Nick Shackelford, Co-Founder, Structured Social
Nick Shackelford used to be a goalie for the American pro soccer team, LA Galaxy II. So how did he end up being an expert in the online ad space?
After leaving the soccer league at the end of 2015, Shackelford felt limited by his career options—either training people or playing in a low soccer division—and decided to take the road less traveled instead. He gained experience in paid social media through an internship at PepsiCo. and a stint at a digital marketing agency.
Shackelford used the knowledge he gained to start his own fidget spinner business called Fidgetly. This was where he further cemented his paid marketing know-how and also mastered the art of scaling quickly without breaking the bank. Even after the close of Fidgetly, Shackelford continues to put his knowledge to good use by helping brands through his online marketing, branding and consulting company, Structured Social.
Whether you’re looking to learn more about scaling, media buying, or paid advertisements, Shackelford is your guy. Make sure to check out his interview to take a deeper dive into these fascinating topics!
ATTENTION: We’re excited to announce that Nick Shackelford has partnered with Foundr to teach one of the modules in our course, Ecommerce Masters. Check it out here.
- How Shackelford went from pro soccer player to intern at PepsiCo.
- His experience working on paid social media campaigns for the iPhone 7, iPad Pro, and the Apple Watch
- The rise of fidget spinners, and how this trend helped launch his own business Fidgetly
- The discovery of Shackelford’s superpower: scaling via paid marketing
- An overview of Shackelford’s work with various brands after closing Fidgetly
- How he helped one company clear $10.7 million in sales in 35 days using online ads
- Shackelford’s best advice for 6-figure businesses that want to accelerate growth
- The traits of a good media buyer
- A sneak peek from Shackelford into the new Foundr course he’s teaching
Full Transcript of Podcast with Nick Shackelford
Nathan: The first question I ask everyone that comes on is: how did you get your job?
Nick: I got my job because I realised when I wanted to do something, I knew I wanted to be a brand. This goes back to I’ve played professional soccer. That is where everything began is when I played for the LA Galaxy. If you realise this today, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Cristiano Renaldo, all these dudes are actually legitimate brands. If you don’t position yourself, you don’t really get to acquire the contracts. If you don’t position yourself as something unique where they, oh, hey, you are going to make followers or fans come be a part of, what I assume, obviously, immediately not a Beckham or Cristiano Renaldo, but at the time, I had a small following in the state side around goalkeeping, so I was hoping that if I was going to be a brand, if I was going to have someone that actually wanted to be a part of what Nick Shackelford was a part of, I had to kind of have a personality and a vibe about this.
I don’t know if you guys remember this trend, but remember when man buns were a really big deal in 2015 and 2016? Well, I was running with that and I was like, okay. I’m sure there’s a picture you could find. It’s on my Instagram somewhere. I had a big beard and I had a big ole man bun, and I was like, yep, this is who I am. I’m going to be this kind of person. That establishment kind of got me recognised. It allowed me to stand out enough for them to give me a chance, and I just so happened to be good enough to get the job to be a pro player.
Things kind of took its own route, and when you realise I’m a six foot guy in the morning, and if you’re going to be a goalkeeper, you need to be 6’2″, 6’3″ and America just loved giant athletes. I kind of already saw the writing on the wall and I made my own exit out of professional sports because I kind of just had bigger goals for myself. I realised for a career in professional sports it goes two different ways: one, you already signed a large contract and you’re kind of locked in for a franchise. Or two, you kind of take your time and you get a bigger contract as you go, as you go, as you go, but you’re really only getting life until your about 30s.
I’m going, I’ve already wasted, I wouldn’t say waste, I’ve already invested a large chunk of my life to this one sport, and what it taught me, this is what I was telling my kids when I was training them, is, listen, sports is a vehicle. You just go to know when you need to exit. Same thing with a job, right? A job is a vehicle, you just got to know when’s your time to take that offer in? When do you need to exit into your next turn?
What was it? 2015 was when I realised there’s no way that I’m going to reach the goals for myself, both financially, personally, and in my relationship, because at that time, I wasn’t able to at least pay for what my life were to be with my partner. There’s no way her and I are going to be able to grow something. I essentially fired myself from the only job I ever really had, which was playing soccer, and jumped into marketing, which I’m very, very lucky because I was coaching a daughter, her name was Ava… Her mom was Rachel.
There’s two divisions within Pepsi, and then there’s Pepsi, Co. Pepsi, Co. was more of the relationships of what we call the syrup that the restaurants were pouring. It’s kind of weird to say like that, but the syrup that came out of the fountains in restaurants versus Pepsi where it was the bottles and out of the stores, or the cans. They were trying to get millennials to try and be more of a primary purchaser in restaurants, so Pepsi, Co. would partner with different restaurants. This one was what we called on the west coast, one’s called Wahoo’s Fish Tacos. Have you heard of those?
Nick: Okay. It’s a pretty well-known west coast fish taco place. The owners are, Wing Lam is one of the cool names, and he’s a really cool founder. I think he’d be a great guy to interview as well. He was, how do we get millennials to buy fish tacos and then talk about it on social media? Well, I’m a ’90s kid. I’m 29 years old, and he allowed me to sit down, and I was just speaking about, this is what’s happening on Instagram. This is what’s happening on Facebook, and they’re letting me sit at this table that I had no means of being there, but I was just forcing myself to be involved in it because I knew that this is where the trends were going to go. Social was it. This is all social was.
I was like, okay. If I can be that millennial consultant speaking on behalf of what we or I specifically would like, maybe I could have more conversations with smarter people, that they would put me in better positions of being an advocate of how millennials would want to be sold to, because everybody at that table was 35, 40, 50, at the time that I was saying I was … 2015, how old was I then? 23, 24, right? They didn’t know we were buying anyways. They were just looking at these reports and documents, and it didn’t makes sense until I actually put it in new terms of, no, this is how you guys should sell.
The one campaign that took off for me was for BJs Restaurant. BJs Restaurant, which they’re famous for the Pizookie or they’re famous for deep dish pizza and cool beers. Well, I had two ideas. One was you would dress up little babies as young hipsters. I don’t know why I came up with this. It was some sort of a spitball with another creative agency. All it was for them was for me to speak it out and the creative agency kind of mocked up a great example of how it would look, and they bought the idea. I sat there and I go, wait, so all I had to do was think about an idea and present it to somebody, and then they bought it, and then we all get paid? Oh, my God. I want to do this forever. This is incredible.
Short-lived, in all honesty, because they only did a project every quarter, so I’m over here sitting here going like, okay, well that was my project. They already bought it. How do I get more money? This was only a one-time consultant play. Rachel, her cousin, her name is . This is right when Apple made a huge push into digital because this is right before 2016, 2017, under Resolution Media, which was the main agency that had the contract for Apple.
Apple has a team called MAL, Media Arch Lab. They’re based out of Playa Vista, and they handle their billboards, they handle their TV spots, they handle their paid social, they handle everything under this one area. Nobody even knows about them. It’s called MAL, it’s in Playa, and I got the job of a lifetime to be a part of Apple’s paid global social team.
Dude, are you talking … First, I got Pepsi, Co., and I was like, okay, that looks great on a resume. Then, B, I realised that was only organic stuff, so it wasn’t even as valuable to me because it was heavy on the creative, heavy on massive budgets for production because you had to sell it into a large organisation like Pepsi didn’t make sense to me. When Rachel goes, go talk to Alazon, see if they’re looking for someone to run their Facebook or be a part of their social team, I was like, of course I’m going to do this. Walk in, they are open arms because they just wanted anybody at this time to try to associate and I was like, listen, I know Facebook, I know how to run ads, I can run this, I can run that, and they’re like, okay, sure. Let’s give it a go.
In 2016, this is when they were launching the iPad Pro, the i Watch, and the iPhone 7. Yes, the three of these. This was the team where we were able to run. I was in charge of APAC and EMEA, and these were all ran out of the LA office. When I tell you the type of budgets that were able to play with this, it would make no sense to you.
Nathan: What type we talking?
Nick: Okay. There was a tool on Facebook back in the day where it was the reach of frequency tool. The reach of frequency tool was saying, if I wanted to hit as many people as possible, you would just have to start inputting a budget and it would tell you the impressions of the total amount of population you could hit in a certain area. Alazon and myself, we would sit down and we’d choose, okay, if we were going to target the UK, a little bit of Ireland, Spain, Portugal, England, and a little bit of Germany, how many dollars would it take for us to reach every single person in the country three times? As soon as we typed that number in, we’d send it for approval from Apple, they’d send back, yes, go ahead, and that was our budget.
Nick: Every single campaign we did was just a regurgitation of an ad that ran on TV that our creative team would just chop up, allow up to run on Facebook and Instagram, and we never even looked at what happened for performance because you can’t buy it.
Nathan: Wow, that’s crazy.
Nick: It made no sense. Think about this: my first jump into paid social was playing with millions and millions of dollars, and I never even had to look at if we made money or anything.
Nathan: Wow. Fast forward a little bit. How did you get into the fidget spinners and really popularise that?
Nick: It actually came right on the back of the situation on Apple because I knew the big brands are spending the money like this and they were actually not measuring performance. I currently live in California, Orange County to LA, that’s about 45 miles one way. Two ways, I’m pushing about 100 miles depending on traffic, if I sit in that. We did that for about a year-and-a-half, and I started realising I hate everything about this. I mean, I’m in a car for at least four hours a day. Then, I sit down at the desk and do the job that I enjoy. I come back, I’m not a good person. I’m not being a good partner.
My best friend, Jake , at the time goes, “Hey, buddy. We got this great idea. This trend’s kind of catching on.” At the time, it was people that were doing 3-D printed fidget spinners, and I had no idea what this product was. Jake goes, “I know how to find this,” and I go, “Where?” This was my first jump into Alibaba. First jump into Alibaba. Jake finds the supplier. Where we got really, really lucky on it is because in China it’s really easy to find the plastic manufacturers. Right? But what wasn’t easy was to find the bearing manufacturers. The bearing manufacturers is the reason why we went so well because if you look at what the fidget spinner was, it was four bearings. There were three — on the outside, and the middle one, if you have a higher level, which we call a ceramic bearing, that is where people had the most spins at.
Jake finds this and he goes, “All right. How do we market this?” I was like, “Dude, I know Facebook. I can do this left to right.” I actually was in the ad account a couple days ago because I knew that we were going to talk about this, and we were having conversion. We’re having conversions for $2.45.
Nick: I don’t think I’ve seen a single thing like that in scale, especially in any of the accounts we’re running these days. When I tell you we’re selling $32 fidget spinner under the name, and I saw this, if you go on archive.com, you can look up Fidgetly, it’ll still be there, the first original website. We were selling the fidget spinners to kids left and right. This is when I realised, okay, this is way more fun. There’s immediate response. There’s immediate revenue. There’s a community being built, and we basically tried to turn the fidget spinner into the modern day Yo-Yo.
Nathan: Yeah. What happened?
Nick: Two poor mistakes. I was ill-equipped to run a company and fulfil service as well as provide a product that was safe. What happens with the bearings is that there’s issues with lead. The issues with lead … When you deliver the product, you had to put a warning side around where the spinning part was so that you let them know there’s a choking hazard here because the bearings could come out. We didn’t plan for this and we weren’t as savvy enough to do this.
We started getting a couple lawsuits. We started getting a couple of people having complaints around, “Hey, this is causing sickness. My kid ate this.” We started getting some wild complaints about what happened, and we had a very, very good successful run for the first, I want to say six month, our run rate was just under half a million dollars in that first six months, and it was the biggest rocket ship with the biggest explosion we could possibly think of.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. Then, what was the second lesson that you learned?
Nick: The second lesson we learned is when we partner with somebody that we expected to provide us clear capital, that needed to be more established at the beginning. What I mean by that is when Jake and I came into this, we were basically taking all the money that we were making and buying inventory as quick as possible. Well, that didn’t leave us much dollars for marketing and it didn’t leave us much dollars for branding, that didn’t leave us much dollars for customer support because it was just us two and a couple of our friends helping us out.
When we brought this partner that I won’t mention at the time, he took too much equity in the company itself, and wanted to take it into a direction that we didn’t believe, but he was older than us, he seemed like he was the right person to be partnered with, and he took it into a direction which now we realise was one of the downside is he made a connected smart device called Fidget Control. At the time, it sounded like a good idea and he was very convincing, but it was actually probably the worst move we could have made. No one’s going to use a smart connected fidget spinner when this was a trend that was just as quick to go down as it was to ride up.
We basically gave up too much decision-making in the company to someone that didn’t necessarily have the same vision as we did and we basically worked our way out of a company that we started by ourselves.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. But you’ve still taken all those lessons and you’re obviously one of the most renown people online when it comes to buying media on Facebook and PBC when it comes to also in particular ecomms. You’re running an agency now. I’m curious what kind of clients do you work with? Are you able to share how much you’re spending per month? Because I know it’s a lot of money.
Nick: Yeah. I actually just did the math, what was it? Last month we did. January’s a little bit lower, but last month in December, we spent just under five million dollars.
Nick: Just under five million dollars, which was pretty special for us. Now, I have a total amount. I’ll pull it up. Maybe I’ll put it into the … for you. Let me look through it real quick so I know it have it saved. It was over what we spent last year and it kind of blew me away because when you don’t really get to look at it as much as …
Nathan: We are just optimising for the …, man.
Nick: We had to. Last year, total we spent just over 17 million for total return of 55.
Nick: It was January 1st to December 31st.
Nathan: That’s crazy. That’s incredible returns, man. All for …. products.
Nick: We only do ecomm. That’s all we do. We only do ecomm products. You asked what kind of products we work with, well, I realised really quick I don’t like product development. I don’t like customer service. I don’t like ideation of products. What I really, really like is when that product comes to me like, hey, Nick, I understand that here’s the product, here’s the demographic we’re really trying to go after, but there’s a little bit of smoke here. It’s starting to make sense, I just don’t know the proper structure of testing and I don’t know the proper structure of when to scale.
If you’d ask me the difference between a good media buyer and a bad media buyer, a good media buyer feels confident enough in the dollars we have to invest to learn. It’s what we call as, we have to buy the data. I never get mad at whether a buyer’s working for me or if there’s a buyer internally at someone else’s company. You have to spend the money to learn, it just has to be a clear set of dollars spent. What I mean by that is everybody always asks me this question: how much money do you spend to know you’ve spent enough money? Right? How do you know how much money to spend before you go, oh it’s not going to work anymore?
Well, if your tests are clear, because I think we talked a little bit about this before, it’s kind of like the microwave theory. Right? The microwave has many things it can do…, it heats up, but you can put many different products into it. Facebook being the microwave, it’s going to heat that product up. It’s going to get it to where you want it to be, but it depends on you have to put the right budget or the time, you have to put the right temperature, and then you need to know when to take it out and refix it and mix it up a little bit and then put it right back in to finish it off.
Nathan: I’m curious, because that’s incredible. That’s really good ROAS, man. We’re talking at least a 3X ROAS on an ecomm. Sometimes when people are super aggressive, they’re like a 1.5 at serious scale, as long as they can make the margin work, they’re prepared to break even on the front.
Nathan: That’s pretty incredible. I’m curious, in this day and age right now, and it’s going to continue to happen, so if you’re listening to this interesting view one year from now, two years from now, right now it’s the start of January 2020, organic rate just dropped off, same as influencers. How important is Facebook advertising to grow an eCommerce brand and generate sales today?
Nick: I think if it’s not your core amount of spend, then you’re overlooking the number one tool that anybody has to use in getting any sort of traction for your company. There’s no other tool out here, not Snapchat, not Twitter, not Instagram by itself. Facebook is the only tool that you can use to put a dollar in and understand at least someone out there is going to respond to it, positive or negative. Both of those are going to be good indicators of where you need to move next. You can’t build a clear strategy unless you have at least one major boat that’s pushing your entire company forward. Right? You’re not going to blog and get as much reach anymore. You said it, it’s not influencers going to do it for you. Influencers might, right? They do drive some traffic, but how do you get that amplification a little bit further? This is strategies that Greta and I talk about often is that paid amplification right before that influencer’s brand or their content that their pushing. There’s no other choice of doing it.
Nathan: Yeah, because influencers, a lot of the Instagram stuff, a lot of it is top of funnel as well, like real top of funnel, and then you can use that user-generated content from influencers to running your ads as content. It’s just the first tipping point of awareness. They visit the site. They might not buy. Then you use retargeting to close, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
Nick: Yeah, you’re absolutely correct. It has to be the number one starting point for anybody that’s serious about trying to launch a product or brand in 2020. There’s no way around it. You can’t build your email list without it=, even if you wanted to build an email list, you’re probably going to have to use Facebook to get a couple leads through that fall.
Nathan: Yeah, I agree 110%. You look at all the top brands, they’re all buying media.
Nathan: I’m curious, you work with tonnes, you spent a lot of money over the years. How much you reckon you’ve spent in your career?
Nick: Oh, this is easy. I’ve already done this math before. I would say I’ve spent over 85 million dollars in the last six years of me running media.
Nick: It’s really simple as to understand how much money that could have been is because for the last four years, I’ve been at performance paid media teams. Right? Last year alone, myself and my team, we’ve had three Facebook case studies, all been refer. One, we had Snow Teeth Whitening, which he’s already built 100 million dollar company. You have Defy Wear, which that’s a low 50 million dollar company. Then we have PupSocks which we did, I think I talked a little bit about this on the programme that we did together with Foundr is it was 10 million in the first 32 days, this was in 2017.
Nathan: Wow. That’s crazy. I’m curious, out of these, you’ve worked with tonnes of brands, you’ve made a lot of very, very successful. I’m curious, what’s the common thing among those brands that are crushing it?
Nick: Wow, that’s a great answer. The first one would have to be it usually is a product that is an emotional trigger buy, and for that I mean, think about it like Snow. That’s cosmetic. It’s people that want to feel better about themselves. PupSocks was an animal and any time you talk about animals, most likely, people are going to want to spend more money on an animal versus themselves. Okay? Unless it’s for a cosmetic or it’s a health play. All these products have an average AOV of about 50 to about 80 dollars. 50 to 80 gives you enough range for me to spend money or buy the data on Facebook for me to at least re-market with them.
The product is congruent enough to be up sold or cross-sold with secondary products, so they already know that if you’re going to buy the socks, they’re most likely going to come back and probably buy the blanket. Or if they bought the teeth whitening, they’re going to come back and buy the toothpaste. Or if they bought glasses, they’re going to come back and maybe buy another pair or reading glasses in the same exact style. That initial product that they’re buying is lending itself easily to a second product.
Nathan: Interesting. I’m curious, let’s say somebody was doing, let’s just say a couple hundred grand in sales a year and they came to you and they need your help. What would be the first thing you would look at for an ecomm brand? A couple hundred grand, what would you look at first?
Nick: I would ask them, okay, you’ve done a couple hundred grand, is it off of a single product or is it off a set of products?
Nathan: Yeah. I believe personally they shouldn’t have many products. They should have maximum a couple skews. Right? Like a flagship and maybe one complimentary. Yeah?
Nick: Yeah. I believe in that as well. I believe that way they have clear feedback from the consumers. If they’re coming to us and they have one hero product and maybe two or three other ones on it, we’d move right away into, how do we build an exclusive product and do one specific partnership with someone that’s a congruent influencer in their space? Now, I’m not saying you go influencer right off the bat, you’ve already been established on paid media or you’re already traction organically, you’re already getting PR placements, you’re still consistently getting sales off your hero product. The only way to make that more unique is to wrap it with an influencer or do limited edition drop, colorway, you name it, but we have to make it exclusively VIP.
One great brand that we worked with like this called Vessi Footwear, they locked their website and the only way you were able to get the new shoe that that dropped was if you went specifically to the site, this whole entire site was shutdown and you had to put your email into it. As soon as you put your email into the website, then they emailed you a code. As soon as you got the code, you had an hour to go make a purchase of that new shoe.
Nathan: Wow. That’s crazy. Greta’s done stuff like that.
Nick: I’ve never even heard of something like that, but they’re still running the same exact shoe, it’s just a different colorway.
Nathan: Yeah. Wow.
Nick: If you’re able to build an exclusivity off of that one product or just limit the amount of drop, that in itself is going to build you … It’s not going to be the consistent, that one tactic isn’t going to put you to 200k or 300k. It’s just not going to do that, but what I would say is, what was the main reason people were buying, or what was the main trigger or angle they were using to buy the product that got you 200 thousand dollars? Because that might not be the only way that you can sell your product.
Nathan: You actually, before you even start buying media, you go deep on the sale’s psychology before you even look at writing a copy, working on the creative, you’re trying to find out why it was sold, do something unique to get some traction to get to see what happens?
Nick: Yes because there has to be a trigger to convince someone to separate their money from their pocket. Let’s say, we’ll use teeth whitening because I think it’s easy for people to understand why would someone want whiter teeth. Right? If someones wanting whiter teeth, and the reasons could be, I have a job coming up. Right? I’m trying to better myself and I’m trying to get a better career. That in itself is an angle that could be highlighted and shown, both female and male. It could be someone who is a little bit less fortunate but they want to be someone that’s more in a professional way. Cool. That person’s trying to aspire to have a better job.
Second, what if you just got broken up with and then now you need to kind of reposition yourself to be more attractive and potentially go out and find a new suitor? Okay? That’s the same product, but you’re now approaching someone that maybe wants to make themselves look better to a potential male or female.
Second is what if it’s just for yourself? Maybe you just want to feel better about yourself wholistically? Now you’re talking about you the whole entire time. It’s still the same product, but there’s three different angles in which you can present it that might be a trigger and it might be another faucet for you to kind of get a bunch more sales under the same product, it’s just a different reposition.
Nathan: Yeah. I love that. We talked about this last time. It’s a game of angles.
Nick: Yes. It goes back to Facebook. Facebook has the tools that allows you because if you really wanted to break it down to an absolute science and there’s only a few couple brands we’ve been able to work with this that have understood that they need to build the experience from the ad to the landing page all the way to the purchase, that highlights the exact angle that they started with, which, top of funnel, which is if you’re going to use teeth whitening for trying to find a suitor, and that first ad that you show them is having doubt as you meet your next partner, and that the page that they’re landing on is a potential scene of them going out on a dinner date all the way through, that is an ad to the landing page all the way to the purchase, and then they get the product, that in itself, they didn’t even have to see the other angles. That all was all consistent from the ad to the landing page, and all that can be done as rotating off a UTM codes or just unique landing pages, or what do they call them? They call them micro sites now days, just a simple micro site that highlights the angle that you were presenting originally.
Nathan: Yeah. I love that, man. That’s so cool. We know, for us at Foundr, we don’t sell, we kind of do. We sell printed magazines and books, but we’re not a core ecomm brand. We’re more media and education more than anything. We know at Foundr that creative’s super important. Anyone that’s running an ecomm brand right now, what kind of content works best?
Nick: We’ve been trying to test this pretty aggressively top and funnel. We would separate them into, we have three sections. We have prospecting, we call top of funnel. We have re-engagement, or middle. We have remarketing where we call hot, bottom funnel. That’s as simple as simple as I can make it right now. Top of funnel, I wouldn’t say it’s exclusively this, but I would have very branded non-aggressive, get in my funnel, how would you say, no discount codes, no promo codes, top of funnel. All this is is presenting here’s what our product is, here’s our unique selling propositions.
For instance, we have product that we talk about called Miracle Sheets. Miracle Sheets has three value propositions. One, it smells better. Two, has silver technology. Three, you can wash it less. We’re going to highlight those three specific value propositions, top of funnel, and present them in a very branded way so that they could potentially just see a brand, feel the brand.
As you move down into what we call re-engagement, we now are trying to hit them with as much social proof, whether it’s hired consumer or if we could get an actual consumer to hit the specific speaking points that you want and then talk to them about why they love the product, why it’s been good for them what social proof that they’ll need for them to talk about.
Then, the further we get down, we’re just trying to keep showing them videos and images consistently of the product in use. That way they know that it’s real, it’s not cheaply made, and they actually are going to get something that they’re going to buy.
Nathan: Yeah, interesting. Showing the product in use is a key one?
Nick: Oh, hugely, because the doubt that people are having, and I see this on a lot of the ads that we’re running, the doubt that they have of this actually getting to them or it being a cheap drop shift product or product that’s going to be fulfilled from overseas, it’s very real, very, very fearful of what is actually going to come. It comes across on the type of content that you’re showing them. If you don’t actually show them that unboxing experience with the actual use and look of the product, there is just so much doubt online.
Nathan: When it comes to the type of content, do you recommend hiring professional videographers or photographers, or stuff like that? Do you need to? Do you recommend it? Do you prefer the UGC style, or what?
Nick: Yeah, that’s a great question. I don’t think it’s going to be specific to one thing because we’re experiencing more burnout of creative, even at lower spends than we were previously, so it’s going to have to be a mixture of it because the UGC self shot stuff looks great and it looks good enough for people to kind of be bought into it because it is organic to the platform, but there are brands that need to have a full production, full studio shoot, hired models or else people are going to associate it with not being higher quality. It all needs to be tested, but it’s through some brands, they just can’t afford to go hire full model, do a full day of shooting and get a studio. I’m not saying you have to do that because you don’t. There’s brands that we’re working with that are doing plenty of revenue and they don’t have full on shoots because that UGC content does resonate, it just depends where you’re going to show it, whether it’s top funnel, middle funnel, or bottom funnel.
Nathan: Interesting. Okay. When it comes to minimum spend, what about handling risk? Do you risk heaps of money on Facebook ads to make it work? Yeah, because I think that’s scary for some people as well.
Nick: Yeah. No, it is very scary. I left a meeting earlier today, and this number’s been floating around consistently. They asked how much is enough for us to understand whether to turn it off or turn it on? The rule of thumb that we use, at least to feel comfortable, because we always talk about we need to buy the data. We have to buy the data. If you’re at $10000, $10000 USD spent, and you have no clear direction of where you need to go, something is significantly wrong. Let me be very, very specific on this.
When you’re about to launch your ads, when you’re about to build an actual ad funnel on Facebook, not talking about any other funnel other than just your ads, and you don’t know what value propositions you’re testing or what angles you’re trying to test. You’re essentially lighting money on fire because there’s no learning that you’re going to get from it. $10000 is essentially $333 a day for an entire month. Now, there’s a difference between, am I going to spend $10000 in two days or am I going to spend $10000 in 30 days, right? That’s a month of spend. That product and on average, people try to get AOVs …
Let me try to re-explain this to you because I think this might be a little bit confusing. I’m using $10000 as the anchor because the brands that we’ve seen are anywhere from AOVs of about 50 to 80. Now, I understand some brands may have AOVs around $35 and it’s hard for them to get it above that. Even at that point, that’s only going to be like eight sales a day, and they have to spend at least two times AOV to get a clear idea of, are people getting in a funnel? Are people adding things to cart? Are people even having the ability to purchase? That’s not enough money for them to spend on a single day for them to have a clear idea of, wow is this working or not working? Because if you spend too little, you clearly don’t know if that ad or if that angle, or if this product’s price point, if the site’s conversion. There’s so many things that go into it that you won’t have a clear idea of what knob to turn.
For us, we have a document called a correlation document. We actually share this inside. It tells you based on what your AOV is, what you can afford to spend knowing that how many of your add to carts turn into checkouts, and how many checkouts turn into purchases.
Nathan: Wow. Of all the data you’ve collected over time?
Nick: Off of all the data in your ad account. Off of all of what you’ve spent. So, if you don’t have any spend, you obviously don’t have clear correlations of how many people are going to be adding to cart and following all the way to purchase.
Nathan: Yeah. Then you know you’ve got your signals.
Nick: Correct. All we’re trying to do is limit the amount of money that we’re lighting on fire so that we have at least … Okay, this might not turn into a purchase right now, but our add to carts are fully aligned with the dollars we’re willing to spend to acquire a cart because we know that that cart should turn into initiate checkout if we spend four more dollars or five more dollars, based on what our correlations have been for the past month or two months. This is something we have to pull on a weekly, bi-weekly basis.
Nathan: Yeah. It’s really all about unit economics.
Nathan: It really is just unit economics. I spent X, put Y back. I spent a dollar, I’ve got to get three back. If I’m not at this point when I break the funnel down and forget XYZ, then we turn it off or we scale it up.
Nick: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Because these earlier correlations is what we’re able to make a decision on. I might even be able to continue to spend if none of my earlier metrics make sense. We’re not making decisions off of click costs because there’s too many things that can happen after that. A click can be $4 and a purchase can be way under ROAS. A click could be $2 and it could be right on target. Then the cost per click is for me, especially on eCommerce, has never been an indicator of future success.
Nathan: Yeah. That makes sense. I’m curious as well, do you think PPC, if the ads in particular work for any ecomm business single product, random natures, large ranges?
Nick: That’s a good question. I would have said no to this question earlier if I didn’t have proof that Facebook ads can sell expensive furniture. The most expensive thing I’ve ever sold was, I think $35000 and it was a couch. I believe it plays a part in the funnel, and I don’t believe Facebook as a standalone tool could provide a conversion that expensive because how long the consideration period is for a product like that. Think about the research that goes into that and think about the argument that you have to have with your wife to make sure that you make that purchase.
I believe Facebook is a tool that could be used on any product that’s obviously acceptable in Facebook world except on its platform, but it won’t be the only tool used, and that’s probably something that people get really confused about. Well, I’m using Facebook ads, I’m not getting purchases. What’s wrong? Somethings wrong. Well, there might be a lot more on the site. There might be a lot more convincing you need to do or education on the product. There’s other thing that need to be utilised, but Facebook, as a tool itself, yeah, I think it can sell any type of eCommerce product.
Nick: It just depends is that product needed in the market?
Nathan: Interesting. One thing I’d love to talk to you about is we met you through Greta, and we’ve gone to the same conference but I’ve never met you at the Affiliate Marketing World Conference. Greta always speaks so highly of you. I’ve never met you in person but I’ve met you online now. We’re working on this new incredible course, which is really … It’s the people that already have an eCommerce business. You … around Facebook ads, . One of the strategies that you talk about that you call the touchy, no touchy strategy. Do you want to talk about that, and what is that exactly? Why is it important?
Nick: Okay. When you ask me, no touchy or touchy strategy, I was kind of joking by putting this in there, but I was like, you know what? That’s kind of my personality. In the course, there’s two main documents that we use. One is called the delayed attribution calculator, and one is called our correlation document. What it really was, no touchy is like do not touch this. This will be automatically updating based on the numbers that you populate into it. Then, you can touchy is like okay, this is where you can play with it.
To give you a little bit of context of why I said those two things. When people are in their ad accounts, when people are spending money, let’s just be plain and simple, even with the media buyers that we train or the other ad buyers that I work with, spending money, whether it’s your money or somebody else’s money is really difficult. Right? They prematurely turn things off or they’ll prematurely add more budget. I’m like, wait, I’m looking at it. Why did you bump that budget or turn that off? It’s going to work.
I guarantee you anybody else listening to this or anybody that’s spending any of their own money, they turn something off, they’ve checked it two days later, and they’re like, holy shit, there’s purchases. What is that? Well, that’s called delayed attribution. That means when that ad was fed and it was in the algorithm floating around and you turned it off but it was still in someones phone, it was still loading on someones feed, they made a purchase that day or a couple hours or couple days later, and it just attributed back to the ad that you turned off. Although you turned it off, it got a purchase, and it updated.
Now, all the sudden, that ad, that campaign is profitable. By making this correlation document, it’s so simple because when you see it in the course, you type in your ROAS target. Let’s say my ROAS target needs to be at 1.6 based on your margin, based on what you’re able to spend to acquire a customer without you losing money or wanting to get the desired ROAS or return that you want based on the AOV that you’re always getting on your site. It tells you the cost per add to cart that you’re willing to accept is $11.50. That’s a hypothetical number, right?
Then, if you can accept $11.54, well, based on the correlation of how many of these add to carts turn into initiate checkout, I’m actually able to accept a $37 initiate checkout. Okay, cool. Now I know that even if I don’t have any purchases and the ad is still early but I’m getting a bunch of add to carts at 11 bucks, don’t touch it. Do not turn it off. Let it run. Okay?
Well, now, Nate, what happens if you’re getting a $15 cart, $16 cart and they’re getting a little bit expensive, but your initiate checkouts are below that $37? Well, it might not have passed that first target of what your cost for add to cart is, but you are in line with what your initiate checkout is, so you have to trust your numbers. You have to trust the data. You have to let it run, because people get too trigger happy on this.
Now, that decision-making is super important and it gives us a little bit of confidence to know, okay, I’m not going to be emotional on this and media buying and marketing, it’s the mixture between art and science. You know this. You write copy, you write someone that’s emotionally felt, but you have to let the metrics speak for itself and you have to make the decisions off what you’re looking at.
Well, delayed attribution is another thing that … I’m not an expert at speaking on this, but I had to know it enough for me to feel confident enough to teach about it. The tool that we have on there, which it’ll be there, it’s called our delayed attribution calculator. What you type into it is, what does it look like on your one day view? Because Facebook has three different views, your one day, your seven day, and your 28 day. Now, I wish every attribution tool communicated to itself, and there are two tools that we are diving into the more you get on a larger marketing mix. Those ones are measured.com.
Now, there’s another tool called Rockerbox, R-O-C-K-E-R Box.com. This is more for people that are spending on Google, YouTube, they have a little bit of organic going, they’ve got some affiliates. They have a bigger mix and they need to understand where the true value is coming from, which channel, or which channel’s contributing the most, top or bottom funnel? I don’t think a lot of people are there, but if you are willing to test on multiple platforms and channels, this is probably something you’d want to invest in so you can at least get a fuller picture of where your marketing dollars are going.
On your delayed attribution, you want to know on that one day, right? On your one day, what is our ROAS going to be? Okay? If that ROAS is going to be a 1X, but we really need a 1.5 to be profitable, well, we can’t make a gut decision on that because you might get some lift. You might get a purchase in day two or day three, so by day five, it’s actually what that initial 1X was on that day you were viewing it, well, a couple days from now, that might actually be at 1.5. If I would have made a premature decision, I just cut myself off and that was profitable. I should have let that run.
Nathan: Yes. Yeah, delayed attribution, aye. Killer.
Nick: It’s a silent killer, completely. As well as once you set the delayed attribution, it really would allow you to set your correlation documents. We’ve made some great videos with you and your team to understand, okay, understand what my delayed attribution is and that directly affects my correlations. Once I understand where I can make my decisions on my pre funnel metrics, I can spend more money and I can be smarter about the money I’m spending.
Nathan: Yeah. That’s really interesting because, yeah, I think a lot of the time, people are very, very trigger happy and that’s why I guess this is different than the way most people do media buying. Right?
Nick: Oh, my gosh yeah because they log in to the account, they look at it, they’re like, that’s not where I need it to be. They turn it off.
Nathan: Yeah. That’s interesting because you make me even think, what are we doing for Foundr and calculating that?
Nick: Yeah. I would love to take a peak at it. Once you see the calculator and the tool, it’s based on what Facebook’s tools are. All you have to do is open up the attribution windows and you plug it right in. It will tell you what it looks like at your one day, what you can expect the lift could be from your one day to your 28 day, and from your seven day to your 28 day.
Nathan: Yeah. I love it. Yeah, we do report and we do … goes down over time. Even just reporting after a week because we have longer sales cycles for certain products, it’s not just direct.
Nick: You told me you have a great lift.
Nathan: Yeah, we do. Interesting. I’m curious, we have to work towards wrapping up. This has been great. I’m learning a tonne as well, myself. I’m curious, would you suggest someone run their own ads, or should they hire an agency?
Nick: I think you and I, the last time we walked about this, it was a very good conversation. I still feel even more passionate about if you were asking someone to run ads for you and you don’t understand how to communicate or how to keep them accountable, you are willingly giving up money and not judging them on anything. You are purposely giving them all authority to either take your company, or take it to the next level, but most likely, if you haven’t set them up with the understanding of hey, I know how to run my own ads and I need someone to manage that because I have more important things to do in my business, I could run my ads. I know how to do that, but I need someone to focus on that because I have to run all the other elements of my business.
If you’re still doing what a lot of the brands that we’re talking to is 100 grand a year, and you have the time to run those ads, and there’s just a couple of formulations, just a couple of structures that you need to follow that we teach, I know I teach consistently, that you can plug and play and let Facebook do it for you. They’ve created so many tools from CBO to dynamic creative testing, that you can get a lot of this stuff done on your own. If you can’t speak the language, any agency or any freelance person that you work with, or someone that you have in-house is going to be able to pull a quick one on you or at least not give you the thorough answers that you need.
The media buyer, the agency that you hire, they’re supposed to provide you clear understandings of hey, if you’re investing X amount of dollars, which you’re probably going to be paying someone between 2500 all the way up to $15000 for some people that are getting a full-service agency. What are you getting from that? You need to be getting insights from what customers are buying, what creatives, what angles people are responding to or reacting to, and what days of the week the purchase is coming, what regions are being purchased from that.
What insights that matter for me, like me being an agency, and this pains me because I’d rather deter as many people away from using an agency unless you’ve run things yourself, is if you don’t have the questions to ask, we could literally tell you anything and show you some spreadsheets of numbers and be like, oh, it’s getting better, but if it’s not getting better, how are you going to hold us accountable?
Nathan: Yeah, 110%. I agree. I am not a master by any means at Facebook ads, but I know enough to be dangerous and really, even set benchmarks from talking to other people in my particular industry, understanding what are the targets we should be going for? All these different things. You just really have to know the lays of the land. I agree.
Nick: Yeah. At that point, now you are partnering with somebody. Now you’re going like, hey, I’m going to manage this part of my business, join me on this. You might find some great relationships. Now, they might fall in love with your product. What if they what to be more involved, more invested in that?
Nathan: Yeah, no, I love it, man. Well, look, dude, I’m mindful of your time. We have to work towards wrapping up. It’s getting late where you are as well. Question: where is the best place people can find out more about yourself and your work and your agency?
Nick: Well, you don’t even need to find out anything about the agency, but if you wanted to, it’s structuredsocial.com. If anything, I’d follow me on Instagram. IamNickShackelford. That’s probably the most consistent I am there. I’m also, I’m in the Foundrs group, right? I’m in the start of the cell. I’m in all things Foundr and I’m very, very appreciative of what you’ve been able to build and the people that you’re going to be bringing into my life shortly.
Nathan: Amazing, man. Well, look, bro, thank you so much for your time and everything you do. This was an awesome conversation. I know people will learn a tonne out of this.
Nick: Of course. Thank you so much, Nate.