July 8, 2010, 1:04 PM

Social media is brewing customer activity at Roaste.com

To give Roaste the feel of a traditional coffee shop, the site is going social.

Lead Photo

EyalRosen, CEO, ROASTe

When Roaste.com launched a year ago as a beta test site, it immediately also launched a page on Facebook and worked with AddThis.com, a free service, to deploy a menu of buttons on his site to let shoppers share comments about coffee tastes with friends on Facebook and other online destinations. Since then, it has built up a base of more than 2,200 Facebook fans.

But it has only just begun to engage shoppers in social media to replicate online the social atmosphere of the physical coffee house, co-founder and CEO Eyal Rosen says.

“Coffee lovers are passionate about coffee,” he says. “When shopping on Roaste they are open to exploring relevant content, shopping advice, and community interaction. For us, the key is to give our visitors an easy, yet non-intrusive way to do all that.”

Within the past two weeks, Roaste has launched the first two of three new applications designed to better communicate with and engage shoppers and their friends, build on viral marketing, and learn why some visitors abandon their shopping carts.

“None of these is a silver bullet, but when combined to provide coffee lovers a holistic shopping experience, they increase traffic and improve conversions,” Rosen says.

Roaste two weeks ago deployed Kampyle, an online voice-of-customer application that greets shoppers in the bottom right corner of every page with an invitation to click to a form for leaving comments, good or bad, on their shopping experiences. One of the key benefits Rosen expects from Kampyle, he says, is learning why shoppers abandon shopping carts.

In one case, for example, Rosen says he learned that a shopper abandoned a cart because of the appearance of a small alert sign at the bottom of her page, making her think the transaction might not be secure. After investigating, Rosen’s I.T. team discovered a quirk in the checkout process that had accidentally triggered the alert symbol.

In another case, Roaste learned through Kampyle that shoppers were confused by the site’s offer of Coffee Tours, which let customers subscribe to receive monthly deliveries from their choice of more than 1,000 coffees—not go on physical trips of coffee destinations, as some had thought. “We changed Coffee Tours to Coffee Subscriptions, and now more people are signing up,” Rosen says.

Roaste also recently deployed Facebook Like buttons, which Rosen figures will build extensively on the viral effect of letting site visitors click a button to “Like” a product and share comments on a Facebook page.

As Facebook and other social media sites increase traffic to Roaste, Rosen says, he expects to convert more of that traffic with the third leg of his strategy. This week he plans to deploy technology from TurnTo Networks that will let shoppers click a “Friends” tab on product pages to share comments on the featured products with friends through social networks or e-mail.

Clicking the Friends tab pulls up a window in which shoppers can click again to communicate with friends on Facebook or other social networks or click directly to their personal e-mail systems to send messages. Shoppers can also use the pop-up window to view any comments already posted by their friends about the product they were viewing.

“The TurnTo system will allow coffee lovers to see what their friends have bought and even seek advice from them,” Rosen says. “It’s taking the social assets of Facebook, et al., and leveraging them to help turn visitors into happy shoppers.”

“TurnTo is expected to increase conversion rates,” he adds, “and I fully expect this will have a growing effect as the Roaste coffee-lover community grows over time.”

So far, deploying the new social media systems have gone smoothly, though some are easier to deploy than others, Rosen says. The Facebook Like application was the easiest to set up, requiring the simple installation on web pages of the Like button source code to connect with Facebook, Rosen says. “We had to make sure it fit with our site’s design, of course,” he adds.

Kampyle required a little more set-up work, requiring coordination between marketing and technical teams to ensure that different feedback forms for different sections of the site had the same look and feel of other Roaste web pages, Rosen says.

Deploying the TurnTo application has been the most challenging, requiring integration with other JavaScript code on Roaste used for pulling data from web servers.

Still, even the TurnTo application has taken only a couple of weeks to prepare for going live, and most of the work was done by TurnTo personnel, leaving only a few days of development work required of Roaste’s own I.T. team, Rosen says.

The cost of running Kampyle is a monthly fee based on the number of customer feedback comments received; for TurnTo, a monthly fee is based on the number of visitors a site receives. Neither application charges additional set-up fees.

“All three of these solutions are basically widgets that you customize to some degree, plug into your code, and debug if necessary,” Rosen says. “It’s all pretty basic, and no third-party consulting is needed.”

 

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