Email does matter. Despite the rise of social media as a communications platform, email is still triumphant when it comes to marketing products, including (or especially) wines.
While you don’t want to use social media as an advertising medium, email is ideally suited to that purpose. Your email list is supremely valuable to you. Unlike a public broadcast or print ad that is directed to everyone, your list is sent to existing customers, who have already told you they like your wine, or to people who have requested to be on your list, because they are considering buying your wines.
There are some guidelines that can enable your email list to sell more of your wine (which is why you are in business, no?).
- Read the emails of other wineries. Subscribe to their mailing list. This may take some time to get on many lists, but once it is done, you will see what they do, see if their content, their design, their entire approach to selling, is something that your customers would find appealing. You can use a separate email address so their promotional email blasts do not clog up your primary inbox. You can use Gmail or Yahoo or other free service too.
- Target your email blasts to those customers who would be interested in the specific wines you are promoting. If you email list is large, this is essential. You don’t want to burden your recipients with a new email every few days. But if you limit a specific email to red wine buyers, or wine club members, or those who have purchased great quantities of your wine, you can send out emails frequently, and no individual will get them all. Too many emails can get people to unsubscribe to your list, and then you may have lost them permanently.
- Sign up people to your email list. There are many ways to do this.
➤ If a customer buys your wine online, you can automatically sign them up. You do want to make this an opt-in choice, so you can ask them to check a box that signs them up.
➤ If they are in the winery, you can have a signup sheet which by its nature is an opt-in choice.
➤ If you want to offer your email list or newsletter via your website, it’s a good idea to put this right on the home page, at the top, so the request can be easily found. Don’t bury it at the bottom in small print or place it on the “contact us” or similar page internally. Why would someone go to that page if they have no reason to contact you? Just because you know where it is, does not mean anyone else will.
➤ Don’t make it difficult to sign up. All you need is their email address. You do not need (at this time) their home address, their zip code, their wine preferences, or anything else other than their email address. If you really do want that information, sign them up first, and then in the thank you email you send (you will send one, right?) you can ask for additional information. If they don’t respond, you can live with that until they order wine, and then you will get it. But you will have their name on your list.
Testing…testing. Once you or your staff has created a marketing email, test it. That’s right, test it. Don’t just approve it because it looks good. And the person who created it should not be the one to test it. Why? Because the person who made the error (if there is one) will be less likely to find it.
➤ There are errors that frequently occur (and yes, we have received them). The link from the email to the store page on your site should be checked. You want to send people to a landing page, not to the home page of your winery where they are left to fend for themselves in trying to navigate your site. And that landing page should reflect just what is in the email. If you are promoting just your 2015 County Chardonnay, don’t send them to a page that includes all your Chardonnays.
➤ Proofread your copy. This may seem obvious, but obviously many wineries do not do this. If it’s the 2014 Merlot, make sure you put in the vintage date and it’s the correct vintage that is on sale.
➤ Proofread your promotional code, if you choose to use one. A good idea: Do not use the numerals 1 or 0, or the letters I or O, unless it would be obvious, like PINOTNOIR or AUGUST2016. And make sure that the promo code is not case sensitive. If you use a promo code, test it. It’s a bad thing if you ask people to enter a promo code to offer, for instance, a 30% discount on all wines, and then once the code is entered it only offers 20% off, or worse, says “no such promo code.” Test it. Find the error. Fix the error. If you are offering different discounts to different groups, make that clear. If the 30% discount applies only to wine club members, others get 20%, say so up front. You don’t want your customer to feel cheated.
➤ Check your links. Two major wineries had a huge “buy button” and when clicked on, “404 Not Found” is what was found. Really?? Check it first.
➤ If you are a multi-brand operator, and you send out a similar email to all with just the wines changed, check it all. One major group created a beautiful email for their first winery. They then duplicated it for each of their other brands. They changed the copy, changed the images, but forgot to change the link. So while the first email they created was perfect, all the other ones looked good, but their Buy Now button all went back to the first winery. It would have taken only a few seconds to check each one first.
Signing up for other wineries’ lists can help you to create better ones for yourself. If you come across another winery email that you find appealing, go through the motions of seeming to buy something from their email. You will be able to tell good navigation from bad. You will discover if the winery means what it says. Obviously you don’t have to buy their wines. Just be sure you don’t fall for their mistakes. See how easy it is to make them. But when you are inspired by what another winery does, you can do the same for your own customers. Be sure that your customers are inspired enough to buy your wines.