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How to use a free plus shipping offer to build your launch list (and customer base)

Ok, so today I’m going to share a strategy that is pretty common in the Shopify dropshipping world and show you how you can use it to build up a pre-launch customer list or, just an email list of potential buyers since you know, Jeff doesn’t let us have the sweet customer data.

But first things first, if you’re mainly an FBA seller, this strat might not appeal to you because it involves doing a bit of dropshipping and Facebook ads. Now, basic knowledge of Facebook ads is really a must, but I know a lot of sellers resist the dark side it because the whole point of selling on Amazon is that you wouldn’t have to do any of that other stuff.

build a launch list for private label

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Another reason you might not like this is because I can only give you the outline because setting up mail lists, landing pages, and Facebook ads is wwaaaaayyy out of the scope of this article. So a bit of self-teaching is necessary.

But regardless, here’s how it looks and you can decide for yourself.

What is free plus shipping?

Sometimes called a tripwire by dickhead internet marketers that see people as nothing more than dollars signs, a free plus shipping offer usually, is when you find a popular selling item on aliexpress that is very small, light and cheap (usually jewellery is the most popular for this), you then make an ad that says the item is free – just pay shipping (so not free), you then set the shipping to ten bucks and build your profit into the shipping cost.

When people buy an item and pay the shipping, you just order the item from the seller on aliexpress - which is dropshipping.

Now personally, I feel the free plus model is limited and has been done to death already by dropshippers, BUT we can use it for Amazon launches - except we will be shipping for free (since our goal isn’t profit).

how to launch an amazon product

But why would I want to do that?

Because this is the best way to build up a list of customers in your niche, collect a ton of emails and have an offer for existing customers when you come to launch an Amazon product.

Plus you should always be building your list and you also can use this as a solid foundation if you are building off amazon or as a way to get people into your sales funnel (although that won’t apply to most).

Watch this, funnels can be hilarious

The cost of free plus shipping

It’s pretty simple, you go to aliexpress and use the search filters to show you hot-selling products that cost no more than 3 dollars (or 1 if you’re feeling generous) and also filter for Epacket shipping – only ever use Epacket because it has tracking numbers. The free postal options suck.

You can also get real sales data from too, it's basically just another Aliexpress and also good for dropshipping.

By doing this with low cost items, you’re looking at about 3-4 dollars’ customer acquisition cost and building your base that will come in handy if you ever get in trouble on Amazon (pro tip, you should never just be relying on Amazon for your livelihood).

What products work for free + If you know your FBA product will be, say, a fishing tackle box organiser or some other fishing thing, a good free plus offer would be a pack of different lures (there are lots of popular ones on aliexpress and they show how many times a product has solid, so you have actual demand data).

You want something small, cheap and light that is right for your target audience is right and that would be handy or novelty thing to have.

how to sell private label

This Buddha necklace is the dropshipping equivalent of the garlic press, although i just noticed it kind of has what looks like a mini swastika on it

If you are selling a beauty product, maybe something like a fancy makeup organizer or some cool facial product, then you could do a free plus offer on something like those silicone makeup sponges (they were hot on Amazon about a year ago and got over saturated in about 2 minutes).

If it’s a yoga product, perhaps you could do a free plus shipping offer on an OM charm bracelet.

The key thing is to focus on the end goal, which is building a list which can have multiple uses.

There are some product types that this won’t work for

The beauty of selling on Amazon is that you can really make money selling anything, from hubcaps to spare wheelchair wheels (science and industry is one of my favorite categories to research in).

Unfortunately, sometimes but not all these products lend themselves to building a brand.

amazon private label case study

If we take the example of spare wheelchairs wheels, that’s just the kind of thing you won’t be able to sell well on Shopify or run a free plus ad to – because it’s too utilitarian. Same with things like travel pillows, they sell well enough on Amazon, but building a brand around is no picnic.

These days, I gravitate toward passion niches and if possible women, because political correctness be damned, they typically do more shopping.

Setting up – what you need

Ok, so to get started, you’ll need a couple of things in place:

A basic Shopify store (if like 30 bucks a month base plan and you can always cancel it one you build a list) that will list your free plus shipping offer.

A free Mailchimp account (this is so you can capture emails when someone orders your free plus offer.

The free Mailchimp app installed on your Shopify store (in your checkout settings, you check the box that says customers agree to accept marketing emails by default – all this means is they have to uncheck a box if they DON’T want to get emails from you). A free cart abandonment protector app (this will send a reminder to anyone who doesn’t finish checkout)

A Facebook page for your brand (you’ll run the ads to the free plus offer from here)

Presuming you found a nice complimentary item, you click free shipping in the Shopify shipping settings and make the item price $0.00. Simple.

facebook ads for amazon products

Next you want to go over and make a Facebook ad with an add to cart conversion objective (you’ll have to learn a little bit about Facebook ads if this is new) and target the ads at the right people (to do this, use the Facebook audience insight tool – it will show you all the demographic and interest information you need).

You’ll want to add interests and narrow the audience down until it’s about 100k, then run your ad to it. Keep the copy simple, stick to news feed ads and include a call to action, making sure you include a link to click to purchase (the link will be the product page on your Shopify store).

Now, anytime someone adds to cart, which is the conversion goal of the Facebook ad), the email address they used at checkout will be added to your MailChimp list.

This is how you end up building a list of people for your brand.

Fulfilling orders

When orders come in, you’ll see them all in your Shopify orders tab, you simply take the address info and go and order the product yourself from aliexpress and put in the customer shipping info.

To make this process as automated as possible, you can use a super popular app called Oberlo or the equivalent app from Smart7.

Or you can message the seller on aliexpress directly and ask if you can just send over all the info in a excel file (bulk csv dropshipping if you want to google info on it), most sellers on Aliexpress are pretty flexible if you’re sending them money!

is selling on amazon saturated

How many products to giveaway?

Obviously, the more product you giveaway, the larger your list becomes (although people that go for freebies might not always want to dip into their pockets when you have an actual offer).

You’ll basically just want to keep your budget in mind for this, because when you do have an FBA product, that will also need a promo to kick it off (and these days the only effective way of doing this really is using a deep discount and a kind of super URL, then rank it via Facebook ads, you can watch a video on how to set that up here

So there you have free shipping + Aliexpress to grow your pre-launch list and brand list in general.

While most sellers shy away from Shopify because we get spoiled by Amazon, long term, it’s something you should do.

Also on a final note, you may have seen various gurus selling their shitty books on Facebook this way too (get my book FREE! Just cover the shipping) - which is equal to what the product would have cost anyway.

As usual, if you have any questions you want to ask or need a bit of clarification, hit me up at