Bones Coffee Sees “Explosive” Results with Postcards

Coffee drinkers are loyal to their daily rituals: their favorite mug, their go-to beans, the steaming pot that kick-starts each morning. For a brand like Bones Coffee Company, which sells beans and brews with unique flavors and playful branding, staying part of these routines is critical. 

When customers run out of beans, they should be coming back for more.

“If you're not in the conversation in a 30-day window, you've already lost the battle,” says Andrew Buckley, a co-founder at ATTN Agency, which works with Bones Coffee on digital marketing. “People aren't thinking about you; they're thinking about another brand that they saw.” 

Between email newsletters, SMS, paid search, and social media ads, Buckley’s team has a wealth of tools for staying in touch with the brand’s audience. And Bones’ steady stream of collaborations and limited-edition roasts gives them plenty to talk about. Fans like being first to hear about officially licensed flavors inspired by “The Nightmare Before Christmas” or Marvel’s “Loki” and get their hands on the collectible bags, which are as much art as they are packaging.

Still, there are a significant number of customers the company can’t reach through the usual channels. Maybe they unsubscribed from Bones’ newsletters, or tuned out the digital noise on other online channels. ATTN was confident that some of these lapsed fans could be enticed back to the brand and their routine. They turned to PostPilot to make it happen.

In this case study, we’ll show how Bones Coffee used postcards to make the brand shine and re-engage a highly valuable segment of customers — at a fraction of the cost of other channels. 

The Problem: Email Opt-Outs Were Lost Opportunities

When a customer places an order with Bones Coffee, there’s a good chance they’ll be back for more within a couple of months. If six months go by without that customer returning to the site? The brand knows it has to go the extra mile to bring them back.

But if email or SMS offers aren’t an option, that extra mile becomes much harder to traverse. Suppressed profiles, as they’re known on Klaviyo, limit the company’s reach.

ATTN could target them with an ad campaign on social media, but that approach is unpredictable. The agency can’t control costs or conversions, so it may end up overspending in lackluster results.

“There are a lot of unknown unknowns,” Buckley says.

This is a particular frustration when it considers the thousands of customers who were once repeat purchasers with the company.

“It’s a subset of their customer base who historically had been really engaged, really involved, really liked the product,” he says. If they’ve opted out of emails, though, “Now I have no way of getting in front of you.”

There was one way the team hoped it might efficiently reach these customers, though: through their mailboxes.

The Promise: Smart Segmenting for Maximum Impact

With digital advertising costs ramping up and eating into companies’ profits, ATTN always has one eye on its clients’ marketing efficiency ratio (MER). Its hope with PostPilot was to find a channel that would deliver results while making a meaningful dent in the metric.  

Unlike with a social campaign, the costs were clear upfront, with spend reflecting the number of postcards mailed out. Between the two campaigns for Bones Coffee, it spent about $6,500 to send more than 12,000 mailers — each much more likely to seize a customer’s attention than a fleeting ad on their phone.

PostPilot’s Klaviyo integration and segmenting tools allowed the team to focus on a group of customers that were unlikely to see Bones Coffee promotions elsewhere, so the team could be confident about attribution.

“We’re not poaching retargeting funnels on ads because we’re not going after people who we might already have a likelihood to convert in the next couple of days,” Buckley says.

The postcards, then, effectively became an acquisition tool — albeit one with a targeted audience that was already familiar with the brand. If Bones could win them over again just once, ATTN knew, they were very likely to keep coming back. 

At that point, says Buckley, “I don't even need to continue messaging you. You just had another great experience with the brand, and you're going to make sure that you have whatever flavor of coffee this is back on your kitchen counter.”

The Postcard: Eye-Catching Design That Delights + Converts 

Postcards were also a fitting medium for Bones Coffee because they gave the brand so much space to shine.  

ATTN started with two mailings: one promoting an officially licensed collaboration with Disney’s “Haunted Mansion,” which showcased the hero product against a spooky, smoky background, and the other announcing the company’s range of fall flavors, accompanied by Bones’ signature skeleton in a seasonally appropriate scarf.

“We really had the ability to present the brand and product in not just a very branded tone, but in a very elevated look that you might not be able to get with ads,” Buckley says.

The multi-product postcard gave the team the opportunity to call out three new flavors—Pear-anormal Brew, Apple Cider Donut, and Sweet Tater Swirl. This, they hoped, would entice lapsed fans and demonstrate that there was more for them to discover. 

The glossy product images also showed off the upgrades Bones has made in recent months, switching from printing their designs on stickers to printing directly on the bags.

Each postcard included QR codes on the front and back customized with the Bones logo to help recipients get to the brand’s site as quickly as possible — and to make tracking a breeze on the back end. For the QR-averse, the Bonescoffee.com URL was also readily visible amidst the succinct copy.

“We weren’t focused on cramming a whole bunch of copy and a whole bunch of information into this,” Buckley says of the postcards’ design. “It's a very visual brand, and we truly approached these as though they were a piece of art.” 

The Payoff: A See-It-to-Believe-It 10x+ ROAS

Within days of the first mailing, the orders began rolling in. 

By day seven, says Buckley, it was clear the campaigns were a smash success. “Travis, the owner and founder of Bones Coffee, sent a message that then got screenshotted and sent internally which was, 'This can't be real,'” he recalls. 

The team, however, was watching the Shopify backend and cross-verifying attribution, so they were able to quash any doubts. 

“It was like, 'No, this is very much real,'” Buckley said. “The team was just blown away.”

From the $3,600 it spent on the “Haunted Mansion” campaign, Bones generated more than $77,000 in sales — a staggering return. 

Just two weeks after going out, the fall flavors campaign had already brought in more than $21,000, at 7.35x ROAS.

Overall, less than two months after Bones sent its first postcard, it was able to attribute more than 1,600 orders to its PostPilot campaigns, each one from a customer that would have otherwise been gone for good.

“Getting maybe 20% percent of this total recipient count to engage — and not just engage, but convert — is a big win considering that your average ecommerce store conversion rate is about 3% on a good day,” says Buckley. “It's pretty wild.”

The Postscript: Recurring Revenue from Reengaged Fans

Watching the campaigns’ performance over time, Buckley sees postcards as dealing a one-two punch: First, a measurable impact on MER in the immediate term, and second, an opportunity for long-term awareness-building. 

ATTN’s team is exploring the latter and testing ongoing engagement tactics with postcard recipients. Currently, Buckey says, they’re looking at, “Ok, in 40 days, should we send them another one and stay in front of them and start building back up our relationship with them? Or should we pivot to a different strategy?”

PostPilot’s intuitive dashboard and tracking tools make it easy to see what’s working and make decisions accordingly.

Buckley also appreciates the level of automation after each campaign is set. His team doesn’t have to come back and make daily updates, so they can focus on analysis, strategy, and optimization, making this a true omnichannel approach.

As for working with PostPilot? 

“It's best in class,” he says. “Their team, personally, is just incredible. They're very attentive, they're highly communicative. We're in Slack with PostPilot, and we’ll ask a question and get a response immediately. And if they don't have the answer right away, they'll say, 'Let me check on that,' and actually follow up, which is refreshing.”

“Being able to rely on them is just a phenomenal value-add.”

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