Level Up! — 10 Ways to improve your winery marketing

Bradley Squires
published on
October 31, 2020
Winery Marketing

Hey, lucky you! You’re the winemaker and owner of a small, “Artisanal” winery! And guess what? You’re also the marketing department (woo-hoo!). And while this might sound to some people, that you’re living the life, we know that there are some mornings when you'd much prefer to be making wine than making email newsletters, so these set-it-and-forget-it tips for levelling up your marketing game are for you.

"Set It and Forget It" verb:

1. To have sex with someone regardless of potential emotional consequences, akin to James Brown's Hit It and Quit It from his 1970 hit Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine.
2. To accomplish anything that you are actively afraid of and deliberately avoiding. [Likely the more apt definition in winery marketing circles, if you know what I'm saying]

from The Urban Dictionary

During those busy months in the winery and vineyard — you know the months I’m talking about; January through November — marketing naturally takes a back seat, but at the same time, you know that marketing is what keeps the money flowing in. (HaHa! "flowing!" — I meant "Flooding.")

Here are 10 things you can do right now that can improve the results you see from your winery's marketing — and make marketing less of a burden for you.

There are, as you have undoubtedly come to realize, a million things you could be doing to improve your marketing. As someone who has spent most of their marketing career helping other industries (finance, tech, telecom, healthcare ...) I get so disappointed when I see wineries making the most simplistic marketing guffaws — misteps that would never be tolerated in other industries, but which impact ongoing marketing results. These tips address those.

01: Create a dedicated email account just for your winery's customers

You may be thinking, "This isn't marketing, this is just admin! What a ripoff!" But the value of enhancing your audience's perceptions of your brand through being responsive to your audience cannot be overstated. It's like washing your hands after you use the bathroom.

Your website's hosting account almost certainly allows you to create an unlimited number of email addresses, and setting one up can be accomplished with the following 3 simple steps:

  1. Go to your website's CPANEL, and click on the icon for Email Accounts.
  2. In most CPANELs, there will be a plus sign to create a new email address. Click on it and give your new email address a friendly name like hellobeautiful@yourwebsite.com.
  3. Lastly, skip over to your email application (Mail, Thunderbird, Outlook) and add the newly created email account (this is in Preferences, or Accounts), and then do the same on your phone.

There! Just like that, you're done!

02: Create an email alert on your phone for emails from your customers

This is related to #1, and will help you be super responsive to your audience. Have you ever been shopping for something online and had a quick question about something before you could place an order? You shoot off a quick email with the question and then what? You get a response a day or two later — but you've already cooled on that first impulse to buy whatever it was. Aaaand, since we're being honest with each other, you're feeling a bit pissed off that they valued you so poorly as a potential customer that they couldn't even be bothered returning your email until they felt like it. Bastards!

Setting up your phone to receive notifications is suuuper easy. Ready? Go to your phone's settings, and under Notifications > Mail, you'll be able to select the email account that you created for your customers, and turn Notifications on. And, Boom! — you're a marketing rockstar!

03: Create an email signature

Whenever I receive an email from a winemaker that doesn't include an email signature, my first impulse is to think "Oh great, it's one of those wineries that will probably take three days to respond each time, and it will be impossible to coordinate picking up any wine that I want to buy." This is not a good first impression, especially when it is completely avoidable.

In the image up there in the carousel, the logo and text in the example signature would link to a specific page at my website, depending on which audience segment that person fits into. Providing the phone number is a courtesy that is always nice to do for people you're in communication with, because it means they won't have to go searching for it if they want to get a hold of you. The social icons in the signature of an email are never going to be a major channel for growing your social following, but hey — you have the space, so why not include them?

Creating an email signature can generally be done within your email application. Fancier ones (like the one in the image above) require some basic HTML coding skills. If you fit the description in the first paragraph, but you just have no no hope of ever creating an email signature for yourself, please — pleeeeease! — get in touch and we'll help you out. The cost to have this done is less than the cost of just one lost sale.

04: Create better description tags for your winery's web pages

Description meta tags are often overlooked by small wineries as a means for attracting web traffic. To be fair, they have had their ups and downs in the SEO landscape. In the early days, website owners and SEO companies would stuff them with all kinds of keywords, and that would be enough for the search engines to reward them with a prominent ranking. That was back in the days when you could use text the same color as the background text (that is, invisible to humans, but not to search engines) and type "Britney Spears" 200 times, and your site would be at the top of millions of search queries everyday. Needless to say, tactics like this not only don't work any more, but they will actually get your site penalized by Google.

When the Description meta tag became less of a driving factor for search rankings, web designers stopped paying attention to them almost entirely.

Today, although search engines do use the contents of the Description tag to rank your site (although not as heavily weighted as in the past), the most compelling reason for crafting a well written description tag is that it is often what influences online users to click on a particular search result. If your description tag answers a question that an onliner user has, guess what? CLICKS, baby!

When writing your Description tags for each of your website's pages, accurately describe what a person can expect to find if they click that search result. Users who arrive at a page and are unable to find what they were expecting, will spend, on average, three seconds looking for it before they click away. So use your Description tag to tell people what your page is about, and then give them a little incentive to click on it with a call-to-action (CTA). A good CTA combines a verb and a benefit: click here and get this. In the example in #4 in the slideshow above, the verb is "click here" and the benefit is the offer of a 10% discount.

If you don't know how to edit your website's html meta tags, send us a quick note and we'll take care of writing them for you.

05: Use a content calendar for your winery's email marketing

Whether you're writing for your winery's blog or your email newsletters, you can save yourself a ton of time by brainstorming ideas for content and capturing them in a calendar. A content calendar is a useful tool to use as a prompt for topics, titles, keywords, offers, imagery, links to other pages on your website, and special announcements.

A good time to sit down and plan your year's content is in the quiet of December or January after all the wines have been put to bed and before you start pruning. But once you've engaged in this, you'll find that ideas will come to you all through the year, so you can just keep adding them to your editorial calendar.

Want to save yourself some time right now and download a content calendar? Here you go:

06: Create automated email campaigns

Did you catch that word — "Automated" — isn't that a beautiful word? I'd also like to remind you how much you love email marketing. Listen, I know that everyone likes to stay focused on how many social followers they have, and they care about how many likes they get, but email marketing is a direct pass straight into your audience's inbox, you can use as many words as you want, and you can place several links, all to customized landing pages that can detect — and report — who's visiting. But let's get back to that word, AUTOMATE.

To create automated email campaigns in MailChimp, ConstantContact, or whatever email provider you use ( btw ConvertKit is the best), just head on over to the automations section. Just as you can set up a welcome email when new subscribers join, you can set up timed emails to go out every week, two weeks, month, or whatever frequency turns you on. Some email providers make it easier than others to do this ( ahem, ConvertKit is the best), but if you run into difficulty, almost all of them have short tutorial videos to help. If you still have trouble setting this up, just drop us a line and we can help.

Ok then ... moving on.

07: Getting your social media back on brand

Many small wineries waddle eagerly into the social media waters believing it to be a marketing strategy. When they then fail to see a surge in sales or followers, they start getting distracted, and start retweeting adorable puppy videos, or kite-surfing clips. Over time, their profile starts to look like a very generalized mash-up of everything on the web, and their followers forget why they are here.

If this describes your social media accounts, it might be time to do a quick review of your feed and consider removing any posts that might be diluting your brand.

Next, take some time to identify your goals for your social channels, keeping in mind that your goals will be different for each platform; Instagram, for instance, is designed to keep users on their site and not linking off to other websites. It's more useful for keeping your brand personality in your audience's minds. Twitter, on the other hand, makes it easy to put links right there in each post, so you can send followers to a special offer or an event sign-up.

08: Understanding who are your winery's customers

How well do you know your customers? What percentage of your customers are Baby Boomers, and what percentage are Millennials? Do you know how those two groups differ? Do you know how each group tends to make purchasing decisions? What's the average purchase amount for each of your demographic groups?

Attempting to create marketing targeted to your customers, without knowing who your customers are and what they care about, is just a crap-shoot.

The good news is, being a small winery, you're in a great position to go through your customer database and start gaining some insights. From there, you can create audience segments and begin to understand how each of your segments behaves, and what they care about. Once you've compiled all this juicy info, you can start to create segmented emails, website funnels, and create different offers to entice different members of your audience.

Looking at your wine club, who are your 20 most-engaged members? Have you ever asked them what they like about your winery, or what they don't like? Who are your 100 least-engaged wine club members? Have you ever asked them what they don't like about the wine club?

Staying knowledgeable about your audience is one of the best things you can do to improve your marketing.

09: Getting to know your winery's closest competitors

Who are your winery's competitors? You know of course that you are not competing with all other wineries, or even all other wineries that produce the same varieties as you. In fact, if you continue along this path, you'll recognize that even all the producers of the same variety in your same price category are not directly competing with you.

Take this all the way to the end, and you've completed a Positioning Exercise for your winery. You will understand exactly what other wines are being considered when someone is thnking about buying your wine.

In the process of understanding your winery's closest competitors, you may discover that your tasting room is competing in one arena, helping you to compete more effectively in both areas.

10: Understanding your website's traffic

If you're a winemaker, you have technical streak in you, so you can certainly handle diving into Google Analytics.

Whenever a website owner sees their website's Analytics data for the first time, it always stuns them. Often, they can't believe that their website, after all the time they put into it, is only getting 10 visitors a month, or their visitors arrive at their homepage but never visit the store. It changes how website owners look at their marketing.

Setting up your website for Google to provide Analytics reporting involves putting a small code snippet on your site's server. This process takes just a few minutes.

Do you need help with any of these?

Get in touch! We're super helpy! — in many cases, we can talk you through it at no charge.

Related Posts