Welcome to the Vin65 blog. We are using this space to try and convey our little piece of insight into winery websites and best practices to sell more wine online.
Whether it's picking up a loaf of bread or a silk scarf for Grandma, merchandisers think carefully about how you navigate in store and what will grab your attention. Merchandising has been effective for so long in retail, yet it hasn’t really come to a lot of winery websites. Just like going to a retail store, the way your online list page looks and flows is just as important.
On your winery website, how you merchandise ultimately makes for an easier, quicker and more pleasant shopping experience for your customers.
With so much choice available, retail merchandisers use call-outs as a way to grab attention in the aisles. The same attention-grabbing addition can be made on your winery website to make it easier for customers to see featured products.
Retail merchandisers use end aisles and alternate product displays to call attention to certain products. Consistency is great, but having alternative product layouts on the same page can capture attention and it works well to highlight particular products.
Have multiple tiers of wine? Show all your wines on one page, but group them into the tiers using colors, or alternate layout. Grouping products really draws attention to each tier of wine.
Modern clothing retailers (like Gap.com) have used Quick View as a way to expose product detail without a visitor leaving the actual shopping page. If you have a lot of wines on a page, and the customer is likely to navigate between several wines, a quick view feature allows your customers to see more product detail without leaving the list page.
Image 1 - Quick View rollover
Image 2 - Quick View feature
Wine is the perfect gift. If you're looking for a way to guide your customers through gifting wine, a custom gift set (such as the one suggested below) lets your customers easily customize a gift.
These small customization features (which are fast becoming standard in other industries) provide extra value to your customers and can help boost sales.
Remember, visitors to your site need to be wooed by a great, attention-grabbing user experience, that way they'll come back again.
Have you seen some great examples of merchandising on the web? Feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Guest post by Susan DeMatei - Susan is the owner of Vinalytic, a consulting firm specializing in Direct Marketing for wineries. She is the winner of a Direct Marketing Association Achievement Award, a Certified Sommelier, a Certified Specialist in Wine and has over 20 year's experience in Direct Marketing in the luxury digital arena. You can read her blog at vinalytic.com/blog.
So you got your website live and your products are up to date. If you’re like most wineries, the day-to-day business, tasting room, wine club shipments and email offers fill your schedule. Maybe you get time to post on Facebook or send out a tweet or two.
Who has time to monitor their website and look at metrics?
Well, chances are the Vin65 team set up Google Analytics on your site. This will show you the metrics you need to be concerned with and how to set up a quick dashboard to see how you’re doing every month.
Google Analytics is a free service offered by Google that provides you with endless, valuable information about your website and your visitors. As of April 6th, BuiltWith reported that it knows of 15,429,942 sites using Google Analytics, and that includes more than 60 percent of the top 10,000 sites (as measured by Quantcast, Alexa and other sources) and just about 60 percent of the top 100,000 sites.
So you’re in good company. But the amount of data is overwhelming! Well here is a cheat sheet for the top metrics to look for and a short description of why each is essential.
This is the first statistic you’ll want to look at in your dashboard. You care about it because it is your baseline and what you calculate your conversion rates on. This is how many individual visitors came to your site on a monthly basis. Unique visitors tell you how many real people came to your website whereas Total Visitors can include repeats and bots (computers scanning the web).
Your Unique Visitors should go up and down based on any emails, or other marketing campaigns you’re running. If you compare your Unique Visitors to your website sales you will get an idea of how well your website converts visitors to buyers.
The bounce rate shows you how many people came to your site and immediately leave. This is not a good thing. Think of this as your electronic “BS” meter. If you’re promising something in a link, or email, or blog and then what is experienced when the customer arrives on your site is disappointing – they “bounce.”
What you’ll want to do is compare your bounce rate with your traffic efforts to see how your credibility is trending. Ideally you will want to increase your unique visitors without increasing your bounce rate. Although it varies greatly, you usually want to see your bounce rate in the 30-40% range. Any more than that, customers are feeling “teased” and aren’t finding the content they thought they would.
How are people finding your winery website, anyway? Good news! There is an entire tab that will show you how people got to your site. To me, this is the most interesting area of Google Analytics. What I find most interesting is the % of Referral, Direct and Search traffic. This will decipher between your existing customer database (that probably knows you and is clicking on your emails) and new customers coming from partners, or a search query.
There are many other things you can see in Google Analytics, like path analysis, where people enter and exit your site, track sales and you can even email the most important metrics to yourself on a periodic basis. But, if you only have a couple minutes a month – these are the three metrics you want to look at.
One thing you (or your management) might find helpful is a quick dashboard of metrics every month. Here is an example of something that might be helpful for you that doesn’t take long to prepare but will provide you with great insight into your online activities.
What you want to pay attention to is the trending. So, in our example above, the business has certainly grown from 2006 to 2007, but the % is not hugely different. We’re still converting about 25% of our traffic to sales, at about 7 bottles a sale. And while the Club sign-ups increased, the Average Order Value went way down. What happened? Did we discount? Introduce a new, cheaper wine into the mix? These are things this dashboard can point out to us.
So, with a combination of the data in Vin65 and Google Analytics, you can really start to see where your business is going. And, with a couple key metrics and some quick entry into an excel sheet – you to can be a metrics wizard!
Have you tried Google Analytics yet? Share your helpful tips or feel free to leave your comments below.
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).
If you haven't heard the news... WineDirect has acquired Vin65.
There is a lot of emotion when making a decision like this - and the decision certainly wasn't easy. Here is a look at why I sold and how it might affect you.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say money played a large role. The financial incentive was attractive. Having said that there is a lot I like about the current WineDirect team and I'm going to give 100% there. Yes, there have been some issues in the past with WineDirect, but the last couple of years the new management (under Joe Waechter's direction) has done a good job of turning that around.
I've spent a lot of time with Joe Waechter. From regular phone calls to having him as guest speaker at our employee retreat, his experience growing DHL and other companies has been instrumental in guiding me the last couple of years as Vin65 experienced some large growth.
Some may question why WineDirect and Vin65 should be together (and Vin65 will continue to work with all of the wine fulfillment houses). Joe and I both see a future in Direct-to-Consumer wine sales. We argue about some of it, but we both agree that DTC is growing in importance and we have the same vision for the future.
I’m excited about DTC and that is a large part of this deal.
If you’re a Vin65 customer, it doesn't really affect you immediately. WineDirect is committed to letting Vin65 operate independently. It’s like Amazon and Zappos or like WineDirect and Call For Wine today. I’ll continue to be the President of Vin65 and I am keeping our core values.
Over time there will be changes. Vin65 started off with a handful of winery clients. We've acquired some enterprise clients, we took on the licensing of the IBG (now WineDirect) customers, and a lot of smaller wineries have signed up with Vin65. With each new staff member and each new client, Vin65 changes a little. Today with over 700 sites Vin65 is not the same company it was 4 years ago. In the future it’s going to continue to change.
I'm personally committed to fighting for our core values (and while WineDirect has some great values, I'll be pushing to keep ours). I'm personally committed to pushing the Vin65 platform further. The incremental change you see weekly on the platform will continue in the future. I'm excited about the long time staff I've had and I've worked hard to include them into the acquisition. I'm also excited about a lot of the new employees at Vin65 (the team is just awesome!). While I no longer get involved in every site that launches on our platform, I am committed to staying the course, to being innovative, and putting out a product that pushes DTC sales forward.
We have no major plans to change pricing, contracts, etc. All of our contracts are month to month and if we aren't servicing you correctly I'd ask that you personally contact me.
At Vin65 we have a great relationship with Copper Peak and we enjoy good relationships with WineShipping, Amedeo, Pack n Ship, Safe Haven, and other fulfillment houses. (Too many to mention here but we love you all). We also have great relationships with other wine vendors like Ship Compliant, Napa Valley POS, Oztera, KLH, Elypsis, and others.
We are going to work hard to maintain those relationships. Not every client is a great client for Wine Direct fulfillment, and we believe in choice. We are going to continue to work with other fulfillment companies (and we are hoping that PK still invites us to his house parties :) ).
I know that WineDirect fulfillment is going to continue to work with our competitors. There are no family exclusives here.
As for ecommerce, I've enjoyed the competition with eWinery, Nexternal and others. It's great to have competition in the space (and it makes for a better product for everyone). I know they will have a lot of comments about this acquisition. I hope that we continue to provide great competition for you.
I recognize that an acquisition like this brings questions. Feel free to comment below (commenting is wide open and will not be deleted unless they are spam or vulgar). Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my personal cell phone at 604.613.5343.
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.
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