Home Wine Business Editorial Technology Plays Pivotal Role in Direct to Consumer Communication Strategy

Technology Plays Pivotal Role in Direct to Consumer Communication Strategy


By Elizabeth Hans McCrone

Miryam Chae
Miryam Chae, Director of Direct to Consumer Sales at Constellation Wines

In a world of consumer choices that include wineries in every state and a dizzying array of online wine options, it’s never been more important to figure out what makes your customers tick and how to get them from sipping and swirling to purchase.

Most companies agree that wine club members are excellent prospects for additional sales as they have already bought into the brand and have a demonstrated record of product loyalty.

But, according to industry analysts, only about four percent of winery visitors convert into wine club members on any given day.

“What about the other 96 percent?” an industry professional asked recently.

The question, posed by Miryam Chae, Director of Direct to Consumer Sales at Constellation Wines, will be central to a conference session being held next week at the North Coast Wine Industry Expo called  “DTC Technology Solutions: Creating An Engaging Wine Experience Beyond the Tasting Room.”

Chae, one of the session panelists, is a firm believer in the role technology plays to capture customer information that is crucial to ongoing business.

“It’s highly, highly important to encourage people to give us that email address,” Chae emphasizes. “We’ve seen huge success with tasting room kiosks and POS systems that enhance the ability of tasting room staff to capture data as they process an order.

“Every time you capture that email, it’s an opportunity to enhance the customer’s experience and your own customer service.”

During the Expo conference session, Chae will discuss five ways that technology is currently being used to communicate with past and potential customers. Those include: trigger emails, action emails, website tools, shipping practices and sales and marketing (S&M) messaging through texts.

“It’s important to fully understand how you communicate with your customers and to map out what that communication flow looks like,” Chae asserts.

Chae will be joined on the Expo session panel by Paul Mabray, Chief Strategy Officer at VinTank, a software company he founded in 2009, which, as he says, provides “… a vision for the industry in relation to digital and social media.”

VinTank, according to Mabray, allows wineries to “listen” to customer communication about their brand through conversations on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, 4-Square, Delectable, Vino and Trip Advisor.

“Social media is a thin connection between the thick one that we make with our customers,” Mabray explains.  “We are a digital culture. On average, people consume 44 percent of (their) media through digital means. We would be obtuse to ignore that fact in the industry.”

DTC panel
DTC Technology Solutions: Creating an Engaging Wine Experience Beyond the Tasting Room. December 4. 2014, Sonoma County Fairgrounds

Mabray sees his role on the panel as that of a discussion “steward” and strategist, painting a “broad stroke of all that’s possible” within the wide world of digital media in relation to the wine industry. As a self-described geek and tireless social media advocate, Mabray believes that technology can be utilized successfully to give businesses a “360 degree view of the customer.”

Elizabeth “E” Slater, founder of In-Short Direct Marketing, a company specializing in personalized marketing solutions for direct-to-consumer sales, will be the conference session moderator.

Slater sees the DTC panel session as one about “using CRM to social media and everything in between to encourage and elongate those initial connections we’ve made in the tasting room.”

Slater notes that well over half of all younger consumers access information on their mobile devices, a factor that can’t be overlooked by an industry intent on successful sales.

“We need to make sure we have the information to contact our customers in the way they want to be contacted,” she states.

Slater also points out that age isn’t necessarily correlative with technology and that the industry should be cautious about the assumptions it makes in terms of how technology impacts potential consumers.

“Technology needs to be more than industrial,” Slater asserts. “We don’t get to know our customers just by compiling data without really understanding who they are. We have to remember the basics of customer service. The most important word in Customer Relation Management is customer.”

In addition to Slater, Mabray and Chae, the Direct to Consumer Expo session will feature Julio de Villasante, President and COO at bLoyal, who will discuss how bLoyal’s unique technology works to increase revenue by forming and capitalizing on a loyal customer base; Brian Baker, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Chateau Montelena Winery, who will further illustrate how technology such as bLoyal’s can be used in the winery setting; and Andrew Kamphuis, Chief Operations Officer at WineDirect and President at Vin65, who will discuss the key role of a winery’s software and product offerings.

Visit www.wineindustryexpo.com for more information and the conference.

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