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.
The statistics are everywhere. Consumer reviews generate more sales.
I personally have had a few questions with clients and prospects about ratings and reviews, and in some of these conversations the client has been sceptical. The client has felt that a single bad rating can bring down the average or a negative review can turn off buyers. That's true if the glass is half empty.
A single bad rating can lend credibility to your product. When I look at reviews at Amazon and I see 19 good reviews and 1 bad review, it leads to credibility.
A negative review can turn buyers off, but it can also let you address a negative experience. Properly handling a negative experience shows class, and it can turn a person into a fan. (And if the consumer isn't telling you about their negative experience, you can bet they are telling their friends)
Mike Duffy from The Winery Website Report wrote a nice little blog post this past week titled 'Thinking of Redesigning Your Winery Website?' where he links to a good article on 'Who takes care of the content'.
If you're planning a website the content plays a key role. So does photography (if you don't have a great photo next to your content, most people will just skip over the text). Website design, typography, 'call to action' phrases, button color, etc all play key roles.
At Vin|65 we have a set process we take our clients through:
People's personalities differ - some of our clients are really creative and love design, some of our clients are competitive and are really focused on the 'call to action' phrases. We do have some methodical clients that spend an incredible amount of time on content (we really have a client like this right now).
People can fall into a trap and choose a specific area on their site where they really want to focus, such as the creative, or the widgets, or at neat little Web 2.0 button, etc and because their personality type isn't attracted to other elements such as the content, they skip over those elements. (I'm guilty of this – I'm a competitive person, and I typically just skim text – I have to remember there are methodical people that really read all the text, and there are humanistic type of people that really like people pictures and testimonials, etc)
It's our job as web designers and developers to help balance our client and come up with great design, great content, and ultimately a great website.
A marketing firm down the street was in our office a month ago. They have a new beverage (non-wine) that is quite remarkable and for the last six months or so they have been marketing this product in the nutrition market space. The brand currently has a beautiful site, built primarily in flash, with some great photography and limited product information.
Before the meeting started, I did some quick research and noticed that this brand was being talked about in a lot of different forums. In fact I found at least 20 forums where this product was mentioned. Some of the comments were very positive, some were inquisitive, and there were some negative comments also (most of the negative comments were around the product not being found in local stores, or a rebate for a coupon not being received yet)
Unfortunately, the brand manager (who has been doing a great job getting the product into the retail market) had no idea that their brand was being talked about.
In this modern era, we are seeing more and more transparency in brands. It's not uncommon for a brand to have a blog and allowing customer comments. We are seeing brands have twitter accounts. Brands are opening up their websites for customer comments, reviews, etc.
The bottom line is: if you have a remarkable product, an average product, or a poor product, people are talking about you. If you don't allow user generated comments on your website, it won't stop the conversation.
This conversation can happen right on your website, where you can quite easily participate in the conversation (and this is the best place to have a conversation about your brand). This conversation will probably happen on other websites, where you can use monitoring tools, and probably participate in the conversation also.
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned two tools to assist you in monitoring your brand on the web (and how to legally spy on your competitors).
While both the tools I mentioned (Google Alerts and Twitter Alerts) are great tools, these next two tools are far superior and offer a much more comprehensive solution.
Cruvee. Specifically focused on the wine industry, this is a great product that monitors your brand in wine blogs, twitter, forums, friend feeds, etc. I've seen the demos, and this product is pretty cool. Monitor and analyze your brand, what is being said about you, how it compares to your competitors, etc.
Techrigy. This product also allows you to monitor your reputation and brand online. (It's been called Google Alerts on Steroids). I've set up Vin|65 with an account, and the reports look great, although I'm still just figuring it out.
On Friday the Google Blog offered a peak into some of the studies they are doing around their user interface.
This picture comes from an eye-tracking study that Google conducted. The deeper the color, the more a person's eyes focus on that part of the page.
Based on this image, all the focus is on the top two results. Coming up fifth or sixth on Google doesn't seem to garner much attention. It really pays to be number one or two.
As a side note, it's interesting to see that Google is constantly studying and testing their user interface. Too often a website is built and the interface is left alone for 2-3 years with no testing, tweaking, or continuous improvment.
We are currently working on a social media / wine related website. Our designer is doing a great job of the interface, but I wonder if having too many features over complicates the main focus and goals of the site.
Consider the controls in these vehicles. Which of these two pictures represents your website?
Does having more options represent a better website?
As a small winery owner you are expected to do it all. You are running the big show. You are on the hook for the results.
Here is a shortened list of responsibilities:
As a web service provider we also like to add some, because if you have a web site you should also be doing these things:
My guess is that all the things that go into making the most of your web site and making your web site great fall between the cracks. Unless you are a larger winery who can afford to have a dedicated staff or multiple staff in the web department most of those web tasks simply don't get thought about, much less accomplished.
At Vin | 65 we are passionate about the web and making your sure your customers have a great experience buying your wine. We also bring a lot of experience and a great tool set to our customers so that they don't have to stress out about a lot of this stuff because it is built right in. We know our winery and wine retail customers are busy enough already. Let us be the web experts in your corner, so that you can focus on making amazing wine.
Want to know more about what we offer, how we can make your life easier, what the heck a blog is...contact us.
It's 2009 and if you don't have an opt-in email list and want to start sending out an email newsletter what should you do?
Seth Godin has a great post this weekend on Email Campaigns. The take away:
"The problem with believing that just because you have access to an address you have the right to mail is that there is no friction with email. It's free. You can email a million people in a heartbeat, costing the recipients time (and thus money) and you not much of either. The recipient knows this, and feels exploited or cheated. It's not fair, and so the lack of friction backfires. The very ease of interruption makes the interruption more annoying."
If people haven't signed up on a sheet in your tasting room or through an easy to understand subscribe form on your website, they probably haven't given you permission to send them email. You can't just import the list into a system and start emailing them. Having an 'opt out' policy on your spam (sending them spam with an easy unsubscribe link) is also not a great policy.
So to answer my opening question, if you don't have an email list and want to start, go at it the hard way. Don't take short-cuts. Have people subscribe on a form on your website. Have people give you their email address in a tasting room. Make sure they know what they are subscribing to. Also it's a good idea to let them know how often they will receive your message.
Read another great post on email marketing by Inertia Beverage.
It's pretty easy to spend an entire day hiding behind technology and forgetting personal service.
When I was in high school in the late 80s I worked for a local realtor who really understood technology. We were using multiple databases to target specific areas (a combination of phone records, tax records, and real estate records). In our mail campaigns we were monitoring the message, the frequency, and overall effectiveness. We had our systems pretty well tuned.
We were data mining the real estate board and finding listings about to expire and then mailing them. We were testing out different phone technology. We were constantly testing out different mediums. We once sent out a newspaper like piece, and the recipient's name appeared in the headline of the top story - remember this was late 80's before stuff like this was common place.
My boss was a good realtor but despite our huge technical advantage there were several guys around town who consistently outperformed him. I once asked a top realtor how he got his business, and he told me that he was just as friendly as possible, and meet as many people as possible. He would walk into a local bar or the super market and talk with everyone.
I had an interesting conversation this past week with a prospective client. She was talking to me of the importance of having personal relationships.
In the end, you can have nice tasting sheets, a great website that really conveys your brand, mass email that is highly targeted, but nothing beats personal relationships. When the economy is down, and people are starting to choose which wine clubs they want to belong to and which ones to drop, I beat you the choice overwhelming comes down to who they have personal relationship with.
Side note: This message of personal service applies to us at Vin|65 as much as it applies to wineries.
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