In May 2022 I managed to sell over 100 CD’s, and in this post i’m going to show you how. Specifically I sold 118 CD’s to about 78 fans. Many of you might be asking, “who is still buying and listening to CD’s in 2022, when music streaming is so convenient?”, but in 2021 over 46 million CD’s were sold in the USA alone.
Update July 2022: Now the number is 400+ CD’s in about 10 weeks. This post is still relevant but make sure you check out the end to see some extra tips for things i’ve learned.
How did I do it? A free plus shipping and handling offer promoted largely to a cold audience in the USA using Facebook Ads. Here’s a screenshot from Shopify showing the number of products sold during May 2022, this isn’t every item but its the bulk of it.
Free + S/H
The first thing we have to get out of the way is the whole free plus shipping and handling thing. This means the CD itself is free, but I charged anywhere between $5 and $5.95 for shipping (USA only). Before anyone cries out ‘clickbait!’, if I had made the CD itself $5 and had shipping be free you’d have no problem calling it a sale. A customer / fan paid money to acquire the CD, therefore its a CD sale.
But why would I do this, and how does this make sense? There are a few things that make this beneficial…
- The actual shipping cost is about $3.50 in the USA, and the cost of the CD is about $0.97 when bought in bulk. After factoring in transaction fees and the cost of the shipping supplies at the end of the day its a break even offer, also known as a loss leader.
- Every sale represents a paying customer that now has paid money for a product of mine – these are people I would consider true fans. They’re definitely more invested in my music than someone who exclusively streams, and my goal is to exceed their expectations so that they’re likely to buy from me in the future. Essentially i’m willing to lose money to gain a lifelong fan where i’ll hopefully break even profit long term.
- On the sales page I offer a ‘bump’ product, I make it possible for them to pay more for the CD if they want to (and many do), and I offer them ‘upsells’. We’ll talk more about these offers later in this post. The result of this is that I had plenty of $20+ and $30+ orders, people who purchased 4 CD’s and other items at the same time.
On top of this i’ve had many conversations with people after their CD’s arrived, and some even shared pictures of their CD on social media and tagged me in it talking about how much they loved it. Its a pretty surreal experience and it feels amazing to see so many people LOVING the CD(s).
The core offer of the sales page is the free CD, but I also mention that every CD will be autographed which makes it more valuable. On top of that I write every single fan a short hand-written note that I include in every package, but this is just a nice surprise I don’t mention on the sales page. On the sales page I also have a ‘pay what you want’ option where people can pay more for the CD if they want to, and so far over 25% of people opt to pay $5+ for the CD on top of shipping.
On the sales page there is something known as a ‘bump‘ offer. Basically this is a cheap item that they can add to their order prior to checking out. At first I made this the digital version of the album for $5, which is a pretty great deal, but partway through I changed it to a sticker pack to keep everything in the order physical.
After they pay for the order they’re taken to something called a ‘one-click upsell‘. For this offer I made it a 3 pack of CD’s for $15 – a pretty fantastic deal. They’ve already entered their payment info, so all they have to do is say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to accept or deny the upsell. If they reject this offer they’re taken to a ‘downsell‘ that asks if they just want 1 extra CD for $5 – also a fantastic deal.
After these offers the last offer they receive is an upsell for my ‘Best Friends Bundle’, which is a collection of two wristbands and two guitar pick keychains for $7.
Here are some rough statistics of the funnel:
- 4% of people that visit the sales page purchase the CD
- 25% pay more than $0 for the CD
- 25% take the bump offer
- 32% take the 3 CD offer
- 15% take the ‘Best Friends Bundle’
The result is that the average order value is $9 + shipping / handling. The shipping / handling covers the actual cost of shipping, the cost of the main CD and the cost of shipping materials, so aside from the cost of the other goods sold there is $9 of profit – my guess is that the actual profit is roughly $6.
This means that if we were able to get paying fans for less than $6, we’d be profiting on this funnel. That brings us to the topic of marketing…
I’m not going to go into the details of this here because its still a work in progress, but I want to cover the high-level concepts. While I did get several sales from my mailing list and from social media, most of the sales came from completely cold audiences reached via Facebook Ads.
The type of campaign used to run this ad is whats known as a conversion campaign. Because i’m selling this via my ThriveCart funnel I can install a Facebook Pixel on the sales page which will report to Facebook when I make a sale. It reports events like ‘PageView’, ‘Initiate Checkout’ and ‘Purchase’ when a person views the page, adds their email, or makes a purchase, respectively.
In terms of audiences in the ad set I mostly tried genres of music. Ages 18-58 and automatic placements.
The ad thats made the most sales so far is a performance video I recorded a year or so ago in my studio. I just cut it to start at one of the highlights of the song and wrote some text that I want to give them a free signed CD, all they have to do is cover the shipping.
But did I make a profit? Currently, nope. Thats what i’m still working on, and i’m making great progress.
In May 2022 I spent roughly $1,600 in Facebook Ads promoting this offer.
In that same month I made about $1,100 in sales, but after subtracting about $500 in shipping / CD costs I was left with about $600.
This means i’ve lost about $1,000 in this offer, but its super important to remember that I also acquired 78 fans that are willing to purchase items from my store. Thats less than $14 per person that I now have on my mailing list and can contact whenever I have a new album or new merch item on my store.
So obviously this is losing money, but the campaign itself has improved dramatically. At first I was paying $40 per sale, then a week into it I was down to $20 per sale and recently i’ve gotten it down to around $10 per sale. This is partially due to improving my ads, my landing page, and Facebook’s AI learning more and more about who will make the purchase and who will not.
My personal goal is to get this funnel to around a 0.80 ROAS, meaning every dollar I put in I get $0.80 back. In a perfect world i’d be profiting from this funnel, but i’m quite confident that long term I will profit even with a 0.8 ROAS. You can bet i’ll be making more posts / videos over time as I figure this out more and more.
The first big thing I learned is that to have the initial offer break even shipping really does have to be $5.95 and not $5. Even though the costs of shipping materials and shipping and the CD itself are under $5 once PayPal / Stripe take their transaction fee you’d be losing $0.50 per order. Also I found that i’m always throwing in extra stickers into every order.
I’ve been shipping these CD’s out via USPS with tracking, but I think it may be possible to send them via Priority Mail Letter Rate instead of the Package Rate with no tracking for substantially less – if I figure this out it will save a ton of shipping cost. I’ve also learned you can buy bubble mailers much more cheaply from random shipping supply companies online than through Amazon – Amazon is great to get your first 50-100 but after that buy them in bulk somewhere else for much less.
If you do this you NEED to have something in your email autoresponder that follows up each order 2 weeks after purchase asking them if their CD came in and what they thought about it. So many people have replied to that email and its incredible having that type of fan feedback and having conversations with some of these people.
Make sure in your autoresponder you have an abandoned cart sequence. This is an email sequence that will fire if someone enters their email into your checkout on your site but does not purchase. The goal if it is to convince them to come back to your sales page and order the CD. You won’t get a TON of sales from it but you may recover 10-20% of people that enter their email and don’t checkout, which is a decent amount (plus its free to do this).
I’m going to continue to tinker with this approach and see how it goes, there is a LOT to improve on. Expect more content in the near future on this topic.
UPDATE: I’ve done more tinkering, still not perfect but better. Check out this video to see the update.
Since writing this original article I figured out a way to get shipping down to $1.44 for orders where people only get the free CD and nothing else. That means there is a few dollars of profit built into every order which helps.