We interviewed eCommerce entrepreneur, Santiago Rojas on how he generated over $2 million in sales just from Facebook ads. He talks about his campaign strategies, the main criteria for making an ad successful, and what to do after the iOS 14 update. He also talks about how he got started, his biggest struggles, and what he would do if he were to start again in today’s climate.
Who is Santiago Rojas?
Sean: "Hey everyone, it's Sean again from Salehoo. In today's video, we get to interview Santiago Rojas, also known as e-com Santiago. He is a seven-figure dropshipper, and we get to pick his brain and see how he grew his seven-figure stores with Facebook ads."
Sean: "First, gonna give us a bit of background on your eCommerce journey. What is the process for you to get into dropshipping?"
Santiago: "Well yeah, of course, back then I was 18 years old and I didn't have the money to invest into Facebook ads. So, really, the first thing I did was, of course, doing my research, trying to get as much knowledge as possible from what I found on YouTube and Google. That was like the first thing I did. Then the second thing I did was, of course, I needed to launch my own store. So, what I did was actually finding an investor because I didn't have the money to invest in Facebook ads, and that's pretty much the biggest investment you need to go through when you want to do dropshipping. I found the investor, and she actually trusted me, she trusted the process, she trusted the business, and that's how I managed to launch my first dropshipping Store. Thanks to this dropshipping store, I actually managed to scale it up to the point that I managed to have my own capital to then launch my own successful dropshipping stores."
Biggest Successes and Setbacks
Sean: And can you share with us your biggest successes and your biggest setbacks in, you know, getting into dropshipping? Maybe you can even share some details of how much money you made for this particular year or this particular month."
Santiago: "Of course, the first-time success story is always going to be special for you because it's going to be a very successful store. It wasn't the most successful store, but it was definitely a dropshipping store that gave me a lot of knowledge and, more than knowledge, it gave me confidence. You know, it gave me the confidence to keep investing in the business, specifically with this dropshipping store. We launched it back in 2019 if I'm not mistaken. We launched a pet product, one of those fluffy dog beds. Actually, the product we tested outperformed really well, and we managed to scale up the store to $200,000 in revenue. But the investor decided to take out the money from the business because she needed it for a different business. So, then I had to scale out and scale down the store. I took the money that I generated with this store and invested it in my second dropshipping store.
It was actually, I don't know if you see it back here, the back stretcher. This was the product that I found back in 2019, and I started testing it out in 2020. With that dropshipping store, I managed to generate over $2 million worth of sales, solely with that product. Of course, thanks to the pandemic, because eCommerce was one of the industries that benefited from the pandemic. Everyone was kept at home and had to buy everything online, and dropshipping was an industry that benefited from it. During the years 2020 and 2021, I managed to scale up my dropshipping business to the point where I was able to generate over six figures per month. I also reached the point of generating a seven-figure markup, which everyone aims for when doing eCommerce."
Winning Product Criteria
Sean: " Let's move on to the next segment, the end of the interview, which is product research for finding winning products for Facebook. Since you're an expert on Facebook, could you let us know what your product criteria is? How do you figure out that a product is one that you should be selling on Facebook?"
Santiago: "Of course, that's actually a really good question because, as you can see from my logo right here, this is one of my businesses that I currently have. It is a Dropshipping Academy, and I'm currently mentoring over 130 students. One of the biggest pieces of advice that I tell each and every one of them is the fact that they need to focus on finding a winning product. There are five factors that I analyze every time.
First, my product needs to solve a problem. It needs to have a 'wow' factor, and there should be a high perceived value aspect. Many beginners tend to overlook this factor, but why would someone buy an expensive product if it looks cheap? That's related to the high perceived value aspect.
The fourth factor is that your product needs to be difficult to get in local stores. Why would someone buy something from a random online store if they can easily buy it at a local store? And, of course, the fifth and most important one is the fact that the product needs to be trending.
"Now that leads me to my rule of thumb to find winning products every time. It's the fact that if the product I find is not trending, I'm not going to get into this product. Why is this important? Because if you're able to find other dropshippers that are currently selling the same product (of course, trying to be careful with the fact that there's saturation), but if you find those dropshippers already selling the product that you want to sell, and those dropshippers are performing well with this product, that's like the biggest insight that you can take to find and select a product and guarantee that you're going to have success with it.
That's pretty much my criteria. I use different platforms to help me out to get access to the best and the most accurate data. But that's pretty much what I do with every single platform that I use."
Follow Passion or Trends?
Sean: You mentioned how you know you should focus on products that are trending as a proof of concept that they'll work for dropshipping. What do you think about the idea that you should be starting a store that you're passionate about? Do you think dropshippers should follow that advice, or more so follow the advice of finding a product that is proven to sell?"
Santiago: "That's a really good question because actually many of my students ask me this every time. And look, every time what I tell them is, look, if you want to be successful right away with dropshipping, then go with the easy route. The easy route is definitely going with trending products. But if you want to be successful in the long term, having a proven, long-term business that's not just dropshipping but actually a real brand, definitely fall in love with your passion, with your niche, with a certain niche, with something that you enjoy doing.
A quick example: If you are someone that goes to the gym and likes to work out, of course, the fitness niche and the gym niche are going to be a sweet niche for you. So go and create a dropshipping store that you can advertise fitness products. But of course, if you want to be successful right away with dropshipping, the easiest route is to definitely go with a trending product.
But that's a really interesting question, and that's actually where I think dropshipping is going to shift in the future. I think that more and more people are going to start to create brands based on their passions. And of course, with the help of the dropshipping business model, they're going to be able to make them successful."
Product Testing Strategy
Sean: That's very insightful. So, that's the end of the product research segment. Let's move on to marketing and scaling. Let's talk about testing a product, and seeing whether it works. What is your testing strategy to find out whether a dropshipping product works on Facebook?"
Santiago: "You know what, thank you for asking this question because that's actually one of the other pieces of advice that I give my students. There's like a very common belief in the dropshipping industry. Many gurus tend to say, like, you should test a lot of different products at the same time if you want to get to the right product, and I actually think that this is completely false. I actually think that a way to go over, product testing is actually doing proper product research, like a real product research, really, really spending time on validating with as much data as possible if the product that you want to sell is really a winning product, and that's what I do. I don't do product testing.
I really spend a lot of time on doing product research; that's actually what I do. I validate that my winning products are actually winning products. I guarantee myself that those winning products are gonna generate me a lot of sales if I launch my dropshipping store. Of course, with a good design and a good video ad strategy. But I don't do product testing. Of course, what I do is video ad testing. I launch different audiences at the same time. I launch different video ads, different creatives at the same time because that's the part where you actually need to figure out which audiences are actually going to buy the product from your store, which ads, which creatives are going to be the ones that are going to engage the most with those winning audiences. That's actually what I do, not really product testing."
Facebook Ads Testing Strategy
Sean: “Right, and how do you go about structuring your campaign, though? Like, do you go with an ABO, CBO, and what metrics do you look at?"
Santiago: "Okay, so I initially start with ABO campaigns, of course. There's going to be many people that are going to tell me, like, yeah, about Facebook, the algorithm is so powerful that you can go right away with CBO or even with one of these new Advantage campaigns, one of those new campaigns that Facebook launched not so long ago this year. But I'm going to be very honest, ABO going to be the best for testing out because, with ABO, you can guarantee that you're going to give every single audience the right amount of spend. Of course, maybe your results at the beginning are not going to be the most promising results, but that's not what we aim for at the beginning. What we aim for is to get as much data, data as possible, to really find those winning audiences for the scaling phase. So, specifically, to answer your question, I definitely start first with ABO campaigns, 10 different ad sets targeting different interests. And inside every ad set, I put three different ads. Initially, what I do is testing the same video ad with three different scroll stoppers. Then, as soon as I find those winning ads and those winning audiences, what I do is, let's say if an ad set got three, four sales at a profitable rate, what I do is duplicating them three times inside the same ABO campaign. And if any of those duplicates get another three sales, that's like a proven concept for me that I can take them into my scaling phase, into my CBO campaigns. Now, to answer which metrics do I focus on, of course, first, it's CTR (Click-Through Rate), CPC (Cost Per Click). That's going to be more related to the video ad, seeing if the video ads are definitely engaging with the winning audience. But of course, cost per Add to Cart cost per Checkout Initiated, and, of course, Cost Per Result and ROAS (Return on Ad Spend).
Now, the thing with Cost Per Result and ROAS is that, after iOS 14, for those that don't know, in 2021 Apple launched iOS 14, which was a big update for advertisers, for digital advertisers. Due to this update, Facebook can't really track properly the things that people are doing on the websites outside the platform. That's definitely something that affected a lot the way you analyze your metrics. Because of course, maybe you got 10 sales in one day, but then on your Facebook Ads Manager, you only see five sales. That's definitely something that's going to mess up how you analyze your ads.
In this case, what you need to do is analyze those top-of-the-funnel metrics, which are going to be CTR, CPC, and CPM, to make those decisions."
Fixing Low Sales
Sean: Right, yeah, you mentioned something interesting, which is analyzing ads. Now, a lot of dropshippers, when their ads don't perform well, they blame it on the product and they say, 'Oh, maybe my product is just not a winner.' How do you go about troubleshooting or figuring out what went wrong?"
Santiago: Great question again. That's actually very common, not only for experienced dropshippers but for beginners as well. When someone's starting out with dropshipping, they launch their Facebook ads, and they let the campaign run for two days or three days, and they only get a sale, or not even a sale, they're going to blame it directly on the product. They're going to say, 'Oh, this is not a winning product.' And maybe it is; maybe the product is not a winning product. But of course, there are three things I always tell my students that they need to focus on if they want to be successful with dropshipping. First, the winning product. Second, the video ad. And third, the online store. If you have those three things on point, you're going to be able to generate a sales
So, you've got to analyze those three things. You can analyze it in this order: First, is your product definitely a winning product? That's why I told you before that I really put a lot of time into doing product research. Second, if the first one is already covered, is definitely my product a winning one? Is it a winning product? Now, I need to strive to create the highest-converting video ad possible to really engage those winning audiences. And third, if I know that one and two are already covered, then I need to strive to have a super high-converting online store. If my online store is not high-converting, then I'm going to lose a lot of potential customers. If you have those three things covered, then you should be able to analyze properly your sales funnel
Scaling with Facebook Ads
Sean: "Or scaling, how do you go about scaling your store? So you've found your winning product, let's say you've proven that it sells through testing it on Facebook. How do you go about scaling your store?"
Santiago: After testing my different audiences and let's say that I found my winning audiences and my winning ads, what I do is put more budget towards those winning audiences. Specifically, how do I do it? The first thing I do is take them into CBO (Campaign Budget Optimization) campaigns. I would take about five exact duplicates from my winning audience and put them into a CBO campaign. If it performs well at $200 per day during three days, I will start to scale up hard that audience by duplicating those campaigns at a higher budget. That's actually the easiest and quickest way to scale up your dropshipping store.
Of course, at the same time, you need to know that you should be launching your retargeting campaigns, your warm audience retargeting campaign, and your hot audience retargeting campaign because those campaigns will help you pull more people into your sales funnel. That's how I do it at the beginning. Then, until I get to the point where I'm spending between $1,000 to $5,000 per day on Facebook ads, I start to consider launching a few Google ads. Google ads are definitely a good way to scale up your Dropshipping store, especially if Facebook is getting harder and harder. Because the more you scale up and the more budget you put into Facebook ads, the lower the profit margin is going to get. So, definitely, Google ads are a good way to start to overcome those little setbacks during the process."
Finding the Right Suppliers
Sean "Right, and I think Facebook is a bit strict with dropshippers. They demand that they have fast shipping times, or that could affect their ad account and get it banned. So, how do you go about finding the right supplier that will offer fast shipping times for customers?"
Santiago: "That's a good question. Suppliers are, of course, one of the main concerns for people getting into dropshipping. There are two big platforms that we use most of the time. But there are platforms like SaleSource, of course, that are very big and very common for beginners. Anyone can use SaleSource to fulfill their orders right now if they want.
However, as you start to get more and more orders and your dropshipping store becomes more known in the dropshipping industry, private agents may start to reach out to you via email, Facebook, or Instagram. That's pretty much how you can connect with those big suppliers.
Besides that, it's pretty straightforward. At the beginning, of course, when you don't have a big dropshipping store, you need to start low, and big platforms such as SaleSource are definitely the right way to go at the beginning."
Solving Facebook Ads Account Bans
Sean: "My question now is how do beginners get around these ad account bans because Facebook has been banning ad accounts left and right? How do they sort of work around it?"
Santiago: "The way to go around it is, , first, like the most straightforward answer I can give people right here is to try to open a business in your country. Or I mean, if you live in the States, you can go and create an LLC so you can actually register your business and connect it to your ads account. Once you register your business to your Facebook ads account, this is literally telling Facebook that you're a legit business. Of course, when we do dropshipping, we're actually legit businesses. But, just as you said before, Facebook tries to cover up themselves with the dropshippers because they know the dropshipping shipping times are not the best ones in many cases. This is like little kids doing dropshipping, and they're not serving their customers the right way they need to be served. That's the first strategy I can give people right now.
The second strategy is to answer your comments every time you actually post on your Facebook page. If Facebook sees that you're not posting and your Facebook page is not active, that's going to be seen as suspicious activity and may lead to an account ban. If you're not answering comments, that's also seen as suspicious activity. You need to behave as a real brand "That's what you need to understand, that you need to behave as a real brand, and that's the best way to cover up yourself from getting your account back."
Startup Capital for Dropshipping
Sean: "Interesting, right? Now, the next question I have is on the starting capital to start a dropshipping business. So, if you were starting over and you only had five hundred dollars, what would you do? Or would you not start with 500? Would you save up a bit more?"
Santiago: "Definitely, definitely I would save a bit more. I'm gonna be very straightforward with everyone here, it's impossible to start with five hundred dollars in 2023. It's not possible to invest in Facebook ads and be successful with this, that's the reality. If someone tells you that you can launch your dropshipping store with $500, obviously using Facebook ads, maybe if you want to use organic ads, definitely you can go and do it, but with Facebook ads, it's impossible. What would I do? First, what I do is definitely invest more in my knowledge. And for my first dropshipping store, maybe what I would do or try to do is launching my various dropshipping store with an organic ad strategy with TikTok. That's actually one of the strategies that many teenagers are currently using, launching organic ads with TikTok instead of using Facebook ads. Of course, thanks to the power of the TikTok algorithm, you can leverage it to try to get your videos to go viral, showcasing how your product works. And in some cases, it has actually worked. That's the thing that I would do right now. That's the path that I would take. If I have only 500, I would save those 500 and try to earn a bit more doing other things until I get to the point of having at least a thousand dollars. A thousand dollars is definitely the sweet spot to be able to test properly your different audiences and your different ads and be able to find those winning audiences to then give some traction to your store so your dropshipping store can start to generate some cash flow, so you can keep investing and keep scaling up your dropshipping store for the future
The Future of Dropshipping
Sean: "So, thousand dollars to start with Facebook ads. So, just the last question to wrap up the interview. How do you think dropshipping or eCommerce will change over the next one to two years, and how do you advise all eCommerce entrepreneurs to adapt to that change?"
Santiago: "Well, that's a very good question because I'm hearing a lot of people saying that dropshipping is gonna die, and that's completely false because dropshipping is just a way to do eCommerce, and eCommerce is more alive than ever. So, dropshipping is here to stay, that's for sure because dropshipping is just a way to do eCommerce. Now, it's also true that it's getting more and more competitive. There are more and more people getting to know about dropshipping, getting to launch their own dropshipping stores, and of course, there's not as much winning products for everyone. There's going to be more and more people testing the same winning product at the same time. My advice for everyone that wants to start to do dropshipping right now and in the next one to two years is to really focus and strive to build a real brand with their dropshipping stores instead of just focusing on generating money as fast as possible. Try to generate real brands and connect with your customers. That's what's going to make your store differentiated from other dropshipping stores that are selling the same products."
Sean: “Thank you for the interview, Santiago. I'm sure our viewers will find it valuable. Santiago, would you like to share any channels or platforms where our audience can follow you?”
Santiago: “Great! You can find Santiago on Instagram at Ecom Santiago, and he also offers a dropshipping Academy, which is a mentorship program for those interested in becoming successful dropshippers. You can contact him through his DMs on Instagram if you're interested in joining the dropshipping Academy.”