Coffee Shop Marketing Strategies In A Social World

May 25  |  Inbound Marketing  |   Ryan Clark

The one thing I know well besides marketing and branding online is coffee shops. I spend a great deal at Starbucks, other chains and the local independent stores and have seen it all. One of the smaller coffee shops here in Victoria asked me for some help after getting to know the owner over the course of the last six months. I decided to make a deal/bet with the owner that if I could increase sales a certain amount, I’d win free drip coffee for a year. That was a deal for drugs I was ready to commit to. There were a lot of obvious first steps to take, those I won’t go into here as it’s pointless, but rather share with you some of the more unique strategies I put in place with little effort. The results were rather fantastic!

While not many people use search engines to find a local coffee shop as they’re everywhere, so we didn’t worry about ranking for a specific term here. Instead, I took on some unique social media methods that would drive a lot of customers and hopefully turn them into returning ones. Tapping into the local community played a huge role here and it turned out to be a game changer for this local business. So let’s get into the inbound marketing strategies and even a couple link building ones. One last thing, I’m happily enjoying my free coffee as I write this post!

Attracting Links:

Like I stated, the link building aspect wasn’t really a focus here but we did nab some links that would come in handy down the road. The other part of the social media marketing also netted the company a few links, so all in all it worked out nicely nicely. In their case we just focused on links from;

– local business directories within the area only
– links from the local bakery website they got their goods from
– links from the company that supplies their beans
– links from a few coffee shop directories

So nothing hardcore, just general link building that should be applied in almost every scenario like this. This alone did manage to bump them to the first page for their local area. This was not unexpected but the links combined with a few on page SEO changes did the trick no problem. This should be noted by other coffee shop owners trying to achieve this…chances are good that there is no real competition.

Utilizing Their Local Sub Reddit:

I’m a 4 year long Reddit veteran and a huge fan of my local subreddits. We decided to just let everyone know there that they’d get free refills on their coffee and tea if they just mentioned Reddit. We also put out an open ended invitation to host any Reddit meet-up events they had as well provide discounts that night on everything in the shop. This strategy was received quite well and has been providing them with more and more return visits. We nerds love our coffee, and if you have a unique shop with quality product, then you’re going to be a hit for sure. Just make sure you don’t come off as spammy or pushy with this route, and don’t expect great results every time.

Marketing With provides tons of amazing networking and marketing methods, and restaurants are always benefiting huge from it. Some of the events I go to in Vancouver attract over 100 people, and the bar we go to makes some serious bank that night. Almost every event lists where the meeting will take place, and usually this leads to a link.

We got in touch with half a dozen groups and offered the place out to the group, even after hours for a few of the late night crowds. The coffee shop now hosts nearly 4 Meetup events a month and it has done wonderful things for their sales.

Daily & Group Deal Sites (Groupon Etc):

You all knew this was coming, and it’s a no-brainer. A lot of local businesses complain that the cost of running a daily/group deal is not worth it. I had to remind them here that it’s more about branding and buzz in hopes those customers will return. If you can provide them with an amazing experience, your chances are really good that you’ve nailed down a new customer. Another interesting feature of some of these deal sites is that they provide a vendor link, and those are natural quality links you’re going to want in your profile.

Foursquare Mayor Deals:

Foursquare is still blowing up all over the world and it’s a great way to attract new and old customers. Your vendor page can net a worthy link, and your customers can fight over the mayor deal you offer. This coffee shop owner had never heard of Foursquare and that’s no surprise as it’s targeted at a much younger generation.

We made sure to get the check-in sticker on the door, a mayor deal on the web and added a few tips to add more depth to his venue page. The more geo-located tips from other users the better. These will pop up on your screen if someone has checked in near your business, and this can be worth it…it’s bloody free folks!

The Result?

Obviously the coffee shop had seen an explosion in sales compared to the previous 3 months. Obviously doing something over nothing would have a positive impact, especially how easy it all was to do. I spent no more than 20 hours setting everything up and I’m now going to be enjoying a lot of free coffee.  Now I’d love to hear from other coffee shop owners who’ve either tried some of this out, or are going to now. Let us all know how it works out!

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7 Link Building Tips For Restaurants

January 14  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

I recently spent some time in Seattle working for a well known restaurant down there. I was invited to work on site to not only get a feel for their business in person, but help generate some cool content to use as linkbait. The overall experience was rewarding and allowed me to build links for a niche I never really have before. The amount of unique link building options for a restaurant was an eye opener, and hopefully these tips get your place off and running.

The local search market is getting more crowded every week, and ranking well involves many factors. If you’re in a large city like Seattle, things can be even more difficult. The best way to attract someone to your restaurant is easily your food, right? With that being said, food content is king! The first step I took with this business was bringing in a local photographer to shoot all of their dishes for not only their website, but for use in our social media campaigns. Their website only had a few pictures in all, and half were just interior shots of the restaurant….this wouldn’t do! So before you set out to score some links, make sure you have juicy shots of that beautiful food ready for use in your link building efforts.

Tip 1) Group Deal Sites

With the exploding popularity of group deal websites like Groupon, Living Social and others, you should not ignore these any longer. The first obvious benefit is the opportunity to expand your brand throughout your community, and secondly lies the gold mine of quality link building opportunities. Most of these sites offer great links within your businesses profile which only goes to add to the diversity of your link profile…something were a huge advocate of!

Tip 2) Zagat Rated

Restaurants love to hear feedback, and having a great Zagat rating is a great honor for any kitchen. Being listed on Zagat’s website also comes with a link among other things, but for this article we’ll just stick to that. You can even get a sticker to remind customer’s that they can also take part and rate your restaurant online. Don’t be afraid to embrace the user review because you’re going to get one whether you like it or not.

Tip 3) Local Food Bloggers

Almost every town in North America and Europe has a food critic or blogger, and they’re prime targets for scoring a link as well as extra exposure. We invited one prominent local foodie come out for a lovely evening with her husband which eventually ended up on her food blog with some nice brand links. The restaurant also noticed social mentions due to her Tweeting about it, logging into the restaurant via Foursquare and traffic from her Facebook Page. This also resulted in our client restaurant in getting nearly 50 new Facebook Page fans of their own which will result in a decent amount of revenue in the future.

Tip 4)

This is perhaps one of the best know restaurant review sites out there for every time of local eatery…no matter if you’re McDonalds, some food stand on 5th street or the best known luxury spot in town. This site ranks very well for keywords you’re going to want to rank for, plus you get a nice link out of it. You can also take advantage of linking out to other reviews of your place which gives more link juice to those reviews. All in all, good stuff!

Tip 5) Local Business & Restaurant Directories

Every city has a good number of local business directories, all in which will have a restaurant/food section. While directory links are not the hottest these days, it doesn’t hurt at all to be listed here. You may not get a huge amount of link juice, but you will also benefit from the local search traffic they get. The same goes for restaurant directories, not the hottest but there is a decent amount of them out there. Just fire up Google (or your favorite search engine), and try a search for restaurant directory, or even better yet, try and break it down locally. It doesn’t take up much of your time, some will have a small fee but at least you’re continuing on building a more diverse link portfolio.

Tip 6) Foursquare

Foursquare is another great way to socially get active within your community, it’s also another great place to snag a link. Venues do get a link here, and the more active your page is the better off you’re going to be. If you’re already not on there, dive in and setup some wicked deals for the local mayor. Our restaurant offered up to $30 worth of free drinks to its mayor and it’s generating a lot of buzz after only two weeks of going live. You can also jump on board with Gowalla, Yelp Check-ins and even Facebook’s if you’re feeling frisky.

Tip 7) Competitor Backlink Analysis

This was mega handy when we were link building for our client restaurant. We made a list of 30 of the top restaurants in Seattle and went ahead and dug out all their backlinks. We used OpenSiteExplorer as well as Link Diagnosis to quickly make the rounds, and what we came up with made our job that much easier. We found over 100 quality linking opportunities by doing this and managed to score dozens of links from them within the first 72 hours of working that week. If you’re in a large city you’ll find a lot of hidden resources by doing this so don’t overlook it, even if you’re not a SEO consultant.

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