By Barbara Barrielle
VinterActive, a 2020 WINnovation Award winner
Debuting at the WIN Expo in December 2019, PreferencePro by VinterActive made a serious splash and quickly signed up several wineries for this breakthrough email marketing software. Then, the coronavirus swept the world, and just about everything was put on hold as small wineries struggled to figure out the way through the market the pandemic threw on its side.
At the very time when wineries could have used this software the most, decision makers were curtailed by uncertainty. A few wineries had gotten a head start and, as Founder Bryan St. Amant points out, the results confirmed that this is “disruptive innovation” where a technology developed for a specific industry is adapted to another industry, and is successful.
In their marketing, VinterActive points out that “Before PreferencePro, wineries using email marketing had two choices: relying on mass-market tools with mediocre performance and no winery support; or spending thousands on direct marketing specialists to piece together a high-performance system.”
Not only is PreferencePro easy to learn and cost-effective, the repurposing of the email software for winery use in direct contact marketing, intends to make the job of the implementer easier and much more automated.
Sandra Wiens WIliams, an owner at Wiens Family Cellars in Temecula reports, “I think this (PreferencePro) has been a very powerful tool in our arsenal. The unsubscribe and resubscribe options are easy to manage. The filtering system makes it easy to target the emails to the customers who will find them the most relevant. The integration of the email lists with our online store accounts mean that email address additions and updates occur automatically without intervention on our part.
“The tools for composing the emails are great and easy to use. The ability to save and reuse sections of emails simplifies continuity and formatting issues plus saves time when generating new emails. I know there are additional tools (like the event triggered-automated-messages) that we have started to develop but haven’t fully utilized yet.”
Marketing Consultant Lisa Saunders of Saunders Marketing was brought in to help trade-focused Charles Krug Winery pivot to concentrate on more DTC marketing, and happily implemented PreferencePro in early 2020 before the crisis began. “Bryan St. Amant is brilliant, smart and easy to work with,” Says Saunders. “I was around before the internet, yet I love tech and gadgets.
“With Bryan’s help, I got my first email campaign out the first day I used it. I have had to learn so many marketing softwares and months of training and still don’t get how to use it. PreferencePro is so easy and quickly learned. You can be an expert in 30 days. The customer service is excellent.”
Saunders points out that Charles Krug exceeded their online sales goals, aggressive goals in February, March and April despite the pandemic. “Bryan has taken giant strides to make PreferencePro work flawlessly with other DTC platforms across lists, stores, and email,” she explains.
As St. Amant points out, “We are giving wineries access to the same tools that the most successful brands (in other industries) use to generate email communications. These techniques have been used for twenty years and we have adapted them to the wine industry. Wineries are seeing 40-50% more opening and response rate. This should translate to sales.
“We finally have the tool the industry is waiting for. Now we need to get the word out.”
The data generated by PreferencePro is also extremely effective for wineries looking to analyze the impact of their marketing. “The analytics available are very helpful to look at our open and click rates; we can see which types of emails are actually being opened and/or read and plan accordingly. The security protocols they have in place means that we have fewer emails bouncing and landing in spam/junk folders. The ability of message history for each customer gives us the documentation needed to see which emails they received plus the open status of each,” says Sandy Wiens Williams.
She continues, “we have also been using Time Optimization so our customers receive their emails when they are normally active which will lead to a higher open rate. The resend for non-opens is also a very useful tool when we require a response from our customers (i.e. billing information is outdated and needs updating).”
St. Amant notes that PreferencePro is also affordable and will remain so as they expand capabilities like automated marketing where a winery can automatically reply to customer inquiries, really have a basic conversation to keep the potential customer engaged. Costs are based on emails sent and start as low as $99 per month. VinterActive takes the powerful Listrak technology, which St. Amant has used for 18 years, and parcels it up for the cost effective solutions PreferencePro provides.
He points out that “MailChimp is attempting to add many of the features of the VinterActive product but also doubles the price every time the business adds another segment to the direct marketing. “Wiens Family Cellars switched from Vertical Response and were blown away. They send out a lot of emails!” he says. “And we have added a sexy new feature to PreferencePro in text marketing (SMS/MMS) that is extremely effective. We have better technology than any other email marketing software and PreferencePro has the benefit of being designed for the wine business.”
To learn more about VinterActive’s WINnovation Award winning PreferencePro, visit vinteractive.com.