July 15, 2024

You’re the Boss: Assessing Colorado Mountain Coffee’s Web Site

Site Analysis

Last week I introduced you to Colorado Mountain Coffee in my post: What’s Wrong with Colorado Mountain Coffee’s Web Site?

As you may recall, Ryan Wagner and David Richards created the site to sell coffee that they say has a unique flavor because it is roasted at the high elevations of the Rocky Mountains. This process, they say, creates “one of the most complex French roasts you’ll ever taste.” They submitted the site because they were hoping the readers of this blog would offer some useful insights. Which they did.

What the Readers Said

A number of themes came up repeatedly: The site is too cluttered; it fails to convince readers that high-altitude roasting makes for great coffee; it fails to instill any kind of confidence in the company or the product.

It should come as no surprise that there is plenty of competition in the coffee market. Coffee lovers have proven that they are willing to pay a premium for great coffee — but you have to give them a reason to believe that it really is great. Based on the reactions of You’re the Boss readers, there is only one thing that differentiates Colorado Mountain Coffee from its competition, and that’s the high-altitude roasting. The problem, based on the reader comments, is that the site doesn’t offer convincing evidence that the coffee — which is sold online only — really is better.

This is how witness in Washington put it: “I don’t buy the high-altitude roasting angle. Mountain grown is one thing for good Arabica greens. But mountain-roasted sounds invented to suit your location. In particular, the ‘quicker roasting at lower temperature = more natural flavors’ sounds completely made up.”

Greg Dunavant had this to say: “If they truly believe that is a differentiator (and they want to build their brand around it), I would add more content / visibility to this idea of ‘With less oxygen and pressure at high elevation, we are able to preserve the beans’ delicate flavor profile.’ I am sure they could come up with some cool photos of their facility in the mountains. I would want people to see it and be ‘wowed’ that this is something unique. I might even add a section for tours just to give the perception that people are coming to see this ‘unique coffee process at work.’ ”

The obvious question is, how do you convince people to pay a premium price to buy coffee they have never tasted? Several readers suggested that they might have been swayed if the site had provided some convincing testimonials. The key, they said, was to get as many people as possible to taste the coffee and then to solicit positive reviews from them. One way to do this is to give the coffee away. Mr. Wagner and Mr. Richards are already doing some of this, but they may need to do more.

GG in New York City, offered this advice: “Your local PTA having a bake sale? Send them coffee. Got a farmer’s market in town? Go there with coffee. Basically think of every scenario that could even remotely be connected to coffee and involves a group of people, and go there with coffee. Start in your town and expand from there. The point is this gets people talking, and in this day and age people do a lot of their talking online. Your website could use some work but that’s small beans (pun intended) compared to the giant task of getting people to taste your coffee.”

It was also suggested that Colorado Mountain should send free samples of the coffee to online “influencers.” This is an extremely common practice, where you find the most influential bloggers who cover gourmet food, drink and coffee and encourage them to try your product. If they like it and write about it, it can be a tremendous way to drive traffic. If you Google “coffee bloggers,” you will find dozens of them.

And then there is the video. As most of us know, videos can be valuable tools for a small-business Web site. They can demonstrate what makes your brand special and what other people like about it. And they can put a warm friendly, human face on your business. That said, the video on Coffee Mountain’s site, of Ryan Wagner climbing a thin Aspen tree, did not impress a lot of visitors.

Janis from Maryland: “He reminded me of someone’s annoying kid brother pulling a stunt to get attention. I was left wondering what that aspen had ever done to Ryan to deserve such treatment. I looked for the disclaimer ‘no aspens were injured in the making of this video’ but found none. This video didn’t make me want to like Ryan and it didn’t make me want to buy coffee – or anything – from him. Ever.”

KMZ from Sydney Australia reacted similarly: “OMG, please take that down. It is the most bizarre thing I have ever seen in a promotional context. After seeing it I would definitely not buy anything from you guys, it makes you look like a bunch of amateurish weirdoes. Seriously, please remove it.’

My Take

Even small businesses with limited budgets can succeed online. You have a much better chance if you build trust, offer great customer service, and engage your customers on a personal basis. I don’t think Colorado Mountain Coffee is there yet.

The first rule of e-commerce is that you want people to feel comfortable buying from you. This site doesn’t give you a phone number to call; it doesn’t give you the address of a bricks and mortar store (there isn’t one). It doesn’t give you testimonials from current, satisfied customers. All it does is to assert — without supporting evidence — that coffee roasted at high altitude is better than coffee roasted at sea level. The company, which most visitors have probably never heard of, is asking people to give them their credit card numbers and their money and to trust them that the coffee is great. That’s a lot to ask.

But there are a lot of people out there who believe in small businesses and want to support them. Anyone can get coffee at Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts. I think Colorado Mountain has the opportunity to appeal to the coffee connoisseur, but it has to do more to build that trust. Obviously, the company should offer a better explanation for high-altitude roasting. Obviously, it should do more with video.

By way of contrast, here’s a video created by Zabar’s, the famous New York food emporium, that does an excellent job of humanizing the company, demonstrating expertise and passion, and showing the stability and strength of the company behind the coffee. There’s a reason Zabar’s sells more than 8,000 pounds of coffee a week.

I would also suggest that Colorado Mountain start videotaping the events where it gives out free coffee so it can show people drinking (and enjoying) the coffee. The company can also send out free samples to influencers (as discussed earlier) and ask them to send in video testimonials. It’s a great way to engage visitors.

And here’s another coffee site to consider: Rogers Gourmet Coffee Tea Market. This is not a big budget site, but it does give detailed information on all of the coffees, it provides 18 pages of testimonials, and it has a blog that takes you to the fields where the coffee is grown. You look at this site and you get the feeling you are dealing with a legitimate company.

Ryan Wagner’s Response

Mr. Wagner was greatly appreciative of the time and effort that people took to assess the site, and he has taken many of the comments to heart. “We need to better define our sales pitch,” he conceded. “We need to immediately show why our coffee is better than what a potential customer may already be buying. We will certainly redesign our home page to better focus on our sales pitch and reduce some of the clutter.”

Got a Web site or mobile app you’d like to have critiqued? We are always looking for sites and apps to review. We are especially interested in hearing from businesses that are using smartphones, iPads and other mobile devices and apps as tools in marketing, selling and branding. To be considered, please send an e-mail to youretheboss@bluefountainmedia.com and tell us about your experiences — what works, what doesn’t and especially why you would like to have your site reviewed.

Gabriel Shaoolian is the founder and chief executive of Blue Fountain Media, a Web design, development and marketing company based in New York.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=90bfa72466dba6b6256f178412e48c39

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