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.
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?
As wineries and wine stores extend their reach to customers who aren't local - a well thought out website design can make all the difference in the world. A great website is a key piece when building long term relationships with customers. You should be confident that your website makes a strong first impression or builds on a great tasting room experience.
We spend a lot of time working with wineries and wine stores crafting and directing the creative for their website. Here are three things to consider when tackling a wine website design.
1. Does your website match the look and feel of your winery/tasting room.
It is important to make sure the atmosphere of the website matches the attitude of your tasting room or winery.
Getting your online presence to visually tie in is important because it helps make your visitors feel comfortable and builds trust and rapport. These are key attributes of a successful website especially when you ask people to trust the website with their credit cards and email addresses.
2. Does your website represent what you stand for?
Do you aim to delight every time your customer opens a bottle of your wine? Do you want to be an approachable winery? Do you strive for the highest quality? What do you think each of these wineries are trying to communicate?
3. What kind of message do you send with the photography on your site?
If you love wine and invest a lot of time creating it, then doesn't it make sense to portray it in the best light? The amount of care and attention that goes into making your wine shouldn't be undermined by poor photography. Great bottle and vineyard shots can make all the difference in the world in how visitors perceive the quality and care you put into your wines.
Highflyer is a great example of how to show off wine you are proud of.
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.
In your tasting room consumers can stroll up to the tasting bar, speak to enthusiastic staff and then sniff, swirl and sip your wine. It’s not that easy to excite consumers on your wine e-commerce website. You need to find ways to engage and convert consumers with content, images, tasting notes, consumer and professional reviews.
It’s been proven that videos can help e-commerce. Over the past few years, Zappos.com has said their videos have impacted sales on their products anywhere from 6 to 30 percent.
While Zappos.com is an e-commerce giant, Ceja Vineyards is a perfect example of a midsized winery producing well-executed product video at a minimal cost.
You may not need to make a video for the branded clothing you’re selling online, or the tickets to a concert but videos are a perfect medium for your tasting staff or wine maker to convey their passion for each wine that consumers are sampling in your tasting room.
“Video might be overkill for some pitches and products, and become more of a distraction than an incentive to convert,” said Stefan Tornquist, research director for MarketingSherpa. “For something complex, visceral, or new, video can be a great fit. Selling fly fishing in the Arctic? Video is going to do a better job of putting the prospect in a buying frame of mind than all the copy you can muster.”
Ceja Vineyards uses YouTube but there are many solutions for hosting your videos with different benefits, Facebook for example would be a great fit if you’re using Facebook fan pages and help cross promote by linking to your fan page and website.
Vimeo does not allow for commercial videos, instead you could use Viddler’s ‘b2b’ hosting.
If you’re looking for a more professional video solution that feautures product overlay, enabling the consumer to purchase right form the video, you could look at a company like Overlay.tv. Your winemaker could lead a tasting of your wine portfolio and consumers can purchase wines featured by clicking on a hotspot in the video, converting them while they're excited and ready to buy (See an Armani Exchange example).
|Here’s another example from Inman Family Wine, as Kathleen explains her wine in a way words on a webpage simply can’t:|
If you haven't tried videos, I recommend talking to a few wineries that have such as Ceja or Inman. Start small, a simple Flip camera is only around $150 then use YouTube, Facebook or Vimeo to place the video on your e-commerce site and measure your results.
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.
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