General Manager, eBay Classifieds U.S. and eBay Asia Pacific Local Classifieds
Martin Herbst oversees much of eBay’s classifieds business. In that role, he has led the business through its market entry plan, launch, product platform redesign, re-branding, and mobile and social implementations. Within three years, the company was on its way to becoming the second largest classifieds site in the U.S.
Unlike its parent company and website, eBay Classifieds is focused on local markets covering not only the general categories that eBay covers, but also more locally focused categories such as housing, cars, jobs, services, and pets. In overseeing this sector, Herbst became very familiar with the different elements that make local marketing campaigns effective.
For Herbst, the most important characteristic for local marketing is convenience. Many companies and brands exist in the marketplace and compete for the same consumers and the same business. However, Herbst feels the convenience and ease of being able to meet with people and transact in person can make a significant difference.
Additionally, locally focused websites like eBay Classifieds can give national brands and companies a more local lens into a specific marketplace and community. “Consumers can go to Bay Area or Dallas sites and know that those items and offerings are in that local market, connecting them with the businesses, services, and products they really want,” he says. For larger brands looking to establish more effective marketing operations in specific communities or around individual franchises, it can be beneficial to build independent campaigns and websites as a hub for those efforts.
In crafting those campaigns, Herbst and his marketing team conducted significant research within their customer base to understand who they appealed to and how to target their actual campaigns. By discovering which demographics are most likely to engage with their services, they could identify how those users prefer to be communicated with and tailor their messaging accordingly.
“Once we understand what we’re going to represent and which of our core value propositions are important to which demographics, we can evaluate all of the different marketing channels we can leverage to reach them,” he says.
When designing their various sites, Herbst and his team made sure their sites were geotargeted to direct users to the appropriate version based on location. “From a product perspective, we designed our site to have many different local domains so we could achieve the right local experience for the users,” he says. The company also incorporates real-time alerts for consumers, enabling them to opt in for email or text message notifications about a future listing for a product similar to one they searched for in the past.
For other brands to improve their interaction with customers, Herbst emphasizes the importance of acquiring more information about those consumers to better personalize their shopping and brand experiences and help them become more engaged.
At eBay Classifieds, Herbst says the main challenge to improving marketing communications was focus. With outlets in so many different locations and markets, eBay’s targeted audience can vary dramatically. “If you’re going to think about locality, you have to be pretty disciplined on which local markets you want to target,” he says. “You really need to focus and execute in many different layers.”
To do so, Herbst cited the importance of testing a range of different messages and tools and composing strategic campaigns based on what produces actual results. For any brands faced with managing campaigns across many locations, he says that developing best practices for particular categories can help achieve the consistency and focus needed to deliver results.