Why I think TSOptimizer is a waste of time & money

I don’t typically make a post like this, but this has me so frustrated that I felt I had to.

There’s a new product being touted as the answer to all your woes with running Teespring campaigns.  It’s by the same guys who made TargetingInspector and it’s called TSOptimize.

It’s basically a WordPress plugin (not sure if you install on your own system or if it’s a service you log into on their server) that presents you all your data about your campaigns in a nice clean way, so that you know what’s making money, what’s losing money, etc.

It touts itself is being vastly superior to a spreadsheet and will save you so much time and make you so much more profitable blah blah blah.

But here’s the thing.  All it really does (as far as I can tell – I do not own this product) is scrape the information about your campaign’s sales from the Teespring (or a few other systems) page itself.

That’s IT.

It does absolutely nothing for your spend, which IMO is the far more dynamic and critical component.

I wrote to them to ask about this since it seemed so absurd to omit that, and got this response:

On Oct 16, 2014, at 8:41 AM, Aravindh Shridhar <amethysttechnologysolutions@gmail.com> wrote:
You got to insert your ad spend manually every single time you change your ad budget.

So there you have it.  Manual work.  Just like a spreadsheet.

I will acknowledge that getting the campaign sales data automatically is kinda helpful.  In fact early this year I had created a plugin for another marketer (called TeeSplit) that does exactly this as one of its features (though it’s not sold as a tracking solution) and I actually use it sometimes for this feature myself.

BUT, there are a few very serious flaws with this approach:

1.  It will calculate ALL sales, not only sales that are a result of your ad campaign.

TSO doesn’t do anything to uniquely identify specific sales as having come from your ad campaign.  Therefore it will include sales from natural traffic, social shares, or anything else.  While this may be OK if you’re just caring about overall profitability, if you actually want to optimize your campaigns and turn off the individual campaigns/adsets that aren’t actually producing sales, you have no way to know that information from this tool.

2.  There is no time/date for sales.

Your sales page doesn’t include any time/sales information about any individual sales, only the total number sold.  This can be worked around by scraping the data every X minutes/hours and calculating the new sales since the last scrape, but I don’t see any evidence that TSO does this.

3.  The profit margin calculation is fixed and assumes you tip at your goal.

Each campaign asks you to enter a profit per sale – and only ONE profit per sale – number.  This means that every single sale that campaign makes, will assume the profit you enter here.  But now what happens when you have a campaign that is selling hoodies, tees, women’s tees, and long sleeve shirts and has a goal of 50 with a profit of $21 per hoodie, but you only end up getting 16 tee sales at a profit of $6 each and you drop your goal so that you at least capture those sales?  Well now your profit calculation is based on the $21 per sale number and is completely and totally wrong.  This is obviously somewhat less of an issue on a platform like ViralStyle that prints every single shirt no matter what, but it’s still an issue if you sell multiple shirt styles in a single campaign – which is extremely common.

It’s my opinion that TSO is only marginally better than a spreadsheet.  Very marginally.  And frankly for me anyway the spreadsheet still wins because in Excel I can do SO many things to see my data exactly how I want it, including pivot tables, tracking subid data from the Teespring analytics page if I want, etc.  WAY more flexibility.

EDIT:  Commenter Peter points out that this appears to be a SaaS solution, which means all your data would be visible to the creators of the software.  Given that they are also active shirt marketers themselves, that doesn’t seem like a great idea to me.

TSO seems to be a quick money grab to capture the hot trend right now.  It looks like it was built very quickly, and I know from experience how much work it takes to scrape Teespring and a few other services for data and store it in a database:  Not much.

I say pass.  Big time.  But that’s just me.