I’m somebody who truly believes that everybody has the potential to become a successful entrepreneur, and I’m on a mission to prove it.
Recently I’ve been launching and building successful ecommerce stores, and documenting every step of my journey so I can show entrepreneurs just like you how to find success with dropshipping.
Back in March 2018, I shared how I built a dropshipping store that made $6,667 in under 8 weeks.
That store was a huge success, but I knew I could do better.
And I’m back today to show you exactly what I did.
I set the bar higher. I wanted to go bigger.
I was still working my 9 to 5 job and I still had to take care of personal matters while I was managing this business, but that’s life.
And in life, you don’t need to be a genius to succeed. Heck, I’m certainly not.
You just need to make sure that you put the work in.
This case study will detail all of the work that I did to take this business from nothing into a successful dropshipping store. Everything from building the store, to launch day, to my first marketing campaigns, to my first sale. It’s all in here.
Okay, ready to find out how I made $8,873 in 31 days by dropshipping? Let’s go!
- A Proper Goal
- What To Sell
- Ordering Products for Quality Assurance
- Choosing A Business Name
- Business Logo
- Building My Shopify Store
- Store Design
- Designing Product Pages
- Shopify Apps
- My Target Audience
- Setting Up Social Media
- Setting Up Instagram
- Organic Social Media Marketing
- Automating Social Media Content
- First Marketing Efforts
- First Sale
- Abandoned Cart Emails
- Giveaway Marketing
- The Giveaway Result
- Facebook Ads
- Facebook Ads: The Starting Point
- Facebook Ads: The Ad Funnel
- Facebook Ads: The First Ads
- Facebook Ads: Collecting Data
- The Big Success
- Facebook Ads: Optimizing Everything!
- Optimization Part 2: Facebook Ads
- Facebook Ads: Bringing It All Together
- Facebook Ads: Getting Closer
- Facebook Ads: Creating the Winning Ad
- Facebook Ads: Finding the Sweet Spot
- Changing the Price
- The End
A Proper Goal
Goal setting is such an important part of entrepreneurship.
After all, if you don’t have a goal, how do you know if you’re succeeding?
With that in mind, I decided that I wanted to use S.M.A.R.T. goals to keep track of my progress, and they really helped to keep me motivated throughout this project.
One of the goals for this new business was to prove that dropshipping is, and always will be, a real and sustainable business model for entrepreneurs who want to start an online business.
But, of course, the main goal that I needed to set myself was a revenue goal.
I decided that I wanted to make more money than I did with the previous case study (when I made $6,667 in revenue) and achieve that in a shorter time frame.
I also decided that I’d aim for a returning customer rate of at least 5%, as this would be a great way to measure customer satisfaction.
And finally, I wanted to achieve a conversion rate of 4%. This meant that four out of every 100 visitors to my store would need to become paying customers. This was probably the hardest goal I set for myself, especially considering that the average conversion rate of an ecommerce business is only 2%.
After setting my goals I was so excited for this new adventure!
What To Sell
Anybody who is starting an ecommerce business has probably asked “What should I sell?” at least once.
It’s one of the biggest concerns for new dropshippers, and some might jump to the assumption that you need to find trending products to succeed.
This isn’t necessarily true.
Trending products can definitely help you on your journey, but they won’t decide the fate of your business alone.
I actually have some personal requirements that I look for in a product that I’m going to be dropshipping.
Those requirements are:
- Cheap to source (< $10 USD)
- Easy and cheap to ship (ePacket delivery)
- Steady niche, not trendy niche
- A high-quality product
So, I had the framework down for choosing my products, but I didn’t really know what exactly I wanted to sell just yet.
Product research can take a long time, and that was time that I didn’t have, so I decided to make a quick decision.
After browsing through a few articles, it finally hit me. I knew what I wanted to sell.
People are always looking to buy new sunglasses – there’s always somewhere on earth where the sun is shining.
And that means that there’s always going to be demand for sunglasses.
Ordering Products for Quality Assurance
I was running a dropshipping business, which meant that my suppliers would ship their products directly to my customers. I wouldn’t ever see them.
This is great on one the hand, because I’d never need to worry about handling inventory or shipping orders. But on the other hand, I was trying to build a brand, so quality assurance is a necessity.
In fact, I cannot stress how important test orders are.
Low-quality products from unreliable suppliers is a big no-go for dropshippers.
And you, the business owner, have a responsibility to know what it’s like to receive the products that you’re actually selling.
So I ordered product samples and verified the product quality myself.
I wanted to get the full experience that my customers would have when they received my products.
Simply looking at product images online isn’t enough to ensure that the product quality is high. I needed to see the products, in person.
After ordering products – the same ones that I’d be selling at my store – I was really happy with their quality, so I decided to focus on another part of my new business: branding.
It can take years of hard work to establish an unforgettable brand.
I only had four weeks to run this store, but I still wanted to show you how you can build a brand for your dropshipping business.
So, I started off with an important part of every brand – the business name.
Choosing A Business Name
The name of your business really is important – if you choose a catchy one, it’ll leave a lasting impression on your audience.
But, it shouldn’t just sound great. I also try to make sure that I choose a name which has the .com domain name available.
My goal was to find two (or more) words which I could blend together to make my business name.
After a couple of minutes, I came up with the name “Sunyez”.
I decided on this because it was a different spelling for “sunnies,” which is a slang term for “sunglasses.”
I looked up “Sunyez” on the WIPO Global Brand Database to make sure I wouldn’t run into any legal issues – there were no entries for this name, so I moved forward.
Luckily, sunyez.com was still available. So, I bought the domain and jumped into the next part: creating a business logo.
I have basic Adobe Photoshop skills, but I didn’t want to create a logo for my business – I’m just not as good as a professional.
So, I hired a freelance web designer on Fiverr to help me create the logo for my store.
After receiving a short description of what my business was, and the expectations that I had for the design, they got to work.
I received my final design two days later.
I wasn’t thrilled with the result, but I didn’t want to spend more money or time on a new logo. I decided to keep it with slight changes.
I accepted that this is my first mistake while running this business. I should’ve provided clearer instructions. Fortunately, this could be fixed easily.
Although the logo had the color gradient I wanted, I changed it to an orange tone instead.
In the end, this became the final logo:
Now that the business name and logo were done, it was time to move onto the next step:
Building my Shopify store.
Building My Shopify Store
One of the many great things about Shopify is that you don’t need to be a web designer to create your own stunning online store.
Instead, you can just use a theme (free or paid) to lay the foundation for your store. Themes are pre-designed templates which you can add to your store with just a few clicks – they’re also customizable so you can add your own personal touch.
After doing a little bit of browsing, I decided that I’d purchase a Shopify theme called “Symmetry” for $180. I picked this specific theme because it allowed me to create visual sections which were aligned with my goal of building a brand.
Remember: ecommerce is all about creating an amazing shopping experience. I want my future customers to have fun browsing and shopping on my store
The very first step I took after choosing my theme was designing the homepage.
I focused on everything “above the fold,” meaning everything you see before you scroll down the page.
Usually, ecommerce stores have a hero image or slider above the fold, and then place their products below the fold – this means that customers will need to scroll down to see them.
I was looking for the opposite.
Everything above the fold is prime real estate, so I focused on optimizing for that.
If you visited my Shopify store in the first few days, you would’ve seen this:
The problem was – I had zero data. I didn’t know which products would make the most sense to put at the top of the page.
So, I took a guess and chose products that matched the color scheme of my hero image:
Designing Product Pages
When designing my product page, I wanted it to have the same look and feel as I was creating for my brand.
From the colors to the wording, there needed to be a sense of consistency.
Without knowing who my actual target audience was at that point, I could only make assumptions about what kind of style my potential customers might like.
To get more data about my product pages, I created two different styles.
The first was very simple and only included the necessary product information. Meanwhile, the second one had much snappier copy.
Can you guess which version performed better?
At the end of this four week case study, there was no clear winner. Both styles converted well, which proves that there are many different ways to make your product pages work.
There are a bunch of apps which helped me on my way.
At the end of this case study, I used a total of six Shopify apps on my store.
It’s the number one marketplace on Shopify for helping entrepreneurs find products to sell online. I sourced all my products from Oberlo, and I could fulfill every order with just a few clicks.
Perfect for creating great looking contact forms and the forms are 100% customizable.
This app helped me to create scarcity, so my potential customers are more compelled to become a paying customer.
All of my email marketing efforts were done with MailChimp. I also collected email addresses from store visitors and customers with this app. It pushed the addresses directly to my mailing list.
When working with longer product pages, the “add to cart” button disappears, and this may result in customers dropping off. Like the name says, an add to cart button will be always visible on the side of the page.
I used Sumo to promote a giveaway and collect email addresses.
Some apps have monthly fees. I didn’t want to spend unnecessary money, so I only added apps when I needed them.
After getting my apps sorted out, it was time to start focusing on the most important part of running a business: the customers.
My Target Audience
When a store finds success, it’s because of one key reason: they’ve found a way to bring value to the people who matter the most, their customers.
That’s why I always like to start a new business by figuring out who my customers actually are.
Because I was starting from scratch, I needed to think critically about how I’d gain that understanding.
To get a vague impression of my target audience, I decided that I’d perform some simple interviews with them about some topics they might like.
I did this for several reasons:
- I could get in touch with my customers and add a human element to the relationship
- I’d gain insights about where my target audience lives
- I could spread the word about my online store
- I could use the interviews to create blog content (which had a chance to get shared)
- I could figure out what kind of wording they resonate with, which would help my brand’s voice to match theirs
Let’s take a look at what I did to gather interviewees.
My Target Audience: Assumptions About My Target Audience
I assumed that my audience was female, and was interested in social media, blogging, and fashion.
Please note that this isn’t target audience segmentation at all. I just needed a starting point to proceed to step number two.
My Target Audience: Creating The Survey
This was the simplest part of the three-step process.
I came up with a short Google Forms survey which would only take two minutes to complete, and included a 60% discount code for my store at the very end.
Here’s the link to the original survey I used in this case study. I chose to ask these questions because I thought they were relevant to my assumed target audience.
My Target Audience: Asking For The Interview
To find people for my interview, I simply posted this on social media from my personal Facebook account:
I didn’t do any further promotion for this interview.
Facebook groups can be a great resource, but they need to be handled with extra care. Spam will be treated as such, and there’s a high chance that you’ll get banned from the group.
We are only guests in those Facebook groups. Remember that.
In the end, I collected results from 17 different interviews which helped me to move onto step number four.
My Target Audience: Analyze The Data
I needed to figure out what type of language resonated most with my audience.
Chances were high that I, a 29-year-old male entrepreneur, spoke very differently than a 24-year-old female fashion blogger.
So, to analyze the data I simply copy/pasted the answers into a word counter to get an analysis of which words had been used the most.
These were the results that I was looking for.
Now it was up to me to make sure that I used the messaging which my target audience liked.
And, as a thank you for the time that people spent on the interview, I offered to share their social media handles or website link on my store’s blog.
After a few edits, I published blog posts like this on my website:
The best part was that people actually engaged with these blog posts!
Like-minded people from across the world felt comfortable enough to leave comments and share these blog posts.
Traffic-wise, my blog performed okay. It didn’t directly lead to any sales in this 30-day project, but this wasn’t the goal, so I was satisfied with simply getting some traffic and exposure.
In order to spread the word about these posts even further, I let all interviewees know once their interview was published. This lead to conversations like this:
I didn’t get sales from this, but I did gain something way more valuable: insights about my customers.
I was able to learn who they are, what matters most to them, and how I can better serve them.
I couldn’t be happier with the insights that I learned from these interviews. From there I could finally move ahead and start with my social media pages.
Setting Up Social Media
Social media is such an invaluable tool for entrepreneurs.
There are a few social media channels that you can use to market your business, but I chose the two biggest, Facebook and Instagram, as my focal points.
Setting Up Facebook
When it came to Facebook, I decided to keep the design of my page very simple.
Here’s what it looked like:
Setting up my Facebook page didn’t take too long at all. Once I was finished, I moved onto my Instagram page.
Setting Up Instagram
I selected the username “sunyez.shades”, added my logo, and came up with a quick description for my Instagram account.
Here’s what my profile looked like after a few days:
Not bad at all.
Organic Social Media Marketing
I was missing something at this point – content to post on social media.
It doesn’t matter if there are hundreds of millions of daily users on Instagram and Facebook if I wasn’t bringing any value to them.
And in order to solidify my brand and attract new followers, I needed content. A lot of it.
Automating Social Media Content
As I was running this business alone, and as a side project, I needed some help from marketing automation.
I don’t really like to automate too much when I’m running a new business, but a little help can go a long way.
Scheduling Facebook Posts
I decided to use a tool called missinglettr to schedule my Facebook posts.
Well, the tool can analyze your website for any blog posts and create up to 12 months of social media campaigns out of each blog post.
Perfect for my current situation.
Also, missinglettr has a feature that takes snippets from a blog posts and creates a graphic that you can share on social media.
Here’s what it looked like:
Nothing too fancy, but it’s still better than just plain text.
So, I scheduled some content for Facebook, and then I needed to figure out how I was going to automate my Instagram content.
Scheduling Instagram Content
Unfortunately, missinglettr didn’t allow me to connect my Shopify store with Instagram, so I needed another tool.
Buffer was a great solution to my problem.
Once I’d gathered around 10 photos, I scheduled the posts on Buffer, and then let them roll out over the course of this project.
Next, it was time to dive into marketing.
First Marketing Efforts
At this point, I could have set up some Facebook ads to test if people were actually interested in my brand, but I opted for something different. Something that I’ve found success with in the past.
Instagram direct messages.
They’re a great way to reach out directly to potential customers, and ask for honest feedback about a new business.
Now, Instagram direct messages are also a great way to annoy people or, worse, get your account flagged. So you can’t just blast out dozens and dozens of messages.
I sent out nine Instagram direct messages using this messaging:
I incentivized people’s time with two discount codes – one in my bio, and another in my story highlights.
And soon enough, I had a great surprise waiting for me.
The plan worked out!
My Instagram page got the attention of a young woman (who fit perfectly into my target audience) and she actually used the 15% discount code that I put into my Instagram bio.
She didn’t purchase anything, but I had my first abandoned checkout.
But the most important thing that I gained from this was the confidence that there were people who had an honest interest in my business.
Also, I got an email address to add to my mailing list!
So, I took a gamble and sent an abandoned cart email to the only member on my mailing list with a 50% discount code, and ka-ching! – a few minutes later I got my first sale!
The feeling of making my first sale is something I will always cherish.
It’s one of the most exciting and satisfying feelings that an ecommerce entrepreneur can experience.
But it’s important to remember that there’s still a long way to go. This is just the first step on the moon.
And since abandoned cart emails just brought me my first sale, I headed over to MailChimp to optimize them.
Abandoned Cart Emails
Let’s start this section off with a small quiz:
Who’s more likely to purchase a product from your store?
- A first-time visitor.
- A visitor who already put a product into the cart but dropped off before checkout.
You guessed it, it’s B – the person who nearly became a customer.
And it’s important to remember that there are so many reasons why somebody could drop off at the checkout process, but you’ll never know what the actual reason is.
That’s why it’s important to follow up with everybody who didn’t complete their checkout process.
So, as my Shopify store was already connected to MailChimp’s Shopify app, I could easily set up a sequence of three emails with the aim of recovering those customers.
My setup looked like this:
Trigger: 1 day after somebody abandoned the cart
Subject: What Would Your Mom Say?
I tried to keep this email fun without trying to sell too hard.
Trigger: 3 days after somebody abandoned their cart and previous email was sent
Subject: Would Your Mom Still Love You?
Email number two included a slightly more aggressive approach. I also added a 50% discount to push for sale this time.
Trigger: 5 days after somebody abandoned their cart and previous email was sent
Subject: We Are Not Angry…
Except from the mom cliché, email number three was just a simple sales email. I just pitched a 50% discount + free shipping offer.
I pushed pretty hard with that email because it was my last chance to turn the website visitor into a paying customer.
Subject lines are always great for A/B split-tests – use them to find out what works and what doesn’t for your business.
Overall, I was very happy with how these turned out.
I decided to run a giveaway to try and bring in more people to my store, and ultimately generate more sales.
This would a) provide my audience with a ton of value, and b) help me to acquire emails that I could target later on with marketing campaigns.
However, I only really had limited knowledge about how giveaways work, so I wanted to perform some research into the tactics other entrepreneurs used to find success.
I found that AppSumo had some incredible success with viral giveaways, so they seemed to be the right people to learn from.
I read an ebook by Chris Von Wilpert about AppSumo’s success, and my three main takeaways were:
- Find a great product I could give away
- Set the giveaway up
- Promote my giveaway to interested people
Step One: Find a Great Product to Give Away
This step was crucial – maybe even the most important part of the whole giveaway.
As my goal for this giveaway was to collect leads for potential customers, I didn’t want to give away something that didn’t reflect my brand.
Also, I didn’t want to go too broad with the product that I chose, in case I attracted the wrong type of people. If I gave away a $100 Amazon gift card or something similar, literally anybody could enter without the slightest interest in my business or my niche.
Obviously, I couldn’t give away a product from a competitor, either.
The requirements were tough, but I took advantage of my secret weapon – my girlfriend.
Together we went through all of her recent purchases that cost less than $200 and found something which would be perfect.
Rose Gold Makeup Brushes
My girlfriend had recently bought a makeup brush set for around $145 at a local mall. She instantly fell in love with it.
Even better: her friends were actually jealous when she showed the product to them.
I also knew that her friends could fit my target audience criteria, so it looked like we’d just found an amazing product to give away.
My hopes were high on this one so it was time for step two: the set up!
Step Two: Setting Up My Giveaway
Let me be clear: I can’t write a single line of code.
But I can use tools.
So I needed to find a tool which would allow me to easily set up this giveaway.
Also, I needed to make sure that the tool made it super easy to enter and to share my giveaway.
Why? More on this in step three.
In the end I settled on a tool called KingSumo.
Here’s how I setup my giveaway:
Ways to Enter
Share on Facebook: +5 entries
Share on Twitter: +2 entries
Daily visit: +2 entries per day
Refer a friend: +3 entries
Become a brand promoter: +15 entries
The brand promoter entry played a huge role in this giveaways success, so we’ll be talking about it later in-depth.
Within only a few minutes I had set up the giveaway and was ready to start promoting it.
Step Three: Promoting My Giveaway
“The better the product is that you’re giving away, the less marketing you need to do.”
That’s one of the key points of Chris’ ebook.
However, it’s important to remember that you still need to do some marketing.
To get things off the ground, I had to get this giveaway in front of the right people.
I wanted to keep things simple, so I just posted this giveaway (with the permission of the admins) in three fashion Facebook groups:
And I created a simple pop-up on my Shopify store which appeared whenever someone was about to leave the website.
I did nothing more to market this giveaway. The rest was up to the people who were about to enter.
I had a feeling that this product would help me to attract a large audience.
Women from all over the world could be interested in this, so I saw no reason why they wouldn’t also share this giveaway to earn more entries.
But I had no idea how right I actually was…
The Giveaway Result
So, how did the giveaway go?
Over the duration of this 14-day giveaway, I collected 556 email addresses from interested people.
The best part was that 270 out of the 556 entries were referred by somebody else.
Somebody even referred 51 people!
I had to pay $145 for the giveaways prize, which meant that I gained the email address of potential customers for just $0.26 a piece.
I also mentioned earlier that if people choose to become a brand promoter, they’d receive 15 bonus entries. This was the real catalyst for the giveaway’s success.
At the end of the giveaway I had also generated 29 sales, which made me $918.76 in revenue.
Of course, these sales came from people gaining interest in my brand after they entered the giveaway.
In the end, this giveaway yielded a huge return on investment, and I hadn’t even started to use the emails yet!
So, overall this marketing campaign was a huge success. Next it was time to try my hand at Facebook Advertising.
Facebook ads can have a huge impact on your business.
In fact, it’s one of the few marketing channels that is sustainable and scalable for businesses over a long period of time.
But it’s not easy.
It’s actually rare that a new business will turn a profit with Facebook ads straightaway.
Most of the time, you need to spend some cash to get data, so you can better optimize your ads.
And, of course, this can eat up a lot of your budget. So, it’s always a good idea to try out multiple channels at once.
But once you create that winning Facebook ad… it’s a game changer.
Facebook Ads: The Starting Point
One of the main benefits that Facebook advertising brings is interest-based targeting.
Essentially, if you know what your target audience is interested in, you’re likely to be able to reach them with your campaigns.
I knew I had to take advantage of this.
In the past I’d developed a tactic which helps me when I’m getting started with a business.
All I needed was at least one customer. Luckily, I already had some from the Instagram direct messages and the giveaway.
So, all I had to do was look up a customer through Instagram (or any other social network) and check who they were following.
I was specifically looking for verified pages – the ones with a blue tick next to their name. These tend to be brand, influencers, or public figures.
So, I simply wrote down all the verified pages that my customers were following.
Well, Facebook lets you target people who “like” certain pages on Facebook.
That means I could use the verified pages that I found my customers were following as the foundation for my ads targeting.
The only additional information I had about my customers were their gender and the countries they lived in.
It didn’t really make sense to optimize my ads on this information yet, so I left it pretty broad.
Here’s what my first ad audience looked like:
From now on, we’ll refer to this audience as the “base audience”.
Facebook Ads: The Ad Funnel
Okay, so I had my audience sorted for now.
Next, I decided to build a very simple ad funnel.
It went like this:
- Target the whole audience and aim for “content views”
- Re-target content viewers and aim for “add to cart” and/or “purchase”
Additionally, I tested several other metrics within the ads like
- Audiences (countries, age, custom audiences, and lookalike audiences)
- Offers (discounts, free shipping, and missed deals)
- Designs (fonts, colors, style, and stock images)
- Copywriting (wording, friendly, or provocative)
- Styles (images and videos)
All of my ads had one common goal: to gather data.
I wanted to get as much information as possible in the shortest period of time so I could start optimizing my ads.
All of my early efforts with Facebook advertising were mainly focused on part one of the ad funnel: content views.
Not just because it would’ve helped me with my branding efforts, but also because I’d gain a pool of people who already heard about my business.
This would help me to get more sales in the long run.
Facebook Ads: The First Ads
My very first Facebook ads looked like this:
It was an A/B split test with two different call-to-action buttons. The rest was the same. I wanted to figure out what kind of ad would bring more customers to my landing page. All the ad links directed customers to the same product page.
I simply took this free image from Burst, edited it a little bit in Adobe Photoshop, and set up the ad.
Budget-wise, I started with a $20 daily budget ($10 for each ad) for a duration of five days. In the end, I stopped the ad earlier and only spent $39.52 in total.
Can you guess which ad won this first split test?
Neither. They both performed pretty badly.
I just couldn’t attract anyone to click on it. They ran for two days and gave me no information at all.
Facebook Ads: Collecting Data
Once I realized that those two ads weren’t working, I came up with six different ad campaigns.
This was to help me collect data, fast.
The main goal remained the same: view content.
I actually just took my “base audience”, set a metric that I wanted to test for each campaign, created the ad, and launched.
This was was set up to test my audience. I took my base audience and created two more variants out of it so. I had a total of three audiences now:
- Base audience including locations: USA, Canada, UK, Australia
- Base audience including locations: USA, Canada
- Base audience excluding: USA, Canada, UK, Australia
I tried to keep the budget low at $15 per day. This was split with $5 per ad per day.
The aim was to run these ads over a period of seven days, knowing that I’d need to spend $105 in total.
However, I began to get data and it was clear who would win in the end, so I stopped this ad earlier.
In total I only spent $27.10.
My winner was the “Base audience including: USA, Canada” ad. This meant that I’d gotten the first real piece of data in the bank.
I wasn’t aiming for sales right now – I was aiming for data. And that’s what I got.
I launched a few more campaign to test different messages, different designs, and so on.
I hadn’t found a sweet spot yet, but I was much better equipped to tackle Facebook advertising from here on out.
Let me show you how the next Facebook ad took me to the next level.
The Big Success
Let me start with the results first:
Content views: 1,240
Cost per content view: $0.13
Duration: eight days
Link clicks: 2,196 link clicks
Total ad cost: $159.98
This data alone wasn’t that impressive, but it gave me an idea in which kind of direction I should take with my ads.
I came up with the copy for this ad using the language research that I did to get to know my customers better.
I testedtwo different kind of ads with this one:
- The offer broke down into percentage
- The offer broke down into the actual saving in dollars
The winner of this split test was the ad on the left side, the percentage offer.
Savings in percentage seems more attractive to my target audience than the raw savings in dollars.
Also, this was the product page people landed on when they clicked on the link in the ad:
This ad was definitely a turning point for my whole business.
I was all-in. I had already experimented a lot. I had lost more money than I had made, and I didn’t have much time to achieve the goal I set for myself.
But it definitely wasn’t over yet!
Facebook Ads: Optimizing Everything!
Everything about my business was far from perfection.
Realizing this was vital.
Ultimately, it’s this realization which helped me to build a profitable online store.
Whether it was through a recovery email or a giveaway discount code, my Shopify store had already made some sales.
And if there are people who give you their money even though your business is not perfect (or even great), you’re doing something right.
If you continue to do a few more things right, you can continue to grow your sales.
To make this happen I needed to optimize.
Optimization Part 1: The Website
The pages that people land on when they’re clicking on Facebook ads are equally, if not more, important than the ad itself.
If somebody loves your visual ads, but they click to find a poorly-made website, they’re likely to leave your store without making a purchase.
That means wasted ad spend.
So, everything from the product images to the product description had to be great.
And my store was anything but perfect.
I had so much room to improve, and this really boosted my confidence.
The first thing I tried to optimize was the landing page.
I wanted the product descriptions to tell a story, so I started to write down multiple versions and came up with one I felt good about.
The only problem was… it was a bit too long. Now people had to scroll down to read everything.
To counteract this, I installed the Shopify app Sticky Add to Cart Button ($3.95 per month) and my new product page looked like this:
When creating this new product page, I always tried to consider my customers’ expectations: “If I clicked on this ad, what would I expect?”
This was tough for me to answer, especially since I’m not the target audience, but I felt confident that this new page could work.
But before I moved forward with the actual ads, I wanted to change one last part of my product page – I wanted to incorporate upsells.
Well, it’s always a good idea to try and increase your customer’s average order value.
Plus, my Shopify theme supported this feature by default, so there was no need for an additional app.
Then, I used the sales data that I had collected so far, picked the best performing sunglasses, and created a collection.
This meant that somebody would see a “You might also like” section at the bottom of my product pages.
Now that I had set everything up the way I wanted it, it was time to optimize the actual ads.
Optimization Part 2: Facebook Ads
My next Facebook campaign was optimized for “add to carts” and/or “purchases.”
Again, the success you’re about to see is all based on the work I put in before, when I focused on collecting data.
There would’ve been no chance to achieve these numbers in such a short period of time without that work.
I was about to find my business’ sweet spot, but had to test a few more things.
So I took the plunge and decided to stop all my campaigns, and create a new one based on the data I had.
Facebook Ads: Bringing It All Together
If I wasn’t learning something new with each Facebook ad, all of this would’ve been a waste of time.
I knew I was close to creating the one ad that finds my sweet spot.
I had to bring it all together.
I needed to apply everything that I had learned about my target audience from day one to now.
Facebook Ads: Getting Closer
At this point, I’d created and launched 10 different ads. Four of them brought in sales.
But I hadn’t found that clear-cut winner yet.
Enter the 11th Facebook ad campaign.
Here’s what I did:
Step 1: Campaign Objective
The intention of this campaign was to get sales. I also created a “split test” so I could test two different audiences.
Step 2: Ad Set – Audience
This new ad campaign tested two different audiences. The actual difference was just the location.
- USA, Canada, UK, Australia
- All, excluding USA, Canada, UK, , Australia
I took a custom audience I created that only included people who fit to this criteria:
- Age: 18 – 35
- Gender: Female
- Viewed content in the last 90 days
- Exclude people who already made a purchase in the last 90 days
Step 4: Ad Set – Budget & Schedule
I picked a daily budget of $100 (even split, $50 per ad) and set the ad to run for 10 days.
I would’ve spent a maximum of $1,000 if I let it run until the very end.
Spoiler Alert: I stopped it earlier.
Step 6: Ad – Format
I only had data for the “Single Image” format, so I chose to create a single image ad this time.
Step 7: Ad – Media, Links
It was time to design the ad my audience will see.
If you imagine Facebook advertising as one big puzzle, this was me putting all the pieces that I’d found together to finish the puzzle.
Here’s what the ad looked like:
I hit “Publish.”
Now, here comes the exciting part!
Facebook Ads: Creating the Winning Ad
Within the first 24 hours of publishing this new campaign, I made $342.93 from 12 orders!
I finally found a bit of success with Facebook ads, but I knew that I could still optimize.
I looked into my analytics and found that 30% of my sales came from the USA within the first 24 hours of my ad.
This was an interesting finding indeed, and I knew which audience I needed to use now.
It was time to stop this ad, and optimize for the final push.
Facebook Ads: Finding the Sweet Spot
My next ad campaign had to be strong. The strongest ad I’ve created so far.
I used the same setup as I did with the previous ad, but I changed the audience and the budget.
This time I only targeted the USA, Canada, UK, and Australia.
I only needed to spend $50 per day because I wasn’t running split tests anymore.
It may not look like it, but a ton of work went into this ad.
From setting up my first goal to unboxing my test orders to learning more about my customers – everything in this journey brought me here.
And it all boiled down to this one ad.
The result of my hard work?
I made $5,716.09 in total after spending $758.40 on this ad.
Mind blowing! I finally did it!
I’d found the one ad that truly hit the sweet spot.
Facebook was officially my number one acquisition channel.
All told, I spent a total of $1,225.14 for all the Facebook ads.
I made a grand total of $5,904.59 in revenue, and that meant that my profits – after subtracting my other costs, like the Shopify theme, makeup kit giveaway, etc. – sat around $3,037.05.
Although I was very happy with my Shopify app ka-ching’ing all day long, this still wasn’t the end of my business’ journey.
Changing the Price
In the world of ecommerce, average order value is so important.
If you can increase how much your customers spend per order, it’ll really help you to boost your sales overall.
So, trying to improve in this area was my next task.
I needed to be careful though – I didn’t want to overdo it and change the prices in a way that would lead to fewer orders.
It’s a fine line and I didn’t want to be on the wrong side of it.
Before testing, my average order value was $27.68.
So I decided to increase the prices on all of my products by $5 on April 21, 2018.
By the end of this case study, April 30, 2018, the average order value increased!
It went up by $5.73 per order.
Such a small change like this made my online store even stronger.
This meant that I could reinvest this extra money back into my business with a higher ads budget, or I could keep it as profit.
An online business is an exciting journey.
It’s filled with new things to learn, opportunities to grow, and challenges that genuinely engage you.
Running this business was tough. I set higher goals, and they forced me to work harder and smarter.
But did I actually achieve my goals?
Here’s a quick reminder of what they were:
More Revenue, Less Time
The last time I built a business for a case study, I made $6,667 in 8 weeks.
This time, I had to make at least $6,667.01 in 4 weeks.
I was able to make $8,872.50 in 4 weeks with this new business, so YES, I achieved that goal.
Returning Customer Rate
I set out to have a returning customer rate of 5%.
This meant that at least 5 out of every 100 customers I had would need to come back to my store and place an order again.
So, I achieved a total of 296 orders, which meant there would need to be at least 14 returning customers.
Unfortunately, I didn’t achieve this goal.
But I still achieved a returning visitor rate of 2.71%. It was a positive sign that I was doing something right!
Conversion Rate of 4%
The average conversion rate of an ecommerce business is around 2%. I tried to achieve a conversion rate that was double that.
I had a conversion rate of 3.79%.
I didn’t achieve this goal, but it was still a lot better than the average ecommerce business.
Although I didn’t even achieve all of the goals, I was still super happy with the results.
When my 31 days were up, I had made a profit of $4,365.78.
Looking back, there’s a ton of room for improvement, and there’s a lot that I’ve learned from running this store.
And I really hope that you’ve learned some new tricks from this case study that you can apply to your future business ventures.
Honestly, there is no reason why you can’t achieve the same results as I did, if not better.
We’re all great entrepreneurs in our own rights – just make sure that you put in the work continuously.
For now, it’s over to you – go get it!