How Blue Bottle Coffee uses content marketing to educate customers

Over the past 17 years, Blue Bottle has grown from a single coffee shop to a highly successful eCommerce brand, establishing the company as a leader in the specialty coffee market.

While the third wave coffee movement has made their commitment to fresh, high quality beans and exacting brew methods more commonplace today than it was when Blue Bottle got their start, their seamless brand experience from coffee shop, to social media, and their website is still one of their key differentiators.

In this piece, we’ll take a look at how Blue Bottle’s content marketing strategy sets the stage for showcasing product value through social media ads and how Blue Bottle’s purchase experience guides the customer to the perfect product for their needs.

Elevate the brand with smart content marketing

As one of the first popular eCommerce specialty coffee brands, Blue Bottle recognized the need for intelligent and helpful content about their products. They needed to educate their consumer on the value of their product and create demand for a type of coffee that wasn’t as popular.

That helped establish their place in the market, but now, with the market as big as it’s ever been, competition is much fiercer. To maintain their position, Blue Bottle optimizes their online content to ensure it ranks well in search and resonates with customers.

One of the many ways they accomplish this is with a strong and targeted SEO strategy that focuses on educating readers about coffee (even if it doesn’t sell their coffee, though they often find clever ways to feature their products) and targeting specific search intent with detailed guides. This helps keep their brand in the top search results for myriad relevant keywords.

Their guides are often used as the featured snippet in Google:

Blue Bottle’s french press brewing guide is the featured snippet on Google.

Landing the snippet places their content as the first thing a potential customer will see when searching for french press brew guide, which, according to Keywords Everywhere—a tool that tracks approximate search volume for any given keyword or question—sees 260 searches per month.

When someone clicks into the guide to learn more, Blue Bottle walks them through the process of getting the best possible cup of french-press coffee—with beautiful photos featuring their products, of course.

If you break down the guide into its component parts, there are a lot of clever marketing techniques at play. Blue Bottle starts with a form designed to capture visitor email addresses:

Blue Bottle’s french press brewing guide is the featured snippet on Google.

The offer of additional tips as well as early access to products is a good trade for the customer’s email. It’s a low-lift way to bring their customers into an email nurture series. They then ask for more information on the type of coffee being used:

Selecting Whole Bean or Perfectly Ground will dictate the type of content for the guide.

This helps Blue Bottle provide the best possible walk-through for the customer. Depending on what they select, the guide tailors its content according. Here’s what customers see when they select Whole Bean:

Blue Bottle provides background on the brewing methods and the tools required and estimates brew time.

The What You’ll Need section in the top right links to several different products on the Blue Bottle site. This guide is not only their opportunity to teach customers proper brewing methods but also an extended product showcase as well.

Each step provides educational content and links to relevant products.

Each step of the guide includes a short explanation of the process, as well as an image. The images are clean, close-up shots of Blue Bottle products.

Blue Bottle uses the sidebar to make relevant product recommendations.

By focusing on the products in use, Blue Bottle is reinforcing their value to the customer. By the end of the six-step guide, the reader will know how to brew a great cup of french-press coffee and what Blue Bottle products to use to do it. That said, Blue Bottle makes sure the content is front and center. While they showcase their own products through, they don’t explicitly sell while they’re teaching. The focus always stays on the lesson, which matches the search intent. Remember: someone coming from Google to this guide wanted to learn how to brew a pot of French press coffee, not buy Blue Bottle products.

Only after delivering the entire lesson does Blue Bottle go directly after the sale. Each of their guides closes with a straightforward CTA:

Waiting to go after the CTA gives the reader more incentive to move forward.

Blue Bottle’s guides are amazing pieces of content marketing—they simultaneously work to educate the reader and showcase Blue Bottle’s products. This builds to create the perception of Blue Bottle as a one-stop shop for all things coffee and brewing. They also rank well in search because they focus on providing high quality content above selling, and they’re built to deliver cater to a specific search intent.

Potential customers who follow the guide will be able to brew an awesome cup of coffee and associate that feeling of success with the Blue Bottle brand.

Showcase product value through simple ad design

Whether you’re reading their guides or visiting their coffee shops, or you just see one of Blue Bottle’s ads online—it’s immediately clear that you’ve encountered their brand. Their minimalist aesthetic is instantly recognizable, and they reinforce it via social media ads.

Blue Bottle rarely features people in their ads; they focus on their products, their coffee, and the brewing methods they recommend. We can see this in the following Facebook carousel ad:

Panes one and two of a Blue Bottle ad for their Welcome Kit.

In this four-pane Facebook ad, Blue Bottle walks through what is included in their Welcome Kit—a purchase they recommend for learning more about Blue Bottle’s brewing methodology.

Panes three and four of a Blue Bottle ad for their Welcome Kit.

In the first pane, the customer is shown the coffee dripper and filters. The second shows the whole-bean coffee (with a subtle feature of one of their scales). By the third pane, customers are shown the end result of using these products (a cup of coffee). Each section follows the minimalist design aesthetic you’d expect from Blue Bottle, down to the pale blue shirt of the person pouring coffee.

While customers can click through at any time to learn more, Blue Bottle uses the fourth pane of this ad as a straightforward CTA, encouraging the customer to see more. This ad is a piece of paid that content creates a kind of narrative, explaining why each of the products Blue Bottle includes in their Welcome Kit is important and valuable.

There’s a similar focus on product and value in other ads as well:

Blue Bottle coffee ads featuring different brew methods.

These two ads focus on the tools for brewing good coffee. On the left, we see a french press; on the right is a pour-over dripper. Both ads speak to Blue Bottle’s feelings about making better coffee—customers need the right tools to accomplish the job.

Further, the copy tells an aspirational story about what using their products will do for you. Blue Bottle potential customers a better morning with pro-level coffee available to everyone.

By focusing on showing the value of their products and how they fit into the process of making better coffee, Blue Bottle builds on their ethos of educational content and fostering a smarter customer base. It’s this seamless experience, alongside their tightly controlled design aesthetic, that ensures the customer associates Blue Bottle’s brand with high quality coffee. At each point along the buyer’s experience, Blue Bottle is continually showcasing the value of both their products and their content.

Reinforce relationships through the purchase experience

When a customer purchases coffee through Blue Bottle’s website, Blue Bottle makes it an educational experience as well. The product pages and purchase flow act to reinforce the company’s ideas on freshness and correct brewing methods. This helps guide the customer toward making a purchase that provides the best overall experience at all times.

On the main shop page, customers are given a number of options, the most prominent of which is the Welcome Kit. They also feature their pre-ground coffee and Blue Bottle at Home coffee subscription servcice.

Featured options on Blue Bottle’s main shop page.

This helps promote certain products that are high value for both Blue Bottle and the customer, specifically the Welcome Kit and subscription:

  • Welcome Kit: This is a $100 purchase and indicates a higher level of buy-in from the customer—one who is willing to pay a premium for Blue Bottle’s coffee and brewing tools.
  • Blue Bottle at Home: The purchase of a subscription indicates a customer who will stick around longer. This is a great way to boost both retention and loyalty. For Blue Bottle, selling subscriptions is also a way to increase LTV and book more consistent revenue.

If the customer doesn’t go for one of those options, scrolling further reveals more of Blue Bottle’s product offerings, like their coffee varieties.

Each product highlights the name, a short description, and the price.

These product cards give the customer a lot of information in a very short space, which makes it easier to scroll through available options without going deeper into the site.

Selecting an option takes the customer to a fairly straightforward product page:

Standard Blue Bottle product page.

Customers can select preparation, bag size, and quantity, which are all standard options for the coffee-purchase experience. Blue Bottle also includes the option to “Subscribe and save $1-$3 per bag.” This gives them a way to promote their subscription service by showing the customer how much they’ll save on average.

This offer is mutually beneficial: The customer can save money on their purchase, and Blue Bottle gets a more predictable source of revenue.

Selecting the subscription option takes the customer to another page, where they can select options to fit their specific needs.

A coffee subscription requires additional information from the customer, in terms of frequency.

Blue Bottle does an excellent job of guiding the customer through this process by presenting options that are easy to understand. This alleviates any potential confusion and helps the customer choose a subscription that fits their specific needs.

Even here you can see Blue Bottle’s commitment to educational content. By describing bag size options in real-world terms, they’re educating customers about how to translate some amount of whole bean or ground coffee into another amount of brewed coffee.

High end coffee appeals to serious coffee drinkers. To reach serious coffee drinkers, Blue Bottle Coffee uses educational content to get more people seriously interested in coffee.
Blue Bottle’s coffee subscriptions are based on the bag size and shipping frequency.

By tailoring the experience to a customer’s schedule, Blue Bottle fosters a more engaged relationship. This reinforces customer loyalty and works to build customers into brand advocates.

Blue Bottle built a brand focused on fresh roasted coffee and proper brewing, and their purchase experience supports those goals. Customers who buy Blue Bottle’s coffee understand its value, and they are willing to pay a premium for it. It’s this kind of buy-in that helps the brand stay relevant in today’s increasingly competitive direct-to-consumer coffee market.

Takeaways

Blue Bottle Coffee is one of the most popular eCommerce coffee brands in the market. They’ve solidified their place as a leader in coffee education as well as quality. This gives their brand a way to continue growing, even in an ever-expanding industry.

  • Positioning matters – In a competitive market like specialty coffee, Blue Bottle understands their place. You need to know where your company can be successful in the market early on. Blue Bottle’s educational content and consistent brand identity differentiate them in an crowded market.
  • Content marketing showcases value – Since the beginning, Blue Bottle has used content marketing to build their brand. When you’re in a space that requires specialized knowledge and smart customers, it’s important that people trust the brand. Blue Bottle’s educational guides are optimized to get their name out there and build credibility.
  • Smart ads reinforce the brand message – Blue Bottle’s design aesthetic is undeniable; you always know when you’re interacting with their brand. When your ads match your website and your physical locations, and echo your content, it creates a sense of unity that cements the idea of your brand. Customers will always recognize your company and understand its value.
  • Customer loyalty is a powerful motivator – Make your customers smarter. Blue Bottle’s educational content helps attract customers to the company’s site, but it also helps existing customers develop a deeper appreciation of their products. The more engaged customers are with your brand, the more likely they are to buy your products again and recommend them to their friends.
  • Weave content through the entire experience  – Blue Bottle’s purchase experience makes it easy for the customer to find exactly what they need, and it continues to teach. Even as Blue Bottle guides customers toward the products they’re looking for, the cart and checkout drops useful nuggets of information about coffee in general so that they’re always helping people become smarter consumers.

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