Starbucks’ digital marketing strategy: How do they do it?

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You know what a digital marketing strategy is, and you know all about the research, tactics, and planning involved. But how do you know if your strategy will work? What makes a digital marketing strategy successful, anyway? 

Let’s start by looking at a real-world example: the most ubiquitous coffee chain in the world, Starbucks. 

With nearly 30,000 stores worldwide, the coffee corporation has built a revenue stream worth tens of billions. This success can be greatly attributed to Starbucks’ digital marketing strategy. From its social media campaign to leverage the star power of their baristas, Starbucks has created a seamless strategy with insane ROI. Theirs is a digital strategy that is envied by many and replicated by few. If you want to learn more about Starbucks’ marketing strategy, you’re in the right place. Below is an analysis of their digital marketing strategy and a reveal of the establishment’s secrets.

Starbucks’ Social Media Strategy

Most people are familiar with Starbucks on social media. The company’s many social media accounts are known for their distinctive branding, interactive posts, and visually pleasing content. The diverse range of content includes recipes, photography, articles and features. But there’s more than meets the eye. The stream of content can be broken down into a series of campaigns geared at creating a greater sense of brand awareness and community. 

Product-based campaigns

Starbucks  focuses on promoting unique and fan-favorite beverages . The brand knows how popular their flagship items are, but more importantly, they know their audience craves this kind of content. They’ve even created social accounts for the Pumpkin Spiced Latte and Frappuccino, where they push relevant and relatable memes to their die-hard audience. This is also where user-generated content (UGC) comes in. Consumer images of the more Instagrammable products, such as the Unicorn Frappuccino, are often selected to be re-shared via the official channels and also used in influencer campaigns.

Corporate responsibility-based campaigns

Starbucks uses social change as a marketing tool, positioning themselves as open-minded and inclusive. The #ExtraShotOfPride campaigns support the LGBT+ community & the #ExtraShotOfGood campaign is continuous in various community support that the brand engages in. The brand often shows the results of its “ethical growing” ethos, thanking consumers for taking part and strengthening their bond with the brand.

Community-based campaigns

Another facet of Starbucks’ digital strategy is its emphasis on highlighting individuals and communities. Take a look at the #RedCupArt campaign, which not only increases engagement, but also provides them with a library of UGC content. Their Upstanders video series uses storytelling to show acts of courage and kindness in American communities, localizing the content. And their Starbucks Stories account highlights various employees of Starbucks and humanizes the corporation, which is very important in a time when consumers are distrustful of big brands. 

This sense of community also makes online coffee content social, much like how they practically invented the modern coffeehouse back in the day.  Outside of campaigns, they show numerous images on their platforms of friends and family enjoying drinks of Starbucks coffee together, interspersed with high-quality content that promotes seasonal products. By doing this, Starbucks has integrated itself into your social life. 

Note that Starbucks is taking this community-based approach worldwide, too.

Starbucks’ Mobile App

starbucks mobile marketing

Aside from their savvy social media presence, Starbucks also launched a wildly successful mobile app, which allows customers to order ahead, win points, and get rewards, further incentivizing brand loyalty. In addition to physical rewards, the brand made drinking coffee a social/gaming activity, giving out relational benefits for being part of their coffee culture. 

The app was the perfect addition to Starbucks’ marketing strategy and remains the biggest, most recent addition to Starbucks’ arsenal of digital marketing strategy tools.

Learning From Starbucks

Not everyone can build their own app, or manage multiple social platforms successfully. Your digital marketing strategy will, of course, depend on your company’s budget, resources, and audience. 

Starbucks — an international conglomerate with an audience of millions of caffeine lovers worldwide — is not your average business. However, there’s a lot we can learn from the coffee giant.

Starbucks’ digital marketing strategy was carefully designed to forge a deeper connection with their customers, one that goes beyond mere “coffee.” At the heart of their strategy is their audience’s wants and needs. Whether it’s allowing customers to skip long lines, or creating an adorable #Puppuccino hashtag people can follow, they give their audience more of what they already love — specialty coffee, convenience and community. 

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