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One thing that I’ve noticed, is that the barrier to entry to starting an online business is lowering every year.

So much so, that online businesses have become a stand-alone option with many Coffee roasters deciding to build e-commerce sites and sell their beans exclusively online.

My goal is to deconstruct the entire process of selling coffee online so that anyone with any skill level, could start their own online coffee business.

I am trying my best to anticipate any questions that you may have so I can build the most comprehensive guide on how to sell coffee online.

The process

I’ll be splitting up the process for you into 2 parts, the first is setting up the systems, the seconds is putting those systems into action.

I find the best way to sell coffee online is to create a system where you can funnel traffic through so you can provide the most value to your customers.

In order to create the best system for your store we first have to understand the customer buying patterns.

There are 2 distinct customer buying patterns, the first is customers who have never tried your coffee and those who have tried your coffee.

While this might be blatantly obvious, what I find is that most marketing strategies never take this into considerations.

How someone who has never tried your coffee interacts with your brand is significantly different to someone who has tried your brand.

Both of these demographics purchase different products and have different decision-making criteria.

Take some who has never purchased from your store before or tried your coffee, typically they aren’t going to place bulk orders their first time, they want something that’s low risk.

Take Nespresso for example, you can order mix packs of their pods, mix packs are ideal because it gives new customers a chance to find their favourite blends and roasts.

While this offer appeals to new customers, it may not appeal to existing customers because it might have blends and roasts they don’t like and typically because mix packs tend not to be as good value compared with bulk orders of one bean.

An existing customer knows what they like and are interested in ordering a bulk order of one or two products and have value on their mind.

So with this in mind, what I recommend is creating two product categories that I refer to as front end and back end products.

Front end products are designed with new customers in mind.

Typically low cost, low risk and it gives the customer an opportunity to experience your products.

This can also work if you only have one type of coffee, but it has to be a smaller sample pack.

Once the customer has had an opportunity you sample your front end offer, now you can transition them to your back end offer.

What makes the back end offer so powerful is that you can sell them to your customers forever. The front end offer is designed to bring the customers in, and the back end offer is designed to maximise the lifetime value of each customer.

The front end product is a great way to introduce your brand, then we can create systems that can help transition the customers from the front end offer to the back end offer.

The main two methods that I recommend are email list and Facebook retargeting ads.

Online store

Personally, I prefer to use WordPress as my content management system to build my website.

WordPress is a system that structures your website, within WordPress, you can upload themes to change its appearance and add plugins to enhance functionality.

Stock WordPress doesn’t have e-commerce functionality, so we need to add a plugin called Woocommerce to give you the ability to accept payments for your products.

If this is your first online store, I recommend the Storefront theme, the Storefront theme is a free theme that was built by the Woocommerce team specifically built to integrate perfectly with Woocommerce.

The main issue with Storefront is that it is very limiting, you won’t get the same customisable options as you do with something like the Divi theme. Personally, I recommend having a limiting theme if it’s your first website because one thing I’ve noticed is the number of first-time web designers who use a theme with a lot of customisable options who end up with terrible looking websites because they don’t know the elements of good web design. Contrasted with a limiting theme which is difficult to customise but therefore, is hard to make it look bad.

What I would suggest to someone who is building an e-commerce website for the first time is to use Storefront, get a few sales, then reinvest into a web designer who can create a good looking website for you.

To set up a website you will need to get a domain name and hosting, your domain name is your website name, for example, mine is okryan.blog. A host is a computer that stores your website and makes it available on the website.

One thing you need to look for is a host that offers Let’s Encrypt SSL, an SSL certificate encrypts the data that your customers put into your website, so if you’re accepting payments via your website, an SSL certificate is a must.

While most big hosting platforms offer Let’s Encrypt, for example at the time of writing this article Go Daddy does not offer free Let’s Encrypt certificates.

If you’re someone who already has a website that you like, instead of trying to add e-commerce functionality to your website, I would suggest you add a subdomain. A subdomain is a separate website to your main website, for example, my main website is okryan.blog, if I wanted to maintain my website and set up a store, I could create a subdomain so my store would be hosted on shop.okryan.blog.

I have a comprehensive guide that will show you the entire process on how to create an online store from scratch with no step missed.

Email List

Your goal is to use your front end offer to create a pool of customers that you can market back end offers to, to achieve this you need to create a direct line of communication with people who have tried you product.

Still today an email list is one of the best ways to keep in contact with your customers.

Most email lists will integrate with Woocommerce, so when someone purchases your front end product, they will immediately get added to your mailing list so you can send emails promoting your back end offers.

There are some key things that you need to know about mailing lists.

A mailing list is an opportunity to build a relationship with your community, not to spam your products.

These days, most people use Gmail which has one of the best spam and promotions filter.

If you abuse your mailing list, you’ll find your emails will be hitting the spam and promotions tabs and your email open rates will plumet.

There three main things that you can do to maintain a high deliverability with your mailing list.

Verify your domain

Verifying your domain is really important, this requires access to your websites cpanel and upload some information to your websites DNS.

This proves that you own your domain and is a great way to increase your deliverability.

Most email service providers will have docs that show you how to do this and if you’re still having trouble you can contact your email service provider and your websites host to help you out.

Cull your list

One of the main reasons that peoples emails hit the spam or promotions filter is because email companies such as Gmail use customer feedback to determine where to place your emails.

Let’s say you have a list of 10,000 people, but half of the people haven’t open your emails in the 6 months.

Gmail will use that feedback and notice that you have a low open rate which means that it will see your emails as spam.

One way to fix this is to cull your list and remove anyone who hasn’t seen your email in the last 6 months.

This is always a tough thing to do.

We work so hard to build our email list, we often attach our success to the number of emails addresses on our list.

But the number of emails on our list could be doing more harm than good.

Work on your copywriting

One of the best ways to increase your open rate is to work on your copywriting.

An engaging subject line can be a fantastic way to help increase your open rate.

We work so hard to build our mailing list as a way to build a connection with our customers but put no effort into writing subject lines that compel the readers to open our emails and writing engage sales letters to get our customers to take action.

Generating traffic

Today, I consider Facebook ads to be one of the best traffic generation methods if you want to sell coffee online.

It’s really user friendly and simple, which means most people can just in and create ads really quickly.

However, there are a few things that you should do before creating ads that will help maximise your return on investment.

Installing Facebook Pixel

The Facebook pixel is a little snippet of code that you can install in your website that tracks how users interact with your site and allow you to target ads to people who have taken specific actions, such as purchases or website traffic.

In order to install the code, you need to head to business.facebook.com, if you don’t have a business account set up I recommend setting that up rather than using a personal account.

From here click Business Manager > Pixels > Add New Data Source > Facebook Pixel, give the Pixel a name and insert your URL

Once you’ve created the pixel, click into your newly created pixels, then click Set Up > Connect a partner platform and choose Woocommerce (or whichever shopping cart service you’re using and follow the prompts.

Not only is the Facebook pixel a great way to retarget visitors and customers, but you can use it to monitor the visitor analytics of your website.

If you head to business.facebook.com then click Business Manager > All Tools > Analytics then click on your pixel and it will show you information about your websites visitors.

Creating custom audiences

We can use custom audiences in the targeting at the Ad Set level to retarget customers.

The Facebook pixel can be used to create custom audiences to retarget activity such as website purchases, website traffic, people who add items to carts without purchasing and web traffic to specific pages.

To achieve this, head to business.facebook.com and click Business Manager > Audiences > Create Audience > Custom Audience > Website Traffic.

From here we can select a range of options, the main two audiences we want to create is web traffic and purchases.

You have the option to choose how long you want the data to be dated to, I recommend choosing 180 days which is the longest Facebook allows, this means that anyone who has met the criteria of the audience in the last 180 days will be added to the audience.

Retargeting ads

Retargeting Ads are one of the best ways to drive sales for your business.

The main reason why retargeting ads work so well is that you’re positioning ads in front of people who are already familiar with your brand.

Another reason why retargeting ads work so well compared with interest targeting is that other coffee companies are also bidding on interests such as “Coffee” which drives up the price per click because of the competition, however, you own your retargeting list, so you aren’t competing with anyone for those clicks.

There is a concept called omnipresence, in relation to marketing it means your seen on many platforms and that your potential customers are viewing your brand where ever they go. How brands leverage this to generate sales is let’s say, for example, your potential customer searches for online coffee roasters and finds you on Google, they take a look at your website, they like what they see but they haven’t bought anything yet, a couple hours later they’re scrolling on Facebook and see and ads about your sample pack, they see how great the value is and purchase the product.

Without retargeting ads, this would have been a lost sale.

Retargeting Ads give you a lot of power to keep bringing people who are familiar with your brand back to your website.

Custom email domain

While this may not be a massive issue, I think not setting up your custom email looks really unprofessional.

Most hosting providers provide you with free options to create this, however, the software that is provided to access these free alternatives tend to be really dated and clunky.

For about $5 a month you can set up a custom domain name with a premium services such as Gmail or Outlook.

For $5 a month, I honestly this it’s worth it, I personally use Gmail and not only do I get a custom domain but I also get a ton of cloud storage and access to Google suite.

Putting it all together!

I understand that there is a lot to deal with and understand.

But done correctly, direct coffee marketing can be an effective strategy.

While I wanted to do a step by step process, I felt I needed to explain why you need to do certain things before showing you how.

I’ve read so many tutorials that explain how without showing you why.

So now that I’ve shown you why you need to do certain things, let us get into the how.

The steps below are a general guide, as I create more detailed how-to tutorials I will be linking to them, so check back periodically for updates.

Step one – Set up your website

Get you’re hosting and domain name set up if you don’t currently have one.

Install WordPress and add the Woocommerce plugin and start the startup wizard for Woocommerce, this helps set up 90% of the requirements for Woocommerce and will get you started selling online.

At the end of the wizard, it will have a checkbox that says to install the Storefront theme, keep it checked as we want to install the Storefront theme.

Once this is completed, we can begin to upload products and customise our new website.

Step two – Install Facebook Pixel

I recommend you do this right away.

While you won’t get much traffic in the very beginning, you want to be collecting data to send retargeting ads to web traffic and customers as well as measure website analytics.

If you don’t want to install the Facebook pixel, that’s cool but you should install some kind of tracking code such as Google Analytics so you can have objective data of the progress of your website traffic.

Follow I described earlier in the blog post to install the pixel

Step three – Integrate your email marketing software

As with Facebook pixel, we want to maximise every opportunity to build a relationship with our customers.

Most providers have plugins that will allow you to integrate with Woocommerce so you can capture email addresses.

Step four – Set up funnel

Now is where we start to set up the path that our customers take when they are introduced with our brand.

This may take time to optimise over time but begin by thinking about what is the best way for people who have never tried your product to have the best experience with your brand.

We refer to this as the Front end offer, the Front end offer is a product designed specifically for new customers.

This could be a mix pack or a sample pack.

Step five – Drive traffic to Front end offer

Our next step is to start driving traffic to the Front end offer.

I recommend Facebook ads.

Start running ads to your Front end products to begin generating sales.

Step six – Drive traffic to Back end offers

This is where we start to maximise lifetime value.

Now we begin to remarket to customers who bought the Front end product.

Set up retargeting ads to people who have purchased from your website and begin sending them ads with back end offers and promotions.

Simultaneously sending out emails to your customers promoting the same offers.

Our goal is the build a relationship and help people who have purchased our Front end offers to begin buying our Back end offers.

Repeat

That’s a 20,000-foot overview of what it takes to build a successful online coffee store.

What I’ve outlined might not be a marketing plan, but more a marketing structure.

It’s a framework that you can take and wrap your unique and individual brand around.

I see so many campaigns that seem directionless.

I really hope that I have helped to give you an idea on how to create a successful online coffee business.