Why your Facebook ROAS sucks

Editors Note: this article was originally written in March of 2021. It has been updated to include post-iOS 14.5 data.

So you’ve gone and done it. You set up an ad account on Facebook, you entered your credit card number, you added the Pixel to your website, and you made some ads. Now you’re watching the revenue pour in, right…?

For most wineries, that’s a hard no. In fact, the large majority of wineries that 5forests has consulted with came to us with an effective Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) of 0 to 1, and the ones with actual revenue were seeing a paltry 2 to 3 ROAS.

So why is this happening? Why are wineries consistently seeing such low ROAS numbers on their ad campaigns? We can’t speak for everyone, but there are some common mistakes we’ve found (and for our clients, solved, of course) over the past few years. We often say that 5forests specializes in “sending the right message, to the right people, at the right time”, and often this is where wineries get it wrong. There are also some technical factors that need to be addressed in order to properly track your efforts, and we’ll cover those as well.

Here are your key questions and takeaways:

The wrong message

What is your offer? What’s in it for the customer? Have you succinctly conveyed your value proposition in such a way that your potential customer is not only drawn to your ad, they’re also convinced to take action?

The wrong people

Who are your people? Do you have personas? Do they accurately reflect your actual customers? Are you using a mix of broad targeting and remarketing to reach them?

The wrong time

Where is this customer in your funnel? Where are they in a buying journey? Where are they, literally, when they read your ad… at home, at work, on a computer, on a phone?

The wrong setup

Once the fundamentals of your marketing have been corrected, you still have the technical hurdles ahead of you. Are you properly tracking sales and sending data back to Facebook for reporting with the Facebook Pixel? Are you utilizing the Facebook Conversions API to increase your ability to record conversions both on and off the web? Are you creating your ad sets to properly use conversion as the optimization event? Do you have a secondary tracking method in place like UTM parameters for Google Analytics to gain deeper insights into your sales?

We recommend using Google Tag Manager to implement your Facebook Pixel. Not only is that now a requirement on advanced winery ecommerce platforms such as Commerce7, it inherently gives you more control over the data you’re sending and where it’s going. The only downside to GTM is the fact that it is not built to be beginner friendly, most wineries will end up hiring someone to do this for them.

The Conversions API utilizes backend signals being sent based on user conversions, and it’s not prone to Javascript browser issues that face the Pixel, such as errors or ad blockers. This means 100% of your conversions are being sent to FB for tracking, not just 75% (based on 25% of users nationally using an ad blocker). Not only that, the Conversions API allows you to track POS sales, reservations, and club registrations. Have a tasting room? Wouldn’t it make sense to track those sales that resulted from an ad? We think so. Commerce7 wineries are lucky, they can use our Facebook Conversion Tracking for Commerce7 app, built in partnership with Treefrog Digital.

With those on place, monitor your Events Manager in Facebook to ensure data is being sent and recorded. From there, create your ad sets with a goal of conversions, and make sure you select the right Pixel and Offline Events set on each ad. Using Facebook’s Ads Reporting tools, track your progress and compare to previous ads to formulate a plan that works for your brand.

There’s a caveat though: iOS 14.5 introduced new anti-tracking capabilities for its users, and Facebook has had to adjust to these. What does this mean? As of now, it appears as though most of your iOS conversions will simply not be recorded. To make matters worse, these same users can’t be used for remarketing campaigns, lookalike audiences, or custom audiences, all of which are the primary tools in most marketers’ belts. With these limitations introduced, more now than ever you need to make sure the aforementioned fundamentals are solid.

Setting up secondary tracking schemes like UTM parameters on links can help alleviate the gap left in tracking iOS users. Using the same GTM account, wineries should also have a comprehensive Google analytics tracking setup to record and measure the success of Facebook Ads traffic.

The wrong partner

Who’s running your ads? Do they understand the regulatory issues that can impact alcohol ads? What benchmarks are they using? Are they watching and adapting (better for your budget), or do they simply set-and-forget?

5forests gets it right

With an approach based in research, strategy, and iteration, 5forests spends your ad dollars with care. Because we know your industry, audiences, and market, we can work on target and at speed to get your advertising campaigns going asap.

Even better, we’ll help you set realistic performance expectations and whether digital advertising is right for you.

Ready to get started? Get in touch.

Portrait of Michael Bourne

Michael Bourne

Michael is our Head of Development, which means he’s in charge of all things tech. He oversees new product development, data discovery and strategy, SEO, analytics, and anything else we throw at him.