Great post on Agile Marketing by Jonathon Colman from REI. In this 7 minute video, he discusses four key principles of Agile Marketing and how organizations can use them to deliver more value to their customers.
Agile Marketing is a term traditionally utilized in technology and by software developers, but here Jonathan succinctly tells us how those same principles used in technology to understand the customer and align development processes can be applied to make organization structure, integration across teams, product development and marketing efforts far more efficient.
Central to this concept of Agile Marketing is the customer; something wineries are learning first hand as they dive deeper into Direct to Consumer marketing and recognize the importance and necessity of understanding and managing this channel from a customer-centric place. But beyond just putting the customer first in messaging and marketing, wineries should also be looking at the way their organizations and departments are structured and how they can build more collaborative internal processes to ensure that the all employees and departments are working from the most efficient and focused place.
Quick Response (QR) codes are quickly becoming the "hot" direct marketing item in the wine industry. Much like the early 2000's blog rage, and more recently the social media craze ("if you're not on Facebook, you're nowhere!"), QR codes are popping up in our little industry like wildfire. They're starting to show up on labels, in ads, on shelf talkers, business cards, tasting room menus and more.
Here are two recent articles on how wineries are using these handy new promotional vehicles:
With consumers rapidly adopting their use, and the early stage excitement around them, now is the time to take advantage of their functionality. Ready to take the leap? Here are a few considerations to keep in mind...
1) QR codes are simply "a means to an end" - to get the offline consumer you're reaching to an online place with more information and to extend their engagement with your product, service or brand. Once the QR code is activated, you've moved a consumer into queue to become your customer... and at this point, it's on you to capture or lose them. What you deliver in this next engagement is critical. Consider your content. Is it relevant? Is it unique? Does it "pay off" for the efforts to scan the code? Does it provide more information? Or does it just send your new (potential!) customer to your website with no direction?
2) With the rapid usage of QR codes coming into play, many wine marketers are failing to pay attention to the very BASIC of best practices in implementation. A great article on ensuring the best user experience was recently run on Mashable. In it, the author lists 5 very basic mistakes that can - and should - be easily avoided with your QR campaign. Read the article on Mashable.com - 5 Big Mistakes to Avoid In Your QR Code Marketing Campaign.
3) Finally, like any good marketing initiative, the basic marketing disciplines must also be applied: * Understand your audience and their needs first. * Aim to be relevant and meaningful to those needs, through your marketing and messaging. * Be available where they can find you. * As with any social vehicle - aim to engage. Don't just push. Aim for them to pull you in to them. * Don't neglect the call to action - give them a "next step" to take.
Still want to know more about QR codes, how they work and what they are? You'll find a pretty informative article on How QR Codes Can Grow Your Business, from Social Media Examiner.
Social media is a hot topic. No doubt. If you're in the wine industry, and not fully leveraging this space to connect with consumers, you're probably feeling some pressure...Pressure from your boss to "tackle this social thing"; pressure from the industry to "keep up with the Joneses"; pressure from the social media mavens to "get on board or get lost!". So what's a marketing manager to do? Seek out the many, many resources that exist online and in the social sphere to get up to speed. Here's are a few places to get you started...
Mari Smith on Facebook: Seek this lady out if you want to connect with someone "in the know" on Facebook. A resource for everything hot and happening with changes on Facebook, she's quick to respond with questions from her many fans.You can also follow her at @MariSmith.
Loads of articles, helping everyone from the newbie to the experienced social media marketer can be found at theSocial Media Examiner. Follow them at @SMexaminer.
Did you read Wired in the 90's? Still reading it? Then you're no doubt already familiar with TechCrunch.Follow them at @TechCrunch.
Looking for a source on the latest web news and trends? Stay on top with Mashable. Find them at @Mashable.
A few articles we've found of interest this week...
Need a full day immersion to get the social media ball rolling? WISE Academy is holding a One-Day Social Media Workshop this Summer. Watch their calendar for more information.
Like your learning online? Register for the Social Media Success Summit and expect a LOT of great information to come your way from many of the social media-sphere's greats, including Brian Solis, Guy Kawasaki, Jeremiah Owyang and many more...
While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, it's a place to get started. Any resources or articles you're enjoying these days? Share them here!
The concept of CRM – customer relationship management – is one that tends to get a lot of overuse in conversation… but underuse in actual execution. In our industry, wineries and wine retailers are now beginning to focus more and more on selling direct to the consumer, and recognizing the need to manage the customer relationship. The need to manage customer information and data typically initiates the development or use of a CRM “system”, providing a database in which customer orders, service requests, and the like can be managed. And, typically, that CRM is silo’d in distinct purchasing channels; a POS system in the tasting room, an ecommerce platform, a call center management application. Unfortunately, the data typically captured in each of these is unique to its own discipline or need, which therefore makes the data pushed out from these systems just as unique. Customers are certainly able to interact with a brand across multiple channels – purchasing online, then calling customer service with an inquiry, and perhaps visiting a tasting room the next month – so by keeping the various platforms silo’d, we never get a true 360degree view of an individual customers’ behavior.
CRM is typically also considered solely a marketing concern – or it is used to describe the technology platform utilized by marketing to manage customer data. However when managed holistically within a company or for a brand, its application can and should provide critical input into sales & outreach efforts, customer service, product development and so much more.
So what is CRM? CRM is the discipline of managing and nurturing a brands’ relationship with its customers. Applied effectively, it can assist in increasing profitability, reducing costs, and creating brand loyalty. CRM efforts can be designed to achieve a number of critical customer engagement goals:
To acquire new customers
To nurture current customers | move them “up the ladder” towards loyalty
To retain current customers | maintain their loyalty
To bring old customers back | recognize missed needs & encourage them to return
Reduce the overall costs of all of the above
The discipline of CRM can be broken down into 5 basic steps: Step 1: Strategy, implementation & adoption This step involves the initial concepting for CRM strategies, the construction of technology solutions to support those strategies, the development of processes for executing CRM, “buy in” from both critical stakeholders and top management, and the commitment to an ongoing discipline of customer management. It's important at this step to define the list of questions you’d like to ask and customer behaviors that you'd like to better understand in order to improve your relationship.By defining both of these in advance, you can then define the types of data you will need to capture.
For instance, if you want to know if customers are responding to certain marketing efforts you’re undertaking, it will be important to assign the marketing execution information to the customer record; Jim White received a direct mailer on July 2nd. He made a purchase through the website on July 8th, buying the product that was promoted in the mailer He called the contact center on July 10th and placed a second order of the item on promotion as a gift . Data fields critical to capture for the above scenario include: all customer information, shipping information (identifying a different recipient), marketing source code (the mailer), order information (what was purchased, at what price point/promotion, date/s purchased), and channels purchased through (contact center, ecommerce).
Step 2: Data Capture It is at this critical step that most CRM efforts fail. And sadly, this is typically the step at which most wineries are stuck. Knowing which data points to capture (per the above) is critical, but getting staff to ask customers where they heard about a promotion, or if they would like to provide an email address during a busy day can be a challenge. Establishing “buy in” and a discipline for data capture is mandatory. Some wineries are incentivizing their staff to capture complete data – pizza parties at the end of the day for meeting email name capture goals, bottles of wine for exceeding goals. Do you know where your data capture discipline stands?
Consider your data capture rates – do you know what percent of your tasting room traffic is joining your email list? Or what percent of your contact center calls are being tracked by individual customer?
Consider your existing data – how complete is it? Take a look at your email list. What information do you have about those customers – likely only the email address. Do you have first and last name? How about address – or a Zip Code to allow for geo-graphical targeting?
Step 3: Learn At this step, the rubber hits the road. With the now complete information that you have captured, it’s time to start asking questions. Consistent evaluation and reporting on customer behavior across all channels, in response to all marketing initiatives, and through defined time frames will allow you to learn about both general and individual customer behaviors – and most importantly - respond to their needs and reward desired behaviors (step 4). Take a look at the regular reports that your teams are generating regarding customer behavior. What else could you ask. Is there cross over behavior between different purchasing channels? Are there improvements you can make?
Step 4: Apply With robust customer behavior data and the knowledge of which behaviors you want to reward, smart marketers can now segment and target their customer in marketing initiatives and refine customer support strategies based on those identified behaviors; all the way down to the personalized level. In addition, by profiling "best customers" or desired customer segments, you should now be able to inform and develop new products and programs to better meet the needs of customers. At this step, you can begin to test assumptions and new strategies, learn from the results, and refine your overall efforts.
Step 5: Predict Another step which is often missed is the use of these customer and purchase behavior insights to find trends across demographic, psycho-graphic, geographic, purchasing (RFM) and other data profiling baselines. Once recognized, the information can be used to "predict" potential new customer profiles and behaviors and better inform the tasks necessary to bring those customers in; whether purchasing consumer lists, deciding which publications to use to reach your audience, identifying appropriate events to participate in, or simply to find new potential customers in your own database.
The benefits to implementing a true CRM discipline are plenty
Wine Business Monthly recently published an article (July 2010) evaluating several of the available systems which wine suppliers are using to perform CRM strategies. A consistent themes throughout the article – coming directly from those who are either responsible for their own CRM or for helping clients implement CRM - is the idea that CRM is a discipline – not just a set of software tools or basic marketing executions. That said, however, there are several who provide CRM-based tools. While each of these providers may serve the basic needs of the winery direct marketplace in one form or another, as an industry overall there is still limited customer segmentation being done, limited reporting and sharing of information internally, and (perhaps most importantly) limited adoption of the critical CRM discipline throughout organizations
So what can you, as a business seeking to create a deeper and more meaningful engagement with your customers, do? Here are a few starting points:
1)Consider your customer management discipline. Take a look at your channel management processes. At the most basic level, I bet the opportunity exists to simply integrate all direct sales channel data (POS, ecommerce, wine clubs, call centers, etc.).
2)Review the data that you are actively or have potential to capture. Think ahead to the questions you’d like to ask about your customers. Does the data captured in your system/s allow you to find that answer? If not, how can you adapt your processes or systems to allow you to capture that information? Do you know what percent of your database is “actionable”? Meaning, is the data complete enough to use? For more information on keeping your data clean, see How Clean is Your Data.
3)Monitor your data capture processes. Are staff members aware of the need or benefit to capturing complete information? Are they actively asking customers for complete information? Are they entering the data into the system/s on a timely basis? Monitor your customer information capture rates. At the most basic level, define what percent of your customers are joining your mailing list after visiting the tasting room and work with your team to increase that percentage!
4)From a customer perspective – are you still mass marketing to both aquire and retain your customers? Try a few segmentations based on whatever parameters you currently have access to.Monitor how they respond. Segment. Test. Apply. Repeat.
5)How about your truly loyal customers. Do you know who they are? How much they spend per year? How much you might spend annually to retain them – or keep them interested and purchasing? How frequently they buy? What they buy?
6)And what about those customers in the second tier - what does their profile look like compared to your top tier? Are you spending more or less to retain this segment? What can you learn about your top tier of customers to inform strategies to move the second tier up?
For CRM to be truly effective, an organization must understand not only how CRM can benefit it, but also how its discipline must be adopted and championed throughout – not just within a marketing or technology department.
The following is a guest post by Mitch Schwartz, consultant to the wine industry focused specifically on helping small to mid-sized wineries increase their distribution through Direct to Trade channel sales initiatives.
Much has been written about the consolidation of the middle tier –distributors - in the three tier system.The continued consolidation within the middle tier has led to fewer opportunities for wine brands, especially smaller boutique brands, to gain representation in the market.In response to this narrowing of the playing field, many wineries have pursued two strategies to build their brand awareness and grow their distribution; 1) increase the size of their Direct to Consumer (DTC) sales, and 2) for some, pursue a Direct to Trade (DTT) initiative.
Addressing the later specifically, DTT sales can be a tough path to hoe.Many wineries have successfully built a DTT business in their home state, but they do not have the bandwidth, sales skills, or contacts to pursue this strategy in additional markets.Admittedly there are obstacles to selling direct out of state, but a handful of wineries are solving this puzzle as we speak, and out of necessity, more and more are leaping into the fray.
In order to fully leverage the possibilities of both DTC and DTT initiatives, a winery should see them as a single strategy, supporting each other.There are opportunities to use the knowledge gained through each initiative, the relationships with both consumer and trade accounts on your list, and to leverage the possibilities made available through each to build momentum and drive more sales overall. What do I mean by this? Well, here are just a couple of ideas for doing so:
I know one winery that sells to the trade through their DTT initiative exclusively - no distributors. They attend as many consumer events around the country as they have the time and budget to support.However, when doing a consumer tasting, and the consumer asks where to purchase their wine locally, they don’t direct them to their website; instead, they provide the consumer with a list of local retail accounts (often only two or three) and restaurants where they can purchase their wine.This, in turn, creates pull for the retailer, who becomes more inclined to both carry the brand and recommend it to their additional customers.The winery still maintains contact information for the consumer, adds them to their mailing list and markets relevant information to them (winemaker dinners in their local market, consumer events they will be pouring at, and even online purchase offers on their website).The winery believes that the best customer is one who purchases their wines through multiple channels; both direct and through their trade partners.
Another idea for consideration is to use your mailing list, or allocation membership list, to encourage incremental and new trade placements.Suppose you contacted your mailing list and asked for suggestions on favorite restaurant/s, more specifically those in which they’d like to see your wine made available.With this information, a winery could contact the restaurant directly, and use this data to not only encourage the restaurant to consider your wine (at minimum), but perhaps to offer to host a winemaker dinner or more. With enough club or mailing list members in a specific market, the dinner could be “Invite Only” for your members and a guest.The winery should encourage the restaurant to add your wine to their list, and your guests would be given the opportunity to move to the front of your waiting list (if using an allocation list).The possibilities are yours to create and execute.
In an economy in which restaurants are seeing lower than expected seatings, with a trade down in wine consumption, and in which wineries are looking to actively increase their sales, as well, why not bring the two channels together to help encourage growth and sales on both sides. By combining your DTC and DTT strategies into one, your chance of success can only increase.
According to a recent study by the CMO Council, 54% of loyalty & rewards program members are thinking of leaving their programs or even defecting from those brands altogether due to the barrage of irrelevant messages, low value rewards, and impersonal engagements they received from the programs (for a copy of the full report, visit here).
Wow! The programs which those brands set up specifically to create loyalty are actually causing the exact opposite behavior: defection?
The study maintains that companies are using the programs to deliver general discounts, savings, and perks to an aggregated mass of loyalty program members, ignoring the actual insights into each individual customers’ behavior which could help provide more relevant, targeted and meaningful communications and drive to the ultimate goal: capturing both mind and wallet share.
The necessity and value of implementing a direct marketing discipline of data analytics to inform 1:1 communication and marketing opportunities in the exact type of program which begs for it (a “LOYALTY” program!) can’t be emphasized enough – or demonstrated more prominently than with these statistics.
So what are those companies doing with their loyalty programs? Here’s a snapshot of how companies are actually using the data gathered. Bottom line is that only half of the brands leveraging loyalty and rewards programs are actually using the data to improve their sales, increase consumer brand affinity and create even deeper loyalties with their customers.
In the wine industry, our version of a loyalty program is the Wine Club. Wineries use their clubs to bring customers closer to the brand and purchase on a more frequent basis. On-going and consistent revenue for the winery is a wonderful thing. Our shipments allow us to bring products into the customers home on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis – keeping us top of mind perhaps, encouraging repeat purchases off the shipment (“Love the Pinot in this shipment? Buy more now for an additional x% off!”), encouraging purchases of our products in traditional channels and - at the very top of the customer pyramid - creating loyal ambassadors who will help spread our brand across the globe.
Wineries, of course, hope to continue to build their wine club programs – adding members at a rate that exceeds the number of members who leave. Events are held for club members to encourage their continued membership; promotions are offered to encourage incremental purchases.These are all wonderful “perks” and drive a relationship with the customer for the standard 12-, 16-, 21-month wine club membership. Customers typically join wine clubs after a great experience in the tasting room, hoping to bring a little bit of that out of home experience back home with them.
The discipline of managing a wine club is pretty standard: set up your release or club shipment programs, balance the costs of the wines to ship with that defined in the program, print a newsletter with accompanying information, recipes, events, etc., and ship to everyone on the list. Fingers crossed the list grew since the last shipment went out the door.
No wonder members leave the club over time. That bit of experience they brought home with them may slowly wear off, until they’re left with just wine coming in on a regular basis. If the wines are unique to the club members, or limited edition, or released to club members earlier than the general public, good. More reason to stay in. If there is a little something extra in the box, or recipes in the newsletter, nice. But these tactics are product and brand focused, and not individual consumer-focused; delivering to the member relevant offers, products, engagement opportunities.
How can you – wine club manager – promote a deeper engagement with the individual customer? How can you use your customer and order data to better identify who those customers are, and how they are interacting with your products to further that relationship and extend its (potentially limited) timeframe? How can you avoid the same kind of defection that’s noted in the CMO Council survey?
First, you need a good database and the ability to get data and insight out of it. Second, you need to segment your customers into behavioral buckets and then use that information to market to them!
Some sample segmentations, using traditional RFM tactics:
Members who bought 3+ bottles of our Carneros Pinot Noir in the last 6 months
Members who purchased more than 6 times in the last 9 months
Members who spent over $250 in the last 12 months.
In addition, you might consider segmenting your members by their behavior across direct channels:
Members who purchased from our tasting room AND our website in the last 3 months.
Members who purchased from our tasting room more than 3x in the last 6 months.
Members who purchased wine at winery events in the last 12 months.
The information you will gain out of sample segmentations like the above should provide insight into whether or not you have a viable segment to market new, exclusive or unique offers to. It should also tell you if you have an untapped opportunity to perhaps form a new club, extend more events to your members, or even create promotional offers at distinct pricing or # of bottle thresh holds. It can also identify for you who your TOP 10-50-100 customers are, and give you the insight to market to them in an individually relevant and personal way; and as a result, lengthen your relationship and increase their engagement over time.
If you’re in the business of creating a loyalty program and encouraging long term relationships with those members, it’s critical you find, manage and LEVERAGE a customer database to its fullest. Any loyalty or direct marketing program is only as good as the insight you glean from your data, and use of that insight to create long term relationships with your customers.
In a recent WISE Academy class, we had an opportunity to discuss the distinctions between knowledge and skill, and the importance of mastering both to truly excel in a specific profession. The point of the discussion was to identify the distinction between both, and talk about ways in which each of us can increase one or both to make us individually more successful in whatever our endeavor.
It got me thinking personally about my own efforts to achieve pure blissful perfection in my own daily life and profession. I quickly came to the conclusion that 1) I’ll never achieve pure blissful perfection, and 2) that there are actually two more critical elements necessary to bringing great success to our efforts. As my world tends to revolve around sales & marketing, I tested my newfound theory on a variety of direct marketing or otherwise endeavors and came to find that they still hold true.
So here it is. To be truly successful, there are 4 critical elements that must come together:
•Knowledge: OR information gained through education •Skill: OR adeptness gained through practice •Discipline: OR consistency and efficiency gained through process •Passion: OR motivation to pursue any or all of the above
Now I don’t believe that pure mastery of each must be accomplished if one is to be “successful”. Nor do I believe there needs to be a pure balance in weighting for each element. In fact, I actually think that different weightings may be applicable for different career paths, or different life stages; and that success can be had for those distinct stages without balanced weighting.
Some people are just insanely passionate about what they do. And that passion is entirely infectious – to the point that people begin to follow those people and a sense of fame or ‘success’ comes with that following.Take Gary V.
Or, some people have absolutely mastered a certain skill and while they clearly have passion behind their practice, the skill is what drives their success. Take Jashaun Agosto.
Or, some people simply own the world with their amazing depth of knowledge in specific or focused areas. Take Steven Hawking.
Now, none of the above examples demonstrate that any of the people mentioned lack the other 3 key elements identified. I simply mean to imply that there may be a different weighting of one element over another and they each – no doubt – worked hard in their endeavors to bring the other 3 elements into the fold.
Think about it in terms of your own position or career path, or life stage. Success – no matter how you define it for yourself – seems to be achieved most effectively with these 4 primary elements. If you want to achieve greater success – no matter what your definition – it’s worth looking at each of these and identifying how you might be able to elevate one, two or each of them...
Email is an effective means of communication with your customers, and one that – when managed appropriately – can help bring cost efficient and effective results. But there’s one element we don’t generally spend a lot of time on – and that’s the Subject Line.
The Subject Line is the introduction to your email that appears in the in-box of your email recipient, and – much like a billboard as you’re cruising down the highway – has about a 3 second chance of convincing the recipient to take action – specifically to Open the Email.
It’s worth paying attention to. Subject Lines represent one of those often-ignored marketing levers that can greatly influence ROI. We all do it: spend time, money and effort in the planning, designing, and manipulating of the body of an email marketing release, and then casually throw a Subject Line up during testing – the point when we’re reminded we need to add it.
In reality, your Subject Line can be as impactful as the body of the email. It’s important that you put some time and thought into the development of the Subject Line. Case in point:
Use specific spam-filter unfriendly words and your message won’t be delivered.
Use exclamation points and excessive capitalizations and your message will be ignored as spam, or even caught by spam-filters before it’s delivered.
Use a Subject Line that has nothing to do with the content of your email – and risk confusing your audience – or worse yet, leaving them feeling deceived.
Use a Subject Line that’s irrelevant or flat, and your message is ignored.
On the flip side, when used effectively, Subject Lines can have great impact on driving Open Rates up – your primary objective when setting a Subject Line. Some techniques to think about when setting yours:
Be Direct – Tell your recipient what you want them to act on.
Connect the Subject Line with the promotional messaging in the body of your email.
Avoid capital letters (no SCREAMING!).
Avoid excessive exclamations or punctuations.
Keep number of words limited: Let your recipient see the full Subject Line in their in-box.
It’s not mandatory that you include your brand name in the Subject Line. Consider and use appropriately.
Some examples that I’ve received recently which represent the above strategies:
Great for Giving: Monogrammed Gifts (William-Sonoma)
Last Chance – Only One Day Left to Save (Cellar 360)
Gift Ideas for Wine Lovers (In Wine Country)
15% Off Personalized Wine Gifts - 4 Days Only (Windsor Vineyards)
Just Arrived: Perfect Holiday White, 91 WS under 11 bucks (Wine Library)
Free Shipping. Brilliant Gifts. (Crate and Barrel)
Thoughtful Gifts for Everyone on Your List (Room & Board)
There are plenty of examples of what NOT to do. In the interest of protecting the innocent, I’ll leave it to you to scan your own in-box and see what catches your eye. In the end, Subject Line development isn’t an art. It’s an easy – and necessary – consideration point in your Email Marketing strategy.
The following was originally posted on the REThinkWine blog in Feb 2008. Thanks to IBG for the repost rights.
Found an interesting chart today on marketingcharts.com defining the top online retailers by conversion rate. This chart shows the total percentage of visitors to a website who completed a transaction during their visit in the critical December timeperiod. All I can say is “Wow”. Check this out:
First, to refresh any memories, a website conversion rate is the percentage of visitors to a website who took a desired action – in this case, placed an order. So, from this info, it appears that nearly 30% of all visitors to thepopcornfactory.com placed an order in December! It should also be noted that retailers only qualified for evaluation in this list if they had a minimum of 500k page views in a month. That’s a lot of popcorn transacting across the web.
I’ve been in the direct, online business for many years now. I have certainly spent my share of time obsessing over my own conversion rates, and how to increase them. I’ve hired agencies to help. I’ve tested different variables to help encourage purchase. I’ve implemented multiple promotional strategies (Free Shipping! 50% off! Buy this NOW!). All paid off in different ways, and I’ve felt relatively successful with my efforts, but never to the tune of 30%!
I have a new personal goal.
So how do you improve your conversion rate? And what is it that’s driving such high numbers for these sites? I think it’s a number of factors – all of which must play together truly move the needle. Here are my 5 suggestions to start you along the path of improving your conversion rate:
1) Know where you come from. Do you know your own conversion rate? You better, if you want to improve it. Use Google Analytics or other analysis tools to define (and monitor) your conversion rate.
2) Grab a friend Grab a friend who may be unfamiliar with the nuances of your website and ask them to help you ‘experience’ your website. I suggest you ask them to do two exercises. And don’t forget to watch the entire process. Literally, stand over them – and DO NOT coach them along!
Ask them to visit your homepage and experience your site. Don’t tell them to shop. Don’t tell them to read. Just see what they do. We’ve talked a lot with our clients about the importance of having an easy and intuitive navigational path for our clients (see an earlier post by Ben Chinn, our Director of Web Design & Development: http://blog.inertiabev.com/index.php/2006/10/09/site-structure-and-navigation/), as well as the importance of asking for what you want with headlines and ‘Calls-to-Action’ on the part of the visitor. Both of these efforts can have the desired effect of leading your visitor through your website – ideally to YOUR desired end. Did your friend follow your desired path throughout your website? Did they ‘see’ and act on the things you intend your visitors to? Or did they miss key messages entirely?
Ask your friend to visit your website now with the goal of purchasing a specific product. Start them at your homepage, and watch the path to purchase. Did they get lost? Struggle to find the right page that the product would be on? Did they find the product and the ‘buy now’ button with the minimal number of clicks? Ask them what information they would want to see in order to make that purchase (price, label, tasting notes, reviews). Did they find what they needed? Did it take a few minutes or many minutes, and a lot of ‘back button’ usage?
3) Resolve to Test and Measure It’s ok to fail. Seriously. That’s what testing and optimizing is all about. Set a plan for what you want to achieve (in this case, higher conversion rates), list all of the potential tactics for reaching that goal, and get started. There are a number of things you can test: headlines, promotions, graphics/images, positioning of information on a webpage, the order of your navigational links, etc. For each tactic tested, watch “before and after” results. Did things improve or get worse? If they got worse, great! You learned what doesn’t resonate with your visitor. Another item off your list…
4) Take Baby Steps Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Just because your conversion rates may be lower than you like, and the shopping experience of your ‘friend’ was clunky, doesn’t mean your entire site needs to be overhauled. Commit to taking baby steps to learning about improvements in your conversion rates. Implement small changes at a time, and measure their impact. Learn what helps your visitor along to purchase and what doesn’t. And give yourself some time to learn. Commit to testing something over at least a week, if your visitor traffic is significant enough to give you ‘usable’ data. If it takes a month to get a real read on results, then give it a month.
5) Be Relevant and Meaningful Your visitor is going to engage with you, and continue to engage with you if you provide something relevant and meaningful to their needs. Think about your own online shopping experience. When you need something and a site has it, that’s relevance. But when you make that relevant product or information entirely MEANINGFUL to them, you’ve now started a relationship. How do you make things meaningful?
Watch how visitors move through your site. Which pages do they spend the most time on? This can give you an idea of the type of content your visitors are most interested in. Finding a lot of activity on your Recipe’s page? Put it up front! Make it easier to find your Recipe pages, add a link to this page from relevant product pages.
Watch what visitors are purchasing. Likely the bulk of your sales are on products you’re well known for, have greatest distribution on, and/or highlight the most on your website. But if a sleepy Zin that’s getting no play on your homepage is actually selling fairly well, it’s telling you to give it some presence. Try it out. Suggest to visitors that this is a “Customer Favorite”, and post any reviews that you can get from your customers on that product.
Don’t forget about your follow up marketing, as well: Email. Once you know what people are purchasing, and where they are going on your website, send emails that demonstrate this. I buy a lot of products on Amazon.com. And, at least once a month I receive an email suggesting other relevant products. This makes my experience with Amazon more meaningful to me. I buy. They suggest. I like that.
What are you doing to stimulate conversion rates? Have you ‘experienced’ your website? Are you bringing something meaningful and relevant to your customers? Think of it this way: if your website was achieving a 15% conversion rate, what kind of sales would that translate to? Do the math. It's inspiring!
The following was originally posted on the REThinkWine blog in Oct 2008. Thanks to IBG for the repost rights..
No one doubts that when it comes to electronic commerce and e-marketing in the wine industry, wineries with a tasting room have a significant advantage. The visitors that walk into the tasting room immediately become customers or well-qualified prospects that can be added to a winery’s “contact list” for future outreach. But if you don’t have a tasting room, building a contact/customer list is a much more daunting task. But if email marketing and online sales is part of your direct sales strategy, then it’s a task you must take up and address.
Here are just three creative strategies for building customer and contact lists that have been successful for other wineries without tasting rooms.
1. Business Teaser Cards: A few wineries, when printing business cards for all their employees, have used the back of the card to offer the holder a 10% or even 20% discount on their first purchase. Often each card has a code on it that buyers can use to assure their online discount and to track who’s business card led to the sale. It’s a creative way to invite new acquaintances to the website when without the discount/invite you’d only be handing out a business card with no call-to-action.
2. Event Giveaways: One Sonoma winery with no tasting room but with a guest house on their property always brought a sign to the tastings they attended announcing that following the tasting a drawing would take place for a weekend getaway at the winery’s guest house. The sign carried beautiful pictures of the guest house and the property. All the attendees had to do was drop their business card in a fishbowl or fill out a simple slip of paper with name, state and email. Within a day of the tasting the winery did their drawing, contacted the winner and set up when they would visit. But more importantly, the winery would also contact via email every single person who entered the drawing with a “thank you” message and an offer of 15% on their first purchase. Their list continues to grow.
3. Contests: A number of wineries without tasting rooms have found that contests are a fantastic way to draw prospective customers to their website. The best contests should be easy to enter, but also give the entrants a feeling of participation or connect with the winery, winemaker or brand. One winery has used its back label as a canvas for the contest by inviting entrants to design their own 100-word back label on a specific subject. The winner had their entry published on the label when the wine was bottled! The contest was announced with a press release and an ad, and the winner was announced on the website and in a press release. They received hundreds of people visiting their site to participate, all providing their entry of back label copy along with their e-mail address. The winery grew their mailing list and customers were able to engage with the brand. Win-Win.
Prospecting and building your email contact list must be an ongoing project if increasing online sales is part of your marketing strategy. If you don’t have a tasting room, you’ll need to think creatively. The time and effort that goes into a very creative customer prospecting program will pay off in an enhanced email list, and ultimately increased sales.