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.
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.
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.
Thinking about redesigning your winery website? If so, here are three common mistakes to avoid before jumping into your redesign.
Even though your old site might be dated, it still garners traffic from outside sources. Half the people visiting a winery website enter via a search engine. Inbound links from blogs, social media, and other websites also represent a good portion of traffic.
These links to product pages, company pages, contact pages, etc are often broken in a site redesign. (Different platforms and designers handle URLs differently, and often you will want your URL structure updated for search engine ranking and other reasons).
The proper way to handle updating URL structure is:
Your most frequent site visitors probably don't want you to drastically change the site design (even if it's better, people don't always want to learn a new way of doing a task).
In an ideal world, your site would be continually enhanced rather than drastically altered every few years. If your club members are used to coming to your site and quickly placing an order, and you then completely redesign the store, it often throws the user way off.
Consider the redesign we did this past year for Twisted Oak. The new site is more of a progression on the old site rather than an evolution. The overall navigation structure and location of the wines and products didn't change that much and previous visitors should be able to find their way around.
Bottom line, think 'evolution' rather than 'revolution'.
We see a lot of redesigns just because a site is dated. While it's fine to redesign a dated site, it's even better to set goals for your site.
Design is very important to your site, but you should look first at function, structure, goals, and business objectives of the site. Your designer should walk you through a design process that starts with these goals.
We start all of our sites with a goal questionnaire followed by wireframes. A wireframe will allow you to focus on function (for example what are the key elements on the homepage and what are their goals) rather than on design.
One more thing to think about when redesigning your site is the historical data. If you are switching platforms, it's important that order history, customer lists and other data be brought over to your new site. The longer you sell online, the more important this data becomes. (Being able to build lists, segment customers, etc off historical data is a very effective way of marketing.)
If you are thinking about a redesign, there are more options and better tools than ever before. Just make sure you are thinking about the overall affects rather than doing a redesign just for the sake of a redesign.
If you are launching your new web site and wonder what customers want - customers want simple!
Everything we force a customer to do before they get what they want carries consequence. Choose and weight those things carefully.
Youtube blogged earlier today how Five Stars Dominate Ratings. I quote: "great video prompts action; anything less prompts indifference." And in their blog they posted the graph on the right.
I wanted to compare how closely YouTube's ratings match how consumers rate wine. We pulled the data from all of the websites on our platform using our 5 star rating widget. Almost 50% of consumers rated the wine at the full 5 stars. (The full results are in the graph on the right).
A couple of objection we hear from clients about allowing consumer ratings and reviews are:
The statistics above basically coincide with what we have often thought. There are very few negative consumer reviews (less than 10% of ratings were 1 or 2 stars) and there are an overwhelming amount of positive ratings and reviews.
More importantly, we know that ratings and reviews will increase conversion other industries report 20-50% increase in conversion). So while YouTube debates the merits of its 5 star rating system for video, to me a 5 star rating system on a winery website makes a lot of sense.
What do you think?
A little bit of a self promotion. This morning we launched our new interface on our admin panel. (137 websites are awaking to the new interface today, the other 160ish sites are seeing the new UI in the next couple of weeks).
We have some clear goals around our admin panel. It has to be as simple as possible. We want the user interface to be intuitive and friendly (both for a positive experience for our users and because it cuts our customer support costs).
We have some lesser known goals. The interface has to work with some of the technology in place. The CSS has to be light and fit well into existing code. The overall interface has to be 'white brandable' for some of our partners.
Here are some of the decisions we made with a new user interface:
If your a current admin panel users - we would love your feedback. Either email me directly at email@example.com, or leave a comment below.
We've seen consumer reviews make a large difference in conversion rates online, and we've known for quite some time that people trust other people's opinions. Here are the numbers according to Nielsen. 70% of consumers trust consumer opinions posted online. This is higher than trust of TV, newspaper, magazine, radio and all other mass advertising listed in the survey. (Thanks Kristina for sending this to me earlier this week.)
If you are not letting consumers post reviews on your website, is it maybe because you don't trust your consumers?
Are you training your customers to delete the email you send?
My grocery store has me trained. They have one of these loyalty rewards programs where I receive a point for every dollar I spend. Every two weeks they send out a flyer (via mail) and it has 50 products advertised, each with 10 or 15 bonus points. They also always have two coupons that are for 2500 points each if you spend $95 or more.
Over the past couple years I've discovered that all the coupons suck, except the 2500 point coupons. So like clockwork, every two weeks I cut out the two good coupons. The rest of the coupons are in the garbage. I've never use them. I can't even remember the last time I glanced at the offers.
So here's my point. Customers can be trained. Amazon sends me an email, I'll read it, and if that email is of value I'll remember. Because the last email was of value, the next email I receive from Amazon I'll read. If there is value there, I'll read the next email. It spirals up. I start to predictably open the emails from Amazon.
The opposite happens at some wineries. An email is created. Rather than creating a specific value proposition for a specific target audience, they send the email to their entire consumer list (after all, it costs almost nothing to send the email out). Some customers don't see value in the email. Another email is created and it goes out to the entire email list again. Again a group of customers don't see any value. The winery has trained a group of customers to ignore the email.
Tonight we analyzed the open behavior on one million emails sent over the past two year where the customers had been emailed 5 or more times. After 4 emails there was an 91.4% chance the customer had been trained (and responded to all future emails in the same manor).
So to put my point in a few sentences. Customers are predictable. If they are opening your email and responding by clicking back, you should probably keep doing the same thing. If they are consistently ignoring you email, it might be time to change what you're doing.
Search engine marketing can be a full time profession. If you want to do it well you have to be concerned with link building, good content, and a lot of technology. While search engine marketing is typically not your web developers primary responsibility, your web developer will affect your search engine ranking.
Here are 5 signs that suggest your web developer "gets" search engine marketing.
1) Your site uses title tags.
The title tag is one of the most important factors in achieving high search rankings. A great title tag should contain your company name and a specific keyword phrase (ideally 4-7 words long). For example the current title tag at Twisted Oak is "Twisted Oak Winery - Rhone Spanish Tempranillo Viognier Petite Sirah".
Here is how to tell if you have a title tag: In your browser title bar (on a PC this is the bar (typically blue) at the very top of the browser) - you should see the title. If it only says "Internet Explorer" or "Firefox" your title tag is missing. On this particular page the title is: "Vin 65 - Blog - 5 Signs that Your Web Developer "Gets" Search Engine Marketing".
A good developer will ensure that your site starts out with some decent title tags. (If you engage a search engine expert, they will want to massage these title tags).
Learn more about title tags here.
2) Your site has a robot.txt file.
Visit www.________.com/robots.txt and see what happens. On our site, this would be www.vin65.com/robots.txt.
A robot.txt file is a file that tells search engines what content they can and cannot index on your website. Search engines generally follow the rules set in this file (Google, Yahoo and MSN/Bing all read the robots.txt file). This robots.txt file is also a key way to send an XML site map to the search engines.
Read more about robots.txt files here.
3) Your site has a XML Site Map
What is a sitemap? According to sitemaps.org, it's "an easy way for webmasters to inform search engines about pages on their site that are available for crawling". A site map lists the URLs on your site along with some metadata (last update, page importance, etc). All three big search engines (Google, Yahoo and MSN/Bing) look for this file.
Using an XML sitemap will get your content on Google faster.
4) Your site uses marketing URLs.
A marketing URL looks like this www.vin65.com/About-Us while a dynamic URL of the same pages looks like this www.vin65.com/index.cfm?method=pages.showPage&PageID=84a00363-029c-a4e3-efba-273908d6e131
There are a number of reasons to use marketing URLs instead of dynamic URLs:
Your developer has a lot of control over the URL structure on your site, and your URL structure can assist and/or penalize your ability to come up on search engines.
5) Your site has an analytical package
Technically an analytical package won't assist your performance on search engines, but it will sure let you know what's going on.
Google Analytics is free and very easy to setup. There are dozens of other great free web analytical packages.
An analytical package is the best way to tell what people are searching for, how much traffic is coming to your site from search engines, keywords they are using, etc.
I'd like to say that we at Vin|65 always "get" it, but sometimes we miss the mark. We are working hard to improve (and our platform is doing more of this work automatically for us). If you see a site we have where we break our own rules, make sure you send me an email.
Get the blog by RSS
Need to accelerate online sales? Subscribe here: