eCommere Case Study How Frank Body made $20M selling leftover coffee

eCommerce Case Study: How Frank Body made $20M selling leftover coffee

Let’s do something different this time. Shall we?

Typically, the things you read on our blog are all about referral marketing (tactics, case studies, etc.).

But this time, we decided to give you something different.

We all have a personal-favorite brand, and for quite some time now, the name of Frank Body was circulating our office. I decided to take a look.

And then look some more.

Frank Body makes cosmetic products based on coffee. Not interesting enough?

They made $20M in 2 years.

Got your attention? Because I’m hooked.

We decided to do some further research on how they achieved that amount of sales, and this is what this week’s article is all about.

I told you, it’s different.


From side projects to a full-time business.

The story of Frank’s parents begins in 2013 when they started a website to profile people as a side project after graduation, called Willow & Blake. 

The concept was to create a place to publish stories of inspiring young people they knew or personally interviewed; this successful project brought a lot of traffic to their site, and as their publicity grew, they started getting requests to write pieces as freelance writers. 

Proving their entrepreneurship from the beginning, they saw this “fame” as a business opportunity, so they turned Willow & Blake into a copywriting and editorial agency, mostly working in the social media world.

What made them stand out was that they had a different approach to how a brand should look and sound. Their personal, face-to-face involvement with the first version of Willow & Blake helped them develop their voice in brand building, something that is a crucial part of a world ruled by social media.

After 2 years of practicing their art, it was time to put that skill set to work on their own thing that will later be named Frank Body. 

The idea to cover yourself in leftover coffee grounds to make your skin look good came from one of the company’s founding members, Steve Rowley, a coffee shop owner in Melbourne. 

He had come across several customers asking for his leftover coffee to use as a natural exfoliate. Proving once again their business mindset, they saw this small gesture as an opportunity. 

That said, at the time people were aware of the benefits of coffee as a natural cosmetic, but nearly no brands were selling it that way, so the crew, with a background in the unique brand building took the initiative to break into the (then) boring beauty industry with a new voice. 

Starting as a side hustle for some extra money, the project began with minimum funds (~$5K) entirely from the founders. 

So what can an eCommerce brand do to grow with no money? Instagram.

We’ll analyze it later, but long story short they managed to develop a brand character so loved from the customers, or “babes” as Frank calls them, that they were happily uploading selfies of them using the scrub. 

Their account now has nearly 700.000 followers, and it’s still a significant source for sales. 

The company has grown significantly since with sales reaching $20.000.000, new products under development and orders coming from all around the world.

The voice that helps the brand distinguish

Τhe most unique part of the brand is the dirty talking character of Frank, who helped the company differentiate Frank Body from the competition. 

And not only on Instagram: from the whole website to newsletters or ads, he is always the one talking, the founders never address to the customers as “we”. 

Such an approach makes the customers feel more engaged with the brand, as they refer to a person and not a corporation anymore.

View this post on Instagram

Time to play with me. 📷 | @ophelie__m

A post shared by frank body (@frank_bod) on

He introduces himself in a newsletter you care about to read. 

Even the package is wellthought and could quickly get in someone’s Instagram pic: it’s both minimal and fun, features to make it classy and appealing for the new-generation customers.

The $0.00 Instagram strategy that kickstarted Frank Body.

The company is, by all means, a customer-oriented brand, and from the beginning, the founders wanted the customers to feel bonded with Frank, which they did by leveraging Instagram

To date, they have gained approximately 700k followers on IG, the platform responsible for Frank’s growth

Customer Generated Content.

User-generated content isn’t a game for Frank. 

As Jess Hatzis said on Forbes, “we had a very deliberate UGC strategy from day 1“.

From visiting Frank’s Instagram account to Facebook, website or newsletter, you’re going to see faces and bodies of customers using the product, whether influencers or everyday individuals people happily upload a pic showing the outcomes or results. 

Every package comes with a small note saying “We’d love to know what you think. We want you to share your feedback, using the hashtag #frankeffect 

Such a short phrase can change a lot. 

From the customer’s side, she/he gets a feeling of engagement with Frank Body and the community they have created, and from a business perspective, this strategy can be extremely beneficial

Every post is one more customer providing not only a social proof for the product but also creating Word of Mouth & Virality. You don’t have to be an economist to see that this strategy leads to the constant growth of the company, and well… sales.

In numbers, nearly 50K posts are using the hashtag, with new ones being uploaded daily.

Pro tip: The first account of Frank Body was deleted at 10.000 followers 2 weeks after it’s creation for posting nudity. The way to growth has traps, push the limits but don’t violate the rules.


Along with UGC, the Frank team has also used and still uses influencers to spread the word, but despite their size and growth over the years, they are still very picky over choosing an ambassador.

According to a podcast on foundr, they would instead build a relationship with a person that fits the brand’s characteristics than find one with the most followers. 

Despite that, they have landed some big-name partnerships in the past like Jen Selter. 

What Frank opts, for now, is low on followers but with high engagement ratio that can represent the brand. 

How can an eCommerce business see the effectiveness of a post?

Simple, after the post, they can see sales spiking on Shopify, if they don’t in the first 1-2 hours, then it’s not a compelling post.

Why just Instagram and not also FB?

The answer comes down to money(obviously).

The time they were launching, Instagram was still an independent company and had no advertising options, so the team could have growth and be promoted naturally without having to pay a dime (useful when your budget is $3k) 

It wasn’t until August 2016 when Facebook acquired Instagram and added stories, DMs, and Advertising, but Frank Body had already grown. 

How they keep customers engaged outside of Instagram.


Despite being an old fashioned way to communicate with the customer, Frank Body, has done a pretty fantastic job adding some value into it. 

First things first, to get you subscribed, a small discrete pop up appears bottom right in their website after some time you browse around, that besides the incredible copy, motivates you with 10% off your next purchase, to subscribe

After you subscribe, you receive a beautiful email, in which Frank introduces himself along with your 10% discount code. 

The experience after that is enjoyable with well-thought emails 1-2 times per week.

  • Incredible copy as always 
  • the website-like structure that works flawlessly 
  • High res pictures
  • Interesting content
  • never spammy 

Noteworthy, is that even here, user-generated content and social proof have their place, take a look at this showing result from customers.

Product Pages.

I can’t stretch enough the impact that a great product page has on the sales of an eCommerce.

Frank Body gets it.

Clean, easy to navigate throughout, check it here.

How-To-Use instructions Frank’s style gives to the customer reassurance that is a simple, friendly to use the product.

Social and Actual proof that the product works making the customer sure about the purchase. 

How to use video couldn’t be more useful even after the purchase.

There’s also a place where customers can ask and Frank for personalized answers.


Facebook & Youtube.

Despite starting on Instagram, Frank Body has now expanded across all platforms with FB and Youtube being the main sources of traffic for Desktop users.


Opposing the percentage of traffic, it brings to the table; their YT channel has a considerable low profile with 1.7k subs and videos rarely passing the 5000 views mark.

The channel holds other purposes:

  • Videos are used to show how to use products inside their product page
  • Ad Videos 
  • Tutorials

Bree Johnson stated on a podcast on foundr that YouTube is going to be a big focus for them, so we expect to see some of their Social Media magic again in this platform.


Like the other platform they expanded to, it doesn’t have that big of an audience as Instagram but still drives results(table above).

Visit their page, and you are going to see some similarities with IG, like user-generated content, and also you’ll know that it is used as an updated platform to inform or remind customers about offers and events.

Some ways they use it and make it create 30% of social traffic.

  • FB shopping, which lands a potential customer directly to the product page of the item he selected.

  • Ads how they are supposed to be.

  • FB is the platform to inform the public about events, and so they do


Frank Body has kind of nailed organic marketing, as they can generate $20mil in revenue with minimum PPC expenses, thank their incredible social marketing we mentioned above.

With nearly all of their traffic coming organically, the company saves a lot on PPC as such an amount could round up to around $27k.  

Also, see which keywords are responsible for all those visits, yep, that’s their brand. This can be a result of their marketing campaigns where they have spread the word about frank. 


Considering PPC, Frank Body’s team has done a pretty good job both in Australia and the USA where their most sales come from. 

  • See how useful the top ads are in both countries brings nearly all paid traffic in each one
  • Headline: Incentives to click Express Shipping Available” or “Free shipping across the U.S.”
  • Display URL: Clear and understandable 
  • Description: Catchy and straight to the point without basic CTAs like “Buy NOW.”


Also, for a brand that wants its customers to know the “face” of the brand, the first word in every add is Frank himself.

Also, did we mention that their bounce rate is only 38%? 

What might be the reason for this is the incredibly thoughtful website design they have.


Every ad’s landing page is their home page in which, with just a scroll, people can view the products or learn about the brand with no friction whatsoever. 

The tools that help them grow. 


  1. Optimizely
    Frank can quickly improve his UX/UI with Optimizely’s A/B testing. Experiment with their ideas and have reports which one got statistical significance with Optimizely’s sophisticated stats engine.
  1. Segment
    Think of Segment as an adapter for 100’s of various analytics services.
    Segment allows your non-technical team to add and remove integrations without touching the source code of your site.
  2. Google Analytics
    From understanding users’ behavior, ex. Bouncing page, getting their traffic in numbers to even getting reports about the performance of their ads. A must for every serious business.


  1. LiveChat
    LiveChat provides an easy way to handle all sales and support inquiries. It comes with all of the tools you need to connect and communicate with prospects and regular customers as they come by.
  1. MailChimp
    With such an exciting newsletter campaign, MailChimp is a must for Frank as it provides the tools you need to grow your email subscribers and convert them into customers.
  1. Sumo
    As a multi-tool for conversion and sales, Frank uses from increasing average order value anconvert his window shoppers even to reduce cart abandonment. All being critical parts for a  successful eCommerce business, it’s no question why Frank Body uses it.


  1. Yotpo
    Yotpo is a commerce marketing cloud that helps brands of all sizes collect and showcase reviews, photos, and Q&A throughout the buyer journey and across social platforms to build buyer trust, drive traffic, and increase conversion.

Hotel Pink: how Frank Body leverages the power of referral marketing.

Frank Body’s growth isn’t happening only on Instagram or YouTube, another method they have chosen to spread the world is referral marketing, and boy, have they created a fantastic program.

Hotel pink is how they call it, and it goes far more than just a referral marketing program at also serves as a loyalty one. 

The customer can easily get hooked up to the program as he gets value out of it.

The basics of the program.

  • A customer is already enrolled in the program from the time he creates an account on their site or subscribes to the newsletter. 
  • Anyone can find the program as the company promotes it in a more, let’s say, passive way.

Overall, it’s visible of the customer

The rewards.

Its a milestone-based program, that is, you climb up a tiered ladder with the points you earn by completing “tasks”. The higher, the more/better perks you get.

In our case, as we are talking about a hotel, the tiers are:

  • The Lobby, where you get exclusive content and the chance to double your points with purchase.
  • Pool Deck, where you get The Lobby perks + access to exclusive competitions with significant rewards and 5% off with every friend you refer successfully.
  • Junior Suite, the perks of The Lobby and Pool Deck + flash deals and 10% off with every successful referral.
  • Penthouse, the top of the top babes get all the perks of the above plus they are the ones who try first new samples and as also a 20% off with every referral.     

How to get points.

  • BUY
    As a loyalty program, a babe can collect 1000 points for every $1 spent.
    Eg. For the classic Original Coffee Scrub, you get 16950 points.
    Mentioning Frank on Facebook or Twitter will get 250 points. To avoid spammy feeds, the team has placed a nice limit of once post per month.
    Rarely seen in a loyalty/referral marketing program, leaving your opinion will get you points. To make it more interesting, this action is what gets you the most; 2000 points.
    An excellent
    and effective way, give something – get something, here a babe refers to a friend by offering them a discount and it the friend purchases, the babe get a % of the back.

Simple makes perfect.

As said above, Frank Body has incredible UX and UI throughout a customer’s journey with him.

That includes Hotel Pink as well, from the description of the program to participate in it, you can feel the lack of friction.

The way you refer someone.

When you want to refer a friend, the referrer can choose either to send one by one individually or import his contacts, something that comes handy when you want to boost your points

Later he gets to choose the referees.

If you want to build a Milestone campaign for your business, we got your back. You can either use our Milestone Referral Template or take your game to another level by using our brand new Milestone Referral Template for Facebook Messenger.

The Milestone Referral Template for Messenger

Before you go.

If there’s something I want you to keep in your mind from Frank Body’s case, is that making your business user-oriented, and giving it a “face”, can work miracles.

Frank Body leveraged its unique product, along with user-generated content, branding, and copywriting, to build a $20M empire.

Pay attention to these things first. The rest is just tools and tactics.

You need the mindset first.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *