Grow Your Winery's Following — Gaining more subscribers to your winery's email list

Bradley Squires
published on
July 17, 2021
Email Marketing

Sending emails directly to your audience's inboxes is still one of the quickest, easiest, cheapest, and most effective forms of marketing, completely eclipsing social media.

With such a large role to play, it's easy to see the value in a big, beautiful, thriving list of subscribers.

Email marketing's results waaay eclipses your social media results
Email marketing's results can waaay eclipses your social media results

Despite all the advertising, all the marketing, all the emails, and all the other demands on attention, you’d like people to willingly subscribe to your winery’s emails.

But if you’re just sending scattershot emails to your entire email list every week, pestering your audience to buy more wine, maybe you should consider putting your winery’s email marketing on hold for a moment before you do any more harm to this valuable communications channel.

My mother used to always say "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."
Same goes for email marketing.
Hoo, boy! That must be some pretty lip-smacking good email content you're serving up!

There are two parts to growing your winery's email subscriber list: gaining new subscribers, and keeping your existing ones. This article is about doing each of these better.

Right now, it seems that wineries fall into one of three categories: they send no emails at all (because they just don't have the bandwidth); they send just a few emails per year, usually to announce club shipments, or; they're incessantly sending sales promotions.

Can you spot what is missing? For me, when I receive emails from wineries, I usually feel like they don’t know who I am, and that I am just being marketed to. In other words, I don’t feel a connection. In fact, I don’t feel that any winery, whose emails I’ve signed up for, have ever made an attempt to get to know me. I’ve never received an email that said, “Hey Brad, what kind of wines do you like?” or anything personal in any way whatsoever. Am I mad at them? “pfffft, no!” Am I taking it personally? “Well, a little bit. I mean, I didn’t subscribe to your winery’s emails just to receive sales pitch after sales pitch. I was hoping you’d take the time to get to know me a bit before you tried unhooking my bra.”

As a result, winery marketing emails are seeing increasingly lower engagement (by which I mean very low rates for emails opened and link click-throughs), and high unsubscribe rates. For wineries in the new reality of the COVID pandemic, where we’ve had to reduce our dependence on tasting room sales and turn more towards online sales, telesales, and … wait for it … EMAIL MARKETING, a decrease in engagement for that channel is not good news.

"I didn’t subscribe to your winery’s emails just to receive sales pitch after sales pitch ... I was hoping you’d take the time to get to know me a bit before you tried unhooking my bra."
— Your Winery's Email Subscribers

Your winery's email's need to build stronger relationships

The first component to growing your list is to make sure you keep your existing subscribers. To do that, you need to provide value to your readers.

Start by identifying the different kinds of content you'll be sending, and then follow that up by creating a content calendar.

Different kinds of content might include updates about what's happening in the vineyard, what the winemaker is up to, or seasonal recipes to go with your wines. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but if you use a template for your emails, pasting in some text every couple of weeks really isn't prohibitively time-consuming. Remember, no one has time to read long emails, so, the shorter the better.

The important thing is to write to your subscribers like you're happy they exist. Stay in touch, and be personal.

And now ... getting new subscribers

There are all kinds of ways to encourage folks to sign up for a company's emails. And being a winery, you have TONS of incentives to offer:

  • Offer 10% off their next order for new subscribers,
  • Create a check box on your online store to sign up for emails
  • Create a pop-up on your website offering a free winery tour for subscribing
  • Run a campaign on Twitter offering a free sticker/wine openener/t-shirt/whatever when people sign up.

The trick is to understand the lifetime value of a highly engaged subscriber to your winery's emails, and then decide what portion of that you're willing to pay to get people to sign up.

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