February 26, 2015

What makes a great listing?

We have been looking at some data recently to better understand what makes one listing more effective than another. We now want to share some of the insights. First, we're going to bust a couple of myths:

Myth 1: it's only about the photos

While there is a correlation between stunning photos and the number of enquiries, this is not the only factor. We don't allow multiple listings on the site, but we do have the data between when people have different listings and photos. In some cases the more homemade or real (but good quality) photos performed better than the studio shots. Video clips have also shown an improvement in contact rates.

Myth 2: the 'models' get all the enquiries

The most surprising thing we found was when doing an experiment with users asking them to judge interest based on just the images. When we compared this to the real-world results, we found that there there were many listings which got a low rating based on photos, but a very high rate of enquiries. We ran the experiment again using just descriptions and found the answer, the text is very important when it comes to getting enquiries.

What are the users saying?

Some really don't care, others are absolutely obsessed with cover-page beauty. But it turns out the big majority care a lot more about what potential experience they will get. It turns out that the initial evaluation is from what an advertiser says in their description, even down to the tone and how the text feels. Positive terms included: 'friendly', 'funny', 'approachable'. Just putting GFE is not enough to convince someone it will be like that.

The other bit of feedback was about how people answered questions and reacted to reviews. When an advertiser didn't answer a simple question and just wrote 'call me' or reacted in a very tough way to a review which didn't seem aggressive, there was a negative evaluation.

How to manage your listing?

  • Take a look at your description. Does it really explain you and the services you provide? Try to provide a personal touch. A cut and paste which looks the same as everyone else is not the best way to get customers. Of course, it is quicker, but our data shows a quality text can generate from 3 times to 11 times more enquiries (when the images, price and other variables are similar).
  • If you chose to answer a stupid question publicly - instead of clicking 'ignore' or 'answer privately' - be aware the way you do so will also influence other users' reactions.
  • If you get a negative review, deal with it sensibly. Yes, he or she, might be an idiot, dangerous (as hopefully you know there is another way to flag that), or just have unrealistic expectations. Maybe you had a 'bad hair day'.  If you think it is unfair, say why very simply, don't attack. Other users will make their own opinions based on the quality of the listing and response to feedback. Listings with both positive and negative reviews (with sensible reactions) actually seem to be more popular than those with a couple of very positive reviews.
Lastly, the most important thing is to think about the type of client you want and make sure your public profile will appeal to them. According to our data, a little thought and work can make a big difference to the quantity and quality of enquiries.