Welcome to the Vin65 blog. We are using this space to try and convey our little piece of insight into winery websites, POS systems, and best practices to sell more wine.
It's 2012, and my #1 business New Years Resolution is to sell more wine online. Internally we have some great stuff we are working on, but let's talk about 12 ways you can sell more wine online.
If you are looking for things to settle down and return to the good old days… think again. Facebook is here to stay, Google+ is signing up 625,000 users a day, we are now in a social world. Our Facebook Ecommerce App has been up for two months and the results have been great - it's driving upwards of 8% of sales for sites that have it enabled.
A hot trend in 2011 was "remarketing". Picture this - a visitor adds a wine to their shopping cart on your site and then they leave your website. The next time they are on Google or a blog or website showing ads, you can have an ad that specifically targets the visitor to try and get them back to your site. There are several vendors in this space including Google AdWords and in the wine industry watch for Vintners Alliance.
Do you force visitors to your website to jump through hoops, buy minimum quantities, or go through strange checkout processes just so they fit into your internal systems? Your visitor's experience matters, focus on it, and you will sell more wine.
Search engines still drive a large percentage of your traffic. Ensure you have the basics like great title tags, content that isn't hidden behind a wall, etc. You'd be surprised how tweaking your site might drive a large number of visitors. On Google, search for your brand, your key products, and a few of your other key words. If you're not coming up number one or number two, you're missing sales.
Okay this is a little bit like point #1. Use social proof. When visitors see "500 likes" and "10 product reviews", they feel great about buying your wine. Product reviews increase wine sales by upwards of 20% (read more). We don't have the stats on Facebook "Like" - but I know when I see a lot of likes, or a friend that likes a product - it influences me positively.
In 2011 I started having a weekly lunch with the marketing director from a local marketing firm. One of the key things I learned in our very first meeting was "use offline to bring them online". There are people who didn't grow up with the internet and they don't always trust it. Offline direct mail and advertising will drive online sales.
If you're a reader of this blog you know mobile traffic is up. Mobile traffic makes up over 10% of the traffic on our platform. We are now seeing wineries with 18 and 20% of their web traffic from mobile devices. If you don't have a mobile site it's going to cost you sales in 2012. Furthermore a great mobile site will generate sales. (The better the experience, the more likely the visitor is going to buy).
Tests at Amazon revealed that every 100 ms increase in load time of Amazon.com decreased sales by 1% (Kohavi and Longbotham 2007). Speed up your site and you'll sell more wine.
People make assumptions about your wine based on how your website looks. High resolution, high quality images will increase your perceived brand value, and high quality photos will increase sales conversion.
Not all buttons are equal (see proof). Not all Call To Action lines are equal either. Which Test Won is full of stories where a simple change in the language adds a huge return. (While you're checking your calls to action - check that the links work, the color shouldn't be red, that everything is readable, clear, and possibly above the fold).
Nothing kills sales faster than high shipping rates (well maybe compliance laws kill sales, but that's not so controllable). Shipping costs are the number one deterrent to buying wine online. Make sure your rates are realistic. Would a first-time customer buy wine with your current shipping rates?
The most important sale is the second sale (read more). - use promotions and other strategies to build loyalty and repeat sales.
At Vin65 we hope that 2012 is a great year for you - both offline and online. Let us know what you are doing to increase your sales.
Developing the correct content strategy for your mobile site can be a bit confusing. It's still early in the game and we are seeing consultants offer different strategies on what content belongs on a mobile website.
Should you limit the content displayed on the mobile version of your website? How about the number of products? Should that be limited?
Originally, our team here at Vin65 thought the answer should be yes. Mobile phone screen sizes are small, the 3G data speeds are slower than regular broadband, and customers visiting your mobile site typically want to do something quickly, such as calling your winery or locating your winery.
Now that our mobile platform is more than a 1.5 years old, the above answer should be "no". Here's why.
1) Users need to see your content.
16-20% of emails are opened on a mobile device (source). A customer opens your email on a mobile device, they click a link - where does that take them? Hopefully to a mobile optimized version of a page. Unfortunately, more often than not, mobile websites are built as a "light" version of a brand's site and the mobile content is an after-thought - and the email link doesn't work.
More than 350 million Facebook users access Facebook through their mobile device (source). People "like" and share your content all the time. Similar to the email scenario, users on mobile devices need to be able to click links and see the mobile version of that content. Unlike the email scenario, you can't control the links people are sharing and if you only have a "light" version of your mobile site, the shared links won't work.
2) Mobile is not a second class citizen.
The problem with limiting content on your mobile site is you now have two sites to manage. Every time you add a page to your regular site, you have to decide if you should add it to your mobile site. It's extra work, and you often forget or neglect the content on the mobile site. (Our first version of our mobile had two sets of page content and wineries constantly let the mobile site go stale).
We recommend that all of your content, all of your products, everything on your primary website should also exist on your mobile site. Every URL on your primary site has to work from a mobile phone (you don't control what other people are sending out, linking to, etc). You create a page, you add a product, etc - it should just work on your mobile site. This way, if a customer on a mobile phone views an email, reads Facebook, clicks on a tweet, all of the links, pages, etc. will just work.
We also recommend that the navigation on your mobile site be different than your primary website. People who come directly to your mobile phone do so with purpose - primarily to call, get your address, or look up a product. Screen size on a mobile phone is limited, and you want to promote the content that people are most likely to be seeking on their mobile phone.
Do you have a mobile optimized website? How do you decide what content to display?
There is no doubt that smart phones are changing the way we live. It's no surprise that major retailers have integrated mobile as part of their overall marketing strategy. But what about mobile for wineries? Is it important to have a mobile presence? How can this channel drive overall traffic and revenue? We believe that it is important and can drive traffic and revenue, here are three reasons why.
According to StatsCounter, mobile traffic in North America is around 7.25% of all web traffic. It was only 1% three years ago. (source)
On our platform, which is specific to wineries, we are seeing over 10% of the traffic from mobile phones with several wineries in the 15-18% range. (If you want assistance calculating your percentage, it's really easy to do if you have Google Analytics installed - just ask us)
You only have to surf your regular website on a mobile phone to figure out it's probably not going to cut it. Flash photo galleries won't display on the iPhone and the performance is terrible on Android phones. You have to pinch and zoom to read the content. Adding something to your cart is next to impossible. It takes forever to load pages. The whole customer experience is terrible.
In general, 50% of mobile phone owners are using their device to shop online or to assist while shopping in stores (source).
On our wine-ecommerce platform, we are seeing wine sales on mobile devices (however these sales do lag behind their respective traffic - for example if 10% of your traffic is on mobile, less than 10% of your ecommerce sales will be from mobile).
We are seeing consumers viewing emails on their mobile phones (16% of them) or using Twitter or Facebook apps on their mobile phones. From these emails or from these apps, they click links to wines, and then view and purchase these wines on their mobile devices.
As a winery, it's pretty easy to get a mobile website. Most of the major wine ecommerce platforms now offer a mobile solution and independent designers have more tools than ever to assist in building a mobile website. Most of the solutions are relatively cost effective and fairly easy to implement. It's a great opportunity to improve your customers experience and it's early enough that you can experiment a little before a mobile site is expected.
If you’re like most internet users, you start your day by checking Facebook and you probably check again at the end of the day. If you’re like our employees, you’re probably also checking Facebook at work. There are over 800 million active users on Facebook, and Facebook accounts for 1 in 5 pages accessed on the internet.
So Facebook has a large audience, but will this audience buy wine? Here's 5 reasons I think they will.
1. Facebook already drives ecommerce traffic to your website.
There is some debate about whether Google or Facebook drives more traffic to a website, but it’s clear they are both key traffic sources. Facebook is the number one or number two driver of traffic to your ecommerce site. (Source / Source).
2. Facebook customers are good customers.
American Eagle found Facebook-referred visitors spend an average of 57% more money than non-Facebook-referred visitors. GiantNerd.com saw a 100% increase in revenue from Facebook within two weeks of adding the like button. There are several other Commerce Stats here. (Source)
3. Facebook is where your customers hang out.
There are more than 800 million active users on Facebook. More than 50% of users log onto Facebook in any given day. (Source)
4. Facebook is already a viable retail platform.
According to Booz Allen, there are $5 billion in goods being sold on Facebook in 2011. In the alcohol market, Social Commerce Today has a great story about Magners Cider and closer to California, wineries such as Silver Smith Vineyards are already selling wine on Facebook. (Source / Source / Source)
5. Facebook commerce is growing.
According to the same graph in number 4 above, Facebook commerce will be a $30 billion industry in 2015. (Source)
At Vin65, we launched our Facebook Ecommerce App today. Show and sell your wine inside Facebook. Create custom Facebook fan pages. While there is a small setup fee, there is no additional monthly charge to our existing clients, and it’s fully integrated with our platform.
In developing this app, we stepped on the shoulders of other innovators including both Vintank Social Connect (Cruvee) and Social Candy who have developed great apps on Facebook.
While I might have some bias, I really believe that Facebook commerce is here. One of the key pieces for me in our Facebook Ecommerce App build was the addition of Google Analytics along with our reporting and dashboards. Like mobile and our iPad app, we’ll be watching closely as Facebook traffic grows and our Facebook ecommerce app evolves.
Check out some live examples and let us know what you think.
Demo Store: http://www.facebook.com/PineWines
Ceja Vineyards: http://www.facebook.com/CejaVineyards
Twisted Oak: http://www.facebook.com/twistedoak
(This is a guest blog post from Kristina Palko, Marketing Director at WineTasting.com. Kristina is responsible for an enormous amount of direct-to-consumer email and has seen first-hand what works and what doesn't.)
I create and analyze results from over 15 million wine marketing emails every year. What I've found is that email response rates vary enormously depending on audience, subject line, email content & design, and timing. It is an area in e-commerce marketing which is constantly evolving but, here are 3 easy, sure-fire ways to help increase your response.
What is it?
A top navigation or "nav" bar is the horizontal bar across the top of your website that enables customers to click through to popular product categories or pages such as home page, shop wines, join a club, visit the winery, award-winning wines, customer top rated, library selections and/or about us. Adding a similar top nav to your email is a fantastic way to improve click through rates and increase sales.
Why do it?
I have seen incremental increases as high as 100% generated from the top navigation bar within an email. It becomes a sales “catch all” in that if your primary offer is not of interest to your customer, the top nav may remind your customer of what else you have to offer.
How to apply it to email.
Implementing a top nav bar is simple and does not necessarily involve a designer. In fact, you can easily add a text based top nav by inserting a table with 1 row and 4-5 columns just under your main header or logo. If you have a designer, you can ask him/her to create a graphic and use hotspots to link the corresponding surface area to the correct landing page however, a text based version will function just as well.
A quick example illustrating how these 3 principles were applied.
What is it?
The term "above the fold" means the email creative that falls within view without scrolling down. This space generally varies based on email programs and screen size. My advice is to design so that your sales message is fully visible within about 600 pixels or about the size of your hand (fingers together) if turned horizontally.
How to apply it to email.
Simple. When you are designing or writing your email, be sure that your core message is visible "above the fold". Some believe that the fold theory is outdated and that people have learned to scroll. This is certainly true thanks to our interactive phones and tablets, however, whether customers scroll when it comes to your email depends on 1) How engaged the consumer is with your products/brand and 2) How much time they have. Either way, getting your offer across in a couple of seconds without additional scrolling is never a bad thing.
Why do it?
So that your offer is fully optimized ensuring the highest degree of communication possible.
What is it?
Say the same thing…but differently. If it sounds like an oxymoron, it is. The fact of the matter is that many of us employ the same cookie-cutter methods such as ratings and reviews, tasting room, new releases, etc to drive awareness and increase sales for our brands. But, how often do we really think about what we are saying and how we might say it just a little differently for maximum impact? There are three areas of any campaign where you can maximize your message:
How to apply it.
There are three impactful areas of any email campaign that benefit the most from this principle. Here are some examples of how I have effectively used them in some of my own campaigns.
Email 1: Valentines Day email featuring eco.love wine
Subject line: Share the Bottle-ly Love"
Title: …eco.love Wine That Is!
Subtitle: Two sisters reunite as adults to share their passion for winemaking and the environment. A true love story.
Call to Action Button: Share the Love
Email 2: Buoncrstiani Rose’ offer
Subject line: Real Men Drink Pink Wine
Title: Who Said Pink is For Girls?
Subtitle: The Buoncristiani brothers have been hand crafting Rose’ since 1999.
Call to Action Button: Go Pink
Why do it?
Greater engagement. And think of it this way, even if it doesn't result in a sale, it likely resulted in an extra moment of consideration and your customer will be more apt to open your email next time…and that is always a good thing.
Re-examine your wine email marketing designs, test these strategies and compare your response rates to those of your current campaigns. Infuse your brand's personality into your call-to-actions. These simple changes may lead to more sales and increased engagement that will lead to more sales in the future.
Kristina Palko was born and raised in Napa Valley. She is currently the Marketing Director at Winetasting.com sending and monitoring over 1 million emails a month. Kristina has over 10 years of experience in wine industry online marketing. She also enjoys photographing dogs and has a beautiful German Shepherd named Kato.
When consumers interact with your brand in any way, whether it be at the vineyard on a tour, in the tasting room, the vineyard restaurant, or in your retail store, you have a responsibility to maintain a certain level of customer service. These five points will challenge you to rethink how your customers perceive your brand and how you can improve your customer service.
Think about the experience your customers get when they purchase from you. What encourages them to keep coming back to your winery as opposed to trying the new winery next door? You might think it's the service, or the atmosphere, or the events that you hold. Perhaps it is, but do your customers know that they're appreciated? I suggest demonstrating this in the form of a promotion on your website, or an event geared as an appreciation night. Even the smallest initiatives can make the biggest differences in how your customers feel.
Think of the times you've been blown away by customer service. I can bet you that the underlying theme in most of those situations has been that the business has exceeded your expectations. When you throw in something extra and give more than what's expected, you leave your customers in awe. They're so excited by it that they'll remember your name, recommend you to their friends, and they'll keep coming back over, and over, and over. It can be something as simple as a coupon for a future discount with their purchase that you haven't advertised or maybe it's a sincere hand-written thank you note sent out to each club member for being such loyal customers. The question to ask yourself is, "what can I give my customers that they cannot get anywhere else?"
It's hard to think of a business I've called recently that doesn't have some sort of automated response - it's frustrating, isn't it? This doesn't just apply to phone calls. When someone enters your tasting room, the attendant should be personable, not an automated machine. Try to ensure that the tasting room attendant engages in conversation with your customers rather than just pour wine and swipe credit cards. As Andrew says, don’t forget the personal service. Learning your regular customer's first names and using them when you see them or talk to them on the phone will make them feel valued and important.
I once read a story of a man who needed an extra set of keys for his apartment and, on his way to work, stopped at the locksmith around the corner to have keys cut. After going back to his apartment to check the new keys, one didn't work. He returned to the locksmith where a new copy was made and when he returned home it still didn't work. Now being 30 minutes late for work, he returns to the locksmith for a third time in a place of rage, ready to unleash his anger on the locksmith. After looking at the key again the locksmith says "ah. It's my fault,"; and the man's anger evaporated. Taking the blame when appropriate can make the difference between inspiring a customer and bad publicity via word-of-mouth. Keep in mind that word-of-mouth spreads much faster than it used to with the use of social media.
Having mystery shops conducted on your winery is a great way to measure your quality assurance because it's cost effective, unbiased, targeted, and the data is current and relevant. Mystery shopping is assessed by finding Customer Service Opportunities (CSO) and each industry has different areas for their CSO. For example, McDonald's has monthly mystery shops that measure speed of service, food quality, restaurant cleanliness, order accuracy, and friendliness. The luxury hotel industry is very serious about this as well and even has a company that provides comprehensive benchmarking data from conducting audits. Companies such as In Short Direct Marketing, WISE Academy, and TexaCali Wine Co. provide mystery shopping for wineries and are worth taking a look at for the services they offer.
As we careen through 2011 and the influence of social media continues to grow, it is important to remember the potential reach that your brand has. By finding ways to impress and inspire your current customers, you not only retain their business, but you gain new customers when these inspired customers share the experience with their friends.
Now that you have new insight on how to improve customer service, what will you consider changing?
This is how it should be. Your wine website should be the hub of your web marketing, and social media, email, QR Codes, etc., are spokes that should drive traffic to the hub.
Some of you might think I have a personal bias. Some of you might think the graphic is oversimplified (you might push your products to Cruvee to then push to Facebook, Snooth, etc.), but here is my point:
Your website is the one place on the web where you can control and frame your message and reinforce your brand. It's the best place for official information on your products, events, etc. Your website is the best place for a visitor to view your brand.
Your wine website should be the hub of your digital marketing activity. Everything else is a spoke and should drive traffic to the hub. If it’s not, your digital marketing will spin like a lopsided wheel.
Even though QR codes have been around for more than 15 years, it seems like they are just now starting to reach main stream. In the wine industry, I've seen QR codes on wine labels, tasting sheets, and shelf talkers. It wouldn't surprise me if they were being used throughout a winery (like a self tour). Pamela Heiligenthal of Enobytes and OregonLive.com predicted that in 2011 QR Wine codes would be all the rage.
Quite a few vendors in the wine space have embraced QR codes in their products. Our friends at Cruvee have a novel implementation of QR codes in their wine syndication product. Winergy has recently launched QR Harvester. HelloVino has a webinar on QR codes today which should be interesting. A company I've never heard of before QR4Wine has recently launched. And of course, at Vin65, we have recently added the ability to generate QR codes for any product, page, wine club, etc inside our tools.
Who is the audience? Does the audience have access to a smart phone and the web? (I recently heard of a QR code campaign launched in a subway - the problem is there was no internet accessibility in the subway where the QR codes were being scanned). Less than 1/2 the population currently has a smart phone, so be mindful of your audience.
"What's in it for me?" How are you going to entice your customers to scan your code? Why should they use 15 seconds of their time to take out their phone, open an app, and scan your code? I recommend spelling out why your customer should scan your code.
What content are you going to deliver? At the end of the day it's still about the content and if your customer scans your code, visits your link, and doesn't find what they are looking for, there is a possibility they will not scan your next QR code.
QR Codes aren't magical. There are a lot of basic applications (such as tasting sheets, labels, shelf talkers, coupons, etc) for QR codes. There are some really creative applications as well (HelloVino and Cruvee might better expand on that). Done correctly, the QR code can be used to deliver information that is both useful and meaningful to the consumer and drive a deeper connection.
Are you able to track your QR code? If you can't measure it, how will you know the impact?
Which URLs do you drive them to? Is there a mobile website in place (you know that most applications for QR Codes involve a customer using a smart phone)?. If you put the QR Code on your wine label that can be a 3+ year commitment - do you own the URL behind the QR Code? (For short term promotions, the ownership of the URL might not matter, but for a wine label or a longer commitment it really matters).
Like other new technologies, I'd encourage you to experiment, monitor, and analyze the results. Learn early (it's easier to fail when it's early in the game). My personal opinion is that I wouldn't over-commit, but I would experiment. QR codes may continue to takeoff (we are seeing QR code apps preinstalled on a lot of new phones), or they maybe overtaken by some newer technologies like NFC (Near Field Communication) or better photo recognition.
Why are some emails opened and read while others are only glanced at and deleted?
During my presentation at Unified I showed the variance in open rates among the top email blasts from our systems. This weekend I decided to look further and compare the open rates and click through rates of these same email campaigns and there were a few interesting highlights.
There were a few interesting highlights. One large campaign only had a 13% open rate but had a click through rate of 9.1%. This means the majority of people opening were clicking through (70% of the people opening the email responded). It was that statistic that got me to think 'what makes a great email?'. Why do some emails have huge open rates but no click response, and why did this email have a relatively low open rate but had a high percentage of click through.
In unscientific fashion (aka this is my opinion) - here's my list of what makes a great email.
1. Targeted to the recipient it's sent to. This past week I received three emails inviting me to events at wineries in California. The problem is I live in Canada and don't have a chance of attending. There is no substitute for an email that is specific to its audience. The highest open and click through rates on our system come from emails sent to specific lists rather than sent to the entire contact list.
2. A great subject line. You can debate subject line content, but there is no debating that a great subject line prompts a reader to open the email. (There are cool A/B subject line tests here, as well as some pointers on writing great subject lines here).
3. Consistency. One of the best ways to build trust with your customers is to maintain consistency. If you send out weekly or monthly email, don't miss a week or a month. If your from address is always 'firstname.lastname@example.org' make sure you keep that consistent and keep your style consistent. People who read your email read it for a reason. If you want to try something new, do an A/B test - or target the people who aren't opening your email.
4. A compelling image. You need great photography for a great websites. You need great photography for great emails. (However please don't make your email one giant image - if images are blocked you'll see a low open rate and a low response rate).
5. Short compelling content. Images are often blocked in email so you'll need some text in your email. Make it short, compelling, easy-to-read; short sentences that are broken up into short paragraphs make for easy reading.
6. Single focus. Again this is an unscientific list, but it's my opinion that customers respond a lot better when there is a single message and it's not overloaded with products.
7. A great incentive and a sense of urgency. People respond to great incentives and to value adds, people also respond when there is a deadline (at least that's how I work).
So what do you do if you're not producing great email? Use the list above, start slow, ask for feedback, make a few changes here and there, and then move up a gear.
I was at Unified last week and I overheard a couple of people talking about ecommerce and one person asked another if they could really improve their conversion rate. (I didn't butt in, but I should have). I've written about how powerful a benchmark conversion rate is to a winery's ecommerce performance analytics.
What is conversion and conversion rate? Conversion is the process of taking online visitors and turning them into buyers. There are a number of ways conversion rate is calculated, but the two most common are: number of orders divided by the number of carts started (in which case conversion rates should be high) or it's calculated as the number of purchasers divided by the number of visitors (in which case the percentage will be a lot lower).
The number one objection to conversion optimization? "If a person really loves my wine will they not wade through our website and figure out how to buy it (no matter how bad the ecommerce experience is)?" Truthfully some of your best fans and your nicest relatives will but I won't. And lots of your customers won't. Why invite visitors to your wine ecommerce store after a great experience in the tasting room only to disappoint them with an aggravating ecommerce experience?
3 proven ways to increase conversion your conversion rate?
1) Remove the create account requirement at checkout. Unfortunately, we still see this all the time. (I saw it last week on a new Sonoma Wineries website - gorgeous website doing a lot of things right - but still asking for a password in the checkout). A visitor adds wine to their cart and then proceeds to the checkout. They want to give you their credit card - they don't want to create a unique username and password. Here's the proof that this is killing sales. (Link, link, or link)
2) Create a streamline checkout. A visitor adds wine to their cart - how fast can they check out? The 2010 Olympics in Vancouver proved that a one-screen streamlined checkout process will increase conversion.
3) Add consumer ratings and reviews to your wine? You're on Amazon.com. What sells better? A book with a great description and a review from the New York Times or a book with a great description, a review from the New York Times, and 10-30 regular customers sharing their personal thoughts on the book? Wine.com proved it in the wine industry. Having customers reviews on your site will sell more wine.
The right design and functionality will increase your conversion rate.
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