The Wine Business Is Changing

The wine business is changing constantly. Latest statistics suggest that direct-to-consumer sales are growing fast.

With Millennials becoming an influential group of consumers this should come as no surprise. They have different social and buying patterns than any other generation. They are highly active in social media and live an active digital life. Their wine purchases are price-conscious and they are attracted to brands that offer them values and savings. They are fans of wine brands that they can relate to.

For this generation, the primary sourcing channel is the web. They are an ideal target for wine businesses pursuing highly profitable direct-to-consumer online sales. Let’s see what the 10 most important digital wine marketing hacks are that your wine business should use to increase online wine sales!

1. Get The Basics Right

The wine business seems to be the last industry around the globe that has not yet quite understood the importance of Web 2.0. There are still tens of thousands of winery websites that do not match the basic requirements of responsive, mobile optimised and secure design.

Mobile first

To reach out to a generation that lives a significant part of its life online, communicates using smartphones at least 2 hours a day you need far more than a static wine business website. You should adopt a ‘mobile first’ strategy: your website and online wine shop should be optimized for browsing via mobile devices. This is needed not just for relating to the audience that likes to do its purchases online. Already in May 2016 Google decided to boost their mobile-friendly algorithm and further penalize non-mobile-friendly websites. So, if you want your wine business to rank better in search results, get your direct-to-consumer wine shop mobile optimised!


Another basic feature of your website and wine-shop is their compliance with security standards. While it may sound obvious, many wine business owners still have not managed to move their sites to support secure wine sales transactions. Since October 2017 Google penalises websites that do not support the https standard. These sites will simply be marked as ‘non-secure’ – further limiting your chance of getting your wines in front of potential consumers. Moving your website to be SSL compliant may be very simple: there are several hosting providers out there that enable this with a click of a button. This requirement is so basic that if your webpage does not comply with this standard, you should not even consider launching online wine sales.

Use responsive, mobile optimised webdesign


Make your website secure, SSL compliant


2. Enable Your Social Presence

Wine consumers of the 21st century are becoming increasingly aware and informed. They make their purchases by looking at evaluations, reviews and opinions of fellow customers. They expect a 2-way communication with wine brands. Putting up your website with wines you want to sell is only the first step. This is like a shopping window – how often does that encourage communication?

Social Footprint

You need to create engagement with your customers and prospects. Social platforms are the right means for that.

Do you not like them? Well, bad news: if your prospects and customer use them, you do not have a choice – you have to be there, too. You do not have to have a social footprint on all platforms though. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Viber, WhatsApp, … the list is endless.

Generic rule of thumb: listen in first, identify which platforms your prospects prefer, and establish a presence there.


With over 2bn global users, Facebook is the number #1 alternative. Whatever your choice is, build an attractive presence on the selected social media platform(s) and be present there, every day.

Do not forget that these channels are all about engagement. There are still way too many wines businesses that only post about themselves and never seem to bother to engage in a discussion with customers. That is completely wrong.

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Create presence on channel(s) that matter

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Use 2-way communications

3. Share Relevant Content

You have possibly heard it before: social media is all about content that is posted, liked/disliked, commented and shared. The key to a successful engagement with customers is sharing ‘relevant’ content.

But what is relevant content, really? Posting about your wine business only is hardly always relevant. People like stories, especially those which show a human side of your business. There are 2 rules you should consider here:

The ‘Triple E’ rule

Your published content should be entertaining, educating or otherwise engaging (also known as the ‘triple E rule’) .

Having a good laugh can make the day of your customers. Learning about some wine-related tips and tricks can also trigger follower interest. Asking their opinion or requesting them to share their own content on your social channel encourages conversations, in other words, engagement.

Content Creation & Curation

Creating your own, organic content is great. Mixing it with content from others is better. Sprucing it up with content from your wine consumers and followers is best. Use a combination of all three.

There are great tools out there such as Feedly that help you syndicate content from external sources.

Remember: it is not about you, it is about your customers. You have to find content that they find relevant, not what you think is relevant to your business.

Combining content syndication tools with content management applications such as Buffer or Hootsuite you can quickly build a well-automated social media management practice. These tools can help you schedule your posts so that everything during the week happens on its own. The only thing you then have to do is engage in the conversation around that content.

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Entertain, educate, engage your audience

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Create and curate content

4. Use Facebook Advertising

You may wonder, why Facebook and why advertising?

2bn users, 205m wine enthusiasts

Well, first, there are 2bn monthly active Facebook users out there. Checking the advertising platform suggests that 205m of those users have an interest in wine. That’s no small audience, is it? Do you really want to miss it?

Second, Facebook is getting crowded. With people following hundreds of friends and brands out there, your chance of getting your organic posts hit home is dropping.

The average organic reach of posts from brands on Facebook is now 2%. That means, when you post, your message can reach 2 out of your 100 followers. Sure, it is an average – there is better and there is worse.

Recent announcements from Facebook, however, show that they further increased their preference for paid content. There are already experiments going on by Facebook for presenting organic content from brands on separate feeds. Sooner or later the days of cheap reach to your target audiences with great content will be gone. Your content may soon be only seen in the regular newsfeed of Facebook users if you paid for it.

According to the Social Media Examiner’s 2017 Social Media Industry Report, 93% of businesses out there use Facebook advertising. Is your wine business one of them?

Quick learning curve

Facebook and its sister Instagram are excellent advertising platforms for the wine business, provided you know how to use them.

There is tons of literature out there about how to get going on Facebook promotions, so we are not going to dwell on this here long. Suffice to say, there are great tools that make this rather simple for beginners.

Take AdEspresso (a HootSuite affiliate) to start with: an online application that sits on top of Facebook’s own advertising platform. Tools like this make your Facebook wine business advertising ramp-up much faster than going through the still horrible user experience of Facebook’s own Power Editor.

Your other alternative is to use a digital marketing agency that understands the wine business. This can offload you from learning tips and tricks, yet the success of the advertising efforts and the performance of the agency remains measurable. That is the beauty of digital marketing: results are measurable, so you always know whether you spent your advertising budget effectively.

If you have not started with it, it is about time. Your advertisements should lure in potential customers to your online wineshop where your offer should be presented in a non-refusable (and as you learned, responsive) manner.

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Use Facebook advertising

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Speed up your learning curve

5. Build Your Facebook Audiences

If you decided to get your hands dirty with Facebook advertising, there is one key expression you should learn: Facebook audiences. There are essentially three types of these, each serving a different purpose.

Generic Audience

People have certain social, behavioural, geographical or interest profiles. Whatever you do on Facebook will be monitored.

What you look at, what you like, what you share, even what you scroll back to – all this is monitored by Facebook. Yes, big brother is watching you and all users of this social platform. This is all done for profiling purposes. The more people use Facebook, the more the platform knows about what their preferences are, what they like, what they hate and what they do not care about.

From a marketing point of view, the good news is that all this profile information is available to you as an advertiser. You can target your wine business advertisements to an audience that is most likely to respond to your offer.

A generic audience is best to pique interest to click-through to an offer, sign-up to a newsletter or just visit your website. Once that interaction happened, you are on a fast way to build one of your own audiences, a custom audience.

Custom Audience

Custom audiences, as the name suggest, are a special type. There are four ways to create them:

Option 1 – you either have the e-mail address, phone number, or Facebook ID of some of your existing customers on file, or

Option 2 –  you have a Facebook pixel running on your website that can identify visiting Facebook users and collect them into an ever-growing list,

Option 3 – you have an app that Facebook users downloaded and interacted with, or

Option 4 – there are a bunch of Facebook users who have interacted with your Facebook presence in some ways (commented or shared your post, liked your page, viewed your video, and so forth).

You can use all these options to create a custom audience. Unless you have customers who are part of Option 1, you will not know who these people really are. However, Facebook will group them for you and you will be able to use them as target audiences of your campaigns.

The trick with custom audiences is that they are actually people who have already had some interaction with your wine business brand in one or other way. This is great because you can target your advertising to them. By doing so, they are much more likely to react to your promotion than members of a generic audience.

A very good, comprehensive guide about how to create and use custom audiences you can find here:

Lookalike audience

Lookalike audiences are built out of your existing Facebook custom audiences. They are close matches in terms of their profile to those individuals, who are already members of your custom audiences.

Lookalike audiences will be auto-created by Facebook. In the creation process, the only thing you have to do is:

a) select your custom audience,
b) decide the country you want your lookalike audience to be created in, and
c) determine the size of the audience.

The rest will be done by Facebook. This is an excellent way to create a target audience for your promotions who, based on their similarity to your favourite customers, are likely to respond positively to your offer.

What is that good about custom and lookalike audiences? They have either already engaged with your brand or they are more likely to do so. Based on this, advertising to these people is much cheaper than spending money on direct promotions to generic audiences.

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Split your audiences

Learn to use them for different purposes


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