s curiosity. The goal is to get the buyer to take the next step and click on your listing. Like with the Item Title, use as many of the characters as possible and consider using all capital letters or capitalizing the first letter of each word to make it look professional.
Utilizing the Subtitle upgrade can be an important step to getting the highest price for your item. The extra information you include can make the difference between a bidder clicking on your item or skipping over it and bidding on a competitor’s item instead.