This Starbucks blog is two years old!  I started on September 9, 2009, and two years later, I’m still at it.  That fact is almost amazing to me.  I thought that along the way I would run out of things to say about Starbucks.  Somehow, that has not happened.  Maybe I will be at it for another two years!

I would like to thank all (roughly) 177,000 absolute unique visitors (from 172 countries) over the past 12 months for being here.  The blog grows, albeit quite slowly.  Some months are up, some are down, but on the whole it slowly grows.  Overwhelmingly, visitors are from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Japan, with nearly 75% of all visitors coming from the United States. About 58% of all visitors find their way to my site via Google or other search engines.  Just under 20% of all visitors are “direct” traffic.  I assume that means people who type the url directly into the address bar, or visitors who have the site bookmarked and use their bookmarks to get to this site.  And roughly another 20% find this site through a referring site which means a huge variety of referrers like twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, and even possibly links in blog comments.

I have learned some things about being a blogger though truthfully, I still blog from the philosophy that I write content that I like, and I don’t bother using any keyword tools or something like that.  On Twitter, Mack Collier hosts a blogchat every Sunday evening at 6:00 p.m. PST.  That’s been a good means to learn about blogging.  And I have learned that it is fairly normal that 99 out of every 100 visitors is a lurker.  Every comment may have 99 other people who feel the same way but don’t write anything.  I really want to thank every single person who takes the time to join in the conversations in the comments.  Sometimes the comment conversation become really interesting discussions!

Interestingly, the most-visited article is still “Where are all the Clover stores?” despite that I wrote that in June of 2010.  When I wrote it I had no idea how often people Google something like “Clover locations” and then Google sends about 25 to 60 people to that page daily.  That page, by the way, is my own personal journal of trips all over the country to visit Clover stores.  This year I even got to Chicago area and had fantastic experiences at the Park Ridge Starbucks, and Streets of Woodfield Starbucks.  I think it would be totally fun to travel all over and visit (and write articles about) every single Clover Starbucks in the United States.  However, at the rate I am going, that may take me a lifetime.  Other Clover articles that I particularly like are the Bellingham Starbucks, and the Fountain Valley Starbucks.  Both are small, neighborhood stores, but thoughtfully designed, and the partners were absolutely fabulous.  To date, I have never seen a Clover brewer in a drive thru Starbucks.  (Perhaps it exists, but I’m not aware of that.)  I hope it stays that way.  I think a Clover cup of coffee is part of a segmented brand experience: There is a ton of theater in watching it being made on the Clover, and there is a ton of opportunity for a very experiential in-store dynamic.  With the Clover, partners can, hypothetically, pretty easily do impromptu coffee education and offer customers the chance to try coffee side by side or iced or paired with food or other ‘experiential’ coffee experiences.  Recently, I was visiting the Olive Way Starbucks and the store manager made a comment that the new Honduras Reserve coffee is surprisingly fabulous iced.  She quickly went to the Clover and brewed it on the iced-setting, and sampled it to me, and several other customers near me.  That is precisely the kind of example that gives Clover Starbucks an advantage in being a segmented experience for the brand.

As I visit stores, 95% of the time I see friendly partners, and the drinks are wonderful, and many stores have a gorgeous store design.  One opportunity for improvement is that I regularly encounter partners who are not knowledgeable regarding My Starbucks Rewards.  I saw that develop into a flurry of comments in one thread concerning the refill policy.

In stores, I do meet partners who don’t realize that the free tall beverage with the purchase of one pound of beans is GREEN level perk.  In fact, there is never a requirement to use that gold and shiny card for anything.  You can earn stars with any card you like.  Many partners seem to be unaware that it is also a perk that you can get any tall beverage free with the purchase of a half-pound of Reserve coffees.  The register does this automatically.  Even if the partner doesn’t know what the perk is, if I buy a half-pound of Reserve coffee, and a tall double-shot mocha, that mocha will be free.  Many customers seem baffled that it is a “tall” size.  It is free!  Dear customers, you cannot take the value of a Tall drink and put it towards a 0r Grande or a Venti size drink.  It’s a free perk!

And I would love to see Starbucks remind U.S. partners that customers CAN take in-store photos.  I still recommend that people read my old blog post called  “Clearing Up Confusion over the Photo Policy.”  By the way, what I wrote in that article does not have complete application to international markets.

If you’re interested,the very first blog article ever was a review of the test-product “The Honey Vanilla Vivanno.”  Too bad that drink didn’t make it. Delicious.  As I have learned though, Starbucks tests many more products than it actually launches.  We may never see a Pink Lime Frappuccino either, which is okay by me!  LOL.  I am still crossing my fingers (and my toes) that the Refreshers will launch nationwide.

One of my favorite blog posts during this past year was the article “Howard Schultz: The Future of  Starbucks Has Significant Promise.”  Howard said,  “[O]ur best days as a company and as an organization are absolutely in front of us.”  It is true.

And well, dear Starbucks, you keep giving me things to write about!

I still owe big thanks to Sebastian Birr and Noboru Sakamoto.  Both of whom have contributed many lovely photos of stores in international markets.  If you’re not following them on twitter, I recommend that you do so.

I sincerely thank all of you for being here.  Without the comments and  the emails from readers it would just be me talking to myself!  I hope you’ll go back and take a look at some of the older blog posts.

Thank you and take care!