Coffee Shop Marketing Tips: How to Market a Cafe

As of 2020, there were 37,274 coffee shop stores in the United States. As an independent specialty coffee shop owner, an operator of a multi-location or franchise brand, the competition to gain consumers’ attention in your local market or multiple local markets is heating up. 

So, how can you market your business effectively, and what are some of the best coffee shop marketing tips you can use to help get you noticed?  Let’s dive in!

A Guide For Coffee Shop Marketers

So, you’ve got the location, a concept and a brilliant brand name. All that’s left is getting some customers! 

Marketing your coffee shop business is central to getting regular customers who drive sales and revenue. When you open, you’ll be able to rely on some new customers coming to check out your coffee shop. But longer-term, you’ll want to implement a marketing strategy that builds steady brand awareness, lets people know where to find you and entices new customers to come into your coffee shop. 

Here’s our rundown of the 12 best marketing tips for your coffee shop:

1. Connect With Your Audience When And Where They Are Searching

You need a responsive, search engine optimized website for your coffee shop. When you consider that 89% of adults are searching for places to eat, drink and gather, using their smartphones, you’ll start to see the benefits of investing in an optimized website.  

If you’re on the lookout for more reasons to launch your coffee shop with a responsive and mobile-friendly website, here are a few:

  • A great website will help you create brand awareness. 
  • You’ll be able to establish your business in your local market presence
  • Connect with your audience and customers quicker
  • Share different ways potential customers can interact with your brand by offering channels to contact you, order online, inquire about catering, purchase gift cards, coffee subscriptions or individual products and merchandise

"The power of GoGoGuest gives us full control of our cross-channel customer engagement, starting at the first customer visit on our website, eCommerce shop, online ordering and our coffee shop locations.

2. Grow Brand Awareness With Social Media

Using compelling photos and entertaining, fun hashtags is a great way to build an audience online. And if you’re not active on Facebook or Instagram yet? You may want to think about changing that. 

Typical coffee shop customers use both platforms. Coffee shop owners and operators like you can use great images and fun captions to generate real interest in your brand. Food content remains popular on both platforms, as does support for small and medium coffee shops.

There is a lot of competition on social media, and you’ll want to make sure you have a curated and pretty feed. Using fantastic imagery and graphics isn’t about being superficial; it’s more about creating a vision for your customers of what it’s like to buy from you. At the same time, you’ll also be showcasing the very best of what you have to offer. If you invest in some great photography (either in professional photography or taking the time to create some fantastic imagery yourself), you’ll generate more interest than standard smartphone shots that don’t always look great on social media.

Both Instagram and Facebook are great places to connect with potential customers informally.

If you’re still looking for reasons to use Instagram and Facebook as your main social media channels, here are some more:

  • Both Instagram and Facebook are free and are easy to use
  • It is easy to integrate with your website. You’ll have the opportunity to showcase new content in both places
  • You can strategically build a community around your brand
  • Engage directly with your customers
  • You’ll later have the option to try paid ads
Customer taking a photo of his breakfast pancake and coffee at coffee shop

For many users, social media is part of their daily routine. Roughly three-quarters of Facebook users – and around six-in-ten Instagram users – visit these sites at least once a day.

3. Consider A Storefront Renovation

Lots of coffee shops focus all their attention on social media and advertising but forget about more traditional ways customers discover their business. Data shows that a large percentage of coffee shop customers discover new coffee shops by their storefront. Customers often see a nice-looking storefront while they’re passing by, and they’ll decide to try it out. 

A great-looking storefront is the best way to capture attention. Carrying out a few renovations or adding little details can make a big difference to customers noticing your business and coming in to grab a cup of coffee.

An empty coffee shop with a women coming in and a few people working behind the counter
Coffeebar's Menlo Park location

4. Give Emphasis On Acquiring Reviews & User-Generated Content

Positive reviews can be some of your best sources of new customers. Today, prospective coffee shop customers will look up a coffee shop’s reviews before trying out your business. If you have great reviews and positive customer feedback, this will act as a magnet for other prospective customers. 

Having excellent customer feedback to show off will be one of your greatest assets as a coffee shop. You may want to consider having staff ask customers if they will consider leaving a review. Google My Business is a great place to do this, but other review platforms can work just as well. You may also want to think about incentivizing customers to leave reviews of your coffee shop.

User-generated content plays a significant role in building trust in a coffee place. Especially in today’s world where social media feeds are so polished and created, customers want to know if the experience you offer lives up to their expectations. Seeing user-generated content and other customers enjoying their experience will entice customers to try your brand.

5. Take Full Control Of Your Customer's Journey

It is important to know that creating an online presence is not the end of your customer’s journey. You need to connect the customer’s experience back to your coffee shop’s physical presence.

Why? After getting to know your brand online, you’ve created interest and curiosity. Enough for that individual to submit their information on your website or, better yet, they walk in, purchase a product or place an order online. 

What do you do with that information you’ve captured? These days, customers love it when a brand brings humanity and personalization to every step of their customer journey. Customers are willing to pay for a better experience.

Here are a few reasons you’ll want to consider using a data-driven cross-channel customer engagement platform: 

  • Gather your customer data from your website, POS, WiFi e-Commerce and third-party apps in one place.
  • Gain access to behavioral data like frequency of visit, average order spent, which channels they prefer when interacting with your brand?
  • Get to know different customer groups or segments.
  • Know which combination of menu items are purchased frequently with the power of basket analysis, deep analytics and AI.
  • Craft personalized marketing automation in every step of your customer lifecycle.
  • Send cross-channel campaigns on email and SMS.
  • Offer milestone-based rewards and loyalty programs that are associated with purchases in-store and online.
  • Use your data to inform your decision on where to advertise and audiences to target.

Part of actionable coffee shop marketing is about understanding what an individual goes through during their initial decision-making process to buy from you. Then, you can personalize your brand’s engagement in every step of the customer lifecycle. 

 A data-rich customer engagement platform makes it easy to personalize the customer’s experience, regardless of whether the individual is a first-time customer, a second-time customer or a super loyal customer.

6. Take Local SEO Seriously

It’s oh-so-tempting to put all your time and energy into your social media marketing, but forget about one of the easiest ways to reach new customers: with local SEO. People are continually searching for terms like “coffee shop near me,” and you’ll want to capture these potential customers. 

To appear in top spots on search engines, you will need to work at SEO. You’ll need an optimized, fast and mobile-friendly website with good content and key information displayed clearly. 

Local SEO can sometimes be tricky as there can be technical elements you’ll need to make on the back end of your website. If you’re new to SEO, you may not know how to optimize your site or how to rank for specific search terms – or what those search terms are. You may want to work with an SEO agency or specialists to achieve this.

A women drinking a coffee and using her computer while entering a WiFi Captive Portal on a coffee shop

7. Elevate Your Guest Usable Coffee Shop Space

WiFi marketing and the use of captive portals are not new concepts. Depending on the concept of your coffee shop, WiFi marketing could prove to be a useful coffee shop marketing tool for you. 

Reasons to use WiFi marketing as part of your coffee shop marketing strategy:

Quick service retailers like specialty coffee shops, cafes and multi-mix concepts use WiFi marketing to better manage their limited guest usable space by requiring a purchase to gain access to a timed usage of guest WiFi.

Coffee shops can also choose WiFi marketing to grow their subscribers by offering access to guest WiFi in exchange for permission-based personal contact information.

WiFi marketing can be helpful to learn about anonymized location analytics and real-world behavior, including foot traffic rate per day in your location, where customers spend the most time when in your coffee shop, repeat visits, type of devices and more!

WiFi marketing offer built-in email and SMS marketing and deeper integrations with your POS and eCommerce systems.

8. Show Off Behind The Scene Videos

Sharing information about your brand doesn’t have to be in perfect posts and styles shots. Showing real “behind the scenes” videos help to connect with the customer and builds trust. Customers love to buy from brands with strong stories, passions and values. Talking about what you do, who you are and “why“ can help build trust, interest and a desire to buy from you. 

Showing how your business works behind the scenes should be relevant and exciting for customers. For example, you could feature the making processes of different types of coffee, share more about where your coffee comes from or how to make coffee-based drinks. This type of content should engage and delight your audience and be designed to drive demand for the goods and experiences you offer.

A graph of types of loyalty programs you can add-on or mix and match like Ear and burn, Tiers plan, Perks or Gamifications

9. Grow Customer Loyalty

At GoGoGuest, we view customer loyalty programs differently. While POS systems and other third-party loyalty programs focus on point-based systems $1 = $1 pt., GoGoGuest offers a milestone-based loyalty program that can flex and scale to your coffee shop’s customer loyalty goals.

Here are just some reasons you might want to consider a milestone-based customer loyalty or rewards program:

  • Milestone based rewards programs are designed for your best customers to aspire to an experience exclusive to them.
  • Rewards are computed across your available channels in-store, online orders and eCommerce.
  • Coffee shops can set start times and end times. As an example, points do not accumulate forever. It encourages customers to aspire to a milestone every six months or yearly to gain access to unique experiences.
  • Add points for specific guests and customer groups to encourage more purchases.
  • Communicate rewards by email marketing or SMS marketing.
  • Directly integrate with your POS, online ordering channel and eCommerce.
  • No third-party hardware is needed.
  • No plastic or digital reward cards needed.

10. Make Your Cafe More Than A Cafe

Your customers want more from your business than just great snacks, coffee and WiFi. If you can find ways to make your cafe a great venue for small gatherings, host small events, feature live music, get involved in community causes, and run other attractions, you’ll find you quickly become a much-loved venue. 

If you provide more than just a cafe environment, you’re likely to win more customers, and those who do buy from you will be more emotionally connected to your business.

11. Run A Coffee Discount Program

Coffee lovers won’t miss their caffeine (or caffeine-free!) fix, no matter what, and you’ll find you get loyal customers who buy regularly or daily from your brand. But just because you can rely on customers coming back to purchase from you, it doesn’t mean you should take them for granted. 

Consider offering a discount program that will give little savings or rewards for buying from you. You can set up loyalty programs in different ways, and you’ll be glad to know that simple is often best. Customers like easy reward systems they can understand without lots of complex rules, regulations and conditions that make your program seem difficult or not worth the hassle. 

Coffee shops with customer loyalty programs or discount programs usually have more sales and revenue than coffee shops that don’t offer these types of programs to their customers.

A bar chart view of customer groups by frequency of visit

12. Measure Performance

Actionable coffee shop marketing does not end in implementation and execution. Measuring the performance and iteration of each customer touchpoint is key to your success.

If you’re not already convinced, here are more reasons why it makes sense to measure the performance of each actionable coffee shop marketing tactics:

  • Use deep analytics and insights to know which customer touchpoint is performing well or not
  • Learn from the successful engagement for each customer group
  • Iterate on underperforming touchpoints
  • Measure ROI

Next Steps

Are you looking for ideas to launch a new coffee shop concept or transform your existing coffee shop franchise into a seamlessly connected digital experience?  With GoGoGuest you gain access to a data-driven and easy to use solution set that includes customer acquisition, customer engagement and customer loyalty tools for your coffee shop business.  It takes 15-seconds to book a consultation.

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