Episode 9

Ecommerce Marketing: Answers to Your Burning Questions

Ever wondered how much money you need to start marketing? And what about Facebook ads – what’s the best approach? We answered these questions (and a bunch more!) in this bonus episode of Start Yours. Check it out: The 10 most frequently asked questions about marketing.

Start Yours is a podcast about what it's like to start a business.

Join us as we meet entrepreneurs who have gone through the triumphs and headaches of running an online store, and learn how they managed to survive and thrive.



Transcript


David: Alright, number one. How much money do you need for ecommerce marketing when starting a dropshipping store? I should begin by saying that the last question of this podcast will deal with free advertising channels, so be sure to stick around for that. To kick things off, though, we’ll go ahead and talk about the ones that aren’t free and what that means for someone’s ecommerce marketing budget. So there are a million variables when it comes to how much money you need for ecommerce marketing when you start, like how quickly you’re trying to scale, how much experience you have with ecommerce marketing, your ecommerce marketing budget, etc. But we can assume regardless of all those caveats that somebody starting a dropshipping store wants to: A, make sales. And B, spend as little money as possible doing ecommerce marketing. So if those are our kind of broad parameters, Magda, what sort of investment are people looking at when it comes to promoting a new store with ecommerce marketing? 

Magda: Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. Ecommerce marketing could cost $100, it could cost $500. It really, really depends. However, from interviewing and working with professional dropshippers and my own dropshipping experiences, the number for ecommerce marketing is usually around $250 to $500. Between that amount, you can usually find a winning product, some ads that are working, and you can usually start running some ads and gaining some traction on your store and starting to see sales. So, while ecommerce marketing can be different for everyone, $250 to $500 is normally the price range.

David: Now something you hear a lot when dropshippers talk about this initial $200 or $300 or $500, they like to say that you’re buying data. And I could imagine that this idea of just buying data without sales coming in, that might ring a little bit hollow to somebody who’s starting to lose money and just seeing a bunch of red numbers with their ecommerce marketing efforts. With this first $250 or this first $500, whatever that number lands on, what could a dropshipper expect to be getting in return, maybe before the first sale or as those first few sales start rolling in? 

Magda: It’s important to note that when you’re spending this money on ecommerce marketing, you’re not gambling it away, you’re investing it. You’re investing it into data. And the data that you’re investing ecommerce marketing into can mean a few different things. As a basis, it’s at least gonna be showing you what is and isn’t working in terms of your products. Maybe your product isn’t picking up traction. Second, it will tell you whether maybe your audience is or isn’t working. Are you marketing it to the right people? And third, it depends on the platform you’re using, but most dropshippers use Facebook ads when promoting their dropshipping business with ecommerce marketing. The way that Facebook ads work, and we’ll definitely touch on this more in the next few questions is that…

David: Yeah, there’s a big fat Facebook section on ecommerce marketing coming up. But again, go ahead.

Magda: Yeah. With Facebook ads, you have a Facebook pixel and this little pixel sits in your store and collects data about customers; People who are coming to just visit your store. People who are sitting on your product page, who is actually pressing the ‘add to cart’ button. And this pixel learns and it learns and it learns. So when you are spending money on Facebook ads for ecommerce marketing, you’re sending information to this pixel. The pixel is learning exactly who’s coming to your store and exactly who isn’t. So this is the type of data that you’re actually buying. And you’re never just gambling your money away and completely losing it because even if you don’t make a sale, the pixel will actually become smarter and smarter. So the next time that you are running some ads, the pixel will know a little bit more and be more knowledgeable about who exactly your customer is. So that’s the type of data that you’re always buying.

Using Facebook Pixel for ecommerce marketing

The biggest problem that I’ve seen in my experience is people who throw some money into ecommerce marketing for their dropshipping store, let’s say they try $250 and they just close their eyes. They just use $250 and they close their eyes and then it’s gone. And they quit because they have no idea where it went, they didn’t look at anything, they didn’t understand what exactly it was purchasing and this is a huge waste of money because you are investing in data and that data will only make finding customers and sales cheaper in the future. So it’s really important to understand that whenever it comes to dropshipping and ecommerce marketing, even if it’s on Instagram, you’ll still learn from spending that money. And then the money you spend in the future will be able to take you much further.

David: Cool. Yeah, it can be a white knuckle experience watching the advertising dollars flow out and nothing flow in. But like Magda said you just gotta take deep breaths and trust that there is gonna be a return for these ecommerce marketing efforts down the road. 

Alright, number two. How many products do I need to advertise at a time? There are a few different approaches to this topic about how many products you should advertise. Sometimes people use advertising as kind of a form of market research, so they’ll throw up a bunch of ads for a lot of different products and see which ones do the best. Other people like to build their stores one or two products at a time, so at any given time they’ll have ads running for one or two products. This is a more conservative and patient approach. Magda, regardless of where somebody’s coming from on this spectrum, what are some of the headline considerations to be thinking about when it comes to how many products do I need to advertise at a time? 

Magda: Well, it depends on how good you are at product research and how much money you have to spend on ecommerce marketing. It really depends on your variables. When it comes to testing products, of course, the more products that you test at the same time, the easier it is to compare and find a winner. For example, in our Oberlo 101 course, we test five products at once.

David: Oberlo.com/course, by the way. Check it out. Discount code PODCAST to give you a 40% off and so, as you were saying.

Magda: And in our Oberlo 101 course, we test five products at once to see which one is the winner before we really pump the rest of our ecommerce marketing and advertising budget into it. This is a really effective approach because it lets you see which product is the winner based on data, this is so important to understand. As a dropshipper myself, I have fallen victim to this so many times. I fall in love with the idea of a product. I see the vision, I see the millions behind a product when I find it on AliExpress. I know this is a winner. But it might not be, and sometimes it really isn’t. I’ve wasted a lot of money on products that I thought were gonna be winners for sure, I could see it, and I could see my bank account overflowing. But they weren’t, something about them just didn’t hit with customers, customers just didn’t necessarily want them. Maybe it was the price, maybe it was the way that it looked, maybe it just didn’t hit a nerve with customers. And that’s okay, because we’re not marrying our products, we’re trying to sell them.

So when you’re able to test multiple products at the same time, you’re able to trust the data instead of what you feel, and that’s the best way to find winners. So being able to test multiple products is extremely effective, and I would definitely recommend it if it works with your budget. However, testing five products at once can be expensive, for sure. So there are a few tactics and strategies that I would suggest. 

The first one, if you’re testing five products at the same time, or even three, for example, you want to make sure that you have ways of testing it that are gonna cost you just a little bit less. So if you’re running Facebook ads, for example, I would suggest running engagement campaigns because those are a bit cheaper, they’re a lot cheaper than conversion campaigns and you’ll be able to just see which ones are performing better than the others. If you’re not running Facebook ads, maybe if you’re trying to use Instagram influencers or if you just don’t even want to spend any money to test them, start asking your customers, jump into Facebook groups, go onto Instagram, start messaging your ideal target audience and seeing, which one do they prefer? Ask them. Usually, people have no problem at all giving you an opinion or giving you some suggestions.

If you’re looking for an easier tactic, I would suggest making a discount code and giving it to customers or anyone that you ask for an opinion about your products. That way, you can just start getting a feel for it because what you think might be the best product usually isn’t. It actually usually happens that it’s the complete opposite and you’re absolutely shocked when you find out what is the most popular product and which one is the winner. That’s my suggestion if you’re gonna be testing multiple products. 

Get feedback and suggestions as part of your ecommerce marketing strategy

Otherwise, you can absolutely sell one product at a time. As a dropshipping addict, I watch all dropshipping videos on YouTube, I follow all the professional dropshippers on YouTube, Instagram. I’ve also talked to lots of professional dropshippers, and I’m a dropshipper myself. Many of them run one-product stores, so this definitely is a tactic you could use as well. However, if you’re running a one-product store, it’s definitely a little riskier because you’re only testing one product at a time. If you’re looking at the data, what do you compare it to? How do you know if it’s doing well? How do you know if it’s gonna be doing better than another product? It becomes a little more difficult.

However, it’s definitely doable. If you’re running a one-product store, I would suggest definitely running engagement campaigns on Facebook first to test it and see if you’re getting traction. Otherwise, also start messaging potential customers and your audience to get some of their feedback. It’s extremely important to get that feedback before you start pumping money into ads. One of the biggest problems that I’ve seen in the dropshipping industry is people just throwing money at advertising or any type of ecommerce marketing and expecting returns. That’s not how it works. You need to be careful, test first, and then you can throw your money at ecommerce marketing. That way you’ll be able to at least feel a little bit more confident in what you’re testing rather than really gambling it all away.

David: Alright. Now, let’s dig into Facebook marketing, which is where lots of new ecommerce entrepreneurs are gonna start. So that brings us to number three. How much does it cost to advertise on Facebook? And how much do I need to spend on Facebook ads before I see a return? So these are our two questions that we folded into one because they’re definitely linked. So when it comes to how much does it cost to advertise on Facebook, we’re basically asking what are the differences between types of ads and differences between different target groups? And then when we talk about “How much do I need to spend?” that’s more about how deep into these various costs somebody should expect to go before they generate sales. 

So Magda, you’ve had multiple stores that use Facebook advertising, you’ve talked with hundreds of entrepreneurs who’ve used Facebook, how much does it cost to advertise on Facebook, and how much does someone need to spend on Facebook before they see a return? 

Magda: I know you’re all looking for an easy number for this question. Unfortunately, I cannot give you one, that is not how Facebook advertising works. It would be really nice if I could package it up and just tell you, “It’s gonna cost you exactly $250 or exactly $500,” that way, you’d be able to properly budget for it and you’d know exactly what you were spending. But there’s no easy answer when it comes to Facebook advertising, and that’s why professional dropshippers and successful dropshippers are the ones that keep at it and keep trying, and they’re the ones that are willing to take the risks. This fear of not knowing exactly how much it’s gonna cost turns away so many people. Lots of dropshippers get to the point of setting up their business, finding products, writing product descriptions, creating ads, and then once it comes to advertising, the fear takes hold, they stop, they just… They don’t know exactly how much they’re gonna spend or how much it’s gonna cost, and they quit, and that’s the end of it for them.

You should not quit. There are a lot of variables involved. There’s always gonna be a little bit of an unknown, but that unknown is completely doable if you break it down and understand exactly what goes into it. So first, I’m gonna go through a few of the different variables that go into what Facebook ads are going to cost you. The first one is your product, more expensive products are gonna cost more to sell and advertise on Facebook. It takes a lot more for someone to purchase a $100 product over a quick $5 knick-knack that they just see online and grabs their attention. So it’s a lot cheaper to advertise products that cost less. So if you’re someone who’s starting dropshipping on a more conservative budget, definitely consider selling a cheaper product first, it’s gonna be cheaper to advertise.

The next variable is ad sets. Ad sets are different variables of the Facebook ads that you’re running and can include a few different things. For example, one of them might be countries, so you might have one ad set only targeting Canada, you might have another ad set only targeting the United Kingdom. Ad sets can also be determined by interest. So one ad set might just be targeting dog owners, another ad set might be targeting cat owners. It’s really important to run different ad sets for your ads because you want to see what’s working and what’s not. If I run ads for Canada and the United Kingdom and include dog owners and cat owners, I have no idea which one of those is working and which one of those I need to cut. So that’s why it’s important to run different ad sets, but different ad sets will cost you more money because you’re running them separately.

Creating different ads sets for your Facebook advertising strategy

Professional dropshippers, Andreas and Alexander, who’ve generated over seven digits with their dropshipping business suggest running eight ad sets per product. Wow, that’s a lot of ad sets. To break that down, eight ad sets will cost you quite a bit of money and if you’re running, let’s say $5 to $10 per day, it could be around $40 to $80 per day to test one product. Now mind you, you would be cutting those ad sets after a few days if they’re not working, but that can still be a lot of money. So it’s definitely something important to consider. And when you start to consider all those ad sets, you might be thinking, “Okay, maybe it would be better to test fewer products.”

David: What were the different criteria that you might use for the… You mentioned location and interest. Is it just going deep into those things or are there other variables that people would wanna be playing with when it comes to the different ad sets? 

Magda: When it comes to ad sets, I would definitely suggest focusing on breaking it down by interest. We’ll get into what countries you should target afterward, but normally, professional dropshippers will break it down and separate one interest at a time. So for example, if I was going to be advertising a dog collar, in one interest I may target a very popular dog Facebook page. In the next interest and separate ad set, I would target dog owners. In the next interest and separate ad set, I would maybe target just pug owners. So you would want to separate every single interest by ad set because that way you can tell exactly what’s working and exactly which one isn’t.

One of the next things you need to consider is the time of the year that you’re running your ads. Ads will definitely cost more at different times of the year. When you’re running ads on Facebook, you might see the word bidding. This is really important to note because you’re bidding on your ads and you’re spending money in relation to what others are. So for example, during the Christmas season, everybody is running ads for Christmas, they’re running Christmas sale ads. And they might be running ads for the New Year. There are a lot more people and a lot more competitors in the game. Even if you’re not necessarily running ads for the same products, there are just a lot more competitors who are trying to put their ads in front of the same people as you are, so ads will cost you a little bit more. Mind you, you might make more sales during the holiday season because that’s when people are gonna be purchasing more, but it’s definitely something you want to consider.

Now, after explaining just a few of these variables, there can definitely be more and you’ll find them as you start to run Facebook ads yourself. You might still be wondering, “Okay, but can I have a number to work with? What is at least a number that I could maybe use or at least ballpark?” And from my experiences, and from my experiences interviewing professional dropshippers and working with hundreds of dropshippers, I would say the typical amount that you want to budget for ecommerce marketing is $250 to $500. That’s a safe budget to set for ecommerce marketing. And with that amount, you’ll definitely be able to tell what’s working, what’s not, and what your next steps might be. Now, mind you, it also depends on the store. There was a dropshipping store that I had that was selling huge jewels and chains to people who were interested in hip-hop. And I was targeting a lot of rappers and people who are interested in rappers that wore these big chains. And I got a sale after spending $10. I spent $10 on an engagement campaign and I got a sale, and I was like wow, Facebook ads are so easy.

And then there was another store that I had, and this next store… Well, I’m still running ads for it now, so we’ll see what happens. But I’ve spent up to $300, and I haven’t even seen a single ‘add to cart’, so it really, really depends. So, that’s exactly why you need to keep testing your ads. But don’t forget, one thing that we touched on earlier is you’re buying data. So even with the store where I’ve spent $300, it’s not gone, it’s not like this $300 has completely disappeared into thin air. I’ve invested this $300 into my Facebook pixel that now knows at least a lot more people who are not gonna be my ideal customer, and it might have a better idea of who might be. I, maybe, didn’t have any ‘add to carts,’ but I definitely had people hanging out on the product page. It’s gotten tons of views. So the pixel can use that information when running ads in the future to find better customers. So it’s not a complete loss. It’s definitely frustrating. But it’s not a loss in any sense, you just need to keep pushing through and understanding and trusting that you have more data to find your ideal customer.

Selling jewels and chains to hip hop fans on your dropshipping store

David: Next up, number four. What countries should I target? Now, anyone with even a passing understanding of Facebook ads knows that one of the really cool features is that you can target specific countries, you can actually target specific states and specific cities and even specific zip codes, I think. So you can get really, really granular with this targeting. It’s actually kinda creepy to zero in on certain neighborhoods or streets, but it’s available if you go dig around. For now, though, let’s just talk about countries and talk about the things that people should consider when it comes to targeting different countries. Magda, what should people keep in mind when it comes to this geography question? 

Magda: Geography is so important when it comes to targeting because different countries have different factors involved that you want to keep in mind. The first is spending power. Most dropshippers start out by targeting the United States with their ads because the United States spends the most money. It’s the biggest market by far, it totally crushes the rest of the world, and people in the United States buy a lot. However, that also means that running ads in the United States is expensive because it can be extremely competitive. So you really want to keep that in mind when considering ecommerce marketing there. 

The next thing you want to consider is ePacket shipping. EPacket shipping is the cheapest and fastest shipping from China. It usually takes around two to three weeks. I actually just ordered some things from AliExpress a few weeks ago and I just got them today. Pretty much two weeks to the T for some of the products, it was awesome. And it comes with free tracking. So you definitely wanna make sure that you’re only selling to countries that have ePacket shipping available. Otherwise, the shipping options are gonna take over a month and you’re gonna have some very unhappy customers and lots of returns, so make sure to only sell to countries that have ePacket shipping. Lucky for you, there are 40 plus countries and counting. So if you’re wondering if a country has ePacket shipping, it probably does. If you wanna double-check, you can go ahead and head to the Oberlo blog, where you can find a full list of ePacket countries available.

David: Very good plug.

Magda: The next one is language. When you’re advertising to different countries, you wanna remember that they do speak different languages, and it’s very important to keep that in mind, and it can definitely help your conversions. There are a lot of amazing apps on the Shopify app store that will automatically translate your store to the country that your customer is from. So you might want to consider those if you are gonna be advertising to different countries. I would definitely suggest looking into it because ads in other countries cost less, so you might actually find more success there. So, definitely keep it in mind. And the last thing is how close the country is to China not yourself. A lot of countries in Europe are actually much closer to China and the shipping is a lot faster than the United States or Canada, for example. So that’s something you want to consider as well.

When it comes to dropshipping, there are usually a few different tactics when it comes to countries and ecommerce marketing. The first one is advertising to the big four. These are the four biggest English-speaking markets. They are the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. A lot of dropshippers will just focus their ecommerce marketing on these four because they can just run their ads in English and they know that people in these countries are ready to spend some money. However, advertising in those countries is also the most expensive. Another really popular dropshipping tactic is actually to just advertise to all the ePacket countries available. This is a really great tactic because a lot of other countries have much cheaper advertising costs and you can find lots of customers there with ecommerce marketing. A lot of people only look at the big four and think that’s the only place that consumers are, but that’s absolutely not the case.

Let me give you an example. A colleague of mine who is dropshipping those motorized ab packs started out by advertising everywhere in the world that had ePacket countries available. Ads were costing him a lot of money. He was looking at his analytics after running his ads for a few days and found that a lot of his customers were coming from Spain. And this is an important thing to note. The Facebook pixel is smart, you have to trust the Facebook pixel. When you tell the Facebook pixel you’re looking for customers, you have to give it a second, be patient, and let it run its magic.

So the Facebook pixel was starting to send him more traffic from Spain. And when he was looking at his analytics he noticed that there were actually more customers from Spain than anywhere else in the world. He duplicated his ad set and then he just focused on advertising to Spain. And boom, he had tons of sales flowing in. It was so cool to see because he would normally think, “Spain in comparison to the US, that’s such a small country. There’s no way there are that many customers there.” But there is. There are a lot of people there. And because it was less competitive to advertise to, he was able to run so many more ads for much less and find so many more customers. So definitely always consider marketing and selling to other countries because you might be completely surprised by where you find your customer base and don’t make assumptions, follow the data.

Target beyond the big four for your ecommerce marketing strategy

David: Yeah, we were writing about this on the Oberlo blog and I was surprised to see that Malaysia, for example, is a country where Oberlo users have had a lot of success and then as well as the Philippines. And these are countries that probably not top of mind for an American dropshipper, they seem like they’re on the edge of the world, but Magda mentioned the proximity to China. And that it doesn’t matter how close your customers are to you, necessarily, it’s more about the shipping options available and how far they might be from the source of these products, which is often China. And the Philippines and Malaysia are a lot closer to where these suppliers are stationed a lot of the times than the customers in the US. And so I think with ecommerce marketing in general, and then definitely with dropshipping, you do have to re-conceive of how you think about the map and take things into consideration that… And consider places that you might not if you were a local store or somebody who was just selling to friends and family, for example.

Next is question number five: How do I find a converting audience? This question refers to all of the different targeting options that are available on Facebook. We’ve touched on some of these already, but you can target people who like certain things, people who live in certain places, are in certain groups, follow certain pages, etc. It’s basically like a bottomless pit of targeting options once you start digging around inside of Facebook. This is, of course, really cool for ecommerce entrepreneurs, but it can also be a bit confusing kind of paralysis by analysis sort of thing where there are a million options and you don’t know what are the two or three that you should be focusing on. Magda, what’s up with all these options? Which ones are valuable? Which ones can safely be ignored? And how do you find a converting audience? 

Magda: When it comes to audiences, don’t overthink it, test it. The amount of time that you spend overthinking audiences, trying to find the right ones, contemplating if this is gonna be your million-dollar audience is not worth it. Take a step back, calm down, and just test it instead. Separate your audiences very cleanly and neatly so that you can test them properly and see which ones are working and which ones aren’t. And if they aren’t, cut them and try new ones. Now, you might be wondering, “Okay, well, where do I even start looking for audiences? Where is my audience? How do I find them? How do I quantify them? How big should they be?” That’s a great question. There are definitely a few parameters that you can use when you are looking for your audience. The first place you should be starting is Facebook Audience Insights.

Facebook Audience Insights is a free tool on Facebook that you can use to see a breakdown of every type of audience that uses Facebook. This information is extremely powerful and you can really get a lot of insight into who you should be looking for. When you first open up Facebook Audience Insights, it can be a little overwhelming, there’s a lot of stuff going on on the page. However, on the left-hand side, you can start putting in interests. Interests are ways that Facebook categorizes all of its users. So, for example, you can look up the Humane Society of America. If you look at the Humane Society of America, as soon as you press it, you’ll see a breakdown of exactly how big that group is on Facebook, you’ll see a breakdown of the genders, the ages, the demographics. You’ll be able to click through Facebook Audience Insights to see, “What pages do those people like the most? What kind of food do those people like the most? What kind of jobs do they have?” You can see everything. It’s extremely helpful for getting to know your audience.

It’s really important to get to know them. But the first thing that I would look at to keep it simple is, “How big is that audience?” If you look at the top, you can see a pretty close estimate to the size of it and how many people it includes. Most dropshippers suggest advertising to audiences that have at least five million people when you’re starting out. This way, it’s big enough for the Facebook pixel to find you new customers and you can make sure that even if there are competitors in the space, you can still get some sales. Definitely use a benchmark of two to five million people. When you’re creating your Facebook ads, as I mentioned before, I would definitely suggest running a Facebook ad for interests separately. So let’s say I included the Humane Society of America, and I noticed that it was two-and-a-half million people. Perfect, that would be one ad set in itself. We can totally leave that one alone and jump to making another new one.

Using the Facebook Audience Insights tool to look for audiences

If you’re wondering, “Well, how do I find other things that my audience is interested in?” You can do this in two ways, you can do it manually or you can get Facebook to help you. If you’re doing it manually, I would definitely suggest looking into events that your audience goes to. I would suggest looking into books they read, magazines they read, influencers that they follow, who’s a leader in their industry, what are their most popular stores, and that way you can use those as well to start finding them on Facebook. Otherwise, if you are confused or need a little bit more help, or if you’re just lazy, that is so okay, then you can actually use Facebook to help you too. When you enter your interests, you can actually use Facebook’s “suggestion” or “browse” feature, and Facebook will automatically pull up interests that are related.

For example, let’s say I put in the Humane Society of America, I could use the “suggestions” or “browse” button right to the right of that to have Facebook pull up other interests that are very similar and that might include sections of the audience. That way Facebook can actually help you find your audience. At first, I thought this was way too simple, and I thought, “There is no way that Facebook is going to be sending me converting audiences for free this easily.” Well, guess what? When you run ads on Facebook, you’re paying Facebook. If your ads don’t work, you’re gonna stop running ads on Facebook. And Facebook is a business, they want you to run ads on their website, so they are trying to help you as much as possible. If you’ve run ads on Facebook before, I know you don’t think this is true. Trust me, I’ve been there too. I thought, “There is no way Facebook is trying to help me make any money right now.” But it is a business, and they definitely want you to make sales with those ads, so they are trying to help you as much as possible. So instead of fighting it, try it out.

I actually tried this out for the first time after we did our interview with Andreas and Alexander, which you can find their success story on our blog or on our YouTube channel. I would definitely suggest checking it out. And when they were talking about how they build their audiences, they were the ones that first suggested starting with one interest, making an ad set, going onto Facebook and pressing “suggestion”. Top one, making another ad set, they don’t even look at what it says, as long as it’s the next interest that Facebook suggests, and it has between two to five million people, that’s it, no problem, they move on to the next one. If it has fewer than two million people, go ahead and throw in the next suggestion. Together, if they make two to five million, perfect, onto the next ad set. After interviewing them and working with them, I realized that you have to just test things instead of just worrying about them and trying to figure out what’s gonna work the best. Because in your head, you’ll never know what works the best, you have to try it out and see. So that’s the way that I would suggest finding your audiences at first.

Now, one other thing that I wanted to touch on is our investment in our data. When you invest money into Facebook ads, the pixel is learning about who is coming to your store, as I mentioned before. It becomes smarter and smarter and understands who is your ideal customer after you run more ads. Once you start running ads, and you start seeing around 15 to 20 ‘add to carts’ per week, the Facebook pixel will have a much better idea of who’s that person that’s gonna be pressing ‘add to cart’ on your product. So after you start seeing 15 to 20 ‘add to carts’ per week, you can definitely go ahead and look into making a lookalike audience. If you’re looking for more in-depth information about this, definitely check out our Oberlo 101 course where we take you through it step-by-step. But…

David: Promo code: PODCAST.

Magda: Yep. But otherwise, I would definitely just look into making a lookalike audience because what a lookalike audience is, is Facebook creating an audience that looks like all the best people that the pixel has found when you’ve been running your ads before. That’s why running ads is an investment because you can’t actually make a look-a-like audience until you run some ads and the pixel knows who is and who isn’t a great customer. So it’s really important to remember that investment portion. And to look into lookalike audiences, even before you start seeing sales.

I think one of the biggest mistakes I made as a beginner dropshipper is thinking that I could only make a lookalike audience when I’ve had at least 100 orders. Because normally for a lookalike audience, you want 100 interactions. Well, guess what? If someone is adding products to their cart or if someone is visiting your product page, they already are gonna make a better potential customer than someone who isn’t visiting your page at all. So don’t forget to use all the tools that Facebook has available. Sometimes those tools get overwhelming, and it can be difficult to sort through them all, but just remember at the end of the day, that Facebook is a business and they are trying to help you make sales. So make sure to use the resources available when it comes to finding converting audiences.

David: Yeah, there is a good alignment of incentives here. I mean, Facebook doesn’t want you to have poorly performing ads because that will inspire you to shut off those ads. And we’ve talked with dropshippers, who they… They will just create ads, and then have some sort of loose, geographical rule. They wanna target a certain country, for example. And that’s the only targeting they do. And then Facebook, they know just through all the interactions, as Magda mentioned, and through the purchases, and ‘add to carts’, etc. Facebook knows exactly who should be on the receiving end of those ads even without defining some intricate set of rules. And so, yeah, if you’re patient and let this data accumulate, it’s only going to be an improving system that’s working behind your ads.

The different Facebook advertising to use for your ecommerce marketing strategy

Alright, number six. When should I cut my ads? Everyone is going to face this question at some point. They have Facebook ads running, and the ads just aren’t moving the needle in any discernible way. There could be a number of reasons why this is happening. Maybe the image in the ad isn’t quite right, or the video isn’t right, the copy, whatever is going on. This question is gonna come up. When should someone cut their ads, and when is it time to move on? Magda, what should people keep in mind here? 

Magda: This is a really tough question to answer and it can be a little bit different for everybody. It’s important to note that even professional dropshippers have varied answers on this. On our Oberlo YouTube channel, we did a series where we asked six and seven-figure dropshippers this exact question. When should you cut your ads? And we compared their answers. Some of them run their ads always for a minimum of three to five days before they even consider cutting them. Other…

David: They don’t even look at the results. It’s just three days, let it run. My eyes are closed.

Magda: Exactly. They don’t even look at the results because they say it can be skewed and the results aren’t accurate until at least three to five days. Then there are other dropshippers, like Ryan Carroll, which if you have listened to previous episodes of the podcasts, you’ll have definitely heard Ryan’s interview. Who suggested that he actually runs ads for two days before considering if he’s cutting them. He said he doesn’t even need to wait three to five days, and he can definitely see and make decisions after two. So as you can see, it does vary. However, there are a few benchmarks and more popular strategies that you can at least lean towards to make it a little bit easier for yourself if you’re a beginner.

The first one is to remember that the Facebook pixel does take some time to get going. It does take some time to get some data. And that once it gets data, it will understand more and more who is a better customer. So I would definitely suggest running your ads for at least three to five days, especially if you’re just starting out. If it’s the first day that you’re running an ad, you might go manic. You might think, “This isn’t working at all. It is so expensive, there’s no way. My product costs $5.00. I’ve already spent $10. I haven’t even had someone add it to the cart. This is totally not working.” I know. I’ve been there. All dropshippers have been there. There is always that moment of panic, where you’re like, “This is not gonna work at all.” You just have to trust that the pixel is learning, it’s getting warmed up, and it’s figuring out who is going to be your best customer.

One strategy that a lot of professional dropshippers have suggested for beginners is to take three times the amount of the price of your product and use that as your ecommerce marketing cap for it. So let me give you an example. Let’s say, for example, you’re selling unicorn slippers. And the unicorn slippers on AliExpress costs about $10. And we’re gonna be selling them for $25, including shipping. So you want to multiply that price by three and use that as your general advertising cap. So for example, if we were selling our unicorn slippers for $25, multiplied by three, we have $75. So you could use $75 as a benchmark for when to stop advertising that product, and figuring out what’s working, and what’s not about it.

So one important thing to remember, is that when you’re running Facebook ads, you can choose how much money you spend a day on those Facebook ads. So one of the biggest questions that beginner dropshippers have is should I spend $5 a day on Facebook ads? Or should I spend $10 a day on Facebook ads? Well, it doesn’t really matter. If you spend $5 a day, you’ll just get that information a little bit slower than $10 a day. So, if you’re on a tight budget, for sure, definitely consider $5 a day, it can absolutely work for you.

If you have a little bit more of a budget to spend and have more time to look at the ads and see what’s going on, I would definitely suggest advertising for $10 a day because you’re only gonna be getting that information faster, be able to make decisions faster, test products faster, and ultimately find success faster. So I would definitely suggest spending up to $10 a day.

David: And I think that last part of finding success faster is really important just as a motivating factor. The minute you start seeing sales coming in it’s just so much easier to devote the necessary time into this and if you have this support of seeing your app light up or of having money come into your account, there’s something about that that makes any of the Facebook backend headaches a little bit easier to tolerate. Alright, so those are some things to keep in mind as you build your ad campaigns and your ad sets, now let’s hit on the ads themselves.

Number seven, what makes a converting ad? So Magda, let’s assume for this question that somebody has picked good products, that they have a viable niche that they’re working in, if all that stuff is in place, the ad itself, what is gonna make the ad convert?

Deciding how much to spend on Facebook ads

Magda: Okay, so if your product is rock solid and you know that it’s definitely a winner, well, there are a lot of other variables you have to consider too. And it’s important to break those down and test those as well because sometimes those make the biggest difference. So the first thing that you want to look at is your ad itself. Are you showing a video or a photo? After talking to hundreds of dropshippers and working with professional dropshippers, it’s pretty clear that you should be using video ads. Photo ads can definitely still work for you and can definitely still bring in sales, but Facebook wants its users to be on Facebook as long as possible. And they will be on Facebook longer if you show them a video. Also, it’s a lot easier to catch the attention of your customers if you have a product video. You can also put in more about the features, you can also explain the problem that it solves for your customer. Video ads are definitely the way to go. You can absolutely still make things work with photo ads, but we found that dropshippers find so much more success when they use videos as their ad.

David: It sounds more complicated than it is. There are apps that you can use to turn a real simple smartphone video into something serviceable for Facebook. If you take a little bit more time, then there are all sorts of software you can use on a computer. Chopping up a video and editing it and making it Facebook-worthy, it’s really not that hard. And I think that for a lot of people, myself included, when I first started thinking about video ads, that seemed like a huge barrier to entry. “This is video, I don’t have video experience, all I have is a phone and a computer. What am I supposed to do?” You can do a lot with just that. So don’t think that it’s some sort of voodoo potion that we’re throwing out there when we talk about video ads.

Magda: Absolutely, that’s a really important thing to touch on. I’m someone who knows how to use Adobe. I know how to use Adobe Premier. I have a professional camera. I enjoy making videos in my free time. And guess what? When it comes to video ads, I’m so lazy. I never even wanna open up Adobe, I just cannot even be bothered. Also sometimes I cannot be bothered to turn on my camera, put in the SD card, it’s just so much work. And there’s already a lot of work involved when you’re trying to run a dropshipping store, you do not wanna make it any more difficult for yourself. So when it comes to making video ads for me, even though I know how to use Premier and even though I have a professional camera, I still just take the photos and videos with my iPhone and then I still just use an online free video application to edit them together. And mind you, sometimes these aren’t even all video clips. Sometimes my video is actually just photos in a slide show because it’s just easier and you know what? It gets the point across.

The idea with a video is that it’s just catching someone’s attention. It doesn’t need to be a movie. It doesn’t need to be an insane amount of quality. It just needs to be simple, show the product, show the problem, and catch their attention. So I would definitely take that fear, and know that making a video does not mean you need to be a videographer and that anybody can make a video ad for their product.

Making video ads for your dropshipping product

Now, the next thing. So if it’s not your product and it’s not your video ad, then it might be something else, and you need to start going through all the variables involved. So the first thing you wanna look at is who you’re targeting. You wanna make sure that you’re targeting the right audience, and the only way to know that is by comparing the audiences you’re targeting with ecommerce marketing. If you’re running a few different ad sets and each one has a different interest, it should be really clear to see whether one of them is working better than the other. And if they’re not, no problem, go ahead and cut it. The next thing you wanna consider is your product page. Maybe it’s the product page itself that is not converting. Through your Facebook analytics, and through the free analytics offered on Shopify, which are also amazing, so do not forget to use those as well, you can see how many people are coming to your product page and then leaving. You’re looking for a conversion rate of 1 to 2 percent.

So that means for every 100 people coming to your product page, you’re looking for about one add to cart. If you’re not seeing that conversion, then you might need to focus on your product page and change up a few things. Now that includes the language, make sure that the copy on your product page is perfect. I’ve had professional dropshippers tell me before that they went through their product pages, realized that there was a spelling mistake and that once they changed the spelling mistake, they started to see sales. Yes, customers do notice that. Don’t forget to put yourself in your customer’s shoes, if you were shopping on an online store and you noticed a spelling mistake, it’s a little unprofessional.

David: Totally unknown online store too.

Magda: Yeah, a…

David: A mistake on Nike.com might be a little more forgivable than…

Magda: Yeah, on a small unique store. And although it maybe doesn’t speak to the quality of the product, you’re just a little suspicious. And if you’re suspicious for even one second, you’re probably gonna exit off the page. So definitely make sure that your copy is perfect. If your copy is perfect and you’re still not seeing conversions once people hit your product page, well, it might be the product price. Test out different product prices. Yes, that can make a huge difference. We talked about this in our previous episode, but don’t forget to test this out as well, because this can also help an ad convert or not. And one other thing that you really want to remember is the ad copy. Don’t forget, when you’re making ad copy include emojis, include a Bitly-shortened URL link so that people have an easy way to access your store. Make sure that your ad copy catches their attention as much as the video, as much as the product, and don’t forget to never include the price of the product in the ad copy, that is super important. You wanna get potential customers to click through as far as possible. If you include the price in the ad copy, they’ll already know. They’ll already have all the information and there’s no mystery.

If you say that there is a discount, but you don’t include the exact price, They might at least click to see what the price is and if they click to see what the price is, well, guess what? The pixel now has even more information about who might make an ideal customer. You definitely want to draw them in as much as possible.

David: Yeah, and this idea of drawing them in is something that we’ve talked about on the podcast before, and dropshippers say that with Facebook ads, Facebook itself is not gonna be the problem and that whatever exists on Facebook, your copy, your videos, etc., it’s just gonna amplify whatever exists at your store. And so if the store is not in good shape, then the ads are gonna amplify that. And if your store is rock solid, then the ads will amplify that as well. And so in a very real way, sometimes the success of your Facebook ads is not about Facebook, it’s about everything else other than Facebook. Next, we’ll hit on a couple of questions about Instagram.

So number eight: How do I advertise on Instagram? We’re gonna set influencer marketing aside for now and just focus on how a brand would place their own ad in an Instagram feed. We’re gonna do influencers in the next question. But Magda, how does “normal” advertising work on Instagram?

How to include Instagram advertising in your ecommerce marketing strategy

Magda: Well, the first thing that you need to remember is that Instagram is owned by Facebook. And that means when you are setting up ads on Facebook Business Manager, you can actually run them on Instagram as well. When it comes to placements and choosing them. If you see a breakdown, you can actually choose exactly where you want your ads to run on Instagram from inside of Facebook. So it’s really, really easy. Also, on Instagram, you can just go to your feed, select a post, and boost it. You can choose which audience you want to send it to, what you want to target, the budget behind it and you can just start advertising it from within the mobile app itself. So that’s very simply how you can advertise on Instagram.

David: So logistically, it’s just like advertising on Facebook. Is that fair to say? That the interface is the same, the targeting selection is the same as… So, just, there’s all this stuff about influencers and I think there’s more of a premium on Instagram placed on the beauty of your ad. It needs to fit into what might be a really attractive feed, but just the nuts and bolts of it. It’s very, very similar to Facebook.

Magda: Exactly. For example, I was running some ads on Facebook and I chose the automatic placement, so that means that Facebook just chose to put it wherever it thought would be best and where I would find customers. And when I checked back in my analytics, I noticed that about 10 percent of the traffic was actually coming through Instagram. So even though I was completely just focusing on Facebook, they had advertised it on Instagram as well.

David: Yeah, Facebook does a really good job of disguising the fact that it’s the same company as Instagram on the outside, but then once you’re actually behind the scenes in this ad placement platform, it’s very much the same interface. Alright, we have five questions about influencer marketing. And so I’m just gonna throw these at you, Magda, you can take what you think is most important here. Influencers are definitely a big part of advertising on Instagram. So, let’s just cover some of the headlines here. 

So, number nine: Where do I find influencers for my brand? What makes a good influencer? How much should I pay an influencer? What should I ask an influencer? And will influencers do it for free? So, have at it.

Magda: What a great bunch of questions. When it comes to promoting your dropshipping store with ecommerce marketing, a lot of people always ask, “Should I do Instagram influencers or Facebook marketing.” And Facebook marketing, especially if you’re new to it and especially after everything we’ve talked about, can be super intimidating and confusing. So a lot of people lean towards Instagram influencers as a little bit of an easier option to kind of jump into and kind of work with when it comes to promoting your dropshipping store with ecommerce marketing. And they absolutely can be. Influences are absolutely taking over the online ecommerce marketing world. They are making a lot of dropshipping stores a lot of money. But it’s also super new. And it is a little bit like the Wild West.

When you’re running Facebook ads, you can run it exactly for $5 to $10 a day. You can see the exact breakdown of what’s happening and what’s not working. When it comes to influencers, guess what? There is no set pricing. Everybody prices differently. You’re kind of working with freelancers. Everyone sets their own prices, they have different things that they will be willing to do and not willing to do and you need to work with them on an individual basis. You also can’t just send them $50. You have to ask them, you have to talk to them, and you have to figure out an agreement.

So the first thing that you should know is that influencers are a great tactic to use for your dropshipping store’s ecommerce marketing strategy. You want to first look at the market or niche that you’re selling to on Instagram and find influencers in that industry. Now, when it comes to influencers, you might be thinking, “Who’s an influencer? How big? How much should I pay them?” And that really depends. If you have a huge dropshipping store, of course, you can work with influencers, who are much bigger and pay them a lot more. If you’re just starting out, you might be wondering who is the best to work with. Now that we’re nearing 2020, Instagram and influencer marketing is changing dynamically all the time.

How to choose Instagram influencers for your ecommerce marketing strategy

The current trend and the current most effective method for working with influencers, is working with micro-influencers. When you’re just getting started, you might be thinking, “Okay, I’m trying to advertise these unicorn slippers. And this influencer on Instagram has five million followers. She’ll be the best to use.” And when you reach out to her, she might be so expensive to work with and you might think, “Well, that’s it for influencers for me.” That is not the case. You have to remember that influencers who have a lot more followers are also less connected to their audiences. So companies that actually have a lot of money are also working with a lot more micro-influencers because their followers feel closer to them. So now you know that working with micro-influencers is better. So I would definitely suggest working with influencers between 1,000 and 500,000 followers when you’re just getting started.

So you found an influencer that you want to work with, and what do you do now? Well, unlike Facebook ads, where you can just pay to start running ads, you have to talk to a real person. That’s right. This is the biggest barrier to entry that I’ve seen for a lot of new dropshippers. And you might be thinking, “That’s the biggest barrier to entry?” Yes. You would be surprised how many dropshippers I have seen struggle with wondering, “How do I message them. What do I even say to them?” It’s really easy. All you need to do is introduce yourself, introduce your brand, introduce your business, and tell them that you’d like to work with them. Now when it comes to pricing, unfortunately there is no easy answer here. It depends on how many followers they have, what their engagement rate is, and then it also depends on their personal pricing and how long they’re gonna be running your ad for. Whether the ad is gonna be on their Instagram feed or whether it’s going to be in their Instagram stories.

Here’s a really important thing to remember, on Instagram the most important engagement happens within 12 hours. Afterward, it just kind of sits there. So while you might be thinking, “Well, of course, I would prefer my advertisement to be in their feed because it will sit there permanently,” that actually might not be the most effective because getting something on their feed will cost you way more, but it will get most of its engagement in 12 hours anyways. So I would definitely suggest focusing on asking for a shoutout in a story and asking them to leave it up for at least 12 hours. There will usually be price differences between 12 to 24, but you can rest assured that the most engagement happens in 12 hours. So focus on the 12-hour price range.

Now, what is that price range? It depends. This is something that I really struggled with as a beginner dropshipper because I never wanted to be pushy. I never wanted to throw out a number. I wanted to get their rates first and see what they wanted to charge. Well, guess what? When you ask someone their rate, it’s probably gonna be more expensive than the rate you would want to charge them. So it’s really important to throw a number out there first. To give an example, an influencer that I was working with once had about 250,000 followers and they charged me $50 for a story shoutout for 12 hours, which is a really good price. And they had a pretty decent engagement rate. However, it can definitely depend. So, start talking to them and start asking them. This is also great because you can build an ongoing relationship with them. It’s really important to remember that they could be a potential business partner for you in the future. So be professional, but be assertive because you can definitely make it an ongoing thing.

And one thing to remember is, just like Facebook, Instagram influencers are running a business, they’re looking to make money too. So if you can work with them, it can be an ongoing beneficial relationship for both of you. They wanna keep making money, and so do you. So remember to keep that in mind when you’re talking to them.

David: As Magda said, this is a relatively new phenomenon or at least new enough to keep evolving all the time. And we have tons of resources on Oberlo and on the YouTube channel about how to interact with influencers and some things to keep in mind as you get your influencer marketing operation off the ground. Alright, we teased it at the beginning, so we’re gonna come full circle here, the last question, number 10: Can you market your dropshipping store for free? If yes, how and where? So, the good news is, yes, there are free ways to do advertising and ecommerce marketing. Now Magda is going to explain what they are and where you should focus.

Magda: You can absolutely market for free, but you might not like this answer. If you’re not gonna be engaging with ecommerce marketing with money, you’re gonna need to market with your time, and it’s really, really, really important to remember that. You can absolutely do it. We’ve had lots of success stories and lots of professional dropshippers explain how they’ve done this, but they put a lot of work into it. If you’re willing to put in the work, I have a few strategies for you.

Free ecommerce marketing strategies require hard work

The first strategy is an Instagram account. If you have a large following on Instagram, that is a large following of potential customers. Here’s the thing though, it’s not easy to grow a large Instagram account. It’s gonna take you time, it’s gonna take you effort. It’s not necessarily difficult, but you are gonna need to put work into it every single day. And that doesn’t mean just the posts, that also includes engaging with your followers, that also includes coming up with new content, that also includes writing captions and you might be thinking, “Oh, captions? One sentence? That’s so easy.” It’s not easy. Get ready to put the work and build your Instagram following.

But this is such a good strategy to use because your Instagram following will only grow faster and faster. And it’s a recurring customer base that you can constantly advertise to, so definitely look into it. One of our most recent success stories, that you can actually find on the Oberlo blog right now, was about two guys from Vancouver who started a fantasy-based dropshipping store. Around the Christmas holidays, they advertised to their 4,000 to 6,000 Instagram followers about a mystery box promotion, and guess what? They brought in over $30,000 in sales in one weekend. That’s crazy. And they weren’t running Facebook ads, they just shared this with their Instagram following. Now, they didn’t snap their fingers and find this Instagram following, they earned it. And it takes a lot of effort, but it can absolutely pay off.

So if you’re thinking about starting a dropshipping store and you don’t have money for advertising or ecommerce marketing, get started with an Instagram account. Pick a niche. Pick a niche that you eventually want to sell some products in, and start Instagram, because Instagram won’t have any monthly fees. So you can slowly start building it and building it and building it, and when it’s come to a sizeable amount, then you can open up your dropshipping store and you’ll already have an amazing customer base to advertise to.

The next advertising strategy is posting on Reddit. You might think, “Posting on Reddit, that seems so simple.” It is and it works, it’s crazy. I thought that this strategy was way too simple to work. That’s another learning lesson for everyone in this podcast. Sometimes simple works. You’ve gotta try it out. You can absolutely post on Reddit and you can use that as an advertising strategy for free. Now, that does not mean advertising on Reddit, that does not mean posting an ad on Reddit and making it seem like an ad, but you can absolutely talk about products, start posting in related sub-Reddits about how you found this product. Maybe just posting about how cool this product is. If you post that and then you post a link, you will naturally drive traffic to your store. And you will be much more successful with making sales because it won’t seem like an ad. That’s why it’s so hard to convert Facebook ads because when people see them, it says ad. But on Reddit, you can just post about how much you like a product or how cool you think it is, and it will be so much better at converting into sales because it’s so much more genuine and it doesn’t have ‘ad’ posted underneath. 

The next one, pretty similar, is sharing pins on Pinterest. Guess what, when you share pins on Pinterest, they sit there forever. And there is a huge, huge, huge community on Pinterest. It’s very, very niche. If you don’t use Pinterest, like myself, for example, you might think, “What? People still use Pinterest? I don’t know, I thought it was something that only moms used to share wedding dresses and flower arrangements.” But I was totally wrong.

Once again, keep it simple. When you go on to Pinterest you can find millions of pin posts and those pin posts include products, these posts are permanent and they’re constantly recycled into different boards and you can use text to have them be brought up again, and they can be sprawling through the ecosystem. Before you start advertising on Pinterest, I would jump on to Pinterest, make an account and start seeing how much traction posts in your niche or post about your types of products get. That will give you a good estimate of the community there. Start commenting, start engaging, and start seeing exactly what’s happening for your niche on Pinterest. And if you’re seeing some traction, start pinning posts. You have nothing to lose and it can be a great way to drive traffic for free, it seems so simple. And yes, sometimes the simplest strategies work the best, so don’t ever count it out until you’ve tried it.

And the last strategy is Facebook groups. Facebook absolutely wants you to make money with ads on Facebook. However, nobody wants their platform to be overrun with ads. Everyone knows that ideally, the best platform wouldn’t necessarily have ads, because ads are paid advertising from companies and stores. So Facebook, while it needs ads to run and will always help you advertise your products, it has been slowly pushing more towards Facebook groups. And it’s been pushing more towards Facebook groups because they’re more community-oriented, it’s a way for people to get together, and slowly pushing advertising through Facebook groups because it seems more genuine. If you can build a Facebook group for your store before you start advertising, you can have a huge, amazing customer base. That way when you start your dropshipping store and you have your Shopify fees and whatever else you need to pay for, you already have your audience members hungry to buy some products from you.

David: Yeah, I think that’s a great point you made there to wrap up, that you can kind of work in the other direction. We always talk about, you gotta have a Facebook ad account for your store, you need to have a Twitter account, an Instagram account for your store, etc. But there are a lot of successful dropshippers that we’ve seen, who’ve worked in the opposite direction where they have a robust Instagram account or they have this raging Facebook group, and only after that do they get into monetizing it. So this is definitely, if you wanna look at free advertising methods, this is definitely an area where you can think creatively, maybe think in the opposite direction of how we always talk, and that could open up some doors for sure like Magda was saying. Alright, those were the top 10 most asked ecommerce marketing questions. Magda, thank you so much for taking the time to chat.

Magda: My pleasure. And happy dropshipping everybody.

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