May 2022 Retro

I used Facebook ads to build a pre-launch email list.

In last month’s retro , I explored the joys of not-coding by trying graphic design and doing market research for AdSlicer.

It was strange to do market research for a product I already built, and the process ended up being way more emotional than it should have been (if I hadn’t built anything yet). But that’s what I get for ignoring reality for so long.

Some entrepreneurs seem to get their first products so right. Apart from luck, I believe some people are much better calibrated to reality. They mostly know how the world works and they ask themselves the right questions with minimal blind spots in their thinking.

As for AdSlicer, I decided to forgive myself for building the wrong thing and see what others have built in the ad tech space. Instead of finding a problem for my solution, I picked an existing problem that others are already working on and that I could realistically build.

I picked ecommerce sales attribution because I personally witnessed my partner (a digital marketer) spend a couple hours each month manually reconciling ecom sales for her clients.

So, armed with an existing problem that is somewhat relatable to me, I started my search for early-customers.

Last month’s goals

  1. Use Facebook ads to test AdSlicer’s new angle (sales attribution).

    Final grade: 💯

  2. Prototype AdSlicer for sales attribution.

    Final grade: 👨‍🔬

  3. Revive my ecommerce store ( Selv ) in time for winter, by running a 2nd round of Facebook ads.

    Final grade: 💩

Main events

Building a pre-launch email list via Facebook ads

One frustrating thing about updating my pitch on is that I never know if it worked or not because I have so little incoming traffic to the website.

So instead of redesigning the home page, I thought I’d just run a lead-generation ad campaign on Facebook that would present them with the concept and ask people for their email address.

As with most things, it took longer than expected and was more complicated than expected.

Overall, these were my final ad campaign results:

Ad campaign results

It’s hard to say if these results are any good because I have no idea what the quality of these leads are. I’m mostly just excited to have anyone sign up at all.

Researching how to (technically) solve the problem

Now that I have a couple people that are vaguely interested in ecommerce sales attribution , I needed to figure out how to actually build it. I knew it was possible because I’ve seen others do it, but it wasn’t clear how exactly.

I spent some time probing the Shopify docs (something I’ve worked on before in my freelancing time) because this would be the first ecommerce platform I wanted to support.

It was satisfying to piece together an outline of a possible solution in a Google doc. It put my mind at ease.

As part of my market research before, I made a private Twitter list of competitors and a few people that are vocal about ad tech. Coincidentally, ecommerce sales attribution was a hot topic this past month and I got a glimpse of varying opinions on the subject.

Ignoring my own ecommerce store

I didn’t do anything about reviving my previous ecommerce store. The successful fashion ecom store owners that I’ve seen (here in ZA) are deeply passionate about their clothes and still spend a lot of their time in physical markets to promote their clothing range. I don’t think I’m prepared to do that.


Another solid month for not-coding . My greatest fear is that I somehow spend all my time not-coding 😨

A breakdown of how I spent my time last month (via Toggl). A breakdown of how I spent my time last month (via Toggl ).

This month’s goals

  1. Build a new MVP of AdSlicer.
  2. Tease the launch of AdSlicer to my email list.
  3. Launch AdSlicer to my email list.

Thanks for making it this far. If you're interested in what happens next, I'll email it to you next month.