Zazzle's upcoming revisions to marketplace search (Read Zazzle's official announcement) will likely change how we as designers go about selling our work. Now your business must evolve or die.
There has been a lot of discussion in nearly every forum. We've kept a close eye on these discussions and Zazzle's responses. We've read every post. Here is a detailed summary of what will happen.
- Products that have not sold or had a single view in the previous six months will no longer appear in marketplace searches.
- A view is when someone visits a product page.
- Products that have had at least one sale at any time will remain in marketplace searches.
- Products without sales or views are not deleted. They still exist in Zazzle's system to be found by search engines such as Google.
- If a product excluded from the marketplace gets a sale or view, it will be added back in to marketplace search results. It will take about 24 hours to get added back into the marketplace search.
- Your products will not disappear from your store or from your backend.
- Views by you the designer will count towards the floating six-month window of views.
- Updating/revising a product's title, tags and/or description will count as a view. Changing the royalty rate will not.
- Bulk editing of products' titles, tags and/or descriptions will count as a view for all those products.
- Sales and views are by product, not design. If you have 20 products with the same design and 19 have no sales or views, they are out of the marketplace.
- The mechanism "See this design on XX other products" will continue to provide some access to your non-marketplace products (This pops up in the marketplace when your products are made with Quick Create).
- Links to products not in the marketplace will still go to that product.
- Other products by links found near the bottom of product pages will continue to show products that are excluded from marketplace searches.
- An option on your products page to sequence by the number of views over six months is being considered.
- The changes are scheduled to take place the week of January 18, 2015.
The overall feeling in the forums is positive. Designers believe that these marketplace changes will eliminate much of the product and tag spam. Rather than getting five pages with the same product, just different colors, now there will be one product or perhaps none.
How this will affect your sales is anybody's guess right now. Those that have been with Zazzle for a long time and have a good number of products that have at least one sale will probably see little impact. Newbies and those with few sales will probably be hit the hardest. Their presence in marketplace searches will depend on views, which reset every six months.
No matter which of these groups you find yourself in, we all want consumers to be able to find many if not all of our products in the marketplace. Since products with at least one sale are always included in marketplace searches, the focus needs to be on non-sold products. Here are some ideas of what you can do to maximize your marketplace presence.
Zazzle's first suggestion is to edit your titles, tags and/or descriptions. Any one of these changes will count like a view (It will not show up as a view in your back office) and buy you six more months in the marketplace. To save time, use global editing and send many products back to the marketplace at one time.
Most of us have plenty of products that would benefit from this step. Many of our earlier products have rather embarrassing tags and descriptions.
But let's face it; you can only improve your titles, tags and descriptions so many times. As a result, your only other option is to generate views.
You can click on your products from the back office and that will count as a view. If you have just a handful of products, this seems reasonable. In one store, we have 96,000 products and 20% of them have sold, leaving about 77,000 subject to view discrimination. It would take us six months to click them all.
We will be relying and expanding on our auto-posting marketing systems to help generate the views we need to get non-sold products found in the marketplace. This is How2.
First, we created the Twitter account @StylingTech. Then we specified several RSS feeds each focused on a product type e.g. iPhone 6 cases, iPad Mini cases, iPad cases. iPhone 5 cases. Twice every day, each RSS feed selects one of our products and auto-tweets it to @StylingTech. Included in each tweet are one or two hash tags (#hashtag) to help get the tweet found.
We created @StylingTech in April 2012 and since then have posted 13,188 tweets automatically.
Take this example and multiply it by eight more Twitter accounts and you get an idea of the amount of automatic tweeting we have going on. We also have some auto posting going to some Facebook pages.
Did I mention there is no cost?
There are many ways to set up RSS feeds to auto post. The two things you need are the RSS feed "url" and a site that posts to your social media of choice.
The Zazzle RSS feed manual shows how to write your own feeds. It is where we started. If you are feeling a little masochistic, you can download it here. Another option is to copy an RSS feed url from within your browser (Firefox works best we think). Simply visit a Zazzle page that has the products you want to promote.
If you want to auto-post your iPhone 6 cases, go to your store and filter them from the department search. Then copy the RSS feed from your browser (Refer to your browser's help area for the How2).
There are a great many sites that let you auto-post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media. You simply paste in your RSS feed url and tell it which social site to post on. This Google search will give you some site options.
We've been using RSS feeds for many years. The ideas presented above are how we used to do it. While they worked, the feeds we had available to us were very generalized and the sites we used for auto-posting had terrible interfaces. Sometimes we had 20 pages of RSS feeds as there were just six feeds to a page.
Mark has created a number of videos and provides great How2 support through his Google + community. Mark charges for this knowledge and support but it is well worth it if you value your time. You will find a “More Information” link on the Accelerate Here page that includes videos of the tool in action. It's Brilliant!
Perhaps the strongest idea for getting your products throughI the marketplace is to include links in your product descriptions. Just make sure that you start with products that have already sold.
We use both visual and textual links. The visual links go to related products (The matching address label to a stamp) and the textual links generally go to a page of our most popular products of the same product type (See all the most popular iPhone 6 cases in Your Shop of Shops).
Links in the descriptions generate views and sales. We’ve seen it in our analytics and in our royalty payments. I would be hard pressed to find one of our product descriptions that did not have a link.
Need help with tags and categories? Our Zazzle Tag and Category Research Tool is a mere 99¢. Most say it has saved them hours of time. Learn more.
You can build a web site to help you get views and sales. We will be creating some new ones this year.
Weebly will give you a free web site and their icon-based system makes it easy to add images, links, text, video and much more. We use Weebly for this web site and others. You’ll find a Weebly link on the Accelerate Here page.
The Accelerate Here page has many other resources to help you generate views and sales. Nearly all are free resources.
What plans do you have for increasing your presence in marketplace searches? Leave us a comment.