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.
Action emails – they’re the bigger, more independent brother to regular mass emails. With an open rate that is more than double regular mass email, this is an awesome email marketing tool that will help you maintain relationships and connect with new customers. Plus, you’ll likely see some positive conversion rates.
Also known as trigger emails, action emails are a pre-written set of messages that are sent based on an event or triggered action your customer takes, (orders for the first time, repeat purchase, abandons a shopping cart, credit card expiring, etc).
Here’s how it generally works:
Let’s say, for example, you’d like to send out a thank you message to first-time purchasers and ask them what they thought of the wine.
Now that you’re in the loop, below are some best practices to consider before you create an action email campaign.
Think through what you would like to achieve with each action email campaign. Most systems have preset triggers like type of order placed, credit card expiry, anniversary dates, etc.
If your brand was a person, what would they sound/act like? It’s unlikely that people will read an email if it sounds like it came from a robot and/or a professor of quantum physics.
Focus on interesting content that’s relevant to individual groups. For example, first-time purchasers should be enticed to place their second order, whereas club members may be interested in club discounts and wine reviews. You want to engage readers without them feeling like that they’re being pressured to purchase anything.
Think about your layout and design. If it looks like one of those “Win a FREE Trip to Mexico” emails, it’s time to reevaluate your look.
The first thing that your readers will see is the subject line. If it’s confusing or irrelevant, the more likely it’ll be ignored.
Remember, it's a trigger not a steady stream. Space out your action emails. Although they are automatic, ensure you check-in regularly and make sure you are not over-sending.
Questions or comments? Don’t be shy; feel free to leave them below.
Below are the slides from my presentation at the Southern Oregon Wine Marketing and Sales Conference on the “Basics of Customer Relationship Management.”
Feel free to check them out.
I’d like to give a special thanks to Paul Mabray and Susan DeMatei for lending me some of the content on the slides (and also being so passionate about CRM – I love bouncing ideas off of you guys).
Also, thanks to Susan DeMatei, Melissa Dobson, Krista Hesketh and my wife for working over the weekend (they assisted with proofing and ensured the final slides looked great).
Feel free to post any questions or comments below (or send an email directly to me).
Before I get to the answer - here is a quick recap...
From a previous blog post we know that Facebook drives a lot of traffic to winery websites. We also know that this traffic from Facebook is good traffic. We reasoned that we should bring the transaction closer to the customer and in October 2011 we launched Facebook commerce on the Vin65 platform. We also knew it was a bit experimental and therefore we haven't charged a monthly fee for it.
Over the last 5 months we've seen a lot of interesting movement on Facebook commerce. Two of our clients have more than 10% of their ecommerce sales on Facebook. Several of our winery clients are in the 4-5% range, but we also have a number of clients who have yet to get a sale on Facebook which might discourage some.
Facebook commerce is in its infancy and we are really at an experimental stage. When ecommerce was in its infancy there were a lot of successes and a lot of failures. Brands like Toys "R" Us launched their ecommerce store in 1999, only to close it down that same year and in 2000 partnered with Amazon. A few years later, that partnership ended and Toys "R" Us now has its own ecommerce store.
The same thing is happening today in Facebook commerce. There is currently a lot of trial, some success, some failure, and as we start to experiment with merging ecommerce and social platforms there is a lot of learning and a lot of opportunity, especially for small business.
It's still early and the verdict is still out, but here are a few things that do work.
Add value - Give your customer a reason to shop on Facebook. Duplicating your website store isn't an effective strategy. Use exclusivity, rewards, and engagement as ways to create value. For example reward your Facebook fans by selling your new release wine on Facebook a few days before having it go on sale on your website. Or have exclusive events or promos just for your Facebook fans. Makes your fans feel like they are VIPs.
Create great customer experiences - Just like your website and mobile site, the customer experience matters. The Facebook app real estate is tight (although it just got a lot better with the advent of timelines), so be mindful of the space. If the content is engaging, if the Facebook app is responsive, and if it's easy to use, it will be more effective. We know that on the web a better customer experience sells more wine - and we are sure this holds true on Facebook.
Do something different - It might fail, but it might also succeed. Because Facebook commerce is relatively young, customer expectations aren't that high. It's a great time to try something and learn. Be sure to measure and solicit feedback. Facebook is all about engagement and feedback.
Over the next few years as Facebook commerce matures (it's not going away) people will become accustomed to buying through Facebook, and companies will learn and optimize the experience. Until then it's a great time to play and learn new ways to effectively sell more wine online.
As an aside - here are a few articles worth reading:
EConsultancy - Can f-commerce work for retailers
Get Elastic - Is F-Commerce "Fail" Commerce?
EMarketing - Case Study: Heinz UK Fans Warm up to Facebook Personalization Campaign
What do you think? Have you bought anything on Facebook yet?
Whether it’s a TV show highlighting thrifty families using coupons, or an inbox full of retail store offers, consumers are becoming more "deal" conscious when selecting where they choose to shop. In a sea of conflicting prices and promotional offers what can help your offer rise and get noticed while others sink into the proverbial junk box? Let's take a look at 4 keys to an effective coupon or promo strategy for selling wine.
The way you word your promotion will not only affect how consumers read it but also how they react to it, whether they purchase or not. When wording your promotion here are a few points to consider:
Percentage or dollar off offers work well to generate interest for new shoppers. Club discounts that are automatic and easy to use can help promote brand loyalty and boost club memberships. However there is one promotion type that appeals to all consumers…free shipping. For our American winery clients you need to word your promotion as "Shipping Included" for legal reasons.
Here are a few compelling reasons why you should offer free shipping:
*Statistics provided by Freeshipping.org
Shipping is just one more cost that a consumer is mentally factoring in while they shop online. If you offer free shipping, it’s one less item you have to worry about. Customers are more likely to buy more, more often, when they don’t have to worry about additional costs.
Make sure your offer gets noticed. Prominent places such as homepage pods or sliders make your offer visible to anyone visiting your ecommerce store. To target newsletter signups, why not add a promotion code to an automatic confirmation email giving a discount off their first order? For those offering frequent promotions, why not consider creating a page dedicated to showcasing your current offers? This will help to keep deal seekers looking for coupon codes on your site, training them to visit your site rather than searching Google for the latest deals.
Whatever your offer, make sure you test its functionality before you release it. Finding a broken promotion is disappointing and frustrating to a consumer, and may be perceived as a "bait & switch" tactic. You should let consumers know how and where to use coupon codes, and where they will see the discounts appear. Then just make sure your promotion works as described.
Agree? Disagree? What promotions are working for you?
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?
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