7 Coffee Ecommerce Marketing Strategies That Are 100% Free
When profit margins are slim like they are in the coffee industry, it’s rarely a good idea to hire expensive marketing agencies. At least, not when you’re just getting things off the ground.
Instead, I tend to suggest coffee companies — both new and old — use resources and employees they already have to elevate their ecommerce marketing, because there are some pretty incredible strategies that are completely free.
I say that as a freelance coffee marketer who relies on people paying me to eat ?
Let’s walk through a few of them.
1. Setup Email Automations ASAP
Email marketing is long from dead. In fact, it’s the highest ROI marketing channel for ecommece stores, beating out social media by a huge margin. Simply put: don’t put off email.
There are a few automations you should set up immediately:
- Welcome Flow — Offer a discount, brewing guide, or some other “lead magnet” on your site. When customers put in their email, send them a series of emails explaining (1) your mission and goals, (2) how you’re different, and (3) how they can buy from you.
- Abandoned Cart / Checkout — These two types of emails send reminder emails to people who almost purchased, but didn’t quite get there. Sometimes brands offer a coupon or free shipping to help get these nearly-customers over the edge.
- Order Confirmation — Don’t just stick with the default “We received your order” emails that most ecommerce platforms send. Tailor it to your brand. Make it fun. Remind your customer why they should be excited.
There are a few other emails you should set up. I’ve written about them in this guide: The 7 Ecommerce Emails that Sell Coffee on Autopilot.
Also check out this blog back from April that shows how you can get started with email marketing for free: How Coffee Brands Can Start Email Marketing (The Easy Way).
2. Start Building An Online Community
This is an idea I wrote about recently here: Open Idea: Build A Moat With Online Coffee Community Groups.
The idea is simple. Create a group on Facebook or some other platform that allows like-minded people to get excited about things they love. Then you can do some light levels of self-promo from time to time to offer discounts, tease new products, and generate sales.
I’m watching it happening in real-time with this group: Home Brewers – The Coffee Learning Hub.
Jonathan Davila works for Cafecom in Ecuador. He’s created this group for home coffee lovers (currently at 200+ members) that discusses brewing tips and general coffee knowledge. Over time, he’ll build goodwill and name recognition for his brand — and group members will surely buy.
3. Optimize Your Website’s Speed
This one’s not sexy, but it’s essential. There are two reasons why.
Website speed is one of the more important factors Google uses to determine search rankings. If your site is slow, Google will pull you down in the rankings.
Site speed is also a customer experience issue. Slow sites are annoying and create friction to purchasing — and this lowers conversion rates.
One of the most common problems (and easy fixes) is image size. If you upload large images or file types that tend to be huge (like .pngs), you’ll want to optimize those images.
My favorite way to reduce image sizes is super simple and quick. I open Microsoft Paint, open up the image I’d like to compress, reduce the size to a maximum of 2,500px wide, and save as a .jpg. This inevitably cuts file size by 80% or more, which leads to huge gains in site speed.
4. Host Giveaways With Bigger Brands
The coffee industry is one of the most community-minded industries I’ve ever seen, and the number of partnership opportunities are astounding.
Reach out to some of your favorite non-competing brands and see if they’d do a partnership giveaway. It’s a relatively low-cost way to exchange exposure between customer groups, and there’s often no cost involved.
If possible, try to host a giveaway that allows you to collect the emails of people who sign up. That’ll allow you to remarket to them with more (free) emails.
5. Sell Your Products On Marketplaces
Why sell your coffee on one website when you could sell on five? Third-party marketplaces can be great places to generate sales from customers you wouldn’t normally have access to.
A few ideas off the top of my head:
- Google Shopping
- Coffee Subscriptions (Roaster’s Marketplace, GoCoffeeGo)
- Walmart Marketplace
- Local Marketplaces (White Elephant, Waco Texas)
Most marketplaces are free to list your products, but you’ll pay some sort of commission on each sale.
6. Write Guest Posts On Other Blogs
Google search rankings rely heavily on “backlinks” to determine what is valuable to readers. Think of a backlink as a “vote” from other websites that your website is worth checking out.
More backlinks has a clear correlation to rankings. Here’s what’s happend with Coffee Marketing School in 2020: more backlinks > higher rankings > more traffic.
There are a zillion ways to get backlinks, but one of the simplest is to write guest blogs for other websites related to your brand: coffee, lifestyle, food, etc. The process is pretty easy:
- Find relevant websites. Make a list of 10-20 websites whose readers would align with your brand and products.
- Ask about guest posts. Send a friendly email to each website asking if they’re accepting guest blogs — make sure they know you’re an expert, not a random blogger.
- Pitch 1-2 topics. If the site owner or editor agrees, pitch 1-2 article ideas that would be valuable/helpful/interesting to that site’s readers.
- Write the article. This part can take a while, but don’t take shortcuts. Poor writing can lead to the site editor rejecting your article. This will help.
- Confirm the backlink. Make sure the editor links back to your site either in the author bio section or the body of the blog (ideally, both!).
Other backlink-building ideas:
- Get local press coverage
- Get your coffee reviewed on review sites
- Get shoutouts from websites of other local businesses
It takes just a few backlinks to start seeing measurable results in your search rankings.
7. Write A Personal Note To Customers
The best marketing strategies come down to emotion. Buying something for the first time is risky. But buying something you’ve already had a great experience with is familiar and predictable.
That’s why it’s 5x more expensive to get a new customer than keep an existing one.
And it’s hard to beat the good vibes and thoughtfulness of a personal touch.
Even simple, personal thank you notes slipped into the box before you ship out the order can go a long way in making a customer feel cared for. And a customer who smiles when they open their shipment is a customer you can count on.
Hope this article has gotten the gears turning! There are countless ways to drum up excitement for your brand that don’t cost a dime.
Can you think of another idea? If so, let me know!
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.
We explored 18 marketing strategies in 2021 for coffee shops, roasters, and online stores. Here were your top picks.
Recurring revenue from subscriptions can make or break a coffee business. But subscriptions aren’t very sticky. Membership are.
I interviewed Jeremy Teff about his process for designing captivating coffee packaging and branding, and how to stand out in a competitive market.