“Email marketing has an ROI of 3800%.” – Direct Marketing Association
“When it comes to purchases made as a result of receiving a marketing message, email has the highest conversion rate (66%), when compared to social, direct mail and more.” – Direct Marketing Association
With those statistics, I should just “drop the mic” now and walk away, right? So why is email marketing still an afterthought for many wineries? Why do we still encounter wineries not even collecting customer data online or in the tasting rooms so they can send emails to anyone willing to hand over their information?
Today’s World of Email Marketing
We love it and we hate it. We complain about our overflowing inboxes, but we still spend hours each day reading through our emails. Email marketing has changed, but not as far as the basics. You receive an email. Offer looks compelling. You click through. You decide to buy or not. What has changed is HOW you are reading your emails. Back in the day, we all read emails on our desktop computer. Now you have your inbox literally in your hands all day! According to Campaign Monitor, over 53% of emails are now opened on mobile devices with the iphone being the most popular device for subscribers to open their email the first time. Are your emails mobile friendly? Is your website mobile friendly? If not, it’s long past time to change that!
Emails and the Customer Journey
I like to look at email marketing as a journey on a bus with each customer. Guest comes into the tasting room and look to you to tell them how cool it would be to hop on your bus. You do that by sharing your wine, your story, your facility, etc. You try and get them to buy a ticket for a long journey (the wine club). Some will take that ticket immediately and join. Others may some day want that longer bus ride with you but are not ready at that moment. They may just hop on and off the bus with a day pass. They may buy a few bottles right now and you might be able to get them to engage further now and then. Others may just want to hop on the bus once and hop off. You need to be collecting data for EVERY person who is willing to share it so you can get them on the bus with you for however long or short a journey they are willing to take. You keep them on the bus by engaging them with emails, social media, events, etc.
The Next Step-Email Marketing Automation
While not entirely new, the wine industry is just catching up with the concept of marketing automation. The ability to automate marketing processes, especially email so you can more easily build customer journeys and not just do one email blast to everyone. Examples of email marketing automation is the ability to create “ if this, than that” type automations. You send an email out to everyone, but set up an automation to follow up with everyone who didn’t open the email a few days later. Or resend a new email to everyone who opened, but didn’t click through. So based on behaviors of the subscribers, you can automate the process to continue the journey with them. Other examples of automation are birthday or anniversary emails that are set up to send to everyone you have those important dates for. You can also set up a welcome series for club members to welcome them to the club. Vin65 currently offers these type of automated emails in their “action email tools” and other winery CRM platforms are just starting to scratch the surface of offering the tools. I recently talked to Stephen Mutch, founder of winery CRM platform SimplyCMS, about marketing automation tools and he has recently added these features into his platform. I am sure we will see other platforms follow suit as the demand grows in the industry for taking e-mail marketing to the next level!
Start your engine and get the bus moving!
Now that you are convinced of the great conversion and ROI statistics, you are ready to get started. So what should you do first?
- Start collecting data in the tasting room and online. You most likely are collecting wine club member information already, but make sure you have some type of way to collect from everyone who comes in. How you do it is up to you; an old fashion sign up form, guest book, POS receipt signup, digital tablet kiosk.
- Create an e-mail marketing calendar. Sit down every year in November or December and plan out the coming year. Get all the national holidays, local and regional events, new release dates and winery events on a calendar. Next look at each month and what you want to feature. Plan out the exact days for email campaigns to go out.
- Figure out which messages will go to which segment of your list. Wine club members may get different offers than non-members. You can try different emails to different segments of the list (A/B testing). If you are sending automated follow up emails, you will need to figure out what the follow up messages are if different from the original. In other words, TEST, TEST, TEST!
The actual sending of emails will vary by your available staff and tools you have available. If your winery CRM platform does not have built in basic emails tools and/or marketing automation tools, there are email platforms out there like Vertical Response, Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, etc. that can get you started with the basics. Whether you have in an in house marketing person or hire an outside professional to help, make sure you stick to your calendar and be consistent in engaging your “bus riders” to keep them on the journey with you as long as possible!
If you would like a complimentary 2 hour DTC Marketing Audit of your winery, please contact me.
“This article is an update from Part One which I shared with The Grapevine Magazine readers in July 2015. It’s my feeling that email marketing is more important than ever as a strategic part of your DTC Marketing programs.The Persistence and Benefits of Email Marketing.” Carl Giavanti
Co-Authored by Carl Giavanti & Patty Ross
Why does email marketing persist? I ask this because there are so many other exciting marketing subjects such as next gen wine clubs, experienced based tasting room programs, paid advertising on social media platforms, text marketing, mobile marketing, and Winery PR. To paraphrase, it appears that the death of email marketing has been greatly exaggerated. And here’s why – Patty Ross, a DTC Consultant Network member, and owner of Virtually For You says “For every $1.00 invested, email marketing is shown to return $44.25 according to a study by EmailExpert on the ROI of email marketing. It has the highest conversion rate by far of any other form of direct marketing.”
Email marketing persists because it’s affordable and indispensable to your DTC success; and email marketing is one of the best ways to facilitate communications and build brand loyalty; and to promote either owned content (your website, blog, photos, videos, etc.), or to use earned media (your 3rd party endorsements, media coverage, accolades). It also persists because it is low risk to subscribers, permission based and your followers will receive information related to their specific interests.
Benefits of Email Marketing:
- Subscription is opt in and can easily be cancelled, so there is little risk for new followers
- Subscribers will receive your communications, unlike social posts which are now highly filtered
- Can promote adding your email to address books, and your email will definitely land in Inboxes
- Email Marketing System publishing is now highly integrated with social media networks
- Analytics and Tracking allow you to see results (opens, clicks, bounces), so you can take action
- Multiple collection options include paper signup forms, iPad or Tablets, your website, and POS
How to Get Started
If you are not already sending emails to your lists, start by creating an annual marketing calendar. Map out the full year, considering all holidays, winery club events, new releases and area events you may be involved in. Then fill in the calendar with promotions you may typically run like Black Friday specials, library releases, etc. Putting your winery business on a calendar ahead of time also helps you see what you might need to plan to attract new visitors and bring in wine club members on a regular basis. This may seem basic, but many wineries tend to operate “on the fly” and give up when they run out of ideas. You can always adjust the plan as you add events or promotions, but get the foundation down.
Test, Test, Analyze and Test
Once you start sending emails, make sure you test different types of emails, do split tests known as A/B testing to see what different approaches work best and analyze the results so you can adjust your approach next time. All E-Mail Marketing platforms provide basic analytics like open and click through rates. You can also link your emails to Google Analytics and create “goals” to follow the links and clicks all the way to a sale. You should know the basics of Opens, Clicks and Conversions to help you get the most out of your email campaigns.
All of this brings me to the point of this article. Email Marketing is a proven driver of actions you want your current and prospective customers to take. It’s inexpensive and you can segment and target your audience specific to their interests and track the results. If your winery has a tasting room, this is where you drive traffic to promote your wines, and where you’ll be able to really connect with people. And, if subscribers are out of state, you can communicate by pointing them to your website and hope to transact business there. If you’re one of my email subscribers and read this article in my next newsletter, I’ll suggest that you “click here to read more”, which takes you out to my website blog page where this article resides. I want you to read the conclusion of this article on my website, which is my point here. It’s difficult to sell wine with newsletters and social media, but you can create calls to action that take your customers where you can sell wine, either in person or on your website.
Successful Content Marketing is imperative for small producers to build their brands and to sell with direct to consumer. Targeted content increases the likelihood of success. Use strong Subject Lines to build immediate curiosity as attention spans and reading times are so short these days. Segment your email lists and deliver content relevant to specific group’s interests. Shipping promos for out of state subscribers and local events for those in state are simple examples.
How many email subscribers do you need? The answer is as many as you can get, and more specifically a minimum of 1,000 to 5,000 are good goals. If you aren’t already incenting your staff to sell signups, please do so. I attended the 2016 DTC Wine Symposium and the range of spiffs paid per signup was reported as $1-$5.00 each. Sound like a lot? Would you pay $2.50 for a return on investment of $44.25? You bet you would.
I can never say that enough. Consistency is truly the key when it comes to e-mail marketing. Don’t send out one email and then give up. Don’t be afraid to send more emails to general interest subscribers; and your club members want to hear beyond reminders to update their credit card. Use the 80/20 rule (Educate/Promote) and you’ll be fine. Your subscribers will appreciate it, and when you do offer special deals they’ll take notice. And don’t relegate e-mail marketing duties to your already busy wine club or tasting room manager where the job of sending e-mails usually falls behind taking care of visitors, doing tours and washing glasses. Find a dedicated person to help you keep the calendar on track! Newsletter marketing will boost wines sales and the effects can be immediate.
CARL GIAVANTI has been involved in business marketing and public relations for over 25-years; originally in technology, digital marketing and project management, and now as a winery media relations consultant. Carl started by focusing on DTC Marketing for wineries 7 years ago, and formed a Winery PR Consultancy over 4 years ago (www.CarlGiavantiConsulting.com/Media). Clients are or have been in Napa Valley, the Carneros, Willamette Valley, and the Columbia Gorge.
PATTY ROSS, owner of Virtually For You (http://www.virtuallyforyou.com) has been assisting wineries and other small businesses with digital marketing, social media, email marketing, tasting room support and wine club logistics for almost 15 years. Patty’s has helped winery clients in Napa, Sonoma, Monterey, Mendocino and Paso Robles, and currently resides on the Central Coast of California.