Online Ad budgets for T-shirts/Hoodies/Apparel sellers...

24 0 1


I am using Google Shopping, and also FB and even Pinterest ads and they are all working to some degree.  I am selling gear now, just hit 101 orders yesterday -- but I'm not selling profitably. 

Until this weekend I was spending $30-$35 a day on FB/Google & Pinterest, but I've scaled it back now to $20 a day.  About half of that is FB.  Then $5 a day on Google Smart Shopping and another $5 a day on Pinterest.  I might scale back FB even further, will see.

None of them are profitable by themselves, but I do get sales from all of them.  

At least I know I have something people want to buy, and I know how to target that audience.  Just need to do it way more cost-efficiently.



I am able to use video ads with relative success to DRIVE TRAFFIC to the shop but the more I do this, the more my conversion rate suffers.  I can routinely get clicks for 5 to 9 cents per click.  So sure I can get cheap traffic but unless I can capture them through retargetting that won't work.  Lately (having watched the second course by Ezra F) I have started to move away from traffic objective and start using CONVERSION objective, still using these video ads.  Early days yet but FB can get my and 'add to cart' conversion for about $2.  Data suggests about half of those will convert - or close to it. 

Right now I have $5/day on the TRAFFIC ads and I have another $5/day budgeted for these conversion ads.  I might ditch the TRAFFIC ads completely for a while and see what happens.

Also I have the Shopify FB dynamic shopping campaign going as well.  That WAS set up around $20 a day but I have reduced it down to $5 now, and I've put in some Bid controls.  That isn't getting my anything and it isn't really even spending my budget.  Wondering if I should just turn this off and set it aside for now.  I could instead build my own FB retargetting campaign, using regular ads.


There was a time earlier this summer when I was doing OK using ONLY Google smart shopping.   I'd gotten my ad cost down to $4-$5 per sale and I was earning about double that in margin on a regular t-shirt sale... so it was generating a small return. 

And using this method, I was converting well!  Shopify showed me some indication that I was among the higher converting shops for my segment (apparel).  I see that I managed to get up to 2.99% conversion for the second quarter. 

Then I tried to double my spend on Google smart shopping and it triggered that whole learning phase all over again, and it just didn't work.....  Had to scale it back down, then turn it off.  Now I've restarted it, and I think maybe now it is starting to improve again.  Will see.


I get a few hits organically off Instagram, using TAILWIND (I use this for both IG and Pinterest) and maybe I will get a one-off odd sale that way.  There is also some IG ad spend mixed into my FB ads.



Tested conversion ads and their idea of conversion is just clicking.  So I went with TRAFFIC ads and I get 50 clicks a day, every day, for $5 a day.  10 cents per click.  And oddly, I note that for 250 visits from Pinterest, I'll sell about one $25 order, and for 1000 visits, I'll sell about $100.  Of course, that's top line revenue and not margin, so Pinterest is not a net gain on its own. 

Like the traffic objective with FB, the idea was that I'd drive a bunch of people in certain affinity groups to my page and then retarget them, get them on an email list or whatever.  


So here are my two questions:

1.  Are there any really good recommendations for ad spend budget in the early going? 

2.  Is it a total fallacy to even think that driving good well-targeted TRAFFIC will even work for e-com sites?

3.  Are there any economies of scale or 'minimum volume requirements' where doing these kinds of ads just is not ever going to work?  People on this forum swore that Google smart shopping would not work until I had more volume, but after a couple weeks it started really showing improvement and then it generated profitable sales.

4.  Any advice for scaling profitably?


Actually just forcing myself to sit and write all this out, for public view, was a useful exercise in itself.  It has at least given me some things to consider.

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Google Shopping or actually Google Ads is big and complex. It's great to see you have had successes, make sure that you take advantage of every area.

1) A small budget will hamper you from succeeding, if you only spend $5 on Shopping and the budget is exhausted by lunch time, you are then missing out on the rest of the day. My minimum for my clients would be $30 to $50 depending on what they sell. But even then $30 is for very small shops.

2) Never change something more than 30% ie budget, roas, etc... This because it will trigger a learning process when you go over 30%

3) Make sure your remarketing code product id matches the data feed product id. If they don't match Google can not use remarketing effectively. Smart shopping targets both shopping ads and display ads. Hence why remarketing needs to be accurate. You can check the audience source details to validate the ecomm_prodid or id (depending on if you are using the old or new code)

4) Consider using standard shopping campaigns, this allows you to control and manage everything. However, there is nothing wrong with smart shopping, just not a great option with less than 25 conversions in Google ads for the last 45 days.


There are many more tips, but this should get you moving a bit more.

I'm a Google Shopping Specialist and a Google Product Expert Education Award winner, a Google Ads Diamond Product Expert, and also a Google Premier Partner.
Need Data Feed or Google Shopping support? Get in touch.
24 0 1

Some additional thoughts:

I love the power of video, and I love that I KNOW I can cheaply drive traffic to the site.  But I just need to be a little more careful on how much I and how often I turn that on.   I cannot afford to just turn it on and let it run, without sales to support the cost.  Maybe when I get my landing pages more refined and/or some other little trick, I can use this as some kind of TOP OF FUNNEL system to get them in the door and onto my mail list. 

I didn't mention that I just recently started really using Klaviyo as my email list and I'm trying to get better at merchandising (offering specials but only selectively) and I really got a lot from that training course by Drew Sanocki.  Really good stuff there.  I'm going to need to strengthen my cart recall game as well as marketing to list subscribers and past buyers.  I do have a handful of guys that have ordered 2-3 times now.  This is super cost effective and that extra revenue should allow me to scale slowly.

I did also try to do my own Google retargeting campaign and it did work, just not well.  Maybe I didn't let it run long enough.  But I don't have the budget to run 3 or 4 experiments in parallel.  Need to get one dialed in, and only them move on to the next one.

I have almost everything off now.  No more Pinterest, and only $5 /day for GOOGLE smart shopping (like I had in June when it was working so well) and only $5/day for FB. 

That FB spend is the conversion campaign, suing the same video ads that were killing it for me as traffic campaigns.  I may go back to experimenting with FB shopping ads later, but I'm not going to let the Shopify app manage them.

Gotta grow really slow, I think.


24 0 1


Somebody asked about the store - just using standard template, but it seems to work OK.

Recently started using some custom landing pages, with an app called LayoutHub.  No sales off it so far (at least nobody has used this discount code yet), but I'm driving FB traffic to these right now - have been probably for about a week.  

I would consider it a win if I could get enough of them onto my email list, with just an occasional sale to help offset the $5/day cost.

Might just pull the plug on the paid marketing for now, save some traffic flow.  Going to focus on working the email lists, improving landing sights and SEO, for now.

Maybe a referral program would go a long way for me...







24 0 1


An update to this thread - I think I might have finally settled on what will be the three legs of my marketing stool going forward. 


* Google Smart Shopping has started working again for me, not sure why.  I used it exclusively in Dec and I am happy with the results, even at higher costs.  Turned it off about Dec 17 or so (I knew shipments would never arrive in time and just wanted to avoid that) but I think I'll turn it back on today or tomorrow.  Going to increase the budget and see let it run.

* E-mail marketing using Klaviyo has yielded some results.  About 12% of my total revenue over the last 90 days has come from this.  Doesn't require a lot in terms of discounts and promotions, interestingly.  And the money I spend on building the list is a long term investment - 95% of them stay on so over time, this list will be a real asset.  And there is still plenty of room for me to improve here, in terms of ad copy, doing more A/B testing and so on.   But I don't need to make the sale in the first 2 seconds, I get a chance to warm the audience up a bit, let them get to know me, the brand and maybe eventually overcome some objections/concerns about ordering from us.  If you haven't taken the free course by Drew Sanocki here, then I really recommend it.

* FB lead ads -- yes you read that correctly.  To hell with conversion ads, FB takes 110% of the profit margin.  BUT my man Zuck is happy to give me all the low-cost lead ads I can afford.  Sometimes these lead ads generate immediate sales, which further offsets the cost.  And then going forward, I get to control the conversation with the audience, not Zuck.  And Klaviyo supports the integration quiet nicely.

I want to delve into this a bit further here:  Spent a total of $177 for 775 leads (didn't run them in Dec).  That's $0.23 per lead.  But they generated 8 sales immediately (for a total value of $217), before even going on the list, and 1685 link clicks to my store.  So I would guess I was recouping almost half my FB spend in sales, maybe 40% or so...  That brings my cost per lead down to about $0.12, or maybe $0.13 or so.  I mean, hell, I was paying way more than this for conversions.  I'll do that ALL DAY.  And will again starting in Jan.

The challenge will be to resist the desire to keep doing other FB ads and revert back to my stupid ways of forking over my margins.  Perhaps I'll need to create some internal ad spend controls for myself.


Other channels:

These channels I will continue to use, but they aren't what I could call my primary focus.

* Pinterest is a good (mostly free) long-term asset that seems to help.  I use tailwind and it definately pays for itself.  Not something I can count on to generate on-demand results but it is worth it over the long run, I believe.

* And same goes for Instagram.  Not something that has done a lot for me, but quite possibly I've just not learned to do it correctly.  Plenty of room for improvement here going forward.  

* Blog posts with a buy button.  Just recently got my first purchases that way.  

* You Tube channel - zero results so far but will see.  I like it because I can link videos on to the site - instead of writing my return policy, I can look the customer right in the eye (on camera), hold up a t-shirt that was returned by somebody and show them that the return policy is real.  Plus it holds them on the page for a couple minutes instead of a couple seconds, so there is some SEO value there.  Need to get serious about generating content over there, but even if it never really proves to be a major traffic source, I think it is probably worth doing for the reasons I mention here.


Apps and other programs:

I have tried out Image Sitemap and almost ditched it - but it's starting to improve now.  I'm going to stay with it and see if it really drives noticeable improvement.  I use Bulk Image Editor also.  I also have an app called Schema & Breadcrumbs.  That's really about it. 

I removed the landing page app.  No need, and not worth the site-speed bloat.

Probably will go with YOTPO at some point this year, or something that gives me some rating/review capabilities and a referral program.  


I reach the one-year mark on Jan 1.  

247 orders, about $7700 total revenue (shipping included in that).  Well over half of that was in Q4.   About 1/3 was in November alone.  Of course, it took me until about March to get my first sale - Q1 total rev was $100 so I really didn't going until spring-summer.  Should be different this year.


Maybe this will help some others going forward, maybe it won't - just sharing FWIW.