A recent study of 1,200 small coffee shops by Barista Magazine and Hand Ground revealed that 40 percent spend absolutely nothing on marketing every month. Yet these local cafés are expected to compete with the marketing budgets of brands like Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s.
Fortunately, small coffee shops don’t need to invest much to see results – coffee consumption trends show consumers gravitating toward boutique coffeehouses.
This consumer preference shift toward premium-blend coffee provides a very lucrative opportunity for cafés that are able to obtain and control a substantial local market share.
5 ways to increase traffic for your small coffee shop
To help your coffee shop capitalize on consumer trends, try these five affordable ideas to increase foot traffic.
Build a social community.
Invest in your website.
Encourage customers to come and stay.
Ask for customer reviews.
Use events to bring people in.
Ready to brew even more coffee than before? Then keep reading to see how you can implement these tips.
1. Build a social community
Social media sites like Facebook are always adapting their model to favor investors. That typically means prioritizing sponsored content and ads over organic posts. However, coffee shops can circumvent this change by cultivating an online community via social media.
Try creating a Facebook group not just for your customers, but for your entire community.
There are several reasons to consider Facebook groups to grow your business, but the most important is that Facebook weighs groups highly in its ranking algorithm.
You can also join other local Facebook groups to share events and specials, and join in the general conversation. The more active and engaged your online community, the more memorable your brand.
2. Invest in your website
If there is one thing you need to invest in, it’s a website. Your coffee shop’s website does more than just communicate your hours of operation and menu; it’s an opportunity for you to enforce your brand’s voice, generate leads and convert website traffic to foot traffic.
Launching a website has never been easier. After you buy a relevant domain and hosting, you can use a service like GoDaddy’s GoCentral Website Builder, to build a clean and dynamic website in under an hour.
3. Encourage customers to come and stay
While restaurants strive for high table turnover, you should encourage the opposite in your coffee shop. If you want to drive more foot traffic, create an ambiance that encourages people to relax and hang out.
Not only will more customers come to the “popular” coffee shop, but customers that stay longer will spend more.
Many coffee consumers don’t just grab their drink to go. They want somewhere they can relax, study, and socialize. You can encourage customers to visit your shop and stay by:
Offering free WiFi
Customers spend 60 percent more time in small coffee shops that offer free WiFi. This is a small investment that can keep your customers happy and coming back. Moreover, you can use the WiFi login page to market your company. When someone logs onto your WiFi, you can direct them to your social page or to a landing page to review your business.
Outside of your products, the most important asset to your coffee shop is your employees. Baristas are the face of your brand and can be a differentiator in your business. In addition to providing customer service trainings, you also need to make sure your employees can answer general coffee questions and are able to make any type of drink and variation on your menu.
Developing a comfortable atmosphere
The best way to keep customers in your store is to create a relaxing environment. This might include a music playlist that isn’t too loud or distracting, comfortable furniture and appropriate lightning and temperature. Small adjustments to your ambiance can induce different reactions in customers. For instance, red colors are shown to increase blood pressure, while blue or green colors are calming and relaxing.
Creating a welcoming storefront
Many customers say that they visit a new coffee shop based on the outward appearance of the store. That means you can increase your foot traffic by creating a welcoming storefront. Add signs that emphasize your brand and drink specials, offer free samples and add outside seating. People will be more likely to enter your coffee shop if they feel welcomed.
4. Ask for customer reviews
Consumer trends suggest that people are choosing boutique coffee shops over mainstream cafés. However, before they ever walk into your coffeehouse, they are going online to read reviews.
Approximately 90 percent of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase, with half of their purchases going to businesses with four or more stars.
To increase reviews, train your staff to always ask customers to leave a review after receiving their order. You can also add marketing collateral throughout the shop that emphasizes the importance of reviews to your business. Be honest with your customers about how important reviews are to your business and customers will respond.
Be careful not to offer discounts or incentives for reviews as the FTC has cracked down recently on the misrepresentation and deceptiveness of incentives reviews.
Editor’s note: Since your customers will be searching for you on Google — and other online directories like Yelp, Foursquare, Citysearch and more — it’s beneficial to make sure your business is listed with the appropriate hours and information. Check out GoDaddy’s Local Business Listings, where you can manage your company’s info all from one easy-to-use dashboard.
5. Use events to bring people in
While selling coffee should be your endgame, the first step is to get people in the door. One way to do that is by using your shop effectively. You can use events to help increase foot traffic to your coffee shop.
Partner with local meetup groups to host workshops in your space and you can expose customers to new drinks and new ideas. Try poetry readings, open mics, book clubs or other activities to bring new people into the shop.
After hosting several, you should be able to narrow down the activities that yield the biggest return and refocus your event marketing around those activities which bring in the most business.
Every small coffee shop is different
At the end of the day, driving more business to your coffee shop is about creating a memorable brand that engages new customers and brings old ones back. To accomplish that, you can use digital marketing, you can focus on cultivating a community, you can host events, or any number of other marketing tactics.
Just remember — don’t be afraid to espresso yourself!