By Dawn Dolan
Day two of Wine Industry Network’s Sales Symposium offered a multitude of data-driven insights for the direct-to-consumer oriented winery. The first session was offered by Commerce7’s Zach Kamphuis, who provided a general numerical overview of the first seven months of the year, which have been heavily colored by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kamphuis revealed the importance of web sales with data from over 400 Commerce7 clients, which was enlightening and helped set the tone for the day. He noted that new users really, “drove the huge channel shift” for a large part of that time frame with 63% of web orders in the last seven months coming from new customers
Kamphuis pointed out the differences that set top eCommerce performers apart from the rest, and he suggested the wineries take inspiration from online subscription wine services. At Winc, for example, acquisition was phenomenal with an increase of 578% over the same time period. “The customer is at the center of their experience,” said Kamphuis. “They are dramatically outpacing wine club sales.”
A huge area for improvement was that of website usage. Dynamic websites that created a personalized visitor experience boasted the most click opportunities. Websites must be easy for the client to use, be personalized, and be optimized for sales, which was a resounding theme throughout the day’s sessions. Allowing for a customizable club and giving some level of user choice were highlighted. Discounted or free shipping of club wines also makes a big difference. The sales data showed that free or discounted shipping was a factor in 80% of completed online orders (as opposed to cart abandonment).
Top performers also stood out by using and optimizing more data. Only 47% of wineries were consistently gathering emails pre-Covid, which means that 53% of wineries could easily improve their ability to market by simply capturing email data in the tasting room.
The second session, The Top Five Wine Consumer Engagement Strategies, was led by Sandra Hess, founder of DTC Wine Workshops. She pointed out several times that, “no one size fits all” when it comes to finding what works for selling your wine brand.
However, the first important message was that wine brands that are successful are those that have found their tribe and get to know them by creating intimacy and engagement. The criteria for accomplishing this followed, with the first concept being to develop a pre-visit game plan. This game plan includes optimizing Google My Business, using live chat, and making sure there are other virtual experiences to engage your potential customer. The overall message was to find like-minded audiences to drive traffic to your winery, while being mindful of what viewers want. Make sure you are using lifestyle shots on your marketing, create your authentic brand personality, and capture that personality in a digital format are keys to success.
Covered next was the concept of offering high-touch visitor experiences. Your consumer-producer relationship forms during these moments. Your hospitality staff should reflect your brand personality, should understand high standards, and be afforded the correct training.
Remember to develop a post-visit game plan for re-engagement. Planning out your conversion workflow was discussed, as well as reminders to, “think more about the consumer and less about the product,” and to “think about lifestyle marketing and your authentic passions.”
The fourth concept presented focused on proven retention strategies. To keep attrition levels low, make sure you spend time on a welcome letter, a reminder of why they signed up, and to target the market by segmenting audiences within your membership. Don’t forget about former club members, who also present a big opportunity.
Next in line were strategies to build your referral business. Find like-minded hospitality partners like hotels, tour companies, and other wineries, as well as media opportunities.
The last session of the day focused on sustaining sales without a tasting room, and featured two wineries showcasing different methods (using data from WineDirect). Wineries with a higher website sales presence pre-Covid have had a higher per-sale amount per web order since the pandemic began. However, engaging in eCommerce was called a “tremendous and lasting opportunity” for all wineries.
To gain new clients through “crisis marketing,” each winery had their favored pathway to engage a new customer, with commonalities showcased about the number of touches, personalized offerings, and retargeting, which was also echoed throughout the day.
When Covid-19 made its entrance, Kramer Vineyards started placing increased emphasis on social media, targeted emails, and working to replicate the customer journey through digital tools.
Tank Garage Winery focused on building awareness and enticing prospective new buyers through Instagram. Their criteria for photos included showing something cool, targeting for their brand’s optimum client, and was made for quick delivery. Kramer used Facebook as their platform, inviting like-minded people to subscribe to their brand, offering an acquisition of their specialty and unusual wines, and tailoring unique opportunities.
For driving engagement and repeat sales, both wineries presented details about finding virtual touch-points through segmentation of lists, using geo-targeting, average order value, varietals, and other interests.
Measuring success was the last item mentioned for the day, and attendees were encouraged to set specific goals they could then base success upon, using tools like Google Analytics and other systems which provide those metrics.
Points reiterated throughout the symposium included maintaining a personalized experience for the client, through interactive websites and social media usage. Finding and engaging like-minded audiences and keeping them interested will be key to acquisition and retention. Ease of cart usage and low-cost or free shipping keep customers buying. Wineries were encouraged to set up for O-N-D, considering where to best spend their resources. Providing personalized attention throughout the process could mean the difference between success and death in the uncertain months and years to come.
The DTC focused sessions of the Wine Industry Sales Symposium are now available for replay on YouTube.