Why Wineries Should Avoid Image-Only E-Mails

We have been noticing a trend over the past few months of wineries wanting to improve upon the look of their e-mails. We love this. After all, a smartly designed and well crafted newsletter can move more product than any other online marketing initiative.

And, while we know that text-only e-mails are still the most effective, branding is important to every winery, and e-mail is a strong tool to use for branding purposes.

This is why, when we create e-mails for our clients, there is a balance of both branding graphics and text.

Examples of e-mails we send - full or pretty graphics AND text.
Examples of e-mails we send – branding graphics AND text.

However, we have definitely been seeing an increase in image-only e-mails over the past few months. They are beautiful. The branding is solid. The wine is gorgeous. And, if these e-mails were anywhere near as effective as graphic/text e-mails, we’d start using them immediately. But they aren’t, so we don’t.

There is no shortage of articles that explain why your e-mails shouldn’t be image-only. Generally, the biggest reason businesses should avoid using image-only e-mails is because they aren’t mobile-friendly. I can’t speak for all businesses, or all wineries, but, I can tell you that, of those opening our clients’ e-mails, 60%+ of them are doing so from a mobile-device. Which means, if we send out image-only e-mails, 60%+ of people receiving them can’t easily read them – which means most won’t read them.

This is how big this image-only e-mail would appear on your iPhone.  Pretty challenging to read.  Although the biggest crime here is that they forget to name the newly rated wines then drop you into the store's front page when you click "Shop". People have no idea what they are looking for.
This is how big this image-only e-mail would appear on your iPhone. Pretty challenging to read. Although the biggest crime here is that they forget to name the newly rated wines then drop you into the store’s front page when you click “Shop”. People are lost.

There are many more study-backed arguments against image-only e-mails, ranging from getting stuck in SPAM filters to making customers feel marketed to, however, our reasons for being anti-image-only e-mail is due to our own unscientific study, done just this past year.

Believe it or not, we have clients who go against our years of e-mail marketing wisdom (shocking, I know! ūüėČ ). We are here to consult and we here to serve. So, when a client asks for us to do something, we share our thoughts, then we do as they ask. And, on two occasions we were asked to send image-only e-mails designed by their graphic designers.

One image-only e-mail was an invitation to a great event in wine country. A GREAT event. One of the best we’ve ever seen out there. There was space for 24 people. The image-only e-mail got 4 reservations. Four. We followed up a week later with an e-mail that contained smaller images pulled from the graphic designer’s e-mail combined with copy we wrote, and we filled the rest of the seats.

This past holiday season one of our winery clients offered gift packs. The image-only e-mail sold five such packs. A week later we followed up with a text/image combo and sold 40. Forty.

Again, we love how image-only e-mails look. We understand the draw. But, the technology simply isn’t there yet to serve them up correctly, and your audience isn’t ready to embrace them. When both the technology and audience are there, we will be the first to let you know.

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By the way, we will be launching an e-mail service in 2015, which will include templates, copyediting, and consulting. Premier accounts will also include copywriting and promotional planning. Contact us now to get in on early-bird pricing.

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E-Mail Marketing for Wineries

The most powerful marketing tool a winery has is its e-mail newsletter.

 

e-mails

With an audience that’s ready and waiting to hear from you, a smartly designed and well crafted newsletter can move more product than any other online marketing initiative. Better yet, it can keep your wine club members focused on your brand.

This is where we come in.

We have been e-mail marketing for wineries for more than 15 years. We know what sells, we know what engages your wine club, and we know how to keep those members loyal to your brand.

If you are interested in our E-Mail Marketing Services, please contact us via our Online Contact Form or call us at 503-941-0660.

Your Winery’s Digital Marketing Reset Button

In most of our e-mails, blog posts, and webinars we talk about digital marketing tools — social media, website, e-mail, or smartphone apps — the¬†tools¬†we use to promote our clients online.
And the reason we give you these tools is because there are elements of digital marketing that can, and should, be done by those in your winery.

Of course, the tools are useless if the mechanic doesn’t know how to use them. ¬†And, despite some of our best efforts, we are seeing quite a bit of user error — and that user error is coming from a place of not understanding the basics. ¬†What is the goal of social media? ¬†Your e-mail newsletter? ¬†Your website?

So, in this blog post, we are going to “reset”. ¬†We are going to remind you of goals, tell you about the biggest mistakes we see, and get you refocused on using these tools in a way that is going to boost tasting room traffic (SUMMER IS HERE!) ¬†and event attendance, increase direct to consumer sales, and expand your winery’s brand awareness.

Social Media for Wineries

The Goal:  Boost brand awareness so, when people are ready to make a move (buy wine, visit a tasting room, attend a winery event), they choose your winery.

The Mistake/s We Most Often See:¬† Hard selling. Only posting when you want something from your audience. Making it about you — not about them. Being obvious in your efforts.

Reset:¬† Social media is, by definition, social. Your winery has been invited into the social feed of people. You are surrounded by their friends and family — so don’t be the jerk who shows up and only talks about how awesome you are. If you do, you’ll either be rejected (unliked/unfollowed/etc.) OR you’ll be ignored, in which case the tools (specifically Facebook) will stop showing your posts to those who already made the effort once to like you. Either way, you’re out.

Instead, be on your best cocktail party behavior. Be humble. Be kind. Be interested in others. If someone asks you a question, answer them. If someone compliments you, thank them. If someone complains, apologize. Be funny — but not weird. Be smart — but NEVER be a smart ass. Show them you love what you do, and they’ll love what you do, too.

Social Media Checklist (Basic):

  • Post on Facebook 3(ish) times per week. ¬†Photos win every time.
  • Check Twitter daily (Preferably mid-day, so you can catch people in your area and invite them in to your winery).
  • Tweet if you love it (and you should!). Otherwise, simply connect it to your Facebook and Instagram accounts. (BTW, some will HATE this advice and demand you disconnect everything from Twitter and use it only as Twitter. In an ideal world, we’d agree, but, we’re going bare bones here. If all you can do is connect your account and check to make sure you’re not missing any interaction, then do that).
  • Post 2 – 3 Instagram photos per week (share these on Facebook and Twitter)
  • Check Delectable Weekly.

 

E-Mail Marketing for Wineries

The Goal:  Inform your audience of winery events (new releases, winemaker dinners, harvest updates, sales, parties, etc.), and get them to take action on these events.  When done correctly, e-mail marketing makes the largest direct impact on DTC sales.

The Mistake/s We Most Often See:  Being scared of unsubscribes.  Not e-mailing enough.  Not reminding.  Thinking people are going to read a huge e-mail.  No clear call to action.  Poor writing.  ONLY selling.

The Reset: ¬†People have signed up for your e-mails because they WANT to hear from you — particularly your Club members. ¬†Don’t be scared to e-mail them. ¬†Don’t sacrifice sales for a few unsubscribes. ¬†Your Club wants to feel special. ¬†Make them feel special with your emails only for them. ¬†Respect their time. ¬†Don’t send long e-mails. ¬†Short, sweet, and to the point. ¬†ALWAYS make sure the call to action is clear. ¬†Again, e-mail is your most important digital marketing tool. ¬†If it’s taking too much of your time, or if you aren’t seeing results, it’s a GREAT thing to outsource.

E-Mail  Marketing Checklist (Basic):

  • Monthly newsletter sent on the same day full of general winery news.
  • Short and quick emails sent weekly or biweekly that mention winery events (sales, promotions, “running low” alerts, parties, etc.)

 

Websites for Wineries

The Goal: Provide an easy way for people to purchase and learn more about your wine and your winery.  Provide trade with the tools needed to sell your wine.  Little maintenance for the winery.

The Mistake/s We Most Often See:  Huge and cluttered websites.  Non-mobile friendly websites (this is huge!).  Stores that are hard to use.  Useless trade pages.  Poor organization.  Time wasted on SEO.  Out of date websites.  Websites that try to be too unique.  Event calendars that are empty.  Buried information.

The Reset: ¬†Your website represents your brand online. ¬† It needs to look good, and it needs to be easy to use. ¬†If you are selling a $40+ bottle of wine, your website needs to represent a high end product. Believe it or not, people are deciding whether they are going to buy from you or visit you based on their user experience with your site. ¬†Make them want to do those thing with a website that represents your brand well (and is kept up to date with events). ¬†That doesn’t mean your site needs to be expensive. ¬† The web has changed GREATLY in the past 5 years. ¬†It is a tool to be used for specific needs. ¬†You don’t need to shove everything on your site — that’s what your social media and e-mail marketing is for — and that’s when the user (and the winery) gets overwhelmed. ¬† Your site should be clean, simple, and easy.

Guidelines:

  • Outsource your store (or order form).
  • Outsource your trade asset hosting¬†(wineries and distributors are loving Trade Locker — the custom trade kits are HUGE).
  • Have your designer set you up with a calendar that is easy to use (we love The Events Calendar for WordPress sites — example here).

And that’s all the time you should have to spend on your site. ¬†Super easy.

 

Q&A: E-Mail Marketing for Wineries

After last week’s e-mail and blog post, How we moved $15,000 of wine in one week, we got a lot of questions. We love this, because it shows interest in one of the most effective sales tools wineries have: E-Mail Marketing.

The first thing we do when we get a new client is evaluate their e-mail marketing efforts. This is because e-mail marketing is more effective at driving sales than Facebook, Twitter, online ads, and print ads. It’s even more effective than your website.

So, in this week’s e-mail, I thought I’d answer some of the questions we received last week. So, without further ado, here are some that we thought were important.

Q. How often should I be sending e-mails to our subscribers?

A. It depends. We like to see 1-2 per month, 2-3 if you’re running a campaign. Of course, we’ve gone as high as 15 (12 Days of Christmas campaigns), and have had tremendous results.

At the very, very least, you need to be e-mailing once a month to remind your customers you are there, and to provide them with a sense of dependability.

People are busy. If you don’t remind them that you’re there, they will spend their money with wineries that are actively telling them about their wines…

Q. But isn’t 2-3 time per month spamming? Won’t people unsubscribe?

A. E-mail is opt-in. People sign up because they want to hear from you.

They either had a good experience with you, or they are interested in your product, and they want to establish a relationship with you. Your job is to nurture that relationship.

Provide good content (news, events, specials, promotions, tasting notes, reviews, invitations, “exclusive” offers), and you’ll reap the rewards of a beautiful relationship (many, many sales).

Ignore the relationship, OR, only contact them when you want to sell something (we call that the e-mail booty call), and that relationship is going to go down in flames.

Q. I still think that’s too much.

A. Watch your open rates and unsubscribes. If open rates are going down and unsubscribes are going up, you’re doing it wrong. Try something else. Otherwise, you’re talking to the people who love you. Love them back.

Also, don’t sweat the few unsubscribes you’ll inevitably get…particularly when you start seriously e-mail marketing. The ugly truth? They weren’t going to buy from you anyway. The ones that stick around…that’s where the sales are.

Finally, take yourself out of the equation. Maybe YOU don’t like getting any e-mails from any business. But that’s you. Don’t confuse yourself with your customer…because you probably would not have signed up for the e-mail newsletter in the first place.

Q. How do I get more people to open my e-mails? Better subject lines?

A. Subject lines are important. However, the BEST way to make sure people open up your e-mails is to make sure the e-mail before it provided them value.

Q. I like sending long e-mail newsletters. Should I not do that?

A. If that’s what you’re comfortable doing, then do it. We prefer short e-mails “Just thought you’d like this recipe to pair with our Pinot Noir”, but you do what you want to do.

Our point with the last e-mail was that you don’t hide promotions in long e-mail newsletters. Make promotions about one thing, and have one clear call to action.

Q. What e-mail marketing service do you suggest?

A. We looooove Mailchimp and have moved most of our clients to it.

Not only is Mailchimp among the most affordable e-mail marketing services, but it offers great features that really let us get great results (we love “thank you” specials to those who open and read our e-mails regularly).

Plus, it’s super easy to use.

Plus, plus, it offers mobile-friendly designs. This is vitally important to the success of any e-mail newsletter. After all, don’t you open your e-mail on your phone? So do your customers.

Q. Can we just hire you to take care of this for us?

A. Absolutely. Let us take this off your plate and make sure it’s done as effectively as possible for you.

Simply fill out our contact form and we’ll get back to you shortly.

Have a great week!

Allison & Jeremy

How we moved $15,000 of wine in one week

One ThingWe just ran an e-mail campaign for a winery client that brought in more than $15,000 in one week….so we thought we’d share with you how we did it.

We work on retainer for the client, so we’re actively looking for ways to organize and maximize their online efforts. So, when Google alerted us to the fact that the winery received a great write-up from Portland Monthly, we went with it. And all it took was two e-mails.

The first e-mail included the review, an offer (“Celebrate this great review with us with FREE Shipping on a case of this wine”) and a call to action (“Buy Now”).

The second e-mail simply served as a reminder that the free shipping offer was coming to an end.

Twenty-two cases of $700+ wine later, the winery is thrilled. And so are we.

And the secret to the success of both e-mails? They were about ONE THING: The wine that got the great review.

Sure, the e-mail was mobile-friendly, it was timely (the review was new), it linked directly to the product, and the winery has a great e-mail list…all important.

HOWEVER, had this review and offer been buried in a newsletter full of 4 other items, it would have been about 1/4 as successful (if that).

People are busy. They glance at e-mails. If what you’re telling them isn’t clear, easy, and obvious, they’ll miss it.

If you write them an e-mail about ONE THING, and you tell them to CLICK HERE TO GET THAT ONE THING, you’ve made it easy for them. And the easier you make it, the more likely they are to buy.

It’s that easy.

Webinar Alert! E-Mail: Your Business’s BEST Social Media Sales Tool

E-mail drives more sales than any other social media platform. IF you know what you’re doing.

“E-Mail: Your Business’s BEST Social Media Sales Tool”

Thursday, March 21, 3pm PDT

Grab yourself a late afternoon snack (or beverage), along with your favorite webinar watching device (computer, iPad, iPhone), and join Jeremy Schubert of Lunabean Media as he shares the best e-mail marketing tips and tricks, each designed to boost your online and in-store sales. Today. Well…Thursday.

Oh, and we love Facebook and Twitter, too, but e-mail is where the most sales are made.

In this webinar, expect to discover:

  • 5 Simple Strategies Behind Writing E-Mails that SELL
  • Why e-mail marketing is such a powerful sales tool
  • How Often Should You Send E-Mails
  • The e-mail marketing tools you should be using
  • Easy ways to build your list
  • Live Q & A

This Webinar is FREE to a limited number of people. If you cannot attend the event at the scheduled time, we will be recording the event and will share it with those who sign up.

About Lunabean Media

Portland, Ore. based Lunabean Media was founded in 2009 by Allison and Jeremy Schubert, after nine years of hands-on web marketing and social media experience at Lunabean.com (a video game strategy guide publishing company), and a handful of outside projects.

At Lunabean Media, Allison and Jeremy have shared their unique level of experience with companies and organizations that include Nike, Li-Ning, the Willamette Valley Wineries Association, the International Pinot Noir Celebration, and dozens of small businesses across the United States. More information about Lunabean Media can be found at: http://www.lunabeanmedia.com.

Valentine’s Day Marketing Checklist (Winery Edition)

When we worked in the Panther Creek tasting room, Valentine’s Day Weekend was always one of our favorites. Not only did it provide a nice little mid-winter sales bump, but it allowed us an opportunity to get solid new leads.

So, wineries, let’s think about the three things we really want to do Valentine’s Day Weekend: Increase sales, increase foot traffic, and generate new leads.

When we’re brought in to consult winery’s on how, exactly, they need to do that, we tell them they need to do three things:

  1. Create a Deal
  2. Promote the Deal
  3. Capture Leads

Below you’ll discover a few of our favorite ways to accomplish these goals.

1. Create a Deal

Why do you need to create a deal? Because, depending on where you’re located, you’re competing with dozens of local wineries to get the same people into YOUR tasting room. We know your wine is special…but many of THEM don’t know that yet. So you need that extra little something to make them choose you.

And don’t worry. A deal doesn’t have to cost you anything.

Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Two for One Tastings ¬†It’s a couples weekend, after all.
  • Whisper Code Have a very special reserve tasting for those who stop in and give you a secret code (“cupid” for example).
  • Create a Package Put a 3-Pack together and offer a discount on it. Or offer no discount, but throw in some chocolates or wine glasses. Just make sure your package makes your customer happy and/or helps them (can a husband buy this and in one fell swoop take care of a gift for his wife?). Free ground shipping makes it extra special for the online buyer.
  • Check In Deal Give something special (any of the above deals) specifically to people who check in on Facebook. Because, when people check in, their friends are notified, which means they’re notified of YOU. (Learn More about Check In Deals Here)
  • Scavenger Hunt Get together with other wineries OR local businesses. Create a little scavenger hunt. When someone has visited all the businesses, give them a box of chocolates. Or a discount. Or something.

2. Let Your Customers Know About it

Okay, you’ve crafted a deal or two. ¬†Now you have something to talk about and something to promote. ¬†How should you do it?

Image Preparation

  • First and foremost, you really need an image representing the deal or event, as marketing online is very visual. Create a few images of the deal/offer/event. ¬†You’ll want one for a blog post/website/Facebook/Pinterest, one for a Facebook cover photo, and one for your email newsletter. ¬†You can use resources like Google Images and IconFinder to help you.

    OR, you can use one of our FAVORITE tools, the Over App for your iPhone (Read more about Over here

Email Marketing

  • Email, email, email! ¬†If there’s only one thing you’re going to do, send an email out as soon as possible telling your customers all the great deals and specials you have (and online customers can have access, too). ¬†

    If you want to make people feel like they’re part of a secret deal (which they love), tell them they have to show you the e-mail to take part in the offer (print or mobile device). And don’t just send one e-mail. Send two!

Facebook

Twitter

  • If you are active on Twitter, you know what to do…promote the deal/event (both online and on-site deals) by reaching out to your network of Followers and linking to a blog post or website or Facebook post for more info.
  • If you want to know some extra sneaky ways to pull in customers while they’re out and about tasting, check out Allison’s post, “The Great Twitter Fail of the Willamette Valley Wineries.”

Pinterest

  • If you happen to have a pretty graphic, image, or photo, then by all means Pin it to your “specials” or “events” board. And, remember, taller images are key to Pinterest (not wider).

On-Site

  • Tell any tasting room customers about it.
  • Have signs up in your tasting room promoting it.

3. Capture Leads

Do you want to know what drives us crazy? When a business works really hard to get customers in the door and then doesn’t make an effort to get an email address from the customer. ¬†This one simple step can pay off for years as not only can you now contact this person, but if you segment it correctly, you know that this is an email address of a person who has been on-site.

How do you get an email address from a customer?

  • It may sound crazy, but you just need to ask.
  • Have signs around giving people a reason to sign up (sign up and receive special offers, news, and exclusive invites…or an instant coupon that can be used today).
  • Make it easy peasy. Have something as simple as a clipboard, paper, and pen. Or have an iPad available. Or, use a QR code on a sign that brings them to a mobile sign up form where they can subscribe with ease. Everyone is different. Appeal to them all.
  • Be sure to follow up with them after the event to make them feel warm and fuzzy (or set an auto-responder to do that for you).

If you do that, you not only get the sale, but a valuable lead.

Oh, and don’t forget to encourage those Facebook Check-Ins, too. Incentivize the check-in. Make sure your staff knows how to check-in, themselves, because people may want help. Help them. (How to check in via the Facebook App for iPhone/Android)

Again, when they check in, all of their friends will know about it. If they add a good review, that’s some of the best social proof you and your winery can get.

4. Summary

Creating a mini-campaign around a holiday or event can go a long way to driving additional sales, getting customers to come through your door, and increasing your email list.

Also, please note, that you don’t have to do everything suggested above. ¬†The goal was to illustrate and organize everything that is available to you.

That being said, the secret formula is this:  Create great deal >> Promote it >> generate leads.

Email Marketing Blueprint – When and How Often Should I Send Newsletters?

Often when we are brought in to help a new client we are tasked with getting their email marketing in order.

One of the first things we do is establish an editorial calendar to determine when and what content to send. ¬†Doing this helps the business stay organized and on-task. ¬†It also helps prevent the scramble to get a newsletter out 2 days before a big event is happening, which isn’t going to help anybody.

The goal, of course, is to create a regular and consistent email marketing campaign and this is what we like to see…

  • Monthly, general information, newsletter. ¬†This can have between 3 and 5 items and serves as the monthly “check in” with your list.
  • Spontaneous and tactical emails to promote events, deals, sales, etc.
  • Mini-campaign built around a specific event or deal.

Let me give you an example of a mini-campaign.

Pop Quiz! ¬†Let’s say that you are a winery and Valentine’s day is about two weeks away. ¬†What do you do?

Well, first, think about the way you plan your own Valentine’s day. ¬†Do you do it three days before or a few weeks in advance?

Most people are making their plans a few weeks in advance, so you need to get to them when they’re thinking about it, not after they’ve made their plans.

Next, ask yourself, “Who is my ideal customer and what does he/she want for Valentines day?” ¬†Put together a package/deal/event that will appeal to your customer.

For a winery, this is most likely going to be targeted to females, aged 35-55.

So, once you have a great deal or a two-for-one tasting, or some such promotion, what should your email send schedule look like?  Well, fair reader, you are in luck, because this is what we recommend:

  • Deal/Event announcement two weeks prior to the event.
  • Reminder about one week out.
  • Final reminder two or three days before.

Now, if you have that monthly “general info” newsletter going out, you can use it as the “two weeks before” email to announce the event/deal.

The big point is this, once you establish a monthly presence, you have the flexibility to spontaneously and/or strategically send to your entire list (or smaller segments) when something comes up or when you are promoting a mini-campaign.

Stick to this general blueprint and outline and you’ll find that your email marketing is actually driving sales and bringing customers through the door.

Web Marketing Hero Member’s Only Resource –> Download Editorial Calendar (PDF)

Our favorite mailing list service?  MailChimp