So you’ve opened your very own coffee shop, congratulations! But how exactly do you plan to grow your business? How do you expect to generate more traffic in your coffee shop? Gaining new customers through referrals and word of mouth is critical, but it’s also kind of obvious. Of course you need to provide a good product and service that encourages customers to recommend it to friends. But this strategy alone will likely produce very slow growth over time. If you want to truly scale your coffee shop’s growth, you must invest in a coffee shop digital marketing strategy that expands your reach and allows you to showcase your business.
I interviewed a well-respected marketer, Garrett Oden, who specializes in the coffee industry. Garrett is the founder of Coffee Marketing School where he writes about ways to grow your coffee shop. I asked Garrett a few specific questions revolving around marketing a coffee shop online and in-store that will return noticeable results for your business and increase customer experience at the same time.
What digital marketing advice would you give to someone looking to start a coffee shop in their town?
I always suggest new shops start marketing their launch 3-6 months before the doors officially open. Get the social media accounts going, set up your Google Maps location, and create a simple website with an email opt-in so interested people can sign up to hear updates. When you finally open, you’re not crossing your fingers that people show up — you’ve already built a base of people who are excited about your shop and what you offer.
How important do you feel SEO and content creation is for a coffee business? How do you combine the two on your own website?
I run a content marketing micro-agency in the coffee industry, so I’m a little biased, but I think search engine optimization is essential to creating a sustainable business, and content is largely what helps you get there.
The bare minimum every shop needs on the SEO side is fully-functioning social media accounts, website, and Google My Business profile. Google will see these different instances of your business operating online and will know you’re a real business, not just a Facebook page or half-baked website project, and reward you with higher rankings. Remember: Google’s goal is to deliver the most relevant result to searchers, so if you want to show up for people searching “coffee shops in Atlanta”, make sure you include the word “Atlanta” somewhere in your profiles. The same is true for Instagram, Facebook, Yelp, and other search engines.
As far as content goes, there are a million ways to go about creating and promoting. One of my favorite methods for brand new shops is to try to get mentions from a bunch of local newspapers, magazines, or websites. It’ll get your name out and give your website valuable backlinks that are sort of like “upvotes” in Google’s eyes. It’s pretty easy to do too. Essentially write a quick press release that explains where your shop is located, what you’re selling, how you’re different, and the “why” behind your store. Then email it to as many local publications as you can find!
What’s the importance of a high-quality website for a coffee shop? What would you say to those shop owners who currently don’t have one? Example: Only having a Facebook page for their coffee shop, no website.
A strong website is an essential indicator for Google to rank you in searches. Sure, a Facebook page alone might help you get started, but coffee shops with full websites will inevitably outrank you. That alone should be cause enough to build a site. It’s also the only digital space you fully own. You don’t own your Instagram audience, or your Facebook followers. But your website is yours.
How do you think a small business owner should view social media? What’s the importance of building a community for your brand?
Creating a community is essential to generating customer loyalty. Sure, people will buy from you if you don’t have a sense of community, but that’s just a one-way transaction. When that customer comes across a shop where they can engage on a deeper level, they’re going to stick with them. I’ve seen it over and over again — two-way communities always beat one-way transactions (I actually wrote about an untapped community opportunity related to this). Keep that in mind as you run your social media. It’s not just an announcement board. It’s a place where your people come together.
What can a coffee shop begin implementing, whether online or in-store, that will set their business and brand apart from competitors in the area?
Be ultra-clear about your product-market fit. What opportunities do you create that customers can’t access from other shops? What problems do you solve that other shops aren’t solving? How are you different, and why does it matter to your customers? You don’t just want to be another coffee shop — there are already a million of those. You want to be uniquely you. Creating a brand message is a non-negotiable for a successful coffee business, especially in an industry as saturated as ours. It’s not enough to “just serve great coffee”. Great coffee is everywhere. There has to be a gripping reason a customer will choose you over another shop.
I couldn’t agree more with Garrett and his answers to these questions. Implementing an effective marketing strategy for your coffee shop can be the difference between stagnant traffic and out the door traffic. Simply put, a successful digital marketing strategy can magnify your audience reach and help draw traffic from people who are just now hearing of your shop for the first time. If you’re interested in improving your coffee shop marketing strategy or coffee shop website design, feel free to reach out and we can discuss your questions and ideas. Working with small businesses is a passion of mine and seeing a coffee shop’s success as a result of my partnership is the mission and purpose of Turner Digital. Let’s get to work!