Why Digital Marketing for Wineries Matters Now More Than Ever

5 tactics you can execute today

I often talk to wineries about the roadmap for success in direct-to-consumer (DTC) digital marketing. This involves the challenge of marketing a three-dimensional story in a two-dimensional digital world. When you don’t have the 5 sensory drivers of the wine country experience around you, how do you capture the essence of your brand online, through emails, social media, and other digital channels?

The answer is: it’s hard—but doable. With the right digital strategy and tactics, you will be able to support and even enhance the overall marketing efforts of the brand.

So what happens when the current three-dimensional reality of the winery and wine country experience is disrupted by natural disaster and the public’s perception of it? How do you market through all this when you don’t have the strong economic fuel provided by tourism in harvest season to drive wine sales, wine club signups, and email acquisition?

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We are about to find out.

The wine industry is a classically payroll constrained industry, requiring most marketing and DTC staff to wear multiple hats in job functions, and utilizing seasonal and weekend part-time employees wherever possible. For most wineries, this means that digital marketing is one of many jobs done by a DTC manager, who may also handle wine club, email, social media, some tasting room responsibilities, and events. What is really a full-time function for most retailers (which wineries have become) and consumer product marketers is therefore just one of many daily tasks for most winery DTC managers.

That may not work in the current environment. Digital marketing and that means strategy and tactics, require carefully crafted and clearly executed campaigns that are tied to specific objectives and goals. During the post-disaster crisis, those tactics have to reflect all of the current data and digital assets of the winery that go beyond the tasting room and wine county environs. These assets need to be assessed with the following questions in mind:

  • How big is our wine club list and how loyal are our members (ie: How much wine do they buy outside of their wine club shipments)?

  • What percentage of our non-wine club email list are recent purchasers (last 18 months)?

  • What percentage of our wine club and purchaser lists reside in the Bay Area/locally?

  • How many followers do we have on the major social media platforms, and how strong is engagement (percentage of likes, shares, comments)?

  • How mobile-optimized are we (website, emails, social ads, search)?

  • What is our historical benchmark metrics for website, email, social clicks, and conversions from existing marketing efforts?

  • What does Google Analytics tell me about where my best and most profitable website traffic is coming from?

These are just some of the questions that need to be answered in order to build an effective digital marketing plan and budget going forward.

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Here are 5 tactics you can rely on to get started.

  • Maintain and execute a consistent social engagement regimen with relevant content, imagery, and info about your winery. Your audience will respond better to your sales promotions and offers if they are part of your overall “community.”

  • Segment your data. Focus on your most loyal customers, wine club members, and frequent purchasers first. Create separate marketing lists and different offers for less frequent buyers, and also people who may have visited the winery and never purchased before.

  • Create targeted and integrated email and social marketing campaigns to remind customers why they fell in love with you in the first place. Use fresh, relevant content to tug some hearts, pull some strings, and ask for their support in keeping your beautiful winery going by buying your wine.

  • Find new lookalike potential customers that mirror your most loyal wine club/frequent purchasers by building Facebook Custom Audiences with your existing email list. If you have utilized video in your email or social marketing, you can also run lookalike campaigns targeting consumers who have previously engaged with your videos.

  • Offer digital gift cards at a discount via email and social advertising that can be only redeemed at the winery tasting room to encourage Bay Area traffic to the winery.

Based on your winery’s digital benchmarks, budget, and objectives, there are additional strategic and tactical approaches that are available to execute, test, and pivot off of. The end game is to get a positive ROI on the dollars and resources employed in digital marketing and to increase the spend and efforts on whatever works best.


For more ideas, read our blog.