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.
In February the San Francisco Chronicle published an article 'Facebook directs more online users than Google'.
From a winery perspective, is this true – does Facebook send you more traffic than Google?
Looking at our platform, the short answer is no and it's not even close. Across all the wineries, Google accounts for 27% of traffic and Facebook referrals only account for 2.3%. (See the first graph to the right.)
The longer answer is that it depends on the winery. Some of our clients are "getting" Facebook and those that really "get it" receive almost twice as much Facebook traffic as Google traffic. (See the second graph on the right.)
Our platform is search engine friendly. It auto creates a lot of key elements Google is looking for (in tech speak, it creates a XML site map and auto create meta descriptions, titles, and friendly URLs). Basically Google traffic can come with little effort.
Unfortunately Facebook traffic requires planning, effort and it takes time. (There are a lot of great social media pundits in the wine industry that can assist you with your social media and Facebook strategies.)
Is Facebook traffic worth it?
My gut feeling is that Facebook traffic is higher quality traffic. Traffic comes from either a winery fanpage (in which case they already have some kind of relationship with the winery) or they come from a friend (a social referral). A Facebook friend whose positive comment on a winery's fanpage seen by a friend in their newsfeed is more powerful and influential than a list of search results on Google.
Furthermore this traffic coming from Facebook is probably not a cannibalization of existing traffic. So it's a case of the pie being made bigger rather than being divided up differently.
As a side note Google recognizes the power of Facebook and is now ranking Facebook pages higher in its search results.
Facebook is becoming a larger and larger source of traffic and I bet if we revisit these graphs in a year they will be considerably different. Whether it's worth it now depends on the time and effort it takes and what that costs you.
One of the powerful things a winery can do with tasting room traffic is convert them from casual visitors to members of your winery's mailing list.
Tasting room traffic tends to reflect passing customers who are on the "tour" and once they leave your tasting room they are gone. If you are lucky enough to stand out in their mind there is still a good chance that they will forget your website address, and they won’t take the effort to track down your wine.
Converting tasting room traffic to members of your winery's mailing list offers great marketing opportunities that you can tap into for sales year around and for years to come.
I especially like the Ceja Vineyards tasting room sign up form because it doubles as a postcard as well. If the visitor doesn't get around to filling it out in the tasting room they can always put it in the mail later. I might also suggest prepaying the postage to make the sign up process even easier, and maybe have check boxes as to what they are interested in so you can market to segmented lists, another strategy to customize your mailing list communications. You could also enhance the sign up form a little by putting a photo of the tasting room staff or have a photo of the wine bottle on one side to strengthen emotional attachment.
These types of tools and strategies are so easy to execute on the office color printer. You would expect that every winery would have some mechanism to transform their most fleeting customers into more engaged, profitable customers, yet so often we find tasting rooms just don't execute on these tools at all.
Make it your goal this year to do simple things like this. It will make a difference to the bottom line in the long run.
Great web pages don't just happen, they require a lot of thought and planning. What makes the page below great are five specific things.
I won't debate bottle vs label images, but every great wine page needs great photography.
People make assumptions about your wine based on how it looks. It doesn't take a professional photographer to notice a picture looks cheap, home made, and poorly done.
High resolution, high quality images will increase your perceived brand value, and high quality photos will increase sales conversion.
PS. I feel bottle shots are better than label shots.
Your customers want to not only know what professionals think of your wine, they want to know what average people think of your wine.
You may not be methodical (and I prefer to skim rather than read) but a large part of the population is methodical. They prefer to read in detail about your wine, how it was made, all of the content, etc. They make informed decisions and favor a logical approach in data presentation.
Also your search engine marketing team will appreciate extra detail.
The return on investment is still out on adding social media widgets (such as tweet this, share this, and other social media widgets) to your page, but we believe that social media does have a positive return.
While there are an overwhelming amount of social widgets we feel that you should at least have facebook and twitter on each product page (If you're one of our clients, ask us about our new social media bar which includes these widgets for every wine page).
Last but not least is the entire ecommerce piece on your wine page that plays an important part. Pricing and incentives should be clear. The 'add to cart' button should have high contrast. If you have a 'quantity' field it should be pre-populated.
We prefer to put the 'Add to Cart' button near the top of the page. This is to accommodate both people who prefer to make faster decisions, and people who are more methodical.
What do you feel belongs on your wine pages?
Your customers want to purchase your wine quickly and easily so they can move on to the next thing they are doing online.
Every hoop a customer has to jump through, every form field they have to enter, every mouse click they have to make, and every place a customer has concerns about what is being asked is a friction point. As the friction builds up, a customer can become aggravated, fatigued, confused - and ultimately they will abandon the sales process.
Here are three friction points that bother me when buying wine online.
Just looking at the overwhelming amount of information that needs to be completed on this checkout makes me fatigued. While some of this information is required, here is how to make it less cumbersome.
I've shopped a number of websites where I'm prompted with a "must buy a minimum of XX bottles to checkout from this site". (Sadly 3 of 5 websites did this to me this morning). While I fully understand the implications of shipping wine, from a customer's perspective (especially a first time customer perspective), I only want one or two bottles to try - not 12. Careful thought should given to adding a 'forced quantity' friction point. It might be better to offer shipping discounts on 12 bottles rather than forcing people to order 12 bottles.
We are seeing more and more websites step away from the forced account creation on checkout, but there are still too many wine e-commerce sites out there that force users to register on checkout. Why would I want to choose a username and password, or worse yet try and remember my username and password from my last purchase?
Read stories such as the $300 million dollar button, or the report from Forresters entitled Required Registration Lowers Online Conversion Rates.
Have you purchased wine from your website lately? What processes could be removed to make the experience better? What is your pet-peeve when you are buying wine online?
Your customer is on your winery website, has found the wine he wants, has placed his purchases in the shopping cart and is now ready to checkout.
Which of the following two shopping cart pages triggers the behavior you want your customer to take?
All buttons are not equal. One of the 3 tenets of the Fogg Behavior Model is that you need to trigger the behavior you want customers to take.
Once an item is placed in a cart, you want the the path to checkout to be very clear. Yes you still need buttons to change the quantity, check their shipping, etc but the largest most contrasting button is the button most often clicked and this should be the checkout button as illustrated in design #2.
Paul Mabray, Chief Strategy Officer at VinTank was lamenting on twitter about how he ordered wine from 6 different wineries via the web and no one followed up with him. Brent and I tried the experiment ourselves a year ago with 20 Canadian wineries - unfortunately almost every website underperformed.
This past week I ordered wine (as a first time customer) from a couple different winery websites. I'm still waiting for my tracking information (even though some of the packages have already arrived).
At a bare minimum a website should:
The most important time in a customer relationship is the three months following their first purchase.
That statement may or may not be true for you... but it's true for Kevin Hillstrom. Do you know what percentage of your first time customers will purchase again? And do you know within what time frame they will place their subsequent orders?
We spend a lot of time tweaking the customer experience on winery websites so that visitors will make the first purchase. We also know that repeat customers are the best customers to have. What happens between the first purchase and a customer becoming a repeat purchaser?
There are some really great comments in Kevin's blog:
Consider the following scenarios:
First Time Purchaser in the Tasting Room
A visitor from out-of-town makes their first purchase in your tasting room. Converting them to a repeat purchaser becomes a lot easier if your POS and website talk with each other. We would recommend that they receive a 'Thank You' for visiting email, followed by an email asking them to rate the wines they bought, and a coupon to entice them to make their second purchase online.
First Time Purchaser on the Web
For most wineries this consumer may be a little more rare. They heard about your wine from a friend or at a restaurant, and now they come to your website and order a bottle. Do you treat them the same as any other customer? Wouldn't it be better to treat them special with a customized message and coupon for their second purchase?
Shop.org released the results of their eHoliday Study pre-holiday consumer and retailer surveys early in November. Here is a brief summary of the key findings when consumers were asked, "When choosing to make holiday purchases from a given retailer, what is most important to you?":
Shop.org followed it up with a second post summarizing results of a survey of consumers about which specific Web site features they rely on most when making holiday purchases. When rated out of 5:
While none of these results are surprising, it still is astounding how many wineries don't address these issues that these survey results prove are very important to their customers. Doing so could bring that customer back to purchase again.
Wine Future just wrapped up in Rioja, described as "the largest wine world forum to discuss the current status of the industry," by wine educator Kevin Zraly. At this gathering of almost 1,000 wine professionals, wine social media’s tornado of passion Gary Vaynerchuk didn’t hold back on how he feels. He said that wine producers are missing a huge opportunity to talk to wine consumers via Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms.
From the Decanter.com post: "I don’t give a crap about Facebook and Twitter but I care about consumers," Vaynerchuk told Wine Future’s attendees. "You should be embarrassed if you don’t recognise that this platform allows you to talk to them."
Gary emphasized that his success isn’t due to his high energy, wacky personality and toys he keeps on his table during Wine Library TV, but rather because he’s passionate and he cares.
Love him or not, there are many wine consumers who flock to him, believe and trust Gary to show them the way, gain wine confidence and value their own palates. From the Decanter report, it sounds to me like he’s making it clear as to why wine producers need to get savvy on Facebook and Twitter if they aren’t there already. It’s a huge missed opportunity not to engage with wine consumers.
Similarly, Jeffrey Hayzlett, Chief Marketing Officer at Kodak, described his team’s social media ROI philosophy at last week’s SM2Day conference as: ROI= Return on Ignoring.
Are slow loading web pages causing you to lose purchasers?
The holiday season is the busiest season for winery websites. If your site isn't optimized for the load, you're selling yourself short. Earlier this month Get Elastic posted some of the research from Forrester Research on web page loading speed on their blog. Here are a few notible excerpts:
There are 3 factors that cause slow loading pages.
1) The webserver is slow. There is a trend (especially in ecommerce) to have more dynamic content which places a larger load on webservers. Webservers can become slow because there is too much traffic, the database may be slow, the hardware might be under powered, and/or the software application may not be optimally constructed. There are a number of ways to combat slow webservers such as load balancing, caching queries, adding more hardware, and reviewing overall code architecture. There are lots of load testing tools available to web developers and your developer should have a sense of how much traffic their webserver can hold.
2) The web page has large images, lots of images, large flash files, or is poorly constructed. Obviously larger images, more images, and large flash content all take longer to load. There are ways to combat slow pages including using a content delivery network, ensuring images, css, and scripts are cached, compressing and/or minimizing files, and using preloaders. Your web developer should be able to tell you the overall size of your web page and give you options to have it load faster. (Tools like YSlow make this really easy.)
3) Connection speeds are slow. Internet service providers don't always provide the connection speeds they advertise. We still see a decent percentage of traffic that is still on dial up networks. Your web page probably still needs to cater to a percentage of dialup users. (Your analytic software may give you a sense of what percentage of traffic is still on a dialup connection.)
The holiday season is almost here. It's probably a good time to ensure that your website is performing at an optimal speed before the traffic increases.
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