November 23, 2023 0 558

Interview With Alex Fedotoff: from Ukraine to Making Over $100 Million With E-commerce and Facebook Ads

The team at Partnerkin recently held an exclusive interview with Alex Fedotoff, the founder of eCommerce Scaling Secrets and a top entrepreneur in the eCommerce space. Alex's story is truly inspiring, starting from a small apartment in Ukraine to managing multiple eCommerce brands with revenues in the millions and even tens of millions through Facebook Ads.

Despite facing early challenges such as language barriers, Alex dedicated himself to his eCommerce business and was able to make more than $1 million in his first eCommerce store which he later sold for a huge 7-figure sum. Today, he actively spends up to $100,000 daily on Facebook Ads and consistently sees impressive returns through his Facebook Ads strategies.

He has also shared his expertise with major brands like Lululemon, Ella & Mila, Under Armour, and others serving as a consultant for paid acquisitions. He has been named as, “The King of Scaling Facebook Ads” by Forbes Magazine.

In this interview with Alex, he opened up about his journey how he started, his approach to eCommerce, his evolution in business, and his future ambitions as an entrepreneur. What sets Alex apart is his acknowledgment that he hasn't reached his peak yet. According to him, his biggest successes, and those of others like him, are still to come.

We are excited to present this interview with a true thought leader in eCommerce. If you are working with Facebook Ads, running an eCommerce business, or looking to start one. You surely don’t have to miss this.

Alex Fedotoff

 So, the first question is about your journey from Ukraine to Miami. Can you share with everyone how you managed that transition? Also, it's known that you're involved in online marketing. How did online marketing become a part of your journey?

So, I'm originally from Ukraine, and I grew up in difficult financial circumstances, like many others. The main reason I've achieved success is thanks to online marketing and the opportunities it provides. It's amazing to think that nowadays, with just a laptop and a phone, you can make money from anywhere in the world, something that wasn't possible 30 or 40 years ago.

My journey started when I was working in a factory making cups for Oktoberfest. The work was physically demanding and didn't offer much room for financial growth.

Frustrated with this kind of life, I decided to quit my job, relying on savings for a few months, and started exploring ways to make money online.

I didn't have specific skills, so I began searching on Google, translating, and learning about online opportunities. A friend who was a freelancer inspired me, as he was making what seemed like a significant amount of money to me back then — $2,000 a month. I connected with him and signed up on Upwork, back then it was called Elance.

 

I created my profile without any real skills, adapting it based on what potential clients were looking for. For example, if someone needed search engine optimization, I became a "search engine optimization professional." I constantly updated my profile and learned about these topics by downloading courses and watching videos on YouTube.

Though I initially struggled, I eventually landed my first clients and continued improving. I later worked with an entrepreneur managing his ads for a dropshipping business. Understanding his model, I decided to try it myself, leading to significant success. In a bit over a year, I made $4 million in sales, seven figures in profit, and sold the store for another million dollars.

Despite this success, I faced several years of challenges and learning experiences, which helped me understand various aspects of online marketing, from running ads to building websites. Since then, I've been building different brands and stores, scaling my business to multiple 8-figures. That's been my journey so far.

 That's interesting. Was all of that achieved through Facebook Ads?

Yeah, Facebook was a major driver of traffic for me. I think, first and foremost, Facebook is great, even though it's quite competitive now. The possibilities it offers, in terms of targeting and the algorithm, as well as the wealth of data available, make it stand out. I believe there are only a few platforms globally that can match up in terms of data and targeting, maybe Google being one of them.

For me, it was Facebook, and I truly believe that if someone commits himself to, let's say, Google, YouTube, or any other traffic source that can scale, they can achieve huge success.

 So, let's discuss when you started your first dropshipping business. What was the first product that you remember selling?

In the beginning, it was all about those free plus shipping watches. The deal was you'd get a free watch, but you had to cover the shipping cost. Back then, running ads on Facebook was way cheaper, like around 2016 or 2017, with CPMs being as low as 20. So, the watches themselves, which I sourced from AliExpress for about $3, would be sold for around $12 or $13. Essentially, the product seemed free, but the shipping cost was where I made money. This strategy worked well with a conversion rate of about 10%, which was pretty good.

But now, things have changed. The same approach or products wouldn't work as smoothly today because, economically speaking, CPMs have gone up, and clicks are more expensive. So, the arbitrage that made sense back then isn't as feasible now.

 Was it the watch business that you exited for 7-figures, or was it another business?

Yeah, it was the watch business. It wasn't a typical business sale scenario. I happened to meet some guys who loved the business I had, and they decided to buy it from me. I consider myself fortunate in that regard.

It was quite a crazy situation, you know? I feel truly blessed. Some of these opportunities seem to come about unexpectedly. There's a lot of effort that goes into building up that momentum and achieving success. Many people may not realize the years of hard work that precede the apparent success of individuals or businesses. Regardless of the person or the success story you look at, there's likely a significant amount of grinding and perseverance that led to that point. So, in that sense, I don't see myself as any different from anyone else.

 You are widely recognized for your impactful speeches at conferences, as well as your presence in other popular conferences and masterminds. Additionally, your reputation extends to pioneering the use of advertorial-style landing page content in eCommerce. Could you share more about how you introduced this tactic and its impact?

Absolutely! I've been running advertorials for my eCommerce business since 2018. I didn't come up with the concept of advertorials myself, though. I basically borrowed the successful strategies used by affiliate marketers. Affiliate marketers are the top-notch masters of online marketing, and there's so much to learn from them. As an eCommerce entrepreneur, I believe it's important to keep a close eye on what's happening in the affiliate marketing space because that's where the top-notch marketers are.

For me, it all started when I was exploring various affiliate networks and spy tools (I can't recall if it was Adbeat or another one). That's when I stumbled upon this advertorial format. Without much thought, I decided to adapt that format to fit the products we were selling. Maybe it was a random decision, or perhaps I wanted to bring some innovation into the mix. Whatever the reason, it turned out to be a game-changer. Our results went through the roof — we went from a decent profit margin to, like, two or three times the returns.

The use of advertorials significantly increased our average order value. It was like, "Wow!" Suddenly, things were more profitable, and we were seeing higher margins. We've stuck with advertorials ever since, and it's been a game-changing strategy for our eCommerce business.

 So, let's discuss what happened after your first business exit. Everyone running a business aspires to go from a situation where they don't have much money to suddenly having a huge amount of money sitting in the bank. People often dream of spending that cash and getting a Lambo, Ferrari, or some other crazy stuff. What did you decide to do after your exit?

So I bought myself a pair of Louis Vuitton sunglasses, they cost around $600. And that's pretty much it. I've never been big on spending, probably because of my upbringing in Ukraine. Things have improved since then, but I used to be cautious with money, holding onto every penny. It's a bit of a double-edged sword – good because I saved, bad because I didn't think about how to grow that money.

Successful entrepreneurs think about investments. Like, how can I turn $2 million into $100 million? It's about building a team and developing technology for a competitive edge. I wasn't thinking like that. I was more conservative, not into flashy stuff like Lamborghinis. My life hasn't changed much. I guess I'm good at saving money, but I've slowly become more comfortable with spending over time.

 The first time you gained popularity on the internet was in 2018 when you began creating videos about Facebook Ads on YouTube. Let's discuss that. What motivated you to join YouTube and begin teaching people about Facebook Ads and everything else? How did this path unfold?

So, you know, it's kind of a funny story how this all started. After selling my business, I found myself wondering, like, what's next, you know? I didn't really have a plan because, let's be honest, setting goals can be a bit tricky. Like, you might have this idea, like, I want to be a millionaire by 30 or something. But what happens after you reach that goal? It's crucial to readjust and set new targets; otherwise, you just sort of drift along, and that's a recipe for self-destruction.

I noticed a pattern among entrepreneurs who hit their goals and then kind of spiraled into a funk or even depression. It got me thinking about my own situation. I didn't set bigger goals for myself, mainly because, in my circles, making a million dollars was already a huge achievement. Nobody in my family had ever done that, so it felt like I was in a new world.

For a few years, I just floated around without a clear direction. Then, one day, I was in a Facebook group talking about my eCommerce business. Someone reached out, saying they'd pay me to teach them how I did it. I thought they were joking, but when they insisted, I threw out a random high number, thinking they'd back off. To my surprise, they agreed to pay, and I suddenly had a commitment to teach someone.

That experience led me to do more coaching and managing ads for bigger companies, like Lululemon and Under Armour.

The YouTube thing came about when I noticed a bunch of people asking me the same questions in the Facebook group. I figured, why not create a video explaining everything and just direct people to it? It started as a way to avoid repeating myself, but it turned into a thing. I'm not a full-time YouTuber, though. I still have other projects going on, but making videos has been a cool way to share my experiences and knowledge. Sure, my videos might not be perfect yet, but hey, there's always room for improvement. And that's pretty much how it all began.

 I'll give you credit for that because, out there, people view those videos as a reference. When people are looking for a go-to YouTube channel for learning about Facebook Ads, Alex Fedottof’s channel is one of them. You have become one of the top thought leaders when it comes to Facebook Ads, even though it initially started just to explain concepts to a few group members. However, it turned out to be highly scalable, and a lot of people are deriving considerable value from it. How do you feel about this?

It's interesting that you mentioned that because,  it's pretty unbelievable, right? Like, let's say I create a video, and then I just casually post it. Who cares? It gets just 1,000 views, whatever. But then I usually meet several people at conferences saying. "Hey Alex, I saw this video you made, like, three years ago, and it totally changed my life or gave me inspiration," you know, that kind of thing. It's like, whoa.

I think what we're often searching for is role models. Coming from Ukraine, I remember this guy in affiliate marketing named Robert Gryn, founder of Voluum, the tracking tool and ZeroPark traffic source. Great guy. I don't think he's so involved now; he might've sold the company or switched industries. But, I was looking up to him while still in Eastern Europe, thinking, "Wow, this guy made it." He was in the Forbes magazine cover in Poland and all. He made it. And for me, even though I didn't personally know him, I was like, wow, it's possible. You can make money online, even if your English is a bit broken, right? You can still make it happen. I think we all need that kind of reinforcement and a role model to show us what's possible.

And from that standpoint, I've probably impacted more people than I realize. I know there are many others creating great content and making an impact. If you're running an eCommerce business, nobody might know your name, even if you're making millions behind the scenes. On the other hand, someone making YouTube videos might not be raking in the big bucks, but they could be impacting many more people. It's a trade-off.

I've had moments where I considered staying behind the scenes, you know, running the business without anyone knowing my name. However, we built an education business out of the YouTube videos due to the number of people who were requesting coaching. The education business involved me bringing in coaches to help people.

There were also times when I thought, "Should I just be behind the scenes?" But then, I kind of like the exposure and the blessings it brought. For our eCommerce business, we've been able to hire exceptional talent because someone saw a video and wanted to work with us. So, from that standpoint, it's been tremendous for hiring and bringing top-notch talent to our team.

 Do you recommend other online marketing experts to create educational courses? How does that aspect of the business compare to actually focusing on  running ads and managing everything for the main business?

When it comes to courses, there's one important skill you need. You've got to be good at explaining things to people in a specific way. It's all about being super structured so that others can replicate it. So, I'm thinking, not only is it about being good at something, but it's also about creating and teaching others about it in a way that brings a lot of clarity. So, how do you convey all this to someone who's completely clueless about it? That's the challenge. It forces you to break down the whole process of doing things step by step.

Now, think about it in a business context. Say you have a company with a bunch of team members, and you want to get them up to speed on something. What do you do? You put together a course. "Alright, this is how we roll. These are our values. These are our principles. This is how we tackle this, and that's how we handle that." Our company is filled with these courses, covering various aspects of our operations, and educating people on the ropes.

But there's also this side of things when you're out there selling the course, making a living from it. To do it right, you've got to take it seriously. If you promise something, deliver on it. And if you can't, find someone who can, you know? Maybe bring in a team member who's got the expertise. In our education business, we've got account managers, coaches, and experts. We pay them to coach on specific topics. It's all about commitment. If you're in, do it right, and invest the time needed to make sure your customers succeed.

 Now, let's discuss eCommerce and what strategies are currently effective. We're aware of TikTok and Facebook ads. Can you share what's happening with your team and how things are progressing?

A video sales letter (VSL) is effective in selling products, whether it's a long or short form. Personally, I like anything from short one-minute pitches to more extensive 20-25 minute educational presentations. It depends on what you're selling, your niche, and the products you offer. For example, I have a friend whose target audience is women aged 45 and above. To reach them, we identify where they spend most of their time, which is often on Facebook and Instagram.

Now, here's an interesting approach from another friend who specializes in TikTok organic marketing. They leverage various content creators who produce content on separate pages. This content attracts free traffic, and when some pieces go viral, they can generate tens of thousands or even millions of views. By redirecting this traffic to their website or Amazon, they achieve high profit margins due to the cost arbitrage. However, they primarily target a younger demographic, aged 18 to 35.

So, the key questions to ask yourself are: What are you selling? Who is buying from you? Where does your target audience spend their time? It could be on platforms like Facebook, TikTok, Google, or YouTube. Once you identify the platform, understand its dynamics. In my case, I'm more familiar with Facebook than other platforms. Once you grasp the platform, tailor your messaging to resonate with your audience and drive them to make a purchase. Consider the final steps needed to be profitable.

There are many ways to build a successful eCommerce business, and you need to explore different options to find what works best for your specific product.

 What mistakes do you notice eCommerce entrepreneurs and brands making, especially those just starting?

Talking about mistakes, the biggest one I see is the margin structure. Some people are out there buying a product for $20 and selling it for $40. That makes no sense. Ideally, you want to aim for at least 3x the cost. So, if you're getting the product for $30 bucks, sell it for $90 or even $100 – charge as much as you can. This way, your margin is enough to cover advertising costs. I believe most guys understand this but don’t do it.

Also, sometimes you might see a product that costs $50 bucks, being sold upfront for $80. Why? Because those guys know their numbers. They understand the Lifetime Value (LTV) and how much each customer brings in over three, six, or 12 months.

Business is all about numbers. If something adds up, like spending 1 dollar in advertising and getting 3 dollars back, you want to invest as much as possible. So, it all starts with the margin structure. Additionally, choose products wisely. Go for consumable products; that way, you have a higher lifetime value. Whether it's supplements people need to keep buying or gadgets, make sure they're at least  $100 or more. With current advertising costs, selling products for less than $100 makes it tough to make things work economically.

 What conversion strategy do you find most effective, especially when focusing on Facebook Ads? What kind of funnel is currently producing results for you?

Here's my breakdown. So, it starts with a Video Sales Letter (VSL) ad. Typically, it's a longer one because you want to educate your customers. Education is key. Take, for example, selling a wallet. It's not solving a problem per se, and I prefer products that address specific issues because they're easier to sell. When there's a problem, like wanting better skin, you can explain why previous solutions failed and why your product is better. Differentiation is important in marketing, and it begins with the VSL, giving ample space to educate customers.

These VSLs are excellent because you can justify why other products failed. For instance, you might show why most collagen products don't work, presenting facts to support your point. Then, introduce your product as the game-changer, explaining its unique features. You assure the customer there's no risk by emphasizing a refund policy.

The VSL's purpose is to ensure the clicks you get are of high quality. Ads with clickbaity images may attract attention, but the real question is, will they convert? That's where longer-format VSLs come in.

After the click, there's an advertorial landing page, either story-based or centered around innovation or a key product ingredient. This builds on the education from the VSL. Following that, a second pre-sell page offers more proof and explanations, often featuring an authority figure, like a doctor, to reinforce the product's credibility.

Then comes the sales page, with 2 or 3 order bumps to increase the Average Order Value (AOV). This could include shipping or extra items bundled with the main product. The goal is to maximize the AOV.

Post-purchase, one-click upsells, or one-time offers continue the sales process. Each of these stages, including upsells, involves VSLs of 5-15 minutes. This strategy turns a $100 product into a $200 AOV.

This approach allows for spending more on the front end to acquire more customers, guided by numbers. People often make the mistake of following personal preferences rather than focusing on what the numbers show. It's about analyzing click-through rates, conversion rates, and making data-driven decisions. If the numbers aren't favorable, it's either time to tweak the approach or move on to a new product or strategy.

 If someone wants to start with online marketing in 2023, what path do you recommend for them?

There are two ways, two paths, especially if you have very limited capital—let's say around $5,000 to $10,000. So, if you're in a situation where you have a full-time job but you're eyeing a shift to online marketing (which is a common starting point), there are a couple of options.

Firstly, there's a range of businesses you can kick off with five to ten thousand dollars. It could be eCommerce, offering services like video creation, website building, funnel construction, running ads, or even generating User-Generated Content (UGC). There's a market for UGC creators who, often working part-time, earn substantial sums monthly by creating content. It's easy to explore these possibilities using platforms like Fiverr, where you can see the types of services in demand. Your interests, whether in design or numbers, could guide you towards opportunities such as website building or business analysis.

Once you've gained some momentum and honed your initial skills, it's advisable to pivot towards a model that allows for larger scale and growth. Service-based businesses, due to the inherent limitation of hours in a day, can be challenging to scale without hiring, which adds complexity.

On the flip side, if you're interested in affiliate marketing or eCommerce, these models are highly scalable. With a small team, you can handle significant volume and revenue. The key is to choose a model that suits your goals. Joining courses or masterminds can accelerate your learning process and help you avoid common pitfalls. The feedback and guidance from such communities can be invaluable.

Another approach is to secure a role in a company aligned with your interests—perhaps a fast-growing eCommerce or affiliate marketing company. By joining as an apprentice, you can learn on the job. Many performance-driven or startup companies value quick learners and those hungry for success. This route allows you to earn while you learn, a win-win situation.

So, in a nutshell, it boils down to two main options: investing in education to start your own business or joining a company that provides resources and a learning environment while paying you. Choose the path that aligns with your goals, budget, and preferences, and be open to learning from mentors or communities to fast-track your success.

 Currently, there is a lot of talk about AI. What are your thoughts on its role in online marketing and eCommerce? How does it contribute, and how are you currently incorporating it into your business?

So, I'm thinking about this very simply: How many people have access to affiliate marketing opportunities? Like millions of people, right? And how about eCommerce opportunities? I mean, anyone can access them, right? It's a free trial on Shopify, and almost all apps offer a free trial. You can source and dropship products. Right? But, at the same time, how many people actually grow those businesses—eCommerce, affiliate, or any other—to a seven or eight-figure level? It's a very small number.

I'm thinking, okay, we have the technology variable there, right? No problem with technology—all the tools are accessible. Everything is at your fingertips, just a few clicks away. You have everything you need, right? The same goes for AI. But what it comes down to is the skill of using those tools. It's not just having the tool; it's about the ability, skill, and consistency—like how you learn over time. Today it's GPT, but in a few years, or even months, there'll be another update. You might have to relearn some skills and relearn some prompts. Right?

So, at the end of the day, in any economic climate, with any technological advancements, the key is the ability to learn quickly, apply correctly, and adjust along the way. Being adjustable, adapting to technology and new developments. What do I need to change in my ability to learn? What books should I read? What courses should I join and watch? Who should I follow? Who should I get in touch with? Like, who should I ask for advice? Who should I pay for a call to explain topics X, Y, and Z, so I can get a better understanding of that topic?

At the end of the day, the ability to learn and adapt—those are two essential skills. Anyone can use them, anyone has access to them. And if you apply these skills to any technology, be it AI or any other, you'll be successful.

 What are your future plans for your business? What major milestone are you aiming for, and what's the next goal you want to achieve?

So, right now, we're growing our eCommerce businesses. Our goal for the next year is to hit $100 million in revenues for the year. That's a big benchmark that we've been aiming for for a long time. And after that, we want to package the businesses and sell them.

After that, I want to do something on a bigger scale because this is still on a small scale. The definition of a small company is any company that has less than 100 people. So we are a small company based on the definitions of small business, medium business, and large business. A large business, for example, is Facebook or Amazon, which have tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of employees. So right now we are a small business, and I want to go beyond that.

So, something software-related, technology 100%. That's where, you know, the biggest advancements are happening. And that's what I want to be.

 The information you shared is so valuable. Thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. Thank you again.

Thank you so much. I really appreciate this opportunity. I hope that there are a few people who might be inspired by what we're doing here. It's a big deal for me. Watching others and feeling that spark of inspiration—it's something I can't quite put into words. It's life-changing. And it's all about creating opportunities, inspiring, and helping each other out.

So, a heartfelt thank you for organizing this. You guys are doing an amazing job, bringing in diverse experiences and perspectives, and truly inspiring people. Thanks again for that.

Conclusion

Alex's journey is seriously inspiring. He started from humble beginnings in Ukraine and worked his way up to eCommerce success through sheer determination. His story shows that with the right drive and willingness to learn, you can totally build a profitable online business without a ton of money upfront.

Some key lessons from Alex's experience:

  • Using platforms like Facebook Ads and dropshipping lets you test and scale eCommerce ideas without a huge investment.
  • Focusing on high-profit margin products and maximizing customer lifetime value is crucial for profits.
  • Using video sales letters and advertorial-style content can massively increase conversions.
  • Being adaptable to change and constantly learning new skills separates the eCommerce winners from the rest.

Alex is still on his journey, aiming to build a 9-figure business next. His advice for eCommerce success boils down to having the right mindset - being eager to learn, adjusting quickly, and working hard. While tools and tech matter, success ultimately depends on mastering those core marketing and business-building skills.

Alex proves that with drive and grit, you can find major success no matter your background. His story will hopefully motivate other entrepreneurs to reach for their potential.

If you’d like to reach out to Alex or learn more about his eCommerce and Facebook Ads tactics, You can check out his social media channels and his websites:
 

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