Facebook Ads Are Getting Too Expensive For Coffee Roasters (+ 3 Things To Do Instead)

by | Jul 8, 2021 | 🚀 Coffee Ecommerce

With recent updates in iOS 14, Facebook ads are becoming prohibitively expensive for coffee roasters. Here's what to do instead.
Coffee business customer research

Apple recently threw a wrench into the well-oiled machines of paid social marketers, and especially those working on Facebook ads.

With the introduction of iOS 14 a few weeks ago and the privacy features that were included in it, paid ad costs have risen sharply and become less effective. A few months ago, when I wrote the case against paid ads for roasters, paid ads were already a losing proposition for most small roasters running ecommerce stores — and it’s only getting worse.

Coffee roasters that rely on paid ads as a major customer acquisition channel need to transition to new ways of generating sales.

(And have some hard talks with the agencies running those ads.)

Why Facebook Ad Costs Are Rising

Apple’s iOS 14 prohibits certain kinds of data collection and sharing unless people specifically opt-in. If you use an Apple phone, you’ve no doubt seen the prompt asking if you’d like to share your data with Facebook. 

You probably said no.

For customers, this is a good thing. It means giants like Facebook and Google will have a harder time tracking every place people go, every action they take.

For businesses, it’s a new roadblock to delivering personalized, targeted ads that are more likely to convert.

  • If Facebook can’t track user behavior
  • Then your paid ad targeting is less precise
  • You end up spending more money
  • To deliver ads to less good-fit users
  • And reporting at the end is less accurate

It’s kind of a big mess for paid social marketers, and it’s spawned an uprising in frustrated tweets, lamenting blogs, and tense client/agency relationships (maybe you’re feeling that last one). 

All this to say: Faccoebook ads are predicted to become less efficient and more costly due to these rules, at least until they find some new way to create targeted ad experiences.

3 Ways to Reduce Dependence On Paid Ads

Facebook ads are a hamster wheel. You put money in, you (hopefully) get sales out. You’re always spending, trapped in the cycle. As costs rise, it’s a cycle you really don’t want to be beholden to. 

Smart coffee roasters are minimizing the risk of these rising costs by finding other ways to attract customers that are less volatile and burdensome. Let’s quickly consider a few of them.

  • Run ads to an email opt-in, rather than a sale. Ads that aim for conversions are the most expensive. Ads that aim for email signups are far less costly. By offering to deliver helpful, valuable information or tools to your audience’s inbox, you can reduce up-front ad spend, nurture relationships over the long term, and market to those folks for free via email. Here’s how to get started the easy way.
  • Create a network of partners who refer customers. Why build your own audience from scratch when you can borrow someone else’s? Counter Culture partnered with NPR. Atlas Coffee Club became a successful subscription via affiliate partnerships. There’s probably an opportunity to get involved with gear marketplaces, like Espresso Outlet. Get creative and find folks with like-minded customers.
  • Build a community, not a customer base. Most coffee companies have a one-way relationship with customers. The brand communicates, the customer listens… and at some point, the customer disengages (rather quickly usually). Creating an active community gives you the chance to keep people engaged, build a “tribe” with a culture, and market organically over the long-term with a relatively low amount of effort. Here’s how you can try this idea.

Building a successful coffee ecommerce operation isn’t getting harder per se, but the game is changing. Paid ads are no longer the obvious growth channel they once were, and we marketers and operators have to get more creative to reach the people we need to.

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Hey 👋 I'm Garrett Oden

Hey 👋 I'm Garrett Oden

Freelance Coffee Marketer

I'm a coffee industry native who works with coffee brands around the world to create and execute captivating marketing strategies.

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