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.
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 'email@example.com' 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.
Below are the slides of my 15-20 minute presentation at Unified Wine & Grape Symposium on "Making Your Direct-To-Consumer" work.
It was great to be a panellist along with Quinton Jay (Bacchus Capital), Stacie Jacob (Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance), and Ray Johnson (Sonoma State University). I also want to thank Jeff Stai for organizing everything, moderating the panel, and inspiring me the night before to make my presentation better.
My particular segment was on customer conversion - something I'm fairly passionate about. Enjoy.
I believe the audio version of the presentation will be available for sale here soon. http://www.unifiedsymposium.org/audio.html
Feel free to post your questions or comments below (or send an email directly to me)
Here are the slides and an overview of my 7-10 minute presentation at DTC Wine Symposium on CRM Demystified. It was great to be a panelist along with Bronwyn Ney from Hall Wines and Susan Hanshaw from Innerarchitect. Also thanks to Mary-Colleen Tinney for organizing everything.
My particular piece was on customer segmentation.
Slide #1 - Intro
Slide #2 - Segmentation
Slide #3 - Why Segment?
Slide #4 - Why Segment?
There are a lot of reasons to segment, here are 3:
Slide #5 - How Do Enterprises Segment?
Enterprises segment on RFM. Recency, Frequency, and Monetary Value.
Recency - when was the last time this customer purchased?
Frequency - how often does this customer purchase?
Monetary Value - how much does this customer purchase?
Slide #6 - CaseStudy: WineTasting.com
A/B test from winetasting.com on a recent email targeting 'inactive' segement of their customers. (Inactive being customers who have not purchase in one year or more)
Slide #7-8 - CaseStudy: WineTasting.com
Custom tailored message outperformed regular message
Slide #9-11 - How can you segment your list?
Slide #12 - Key To Success
Don't just segment your list, but custom tailor the message to specific target audience.
Slide #13 - Thanks
Special thanks to WineTasting.com and Kristina Palko for letting us use this case study.
If you heard my talk, I would love your feedback. Either shoot me an email or leave it in the comments below.
It's fairly easy to pick apart websites and list everything that is being done wrong from an ecommerce perspective (and some of my recent posts have done that) but there are a lot of wineries and wine retailers that are doing it right (both on our platform, and on other platforms). Today as I was browsing through our portfolio, I wanted to highlight a few websites that are doing it right.
What I like about WineTasting.com:
What I like about TwistedOak.com:
What I like about CejaVineyards.com:
Site designed by BR Pacific
Pithy Wine gets it. Before we had an iPad app, they bought iPads for their tasting room and used their website on the iPad to collect visitor information.
What I like about PithyWine.com:
Site designed by Pithy Wine
What I like about InmanFamilyWines.com
Site designed by Sight Design
Over the last few years we have seen a lot of wineries and wine retailers increase their efforts on the web. There are a lot of great sites both on our platform and on other platforms. (If your site isn't listed above, it's not because I don't like it.) Keep raising the bar.
Its 2011, but a lot of websites I visit still feel like they are in 2008. So here it is, David Letterman style with Wayne's World graphic (for the really retro), the Top 10 Signs Your Winery Website is Stuck in 2008.
10. Your last blog post is dated 2008.
In 2008 you were so innovative that you jumped on the blogging band wagon. Blogging was everywhere and you wanted to take part. Unfortunately your enthusiasm died after about 8 blog posts.
If your blog hasn't been updated since 2008, it's time to remove the blog from your website.
9. Flash on the homepage with no alternative.
Flash animations used to be cool. What better way to express your story? Unfortunately, people got sick of flash intros and have turned flash off. People on the iPad can't see your flash. Mobile visitors usually don't have flash installed, nor do they want to wait for it to load.
8. You have birthdate validation on entry.
Birthdate validation on site entry is a visitor turn off (and consumers often enter false dates until they get to the checkout process).
There are so many reasons not to do birthdate validation on site entry that I could write a blog post on it - but consider this - the major wine retailers (wine.com, winelibrary.com, winetasting.com, etc) all don't have it and I know first hand the amount of testing that goes on at winetasting.com.
We do not condone selling alcohol to minors, and believe that birthdate validation should be done on checkout, and ID verification on package delivery.
7. Your product pages don't have your recent vintages and/or contain vintages you no longer have available.
There is nothing more frustrating than seeing out of date product content on a website. It's not only frustrating to customers; it also frustrates your distributors, trade people, and bloggers who all want current images and tasting notes.
6. You're not using a Content Management System
If you have to pay your web designer to update products and other content you are out of date (truthfully you were out of date in 2008 also). It's vitally important for you to be able to update your own content, and content management systems are very mature and pretty much a commodity.
5. Copyright notice still says 2008.
Your visitors know you stuck in 2008 when your copyright still says 2008. If your content is out of date and stale, people won't keep returning to your site.
4. Your heading text is images
The last few years have brought great technology for fonts on the web. It's important that your heading text be text rather than images - important for search engines, for bandwidth, and just for general ease of maintenance.
3. No customer ratings or reviews.
In 1999 Amazon stated that the 2.5 million reviews it featured are what made it popular. We've known for years that customer ratings and reviews help sell products. In 2009 Wine.com revealed that products with reviews sold more. If you don't have customer ratings and reviews, your site is 2008.
2. You have a splash page.
Splash pages were out in 2008 but I still see them. A splash page does nothing for you other than give a customer a reason to not visit your homepage.
1. No mention of social media anywhere
And the number one sign your website is stuck in 2008 - no mention of social media anywhere. The last couple of years we've seen a large uptick in social media activity. Facebook with over 500 million users is mainstream. If you don't at least have a Facebook link on your website, you might be stuck in 2008.
And to continue our Top 10 list, here are the Top 10 Signs Your Website Is Stuck In 1998 courtesy of my colleagues.
10. Your web address has the word geocities in it
9. Free hosting ads on your website
8. You have a 'make this your homepage' button on your website
7. You have a 'best viewed in Internet Explorer' button
6. Under construction page
5. Your neighbour’s high school son built your web page
4. The fixed width is designed for 800x600
3. Your site is built in frames
2. Auto playing music
1. Animated gif images
What signs have you seen that still point to 2008?
I was contemplating a geeked out blog post talking about some of the cool stuff we've learned at Vin65 in 2010 (some of us are learning new programming languages, others are spending time in HTML5, CSS3, iPad and mobile technologies, etc). Instead I opted for the non-geeky, somewhat more-directly-relevant to our customers, 5 Things We Learned in 2010.
At the end of 2009 we saw mobile traffic reach the 5% mark on some of our websites. At Vin65 we knew we had to do something to improve user experience while visiting websites from a mobile device so we created our mobile platform. Visit a site like www.twistedoak.com on your iPhone, Android Phone, or Blackberry Torch and you’ll be presented with our mobile experience.
Mobile visitors who visit a website with a mobile specific experience are far more engaged than mobile visitors on a traditional site. Mobile users spend more time on the mobile website, they visit more pages, they click through more often and they purchase more frequently, but none of this is really surprising.
What is surprising is this... while mobile traffic is now closing in on 10% of traffic on some sites, mobile sales aren’t 10% of total ecommerce sales. The number one thing mobile visitors do on the mobile winery site is view wine, and the number two thing is visit the ‘contact us’ page. (On a traditional site, the 'contact us' page will often be in the top 10 but never at the 2nd or 3rd spot).
Mobile visitors do buy on their mobile phones (we aren’t going to give away the numbers), but they are different than the regular visitor on traditional sites and most wine ecommerce sales are still done on the traditional site. This data is helping us identify new ways to engage mobile visitors.
2011 will be a big year to watch as smart phones continue to be more prominent, more websites start to embrace mobile traffic, and more customers start to use their smart phones for web surfing.
Wine ecommerce platforms are getting to a place where wineries and wine retailers now care more about customer support than additional features. Sure features matter, and we think we meet or exceed our competitors on features, but with all the great platforms available, customer support weighs heavily in the decision.
Customer support via video documentation, online training, live telephone support, responsive emails, etc. is what our customers and prospects care about the most.
As a side note, the online training done by Brent has really taken off. Be sure to check it out.
The iPad was one of the most exciting technologies for consumers in 2010. We saw some of our clients, more specifically Pithy Wines embrace it immediately (long before we had an iPad app). Pithy purchased a number of iPads and displayed their web page with a 'subscribe' form to engage with tasting room visitors.
The iPad was our number one product launch in 2010. (I knew it was going to be great, but we were overwhelmed with inquiries).
The iPad (and tablet technology) has the power to replace the traditional paper signup forms to really engage visitors and wineries have been quick to embrace it.
Wineries want more insight and a 360 degree view of their customers. Wineries want to know lifetime value, last order, most recent visit, etc. across channels. We are seeing real time integrations between systems like ours with POS systems. Other wine vendors are producing great CRM tools. (The dashboard analytics being produced by VingDirect this past year are amazing.)
I first heard the phrase 'actionable CRM' from Paul Mabray at VinTank. What wineries really need is the ability to act on the information they have. For example: A visitor enters a tasting room. How do you engage this customer - not just in this visit, but also in the future? Wineries are exploring the iPad, POS integration, and other tools that not only capture, but take action with these visitors.
On the web, we are seeing some clients really mine their data. Some of our clients chase abandoned carts. Some clients telemarket to their best customers. Some clients contact their good customers who have stopped buying. We are also seeing clients measuring the results from these CRM activities. 2010 was a great year to watch actionable CRM start to take root with wineries.
Social Media has been everywhere the past couple years. We are now seeing social ecommerce taking root (sites like Groupon, wineries selling wine on Facebook thru Cruvee). It’s been fun watching Deals from the Vines and other social type of sales. We also worked with WineTasting.com and some of their partners to do some social sales - with mixed results. In 2010 we saw social commerce start to take off and things are going to get even more innovative in 2011.
As a winery or wine retailer you should be watching the social space and starting to investigate social commerce.
2010 was a banner year for learning, not only for me personally but also for our team. In 2011 I’m sure we'll see improvements on all of these areas and we’ll continue to learn and bring those findings into strategies to enhance our platform.
What has been the #1 thing you learned in 2010?
It's pretty easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. We become engrossed in our own jobs and forget the big picture.
I was talking with a potential client this week who was really concerned with POS and accounting integration for their winery website. This integration seemed to be the focus of the entire call. This surprised me because their website had almost no sales.
Shouldn’t the focus be on sales first and accounting integration second? Shouldn’t we talk about strategies for getting more people to buy from their site rather than discussing how we get data to accounting? (As an aside, Vin65 has first class integrations with Microsoft RMS, Quickbooks, and has great webservices for other POS systems to connect to.)
Another prospective client spent over an hour combing through our wine club processing tools. They are a great winery, but their club has less than 200 members.
Rather than focusing on club processing, shouldn’t the focus be on club growth and how the website could attract more club members? Rather than review how quickly a wine club can be processed, shouldn’t we be talking about reducing club attrition, and incentives for people to sign up for the club? (As another aside, Vin65 does have great club processing tools.)
The primary goals for a website should be to increase sales, increasing club memberships, build better relationships with customers, deliver better customer service, and promote the brand story. POS integration, wine club processing, and other details are important, but don’t let them bog you down.
PS. I’m happy to discuss POS integration and club processing with anyone, but I would much rather talk about increasing checkout, reducing cart friction and promoting club growth and other primary goals first.
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