Drop-Shipping Journal – Pt. II

Solving the drop shipping puzzle

So, to the next instalment of my drop shipping/ecommerce journal. Bear in mind when reading, that these Facebook ad campaigns were run earlier this year, some six or seven months ago.


Trump T-Shirt

This was my first ad for my new sparkly but sparsely furnished store (I had about a dozen products in it)…

I don’t want to hear any political shit about this because it’s Trump(!) – don’t infer anything about my own politics (I sell a Bernie Saunders T-shirt too), it was chosen as a product and kick-off FB ad it seemed as black & white as it could get in terms of audience targeting. Whereas some audiences are a bit difficult to nail down, this isn’t. So I defined it as men aged 25-45 who “like” Trump or Trump for POTUS on FB.

I used a video I previously created in Ripl and posted to the store’s Facebook pages.

My targeting was born out on one level by results: £0.13 CPC, 3.83% CTR, Relevance: 8.
Add to Basket: 2. Checkout Initiated: 1.

The ad spend here was £18.38 and reach was 3,548. The add got a lot of clicks and comments but on the most important result – sales – zero.

Selling at £14.99 my profit margin per shirt is £5.64.

So loss of £18.38.

However, my population/reach sample was small, and I was heartened that maybe with some tweaks, I should try this item again in future.


Height Lift System

I thought I’d take a bash at Timothy Marc’s “Short Guys” shoe lifts next. I didn’t steal his Facebook ad outright, I ‘swaggerjacked’ (hopefully) as he’d call it and put my own spin on it.

This is a product Timothy Marc features in his Thirty Challenge (and elsewhere) claiming it’s a “proof of concept” in sales/marketing copy and advertising… I found a shitty abandoned Facebook page to accompany Tim’s ad that didn’t exactly suggest it was popular going by the number of “likes” it had, but Tim claimed great success with this, so I thought if it’s been ‘proven’ in the US/Australia, see how it does in the UK.

My copy is a bit more aggressive – or offensive – however you may view it, but I’ve noted the ads that get my attention tend to be like that, rather than the usual sales vanilla ads in my news feed that I ignore.

I targeted men aged 18-24, single AND interested in elevator shoes/human height etc. I thought that younger guys might be more self-conscious about their height, older dudes having accepted it, and sans girlfriend, thus single. These height lifts going to score them chicks like the blonde in the red dress in my ad… That was the idea anyway.

In one sense the ad worked: £0.20 CPC, 3.9% CTR, Relevance: 9.

Whilst receiving a receive a fair bit of engagement, the bottom line was zero sales – not even an add to basket. So in the most important sense, my ad failed. Or rather the ad worked and the product failed as it wasn’t purchased.

I persevered too long on this one. Given it was getting a fair bit of engagement in reactions, I wondered if it was the description of the item in my store that wasn’t working. So I redid the copy and added a vid I swaggerjacked re women’s preference for taller men – just to add in a little scientific backup. And let the FB ad continue on to see if that made a difference. Obviously it didn’t.

Ad spend was £36.38 on item with a margin of £4.54. Yeah, I like I said I persevered too long on this one.

Loss of £36.38.

I can’t see myself returning to this one. There were no sale actions taken on it despite all the clicks to product.

Despite, the claims Timothy Marc made for his ad for this product, it was a dud for me.


Slimming Vest

The men’s slimming vest was the original product I chose back in October of 2016 after watching The Thirty Day Challenge.

I created an initial landing page on Unbounce, sales copy, a FB business page… and FB kept rejecting my ad because I used a “before & after” pic showing the benefits of the product. FB won’t allow an ad that promotes an “ideal body type” so I couldn’t run an ad that showed how the product would actually be of help in fixing the customer’s pain!

So I left it. Till I came back to it this year.

Given I couldn’t run the ad I wanted, I wondered how I could round that, while still trying to hook interest in the same way. The usual ads for this are dull as dishwater. So I came up with these ideas, and ran them in a trio, under the same campaign (and budget) and let FB figure out which ad performed best, and thus show it more often.

I wasn’t as happy with this ad as I was my others, as I wasn’t sure I really conveyed what I was trying to get across, but the results were good.

I targeted single men aged 25-34, interested in losing weight AND getting a girlfriend. I thought that was audience for this item.

Results of my ads from left to right:
Ad 1 (blonde “not sure face”): £0.13 CPC, 3.66% CTR, Relevance 8, Add to Basket 3.

Ad 2 (brunette “funny sick face”): £0.17 CPC, 2.78% CTR, Relevance 8, Add to Basket 3, Purchases: 1.

Ad 3 (cartoon beach): £0.20 CPC, 2.63% CTR, no relevance as didn’t get to 500 impressions as FB dropped it as underperforming compared to other two.

So, my first #ringring (as they say in Secret Society Mastermind) … which I have to say did feel damn good to finally break.

However, I didn’t breakeven, or anywhere near it, as ad spend was £34.76 on a item with a margin approx. £7 to me.

So a loss of £27.76.

Heartened by the Add to Baskets, I maybe preserved with this one too long as well. I Edited the ad spend, that put the ads back into review…. And this time while the brunette got through, the blonde ad was rejected for the very reasons I mentioned earlier: it was promoting a preferred body item. It depends who you get approving your ads.

I wasn’t fussed. I cancelled it at that point. Needed a think on this campaign, and will maybe come back to it.

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Samurai Umbrella

This was my next campaign, the Samurai umbrella:

I used a Facebook video carousel ad for this product, cobbled together from the product images and added some suitable music from FB’s (small) track library.

Target audience is UK men aged 18-45, interested in Kendo, Japanese martial arts etc AND films like Kill Bill, Yojimbo, The Last Samurai etc AND Xbox, Playstation etc games.

Note in my ads I use “AND” not “OR” as I use further narrowing of the audience, I don’t include all this in the one selection dialog.

On my store’s product page, I swaggerjacked (thieved in other words) a vid I found of the product, edited, and linked it up from my brand account. Always helps to see the item with some perspective, like a person handling it.

This was my best performing ad so far. It really blew up in fact. The organic reach via shares and folks linking their friends to it, accounts for half my reach again as I paid for (organic 1,579, paid ) 6,402. You can see the interaction yourself on the ad:

One thing that was aggravating about that much engagement was the number of “smart arses” was greatly increased in the comments section. Most I just hid, as I discovered on an unrelated ad for another business page that deleting comments can result in a sustained ‘attack’ from some over-baked little keyboard warriors who take real offence to a removed comment and use other accounts to spam or down vote your page/ad.

Some people… *rolls eyes*.

Anyway, the stats (for those who care about these things):

£0.06 CPC, 5.65% CTR, Relevance 9, Add to Basket 9, Checkout Initiated 6, Purchases 3.
Selling this at £34.99 I had a margin of £15.09.

Ad spend £35.32, Gross Revenue £45.27, Profit £10.04 – #ringring.

However, it would have been more but I had two cancelled orders that were due to two buyers choosing Stripe payment instead of PayPal, and they were refused due to the connection to Stripe failing.

That alarmed me, my ad was coming to end anyway, and wanted to step back and do some work on other web design site anyway – and get that issue sorted.

I had Stripe working but my f@@king host seems to randomly close ports/channels as I’ve had other plugins stop working when their channels suddenly and inexplicably closed – after I’d requested them opened and tested they were working. I got Stripe working again with help from Woocommerce and I was not happy when they identified the issue… but aside from reopening a channel to the Stripe API, my host didn’t seem to give too much more of a f@@k.

Getting your stuff all set up in WordPress is something of a pain, something I don’t imagine you experience on Shopify – but I have hosting etc already paid for elsewhere, so it make sense for me to host my sites there without incurring additional expense. It’s shared hosting too – which is fine for testing, but if any of this gets any real volume/traction I fully intend moving to better hosting… but not at the moment.

Shopify Get Started for Free

Anyway, after this I took the time off from drop shipping ads to revise my site a little. After seeing all my Add to Baskets, I finally added an abandoned cart plugin to nudge these potential buyers with a follow-up email, and I also added a multi-currency plugin.

Everything I use is the free version BTW.

I started this ad running again after this, dropping the price to £29.99, as I wondered if at £34.99 I wasn’t overpricing myself? I wanted to give it a try anyway, see what happens…

So, further results to come…

Given I’ve read plenty of folks lamenting that they’ve spent $$$ on Facebook ads for their stores, all for nought, and I’ve only ran a handful of ads on a small, first time, home-made store, I didn’t feel too bad despite my ad losses – as I’d actually had a few sales, and one campaign in profit.

All learning, and still early days.

So stay tuned.

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Recommended further reading:

Drop Shipping and eCommerce.drop shipping book

What You Need and Where to Get it. Dropshipping Suppliers and Products, eCommerce Payment Processing, eCommerce Software and Set up an Online Store All Covered.

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