How to sell on Facebook Marketplace

My story

I am currently working for my family business. It’s a small company but is active both in wholesale and retail sales. Most of our revenue comes from wholesale and specifically from hotels and Airbnb, so we are heavily dependent on tourism. With the Covid-19 situation, we took a massive hit on our survival as a company.

I took the chance during the first lockdown to create a new business website for wholesale and retail customers. Six months later the website has good traffic, bounce rate, returning visitors, average time, speed loading, an above-average score on Google ads. But the conversions are really low and without conversions, you can’t be reimbursed for your expenses, at least.

I believe that the main factor for the low conversions is that our field is heavily competitive. I know that brand awareness takes time and I am working on it but then the second lockdown came in and the pressure grew much bigger.

So, I discovered Facebook Marketplace and I tried to sell some of our products to see how it goes. The results were surprising, in a good way, so after 2 months I decided to share some of my thoughts on the marketplace and its potential, for small businesses and freelancers, along with some advice on posting, copywriting, and especially how to handle our potential customers on chat. I will also present you, some self-made analytics and statistics

Photos are the most important part

When someone searching on the marketplace the first thing that catches their attention, is the product photo, so try to make it bright and eye-catching.

Most people post low-quality photos, so a nice photo stands out easily. You can upload up to 10 photos, try to include as many different views as you can.
It is also advised to include your logo on your photos

Include much information in your description

It’s a lot more likely for people when you have a detailed description, to click on your product. Try to answer the basic questions one may have about the product, through the description.

It can be annoying to answer the same questions, again and again, more information means less chatting. If you have the ability to offer free shipping or include in the price, write it, matters a lot.

The quality of copywriting gives you prestige

Although many people don’t read the full context, when they do, that gives you more interested buyers. Also, it saves a lot of needless time on chat.

Note: If you have a product with many different sizes, specs, colors, don’t include them, especially when they have different pricing. The more specific the product, the easier to find it, a potential buyer. Plus, it saves time both from the buyer and the seller.

Instead, make more listings about the product. This will give you more space among the competition and it will make you more recognizable.

Giving a total price

If you can offer free shipping or include it, that’s a must-do.
Also, a rounded price is better for the eye and less likely to receive lower bids from people interested in your product.

It’s a good start to post your, value for money, products first or stock, or your last items

Category Placement

Facebook Marketplace has main categories and sub-categories.
If you aren’t sure in which category your product fits or it will show up most, try to post similar products on different categories and compare the results.

Note: When you create a listing from the desktop you can place your products only on main categories, sub-categories appear only on the mobile version. I personally prefer to post from desktop and then go on mobile to review and edit my new listing, place it on a subcategory.

Also, in the final step before publishing, you can choose to list your product not only on the marketplace but also on other Facebook buy and sell groups or groups related to your industry.

How to handle your potential clients on chat

I am not an expert on marketing, I have roughly one year of practical experience. But I am in business for enough years to understand that it doesn’t matter how good you are at using the available marketing tools. If you don’t pair them with a deep knowledge of your product and your audience, you just limit your success ceiling. Those are essentials on the marketplace when you have to sell through chat. And when it comes to chatting, let’s say that is my thing, I am very familiar with it and I will present you my mindset as best as I can.

At first, let me say that is a complex role. You are the representative of your company and its public image, you are the seller and you have the responsibility of customer service. Basically, you have full responsibility. It’s more difficult than to be a seller in a store because you aren’t playing on your court. I would say that is more similar to being an outsourcer except that in this case there is a confirmed interest, but you can’t show your product in front of the client’s eyes.

Generally, all of us as buyers, are a little skeptical when we have to shop from a store for the first time, especially from an online store. In a platform like the marketplace, the majority of sellers are either inexperienced or sell second-hand products. Also, the possibility of a scam is more likely. So, skepticism exists to a greater extend. The customers are worried, and you can read it, behind the lines. You must treat them nicely, ensure them in each step, understanding their needs, and be prepared to suggest alternative proposals in case that they misunderstood the standards of your product.

So, you listed a product and you have a message.

Marketplace for buyers has the ‘’Is this available?’’ button and the majority of their first message will be like that. Don’t reply to them with a monosyllabic answer like ‘’Yes, it’s available’’.
Instead, reply to them ‘’Hello/good morning, yes is still available, would you like more information?’’, preferably with separate messages.
You can experiment with different first answers by yourself and compare them, probably that won’t make much impact but your dedication to details like this would only make you better.

Keep in mind, that the buyers probably haven’t sent a message only to you but to other sellers for a similar product, so the faster you answer the better.
Also, if you reply to all of your messages within an hour for a month, Facebook will give you the ‘’responsive’’ badge and that’s a plus.

They will be many times where you will answer within seconds and still, they won’t text you back. Don’t blame it on yourself.

Tips on starting the conversation

Be polite, speak in plural but not in an overly formal way because they won’t expect it, and honestly, it seems kind of fake. Show your deep knowledge about the product through their questions and try to understand if it fits their needs and ask questions back. They will appreciate the attention you show them. Even if your conversation wouldn’t lead to order, many of them will thank you for your time.

Thank them back for the interest that showed you.
It leaves a final positive impression and it takes 2 seconds. In the future maybe would have an interest in another product of yours and they will send you a message without hesitation because they will know that you’ll serve their interest gently.

I would suggest, if you have strong suspicions that the product won’t fit on customer’s need, do not encourage them to buy it or at least tell them your worries. I strongly believe that for our long-term survival we don’t need just clients but happy clients. You know that a happy client is more likely to buy for you again and suggest you in their personal circle. That kind of thinking will prevent you from a bad rating, you don’t want that. Also, it will minimize the chance of your customer ending up not receiving his order. That costs you time, money and it will make you frustrated and skeptical of your future conversations

Do you have a website?

If you do, that’s very good it makes you way more reliable. You can aware of them through the conversation.

‘’Do you have other designs of this product’’
‘’Yes, I have many on my website, would you like me to send you a link?’’

Be careful do not just send them links to every question they asking you. It’s smoother to send them screenshots or photos that have your company logo.
Remember, that if they wanted to search websites, they probably would be on Google not on the marketplace. And don’t forget that prices it’s better to are the same on both platforms.

Did you take an order? Very good but the job’s not done yet!

The most common question after the order
is: ‘’When the order will arrive?’’. With the coronavirus situation, the orders arrive later generally. It is obvious but explains it to them anyway. Try to send the package for delivery the sooner you can and inform them. If you couldn’t be specific yet, tell them that you have many orders right now and you will inform them about the shipping date, first thing tomorrow.
Do you remember what I said about skepticism before an order? That also applies after the order, sometimes more.

‘’Did I need that order?’’
‘’Will the order be as they said to me?’‘

Questions like those have been through our minds too after an order.
You will have to ensure them, I personally use to take a picture with their order nicely packaged and send it to them along with the tracking number. If they reply positively you are ready.

An example of how to make your client feel that you have empathy.

A client of mine made an order and after a few days, she texted me that it hasn’t arrived yet. I checked her order instantly online and I found out that the order had arrived at the local post so it would be on her hands soon. I sent a screenshot and told her that it won’t be long yet.

One week after she texted me again really sad this time and told me the same.
Now I will show you 2 answers, both right on the paper.

A: ‘’These days are difficult for shipping companies, I would suggest you, either to wait a few more days or to go there and receive it by yourself’’

B: ‘’What? Still not here yet?
I will call them first thing in the morning, and I will ask them to hurry, you are waiting 2 weeks already.’’

As you see, both of them are reasonable answers but the second one shows empathy and a personal sense of responsibility. Wouldn’t you feel nice if you had a similar situation and you received similar treatment?

Read behind the lines

That’s kind of insignificant advice and I was skeptical to include it but I think that if you have experience in sales, especially in a local store, you will understand what I am saying.
On the marketplace, you can visit the social media profile of your buyers.
I don’t like to do that, it’s like judging a book from its cover, and it can drive you to false assumptions.
Instead, try to understand them based on what they write and how they write it. You know that a good seller needs to adjust to each customer. With time you will find motives and later that can save you time and conversions.

For example, ‘’ I will think about it’’ it’s the analogy of the ‘’I will come back later’’ on physical sales. It’s a good time to say something like ‘’Also we have an offer if you take 2 of a kind. Yes, of course, take your time’’

If you feel like all of the above, is too much information, just remember to be kind, helpful, and consistent regardless of the customer.
The rest will come up.

Analytics Presentation

Now I will present you some numbers and metrics so you could have a more complete understanding of Facebook’s Marketplace potential. All of the results are organic, I ran ads on some listings but I excluded them from the report.

My thoughts for advertising on the marketplace are not yet optimized especially compared to other advertising platforms.
My early thoughts are that the ads on the marketplace are cheaper but also less customizable.
Also, a customer before purchase must have a conversation with you and you can have a bigger impact on his decision than a website.
Because of that, the marketing rules may be different.

Behind the numbers

The 34% maybe sounds imaginatively good. The numbers by themselves don’t always tell the truth. In this case, you should consider the sample size is for November month and coincided with the Black Friday Week, which, in Greece at least, and due to the special circumstances, was an unprecedented success this year. Skroutz Company announced on their blog a 150% increase in sales compared to 2019. So, it makes sense that there has been a shift in consumers from the marketplace to websites and also a general fall in the market in the days that followed.

Besides, that was my first month on the marketplace, so I didn’t have either a badge or public rating. Although I have experience both in sales and chat support, I haven’t combined them until recently. I check the non-conversion conversations regularly, to find flaws and mistakes.

And for me, that’s the biggest advantage of Marketplace. You have more time to think before answering and review your mistakes than a physical sale and you can still have a high amount of engagement both on a personal and branding level. You rarely get that from website sales both from a seller’s and a buyer’s perspective. Myself, I had some customers that send me back photos of the products and how well they fitted on their home decoration, along with pleasant comments.
That feels very good and you also have a client that he trusts you and admires the company’s quality.

Final thoughts

Overall, I would say that my experience in the marketplace was positive from many perspectives so far. I improved my skills, learned new things, and developed relationships with new customers. You know, you have a different feeling when you sell something fairly priced both for you and the buyers and suitable for their needs. From a business perspective, yes, it didn’t save us from a bad year overall, but it kept us still active during the lockdown situation. We avoided stagnation and routine, we continued to explore new ideas and products. Our hard work and professionalism became more recognized.

The pandemic situation caught most of us unprepared.
But at the end of the day, is still a challenge.
You should face it like any other challenge.

Adapt, Improve, Overcome

Thank you for reading!



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