Coffee is beloved the world over, which must be why there are so many delightful ways to make it. It’s always exciting when you find a new way to brew.
So, when Debbie Wei Mullin introduced single-serve Vietnamese pour-over lattes to the US, she knew she was tapping into a primed market.
She just had to teach people how to brew it.
Unlike most CPG brands, Copper Cow started out selling online. Their ecommerce-first approach allowed them to ideate and expand quickly, bringing a new style of coffee to the masses.
Since they first set up shop, they’ve grown to 16 employees and over 20+ products. And, this is just the beginning.
We talked to Debbie and her team about how Copper Cow got started, the importance of customer education, and how Shogun enables them to move quickly as they grow their business.
Initially, this DTC company was nameless. What they knew was:
The graphic designer working on their logo used some placeholder text for the logo until they could figure it out: Copper Cow Coffee.
And, like that, a brand was born.
Inspired by her Vietnamese-American heritage, Debbie Wei Mullin wanted to create a product that “combined the Vietnamese traditions that she grew up with with a transparent and ethical supply chain.”
“We partner closely with our farming partners in Vietnam to reduce chemicals often found in the roasting process. We’re also one of the only coffee companies that pay our farmers two times the market rate to ensure they’re earning their fair share.” Debbie Wei Mullin, Founder & CEO
The product is simple yet ingenious.
Based on the Vietnamese coffee brewing method and the single-serve pour-over format so popular in Japan, they created a product that allows anyone to make great Vietnamese pour-over lattes.
Launching with just a handful of products and Debbie as the singular employee, Copper Cow forged into a US market that was unfamiliar with both the style and format of the product.
That didn’t keep the business from growing though. Always game for a new way to introduce caffeine to their mornings, people flocked online and started buying.
Instead, they’re reinvesting their gains back into the company, expanding their team, their store, and their product line.
A major consideration for any brand is design.
Design (and how it translates to your ecommerce experience) is an embodiment of your brand’s personality, helping you connect with your audience.
Copper Cow has a remarkable sense of design in their branding, consistent across every customer touchpoint—from social media to packaging to store pages.
“As we grew and learned more about our customers, our branding began to reflect our buyers: it became more colorful, more feminine, bolder but we’ve always leaned modern with clean lines.” - Debbie Wei Mullin, Founder & CEO
Understanding that brand differentiation was so essential, they built a marketing team that could consistently design gorgeous marketing assets and landing pages.
“Our branding and creative teams are truly our secret weapon. Our colors are vibrant, our imagery is clear, and each piece of content is consistent in how we communicate our story.” - Kate Strollo, Director of Digital Marketing
Beyond the look and feel of the Copper Cow brand, they also invested in building a brand voice to help educate their audience—which turns out, was the key to unlocking hypergrowth.
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Bringing a new product to the US market is exciting but it also means that you have to educate your audience.
In the world of coffee, it’s all about the how-to guides.
For Copper Cow, showing how easy it is to make an incredible cup of coffee turned out to be key to capturing the attention of the wider audience.
“Very simple UGC-style how-to videos have been the backbone of our higher funnel strategy. Our product is fairly new to the US market and can be tricky to understand. These videos—much more than static imagery—do a great job at explaining the ease of the product and driving new visitors to the site.” - Kate Strollo, Director of Digital Marketing
Further down the funnel, they use flavor-specific marketing and educational landing pages to get shoppers closer to the sale.
By linking from paid ads to custom landing pages, they can steer shoppers through the right doors to fully understand the product, thereby increasing chances of conversion.
Being able to quickly build these educational pages allows Copper Cow to better understand how customers move from awareness to purchase and build around that user flow.
“A customer can come to our site and understand what we have to offer and how Copper Cow can fit into their morning (or any time of the day!) routine.” - Kate Strollo, Director of Digital Marketing
Clarity of message is hugely important to the marketing team so that shoppers quickly get what the product is, what their options are, and what the brand represents without having to do the research.
Since educational landing pages are a big part of Copper Cow’s marketing strategy, it makes sense that they’d need to use a powerful page builder to quickly customize their pages.
But, in the beginning, they were hampered by a manual, code-driven process.
They hired a development agency to create landing page modules with Shopify’s Liquid code, which they would then copy and paste into new pages.
They would tell the dev team what they wanted the modules to look like. But, this often played out like a game of telephone, with the end result not quite what the team had in mind.
“Not being able to easily customize these blocks was a killer. We don’t have in-house dev support, so any tweaks (colors, sizing, etc) to these modules were impossible. We had to make do with the code we had, which was frustrating.” - Kate Strollo, Director of Digital Marketing
Copper Cow wanted to make more landing pages, faster, and code was a big blocker to that.
Seeking total control over the design process, and the ability to make changes independently, any time, the team looked for a solution to take them to the next level.
Having heard about Shogun Page Builder through ecommerce groups on Facebook and Slack, they gave it a try.
With Page Builder, they could easily create and update pages themselves without having to mess with code or third parties.
“It’s nice to be able to change things on the fly or make quick updates. We’re still in our growth stage, so being able to move quickly is very key to our team.” - Kate Strollo, Director of Digital Marketing
The A/B testing feature allowed them to try different strategies for their landing pages and choose the one that worked best.
Subscriptions are a big part of Copper Cow’s business, helping them to build a recurring revenue base while saving customers money. But, customers didn’t understand the benefit of subscribing over one-time purchases.
Initially, the subscription user flow started with a Create a Box quiz, which immediately prompted visitors to answer questions and give their details. Based on survey data and usability testing, they found that people were confused and unprepared.
So, they built a subscription education page that explained how it worked and why it was the best value for regular customers. Shoppers could then go on to begin the quiz flow, fully apprised of the details.
"We saw our conversion rate double when we directed them to this explainer page first.” - Kate Strollo, Director of Digital Marketing
By educating their customers early on through well-placed landing pages, they have consistently seen subscriptions and conversions increase.
The holiday season is a great example of this, with their gift guides regularly seeing conversion rates of around 10%.
Even as they see powerful results like these, they continue to test and try new things to increase sales and conversions.
When asked what advice they’d give entrepreneurs trying to replicate their success, the team at Copper Cow shared:
“These days, there are tons of tools like Shogun or Shopify that take a lot of the heavy lifting out of getting started in ecommerce, especially with a small team. For anyone out there who has a great idea for an ecommerce business, just start it. Don’t worry about it being perfect, just put something out there and know you’ll have all the time in the world to evolve and perfect it as you learn and grow.”
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Sean is one of Shogun's tireless content marketers. When he isn't creating exciting ecommerce content, he's probably biking or at the park.