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!

6. Use Landing Pages

Once you have your online wine promotions running, these should lead your prospects to your online wine-shop. Arriving there, visitors will have to be convinced to make a wine purchase. This is easier said than done. One of the most common mistakes online shop owners make is transferring leads either to the main page of the webshop or to a standard product page.

There are better techniques than that. Your paid promotions are successful when you manage to convert your leads. This means that you either collect some information about your prospects for a follow-up later, or you manage to make the wine sale right away.

Landing Pages

For either of these to happen, standard wine product pages in your webshop are much less effective than conversion-oriented landing pages. Landing pages provide additional information and details about your wine offer. They can be visually more compelling, more convincing than any standard wine description page. It is so because they are developed to detail the offer and increase the conversion rate.

Conversion Magnets

You can add attractive conversion magnets on a landing page, such as a welcome bonus for the first wine (package) order, or a one-time discount for a newsletter sign-up. You can also combine a landing page with an exit-intent plugin. With that, you can capture prospects who are about to leave the page. Before they would close your page, the exit-intent plugin kicks in. It displays an additional offer, which may trigger your prospect to share his contact details with you or place an immediate order for wines.

A/B Testing

Landing pages are not difficult to create. Yet, there are still many wine businesses out there that do not use them. Landing page tactics can increase conversion rates further. Split (or A/B) testing different versions can help find the ideal combination of text and visual that delivers the best conversion result for your particular direct-to-consumer wine offer.

There are several software products available in the market that simplify creation of well-converting landing pages. LeadPages and OptimizePress are two solutions that integrate well with contemporary online shop systems.

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Apply visually compelling landing pages that detail your offer


Split-test different versions to maximise conversion rate


7. Sign-up Your Wine Retail Shop Visitors

If you are running a direct-to-consumer wine business that sells also offline, you are likely to have a wine retail shop or a cellar. These physical locations also offer excellent options to collect prospect data. Not all visitors in your brick and mortar wine-shop, cellar or tasting room will buy your wines on the spot. Some people need more time to make a wine purchase decision: not everybody is an impulsive buyer. These are exactly the cases where your offline and online conversions should be connected.

Offline and online – connected

By placing an offer in a well-visible place in your physical wine store you can encourage visitors to sign-up for your newsletter or take part in a prize draw. The sign-up should happen in an electronic form and it should be simple.

Some of the better e-mail marketing automation solutions offer free lead collection apps that you can install and display on an iPad. You place the tablet on a stander and you are good to go. The best of it: it should not even be always connected to the internet. The app can collect lead data offline: next time it finds a network connection, it will upload all prospect data into your respective mailing list.

Use advanced e-mail marketing automation solutions like MailChimp and CampaignMonitor. Both of these solutions come with offline lead collection apps: you find these MailChimp Subscribe and CampaignMonitor Enlist apps on the web.

Social WiFi

Another great option to convert offline visitors to prospects to be targeted online later is offering them social WiFi. Members of the Millennial generation spend 2 hours on their smartphones a day. Posting about their location, mood, feelings and experience has become their norm. Facebook is becoming an equally important video platform as YouTube.

To post their content on social media channels, users need appropriate bandwidth. This bandwidth is often not available in a wine store or cellar, or their mobile data plan may limit them from posting on-site. Social WiFi solves this problem. It enables access to free WiFi access to visitors in exchange for their basic personal information or a particular action.

The requested information can be their name and e-mail address. The requested action can be checking-in to your wine business location via Facebook, posting on Instagram or tweeting about the visit to your wine store or cellar.

The collected information can be saved into your Facebook custom audience or forwarded for further processing (and follow-ups) to your e-mail marketing automation solution. Social WiFi can be configured on top of your existing WiFi network. Service providers are country and region specific – some typical providers include HotSpotSystem, Purple, FusionWiFi and FansWiFi.

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Offer lead magnets to encourage in-store sign-ups

Provide free connectivity to support leads

8. Use Tasting Events As Lead Magnets

Tasting events for most wine businesses are a no-brainer. They are traditionally the primary option to create consumer interest and generate wine sales. Yet, many of these wine events would need a significant improvement.

Wine tastings are a great way to generate engagement between the wine business, targeted prospects and existing customers. The problem is that as long as you do not know who the people are who attend your event, your engagement with them becomes temporary. They may like your wine, they may purchase a few bottles or cases. However, unless you take their basic personal data, you will never be able to follow-up with them and direct them to your online wine shop.

Being wine business professionals ourselves, we continue to receive invitations to wine tastings. Many of these do not require any formal sign-ups. This is a mistake. Wine businesses sending these invitations miss the opportunity to learn about the audience in advance. If there is paid promotion involved, it makes the case even worse. Not knowing the efficiency and status of your campaign, you cannot make adjustments to it. That is how your wine tasting event may end up totally crowded (creating a negative customer experience) or totally empty (making you feel desperate).

Event Registrations

Adding event registration functionality to your wine business website is normally not a major development. Yet, if it causes a headache for you, you can easily use one of global online platforms like Eventbrite. They support free/paid registrations, electronic and paper ticketing, as well as custom data collection. Best of it all, these platforms can be connected to social media and e-mail marketing platforms. By linking your social media campaigns you can measure the efficiency of these. By linking your marketing automation tool, you can reach out to your attendees before and after your event.

If you prefer to take event registration to your own hands and not use a global platform like Eventbrite, then there are many other event tools available in the market. Check this link for more alternatives.

Event Sign-Ups

Using the same techniques as described for your retail wine shop above, you can use your wine tasting events as lead generation tools. People who show up unexpectedly and without a registration can still be registered on-site. If your tasting is part of a larger event or you do not have the personnel for on-site registrations/check-ins, you can still use on-site promotional offers at your tasting desk to collect prospect data.

We recommend that you avoid running wine tastings without collecting customer data in one or other way. You may impress people with your wines but you leave the follow-up to them. This turns your wine business into reactive mode. Collect lead data and go after your prospects proactively.

Use registrations to know who attends your tastings

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Encourage on-the-spot registrations at your events

9. Scale Up Your E-mail Marketing

For most brands, e-mail was still the preferred medium to communicate with customers in 2017. This is likely to continue well into the future. With e-mail being one of the cheapest communications channels still, it remains to be popular.

Bad E-mail Practices

Nonetheless, there are different ways of sending out e-mails to your customers. If you use a simple mailing client like Outlook or Gmail, you are missing out on a whole bunch of wine marketing opportunities.

When you send off your newsletter from a standard Outlook client, you have no feedback about who opened your mail, who clicked and on what link in your message. Sure, if your target e-mail address is incorrect, you will see a sending failure message. But that is about all the feedback you get. E-mail marketing automation tools can track who opened your message from what client (desktop or mobile), what your most popular links were and why your message bounced (in case its delivery was unsuccessful).

E-Mail Automation

What makes great e-mail marketing tools unique is their tracking, personalisation, A/B testing, automation and segmentation capabilities.


Personalisation can increase open and click-through rate by as much as 40%. Adding the first name of your addressee in the subject line or in your opening line delivers an important message: you care about the individual you send your e-mail to. Yet, there are still about 2 out of 3 businesses out there that do not use this feature.

Split Testing

Great e-mail marketing tools can split (or A/B) test different versions of e-mails. A particular visual and text combination can have a much better open and/or click-through rate than others. By distributing various forms of the message to a subset of your target customers first, the ideal version can be used to send the message to the rest of your target wine consumer audience.


Automation is by far the most relevant (and yet still least used) feature of e-mail marketing tools. By catching wine lover interest at the right time with the right offer, wine purchasing conversion rates can be dramatically improved. Automated transaction e-mails can be configured to be distributed based on the interaction of the customer. For instance, if your promotional e-mail was opened but your wine offer has not been taken, a well-timed, automated follow-up proposal with an additional wine offer may create your expected conversion.


Segmenting your targeted customers helps you create customised e-mails for them. For instance, you may not want to send the same promotional offer to white wine enthusiasts as to red wine fans. People who prefer wines of a certain origin or in a certain price range may react adversely by getting offers that are outside of their comfort zone. It is exactly this reason why you should categorise and tag your customers. The same applies to leads: your message should be different depending on how far they are in your conversion cycle.

We suggest that you decide for a tool that integrates well with other digital marketing applications. E-mail marketing tools that first look cost effective may become a real headache when you want to connect them to other marketing tools. Use industry standards like CampaignMonitor, SendInBlue or MailChimp.

Stop sending mass e-mails from standard e-mail clients

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Use e-mail marketing automation tools

10. Analyze & Segment Your Customer Data

Customer data analysis is one of the most critical tools for wine businesses. As expectations shift towards personalised offers, it is vital to understand what catches the interest of your customers. To move away from ‘one size fits all’ marketing messages, you should evaluate purchasing behaviour of your customers.

How can a wine business do this right? There are many business intelligence tools available on the market. Yet, learning them may be time-consuming. You do not have to invest significant money into software tools. Using spreadsheet management tools like Microsoft Excel, you can get the basics done.

What factors should you look at? As always, it depends.

Segmentation Aspects

Engagement with e-mail marketing

If you wish to optimise your e-mail marketing campaigns, then you should segment your buyers based on their engagement with your e-mails. One way to do this is to segment them using 2 dimensions: open rate and click-through rate.

When analysing e-mail marketing behaviour, you should look at a longer period. Your most loyal wine enthusiasts will be those who open most of your messages and click your embedded links (and buy your wines). But there will also be other groups: people who rarely open but when they do so, they click your links, too. Others will be frequent openers but no-clickers. And you will also have others who rarely or never open your messages and also do not click on your offers. Depending on which group a particular wine customer belongs to, you should adjust your e-mail marketing tactics towards him. There is no point sending recurring promotional messages to customers who never open them.

RFM Analysis

If you wish to understand the commercial value of your customers, you should look at minimum 3 factors. We recommend the use of the RFM model. In this concept, you look at the Recency (R), Frequency (F) and Monetary Value (M) of the wine purchases of customers. These three factors together provide a good basis for segmentation.

Segment, Category & Tag Assignment

Whatever customer groups you then define, it is important to do the evaluation of your customer base at regular intervals. Business intelligence tools may help you with this effort to a great degree. They may even update the segmentation data real-time as purchases happen. However, you may not at all need this automation. You can probably settle with a quarterly analysis. This you can do offline using traditional financial analysis tools.

Based on your analysis of the purchasing behaviour, marketing channel receptivity, and other factors of your customers, you can assign them to categories and segments. To make it easier, you can also tag them. The good thing about tagging is that these attributes can be synchronised across several platforms. If you tag a customer ‘loyal’, this tag can be populated into your e-mail marketing tool, your Facebook custom audience or even to your website. All these tools can then adjust their displayed information using the assigned tag as a filter. Your e-mail message, Facebook advertisement and webshop price can be auto-adjusted to reward the customer loyalty with a custom offer. An offer, that is not available for anyone else, unless that customer is also tagged with the ‘loyal’ attribute.

We encourage you to get your customer data cleansed and analysed. Experiment with segmentation and tagging. Remember, personalisation is important and your customers will appreciate that you took the time to offer them something that is relevant. These efforts should pay off as increased revenues from direct-to-consumer sales. You can read more information about customer data processing approaches suitable for SMBs here.

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Assign categories, segments & tags to customers

Adjust your offer based on categories, segments & tags


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