Over the past few years, I’ve been launching quite a few t-shirt campaigns.  Early on in 2014 and more recently, I launch 10-20 shirts every day… With these campaigns under my belt, I’ve been lucky enough to experience every variation of outcome.  I’ve had a lot of winners and even more losers… way more losers to be honest.  But with this experience, I can share with you the 5 most common types of T-shirt campaigns.

The sooner you can recognize what’s going on, the quicker you can react and make improvements.  That means more money for you!  It doesn’t matter if you are shutting off a campaign that’s failing miserably after $5 has been spent or amplifying a campaign that’s looking good.  Having some insight on what might happen is powerful and will definitely increase your ROI over the extended period.

Type 1 – The Flat Out Loser

I always say these T-shirt campaigns come down to two things… DESIGN & TARGETING.  If both of these aren’t connecting with the right audience, then you’re not going to sell any shirts.  A Flat Out Loser is one of those crash and burn campaigns from day 1.  These are the campaigns where you spend $20 and you haven’t had a single sale… there’s been zero interaction on the ad except maybe a few likes and shares… or even after $5-$10, you see it’s costing WAY TO MUCH for each desired interaction.

You want to turn these off as soon as you possibly recognize it.  I launch 10-20 shirts a day so that I see a good portion of winners.  About 15-20% of my shirts actually will make a profit… more if I have a good rebrandable design… but we’re seeing 1-2 winners a day when launching that many shirts.  The 8 other shirts are a loss.  Many of these will be flat out losers and we want to lose as little as possible.

Here’s a few Flat Out Losers I’ve had the past week…


Type 2 – Should I or Shouldn’t I

This type of campaign is the one that is breaking even or producing a very small amount of ROI.  Ideally, we would like to double our investment each month.  Overall, that’s typically how my profit works out with this system.  I’ve been getting much better with my campaigns and improving my ROI across the board lately, but as long as I’m doubling my money, I’m happy.

A Should I or Shouldn’t I campaign means, you’ve gone through your initial testing phase of $20-$25 and you’ve sold maybe 2-3 shirts.  On average, we’re seeing $10 profit per sale. So we’re either up $5 or down $5 at this point.

Do you want to invest your money further into this campaign?  This honestly depends a lot on the amount of investment funds you have available.  If I’m strapped and only have maybe an extra $1000 to spend on ads this week, then I’ll stop this campaign and wait for a higher ROI producing campaign to invest in.  If I have a solid $10k left in my budget, than okay.  I can handle spending $1000 here to make $100 profit.  Profit is profit.

Sometimes the first $20-$30 doesn’t really show the personality of the campaign too.  They could blow up at the $40 spent mark… or they could crash and burn from that point on.  Keeping campaigns like this going is a risk I don’t take often.

I pay heavy attention to the interaction going on with the post in this situation.  Comments with people saying things like “I love it” or linking people’s names is what you’re looking for.

Type 3 – The Catch Up

This is one of those campaigns that starts off well in the initial testing phase… Then day 2 or 3, it doesn’t start to pan out too well.  ROI starts to crash.  You could of been at 100%+ ROI in the first 24 hours, but now you’re getting closer to breaking even with 30 sales to go.  These campaigns suck.  You get your hopes up and all of a sudden you’re just trying not to lose your ass.

These campaigns could be happening due to lots of different reasons.  Often it takes just a few tweaks to these campaigns and you’ll produce some great ROI.  Allow me to share one such campaign that was definitely a Catch Up campaign.

This campaign started off like a Should I or Shouldn’t I campaign.  After the initial ad test of $30, I came away with 3 shirt sales.  I was breaking even at this point. I had to take a close look at the stats to decide what should be done.  Check out the stats we had…


As you can see, the ad itself actually did really well.  It converted high and the cost per engagement is awesome at $.05 each.  So this told me one thing, I had the right targeting for the message… but the design must be lacking.

I took a look at the shirt and it was definitely a very basic version of a tshirt.  It was white with black text.  The image was a very crude silhouette too.  I went ahead and changed the shirt color to black (it seems to sell the best)… and used both white and pink for the text and image.  This dropped my profit per sale, but it also made a much more appealing shirt.

I started up a new ad for the new design with the same targeting.  Things definitely started off better for this one.  I was already $30 down to start though… so I had to make this up over the long run.

Even with the better design, the shirt wasn’t flying off the shelves.  I was breaking even most of the time and had small spurts of positive ROI.  I just wanted to break even or lose as little as I possibly could on this one.

I tried a few things here to improve the results.  First off, I changed it up from a PPE ad to a CTW (Clicks To Website) ad.  I set up a tracking link on the campaign for this ad so that I could see exactly how many sales this ad sent.  After the initial $10 ad spend, it wasn’t producing great results.  I had to shut it down.

As the campaign started to come to a finish, I was still around 30 sales from the original goal.  I had to go ahead and drop my campaign goal to 25 sales and hope I could make the last 5 sales in the last 1-2 days.  If it came down to it, I would purchase the last shirts to make sure it tipped.  Remember, it’s all about minimizing loss at this point.  This dropped my profit per shirt as well.

My saving grace was a last day ad campaign I set up for the final 12 hours.  This is your best time to hit the scarcity effect within a buyer.  Here’s what the ad looked like…


Luckily with this ad, I was able to sell a solid 8-10 more shirts in that period.  This put me over the 25 shirt sales goal and actually turned a campaign that was breaking even or losing money from day 1 into a profit.  It was only like $5, but hey… at least it wasn’t a loss.

Type 4 – The VIRAL Let Down

A Viral Let Down campaign is one that gets amazing stats… Click thru rates are through the roof, you’re getting a ton of likes and shares… comments are flying off the handle… but you get no sales!  These campaigns happen a lot when you’re going after really huge buzz topics.  If you do a shirt about whoever won the super bowl last night, of course people are going to click LIKE and SHARE.  Everyone is already talking about it.  They want to be in the cool kid’s group.

These campaigns will lose you a lot of money if you let them run.  You see the interaction is so great in the initial test and maybe you’ve even sold a shirt… so you think it’s good to try out another $20-$30… Nope!  The same happens… but now you’re $60 down.

This is why we set a first day budget for the campaign at $15.  I used to start all my campaigns at a $250/day budget so Facebook would show them very quickly.  I would still make my decision at the $20 ad spend mark if I wanted to keep it going or stop it… but with these VIRAL Let Down campaigns, I would click refresh and $80 had been spent in the last 20 minutes.

I left one of these on overnight by accident (damn alcohol).. and I was $500 down when I woke up the next morning because Facebook spent the $250 from the day before and already blew through $250 for the day.  I had like 5 shirt sales at that point.  I was a very unhappy camper at this point.

If you’re going to go for those big buzz topics… the main media stories… then, you ABSOLUTELY MUST have a GREAT DESIGN!!!!!!!!!  I can’t stress that enough.  This design NEEDS to be something this audience absolutely must have NOW!

Type 5 – The VIRAL BEAST

The VIRAL BEAST campaigns are what we want to happen.  These are the campaigns that win and win big.  If you’re spending $1 and turning it into $2, you are a beast.  You can simply turn this around and continue to do it for an unlimited amount of time.  Grow your wealth as large you want.

The cool thing about t-shirt campaigns is sometimes you’ll just knock it out of the park.  You find the perfect combination of design and targeting to produce 300%, 400%, and sometimes even 1000% ROI campaigns.

You can easily recognize these campaigns because you’ll start to make multiple sales within the first $10 of ad spend.  When you make 3 sales before $5 has been spent, you know it’s going to be a good one.  For these campaigns, I let the initial $25/day ad campaign run through… then on day 2, I bump it to $50/day… if the ROI is still rocking, I bump it to $100/day… etc.  If ROI starts to tank, don’t be afraid to drop it down to the last daily ad budget setting.

My latest VIRAL BEAST had 20 sales within the first $20 test.  I knew right away it was going to rock… it’s actually still going as I type this and it’s selling well… if you call 1000% ROI well :).  Here’s a screen shot of it from earlier today…


I guess I could say there are 6 types of campaigns.  The sixth being a normal winning campaign.  One that produces 50% ROI.  There’s nothing wrong if we are in the positive.  These campaigns will happen a lot too.

Hopefully this gives you a better insight of what to look for and how to react to your t-shirt ad campaigns.