New landing page

3 ads placed for the new landing page for the headphone amp.  For what it’s worth the calculation is as follows:

  • Cost $40
  • Shipping $10
  • Customer acquisition budget $30/customer
  • sales price $120
  • profit per sale $40

Operating margin is 33 percent based on those estimates.

I budgeted 100 dollars for the test ads, stay tuned results in a few days.

This shouldn’t be as hard as it is, but it’s kind of like the first time you play big boy poker at a real casino.  Your whole feeling is different when you have money on the table.  Burning through a hundred or so dollars in a day or two of ads with no guarantee of any return is emotionally more difficult than you think.

The next attempt

Sales funnels reborn.  My theory is that the cost of customer acquisition does not depend all that much on the sales price.  In order to make money I need to have a product that has I large enough profit per sale to be able to at least break even on customer acquisition (primarily advertising) cost.

After contemplating this for some time I came up with custom branded headphone amplifiers.  Many people prefer the sound of tubes, almost everyone thinks tube amplifiers look cool.  Buying them in bulk from a manufacturer in china these can be had at a reasonable price, allowing for 40 or 50 dollars of profit per sale.  Subtract from that 30 or so for advertising and I will still be making good money.

Plan is as follows:

  1. Get a logo from fiverr (done)
  2. Get a domain name (done)
  3. Get a landing page template from fiverr (ordered)
  4. Set up the landing page
  5. Set up a facebook page
  6. Advertise on facebook to audiophiles, engineers, and electronics enthusiasts

If any sales occur I will immediately order the amplifiers from china by DHL, and ship them as soon as possible to the customers.  After this initial just in time market test (assuming success) I will keep 1 months worth in stock.  The first set will be generic without branding, but after the market test I will get my logo laser etched into the product.

The time line for all this is a few weeks, so if this works I’ll be able to spawn a new business in less than a month.

Initial results

Sales funnel was a mixture of success and failure.

  • 150 vistors in one day
  • 2 sales in one day
  • 1.5% conversion (significantly higher than directing traffic to front page of my web site)


  • 33 cents per clickthrough on the facebook ad
  • $25 spent per customer acquisition
  • $12.50 per sale – $6 dollar shipping and product cost
  • lost $37 on the experiment



Funnel Flow

Landing page: present tripwire product.  Button triggers stripe custom checkout popup.  On form return function(token, args) is called (javascript).  This sets variables in a hidden form (form contains only elements of type “hidden”).  The form’s action is set to a php page that will contain the order bump.  This is submitted once the values (charge token, address, products purchased) are set.

Order Bump:  This page presents the order bump.  It must be php though, because it’s receiving the information from the first page and doing something with it.  This presents 2 options buy or don’t buy.

Buy -> hidden form is updated with one more item, then javascript forwards to upsell php page.  This requires the posted values to move into javascript variables.  To move a php variable in to a javascript variable the syntax is something like:

<?php echo $variable3 ?>

Don’t buy: current form values are sent to receipt.php

Upsell: Buy or don’t buy again, only this time either way goes to receipt

Receipt: This page needs to process the order in stripe, charge the card, send a thankyou email to the customer, and then send a notification email to me that an order needs to be shipped.

So far I have the landing page done, order bump almost done.

Funnel Progress

Funnel progress has been slow.  We had an awful lot to do in the last few days and I didn’t get to it much.  Broadly speaking here are the steps:

  1. Design the landing pages – done
  2. Create a Stripe account to do charges – done
  3.  Figure out how to pass payment information from the form: -done
  4. Figure out how to decrement inventory (will require a database of sales and purchases, this may end up being done through stripe’s orders API
  5.  Add tracking tags and scripts
  6. Go live with the whole shebang!

This required brushing up on PHP and javascript a little unfortunately.  The checkout process works as follows:

  1. Create a checkout form using custom checkout:
  2. Put the values in a hidden form and then post said form to a php script using jquery
  3. php code then will display the next step in the funnel, repeat 2
  4. one of the values is  a “token” that represents the card, the last php script will create the charge, and decrement the appropriate inventories

Exit Intent Forms

Exit intent forms are those annoying popups that come up when you try to leave a page.  I’m familiar with two types:  The kind where you try to close the tab and it opens a bunch of message boxes saying “OMG YOU HAVE SO MUCH VIRUS TEH RUSSIANZ GUNNA PWN U BRUH!”  (or something to that effect), and the ones that ask for your email address to send a coupon code to as soon as your mouse leaves the viewport.

The second type is all the rage right now.  Email address lists are very valuable: a targeted but not very well used or active list is worth $0.20 cents per entry according to that book).  The value of a customer who leaves your landing page leaving no information and doesn’t purchase is close to zero.  It’s not zero, because you may still have retargeting information gathered through tracking pixels, but it’s way lower than the value of an email address.

So how do I do one?  Well much like the funnels people will try to sell you a lot of services.  I don’t want to spend money on these services, since I would like to spend that money on advertising instead.  My helpful link of the day:  This is a quick java script snippet you can use for your own landing pages.

Free Templates

The sales funnel project has several challenges:

  • HTML design of the pages (???):  Unfortunately, clickfunnels promotes so aggressively even finding templates for self hosting is difficult.  I am looking at adapting landing page templates now.
  • Payment processing, inventory, etc. (Stripe API + some custom PHP)
  • Conversion tracking (Mautic)

Payment processing is going to be a bit tricksy but it looks like it’s going to be doable.  Unfortunately I will need to have a separate stripe account for it, which means that I won’t be able to track inventory with shopify.  This is rather unfortunate, but not that big a deal (I have enough inventory.  For now I can just allocate half to each platform and make corrections when sales happen. At some point in the future I can make a shopify plugin that runs on my host that keeps things in sync).

Conversion tracking will happen more or less automatically as long as all the pages are setup as mautic landing pages, and there is a thank you/confirmation landing page after purchase.

HTML templates, as I said are  a big problem, largely due to clickfunnels messing up the signal to noise ratio on this.  I’m going to try to adapt landing pages from

Sales Funnels and eCommerce Evolved

My reading list expanded a little. I got the book “eCommerce Evolved”.  I would recommend it.  It had a great deal of information, and more importantly it wasn’t the same information as other places.  At least some of it wasn’t.  It had hard numbers of good and bad operating margins, conversion rates, etc.  It also had concrete advice of what to automate and how to handle email drip campaigns.  Perhaps most importantly it has step by step market research advice.  It’s by no means perfect but it’s the closest thing to a detailed HOWTO I’ve found yet.

The book suggested reading it cover to cover once, then mulling over the info for a few days, and coming back to it.  When coming back, pick a portion of the book to try to implement in your business, and start there.  I’ve done the first part of that.  I decided, since I have reasonable traffic costs now, to implement the product funnels first.  The book suggests that a physical product funnel will convert several times better than simply pointing an ad to your product page.  In fact it says you should not spend ANY advertising money directing cold traffic to your shopping cart.  That doesn’t include email marketing or retargeting campaigns, those are still OK.

The interesting thing about this is I had been attempting to do similar things with landing pages already, but I wasn’t having much luck.  A proper sales funnel I had not built though.  The reason is mainly the difficulty of it.  I have tried to find a good way to do it with shopify, and the only plugin I found was 99 dollars a month.  That seemed a bit hefty to me for an experiment.  My entire facebook ads budget right now is about 300 a month.

I have two options essentially: Create a chain of static pages that direct to a prefilled shopify cart at the end (easy), or create a chain of pages and use the Stripe API to handle payments.

The book I read was pretty adamant about taking payment first then trying to do upsells and cross-sells, and the data tracking will be a lot easier if everything including the checkout is under my control.  This way I can tag things to be tracked in Mautic (somehow? don’t know how) and use that as triggers for things – customer email list or prospect email list.

Cruise Vacations and Bad News

Well, me the wife and the baby got back from our 1 week cruise in the carribean last weekend.  Aside from the ridiculous hurricane season this year I can only say good things about the trip.  The good people at Carnival are amazing and things run perfectly.  I had a problem with one of the shore excursions, but I’m no worse for the wear.

The bad news, however, is that a good friend of mine was murdered in a mass shooting in Plano Texas.  It started as a domestic dispute seemingly involving depression and alcohol abuse and culminated in 9 lives being lost.

Growtraffic Results

Unfortunately, grow traffic proved out like I suspected.  It is not, at least not obviously, a scam.  It is, however, useless for most purposes.

I purchased 10k visits over 10 days for 28 dollars.  These were directed to a landing page that offers a discount code in exchange for an email signup.  My results ended up being:

  • 4756 hits to my landing page (not sure why it didn’t register 10,000 but whatever
  • 0 email addresses received

Based on that confidence interval calculator I posted a few weeks ago that puts the conversion rate between 0 and 0.1%.  A very similar landing page linked to google ads got 12 out of 100 visitors to give their emails, which gives us 6.6-19.1% conversion.

Conclusion: don’t waste your money.  So far facebook ads work the best, but are also the most difficult to do right.