Fuzzy Images? Let’s Fix That.


Have you checked your website or e-mails recently and noticed that some of your images – images that once looked beautiful and crisp – now look not so great?

Bottleshots look blurry? Logos look foggy? Photos look fuzzy? Those fancy graphics you’re paying for from the best graphic designers look, well, not-so-fancy?

Why is this happening? Because for years web designers have been “web optimizing” images at 72ppi (pixels per inch), because 72ppi was the magic spot where images looked good on screen and they would load quickly. However, now (thanks primarily to all thinks Apple), high definition screens and retina displays are becoming the norm, and most things 72ppi are looking fuzzy.

So, what’s a winery that cares about high quality graphics to do? Get a new website? Not if fuzziness is your only issue (although you will want to make sure your next designer designs with high resolution screens in mind). There is a temporary solution — and it’s one that we’ve been using for a number of our clients with older websites, and ALL of our clients using Mailchimp.

Here it is: Size images so they are twice as big as you need them. Then define them at the height and width you want them to appear.

For example, if the space you have for an image is 300px X 300px, make sure your image is 600px X 600px. Then, if you are designing with plain old HTML, you can define the size inside the image tags like this:


<img src="http://www.yourwebsite.com/images/your-image-at-twice-the-size.jpg" width="300px" height="300px">

Even if you are working with a content management system (CMS), you can almost always add height and weight to the image tags that are generated – just make sure when you enter the height and width of your image, you enter the size you want (which will be half the size of the images you have).

Working with Mailchimp? In your image blocks, go to settings, and simply check “Constrain image dimensions by 50% for high-definition displays”. Don’t worry if you get a warning that your image is too big. As long as the size of your file isn’t too big (I try to keep images less thank 150k, but 500k is fine), your images will be delivered.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 3.07.53 PM

This technique works for bottle shots, photos, graphics, logos – everything – as long as you have the bottle shots, photos, graphics, and logos at twice the size you need them. If you don’t have images twice the size that you need them, simply ask. Often times graphic designers and photographers have your original files – simply ask for them at 72ppi, at twice the size.

The #1 Reason Your Winery Doesn’t Want a Squarespace Website

As web designers, we are big fans of Squarespace. Their clean designs and super easy to build system makes it so we can pump out websites quickly and charge our clients less money. Win – win, right? Well, not necessarily.

IF you are like most of our clients you are a winery, and, if you are a winery, there is A HUGE reason why you don’t want a Squarespace site (and why you don’t see many wineries using Squarespace). Ready for it? OK. Here it is…

You can’t sell wine through your Squarespace site.

See, Squarespace eCommerce option uses Stripe to run any and all credit card transactions, and Stripe doesn’t allow for alcohol sales, as it doesn’t allow for sales of “age restricted goods or services”.

We contacted Stripe last year regarding their alcohol policy (we always check with new platforms when wanting to sell wine online), and they confirmed by stating:

If you were looking to sell wine online, we wouldn’t be able to provide our service, as our financial partners impose some fairly strict limitations on the type of businesses we can work with, and alcohol sales are on the list of excluded businesses.

To be clear, this is not because there’s a problem with your business. A few bad actors in the sector can unfortunately result in our financial partners being unwilling to accept the risk of providing credit services to this category of business.

I’m sorry we can’t do better for you, and wish you great success!

Now, we have seen a few Squarespace wine stores pop up recently, despite the fact that the policy remains the same. We have concerns about what happens to these wineries when/if Stripe becomes aware of the transactions. Maybe nothing will happen – but we don’t want our clients to be the ones who find out.

For now, we will continue to advise our clients to stay away from Squarespace’s eCommerce option until the rules change. If they are stuck on Squarespace (which is fine, they are pretty sites), linking to an external store, or adding an order form to the site will have to do the job…for now.

Facebook Makes Another Big Change (and Why You Shouldn’t Care)

grumpy

Remember, just a year ago, when you were supposed to post photos to get the best organic reach on Facebook? Well, surprise, those days are gone.

According to Socialbakers (courtesy of Marketing Land), photo posts now drive the LOWEST organic reach, below text-only and link posts, and well below Facebook’s new darling — videos.

Generally, we are seeing this trend being reflected on the accounts of our clients. Videos are getting crazy views, whereas photos have to be pretty darn impressive to gain some traction.

And, of course, Facebook weighs the video heavily now because they are trying to get into the video game. And they pulled back on photos because word got out that photos were the best way to reach people, so page admins started using photos as link bait, thus ruining the fun for the rest of us.

Want to know more about Facebook Video? Check out our Webinar here:
Lunabean Wine Webinar: Facebook 2015 – 2 Changes You Need to Know

So, what’s a legitimate page admin to do? More videos? Sure. Facebook doesn’t care if your video was produced for thousands of dollars, or by your smartyphone, so throw Facebook a bone and post an occasional video. But don’t get worked up over it — because, soon, the link baiters of the world will ruin videos, too. Which is why you go with the Lunabean Media solution for all things interwebs.

The Lunabean Media solution for all things interwebs

Are you ready for it? It’s not much of a secret. In fact, Matthew Broderick figured it out back in 1983: “The only winning move is not to play”.

falken

We learned this one in the early 00s, when everyone was trying to get higher Google rankings with the latest SEO tips and tricks. Invisible text, keyword overload, link naming, inbound linking, etc. Some tricks legitimately helped. Some would get you punished by Google. So, we just stopped playing, and we simply made sure that our website did what we said it did. We offered video game strategy guides.

Suddenly, our Google rankings jumped. Our guides were above those of IGN and Gamespot (huge corporate sites for those who aren’t familiar with the gaming world).

We found great success with this method, and it continues to be our strategy for all things social media.

Stop sweating it, and post what is easy and makes you happy. If you like taking photos, then take photos. Don’t let some silly stat about organic reach, something that didn’t even exist three years ago, tell you how to communicate with your customers. Don’t get worked up over your ratio of promotional posts to non-promotional posts. Be smart, but don’t get caught up in the game of getting more views, because you will, ultimately, lose.

Go about your businesses sharing what you love about your winery. Then, when you want to post something you REALLY want your fans to see – a promotion, an event, a sale, an announcement – spend $20 bucks and advertise (not boost) the post.

Have a problem with Facebook ads? Get over it. They work. They are effective. They save you time and energy of trying to game the system. And, think about it, if you could spend just $20 to advertise your promotion in print, you’d do it. Facebook is arguably more effective.

So, there you have it. Know the trends, but don’t obsess over them. Use Facebook’s affordable and effective advertising to get the word out about your promotions, and you’ll be happier and more successful than anyone who is trying to game this ever changing system that is Facebook.

Now, how about a nice game of chess?

Chatbooks: Our Favorite App for Wineries (and Families) of 2014

My girlsAs a mother of two young girls, I use my personal Instagram account to record and share photos of my girls growing up. Some of these photos get printed and framed, but most of them rest quietly, deep inside the servers of Instagram, just hoping to be revisited some day.

But revisiting them online just doesn’t have the same appeal as pulling out family albums, sitting on my living room floor, and looking at actual photos — which is what led me to our favorite family app of 2014, and, ultimately, our favorite winery app of 2014.

The app is called Chatbooks. Using Chatbooks you can select 60 of your favorite Instagram photos to create a 6″ x 6″ bound book of those photos to be mailed to you. The cost? $6/book. Shipping is FREE. Which is why we now have shelves that looks like this:

Chatbooks

Chatbooks are awesome. I look through them. The kids look through them. Guests look through them. All of those photos, all of those memories and all of that work, seemingly plucked out of the Internet, and placed in my home. They are easily my favorite discovery of 2014.

Which is why Jeremy and I started thinking of ways that we could use these Chatbooks for our Instagram-loving winery clients. Here’s what we came up with:

  • Wine Club Gifts
  • Tasting Room Displays
  • Gift Pack/Case Purchase Add Ons
  • Invitations to Special VIP Events (cover photo is the invite)
  • Thank You Gifts (thanks for attending winemakers dinner – here are photos of the event)
  • Event Gifts
  • Contest Prizes

And, of course, you can order several and sell them in your tasting room. Really, the possibilities are limitless.

In 2014 we strongly suggested focusing on Instagram, as it is such a great promotional tool for wineries. We are thrilled to end the year by sharing with you this little gem of an app – payoff for all of your hard work.

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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How Google is Punishing (or Rewarding) Your Winery

Have you done any Google searches on your mobile-device lately? Chances are, the answer is yes, which means you’ve seen the new “Mobile-friendly” designation next to mobile-friendly websites:

Google Winery

The implications of this new search engine designation is somewhat obvious for wineries. More and more people are using their mobile-devices to visit winery websites (we see a 33% mobile visitor average among our client websites — that percentage jumps to 50%+ via local searches, meaning visitors to the area are using mobile devices more frequently when deciding where to go and what wines to purchase). Wineries that are designated “Mobile-friendly” are going to get more hits, and therefore, more visitors (and buyers) than those left undesignated.

Worse yet (for the non-mobile crowd), there is now speculation that Google will soon start lowering the pagerank of non-mobile-friendly websites.

Ugh.

Dare to see if your website is one that Google deems to be Mobile-friendly? Use their tool here: Google Mobile-Friendly Test.

Even if you think your website is mobile-friendly, plug in your website to make sure. Here are the results from a new client who said their web designer told them their website was mobile-friendly:

(Tip: Just because your website comes up on an iPhone doesn’t mean it’s mobile-friendly.)

So, what’s a non-mobile friendly winery to do?

It should be no surprise that our suggestion would be a new website. After all, websites can be surprisingly affordable and easier to build than they were just a few years ago (we are always happy to provide you with a free quote). Further, with this new Google information, it’s becoming clear that those without mobile-friendly websites will soon take a search engine hit.

HOWEVER, we also know that, no matter how affordable a new website might be, it might not be in your 2015 budget.  

So a lower cost solution might be to have your web designer implement those tips Google provides when your run your site through its Mobile-Friendly test.  Then they should use Google's  step-by-step instructions to convert your current site into something that is more mobile-friendly. Please note, these instructions won’t work for all websites, but they will work for some, albeit as a Band-Aid solution.

No matter your path – a new website or fixing what you have – we strongly suggest a mobile-friendly solution be a priority for your winery in 2015. If it’s not, you may suffer consequences beyond anything we’ve seen before.

Why Your Winery Can Stop Worrying About SEO

SEO for WineYou work at a winery, which means you have people promoting their SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) services to you a half-dozen times per month — if not more.

They promise higher search engine rankings, more visits to your winery’s website, and increased online sales.

They cite stats like “x% of online wine sales originate from search engines” (misleading), or that your winery isn’t appearing when using very specific search terms. And, of course, they promise their services will help boost online sales.

While there are a very small handful of SEO and SEM experts who can truly help boost your winery’s online sales, I am here to tell you that most wineries don’t need the SEO experts and most wineries need to beware of the SEM experts.

Let me explain why. First, let’s start with SEO.

Why Your Winery Doesn’t Need a SEO Expert

wine-seo-expertFirst and foremost, SEO is different than it was just a few years ago. Not only is it personalized (Google search results are dependent on your own personal search history, the websites you visit, your location, the device you’re using, and even your social media connections), but SEO is now bigger than just SEO.

In fact, SEO is about so much more than SEO that SEOmoz.com, the authority on SEO for many years, recently dropped the “SEO” from its name and is now just “Moz.com”. Their excuse? SEO is no longer just about keyword manipulation, smart urls, and meta tags — it’s about all inbound marketing (social media, e-mail, unique quality content, etc.).

This boils down to the fact that boosting your winery’s SEO is a big job — a job most wineries have neither the time, nor the marketing budget to take on.

Of course, the good news is that your winery doesn’t need to worry about SEO like it did years ago. Search engines are smarter. They can identify a brand and will put it above all other results (retailers, bloggers, etc.). They correct misspellings. They use location. If someone is looking for it, your winery will be found.

And THAT is who is important: The people who are already seeking out your brand. SEO for wineries isn’t about creating a one off sale to someone who happened to stumble onto that site (which is what most experts promote). It’s about creating wine club members from those who already know your brand.

And that is not accomplished by hiring a SEO expert to put their bag of tricks to work boosting your winery’s SEO. It’s about cleaning up website descriptions so you can seal the deal. It’s about making sure your information on Google is correct. It’s about showing off (and collecting) reviews. It’s about getting people into your tasting room, and grabbing their e-mail address when they are there. It’s about showing off ratings. It’s about making them choose your winery.

All of these things you can do without hiring a SEO expert — you just have to know some basics that can be implemented by you. And, it just so happens, we have an upcoming webinar that will teach you these basics (FREE for LMO for Wineries subscribers). No expert necessary.

Wine Webinar

Click Here to Sign Up for SEO and SEM for Wineries Webinar

And, please note, we aren’t here to trash SEO experts. In fact, we like to believe we have a certain degree of expertise in the field. We just don’t think there’s much room for them when it comes to known brands.

Beware of SEM experts

We also love Search Engine Marketing (SEM). In fact, our upcoming webinar will also touch on some of some of our favorite SEM techniques. HOWEVER, we strongly urge you to be aware of Search Engine Marketers in the wine industry. Here’s why: Because of everything you just read above.

Your winery’s own SEO will put it at the top of nearly every organic search result for your winery. So, why pay a SEM expert to buy Google Ads that will only be placed above your own organic search results? They steal your own search results, then brag about the success of their Google Ad techniques. Worse yet, some of you are paying them a commission of sales generated from that link — a link they would have clicked anyway (trust me, we have seen this happen).

If you want a solid SEM expert, tell them you won’t pay for any ads that use your winery’s name (or basic variations thereof) in the keywords, because you are already grabbing top ranking for those searches on your own. If the SEM expert runs for the hills, you’re better off. If they don’t, you might actually have a true SEM expert on your hands. And that person is worth every penny.

Your Winery Brand Assets. Smarter. (Trade Locker FAQs)

Winery Brand Assets.  Smart + Simple.

We have received some GREAT questions regarding Trade Locker, the Smart + Simple brand asset hosting and management system we launched just a couple of months ago.  Because so many have asked, we have put together a quick FAQ for quick reference.  You will find the great questions (and our answers) below.

Q.  We already have a trade page.  What makes Trade Locker different?

A.  Thank you for asking, and SO MANY THINGS!  Quickly, those things are:

  • You are notified any time someone downloads an asset, giving you an opportunity to connect with those selling your product.
  • Trade reps or retailers can create their own unique brand portfolios, which can be instantly downloaded, e-mailed, saved, and/or sent to potential customers.
  • We can create custom kits (bundled assets) that can be¬†downloaded and/or e-mailed with the click of one button — perfect for trade events.
  • It’s EASY to use.
  • It’s mobile-friendly (so important for trade)
  • We host,¬†maintain, and update everything.
  • You are part of a network of some of Oregon’s finest wineries, and, because of that, you will¬†enjoy an SEO boost and promotion by Lunabean Media.

 

Q.  We are quite small and only have a few distributors. Why do I need Trade Locker?

A.  Even if a winery only has a few distributors, the benefits and low cost of Trade Locker makes it worth being on the network. If one sell sheet, logo, or shelf talker getting into the hands of Trade helps sell one or two bottles of wine, the winery has covered their cost for the month.

Also, often small wineries don’t have the staff or know how to add and maintain their brand assets. That’s where we come in, getting their assets out to the world and making it painless for wineries.

Finally, being on the network puts that small winery on the same playing field as some of the biggest and most prominent producers.
 

 

Q.  Can you password protect our Trade Locker page?

A.  Absolutely.
 

Q.  Can you make brand assets for us?

A. Absolutely.  We make tech sheets, shelf talkers, sell sheets, and case cards at an extremely affordable rate.  If you want bottle shots, we have a fantastic photographer lined up who is giving us their lowest price for such photos.
 

Q.  Do I have to be notified every time someone downloads an asset?

A. ¬†We love this feature (as do our current customers) BUT, if you don’t want the e-mails, you don’t have to have them. ¬†If you want, we can e-mail you a monthly report of who has downloaded what assets, instead. ¬†Or, you can just be happy not knowing. Your call.
 

Q.  Do people have to create an account to get my downloads off Trade Locker?

A.  No.  Creating an account is optional and clearly marked as such.  Accounts are for those who want to save the brand portfolios they have created, so they can come back at any time and grab them.
 

Q.  Tell me more about the bundled assets/kits.

A. ¬†Love to. ¬†Bundled assets are simply assets that you want packaged together (typically it’s the winery’s one-sheet and select tasting notes). ¬†So, if you’re at a trade event, or Oregon Pinot Camp, and you meet a rep that is showing interest in your brand, you can simply go to your Trade Locker (on your mobile device, as it’s mobile-friendly), tap on that bundle, and e-mail it to the rep. ¬†One click. ¬†Or, you can simply tell them you are on Trade Locker, and they can easily grab your kit at their convenience.

It’s also a great way to get info to bloggers, retailers, and new leads.
 

Q.  Can I use Trade Locker in our Tasting Room?

A. Absolutely.  You can use it as you want. We love the Tasting Room idea, brought to us by a client, who has their Trade Locker open on an iPad.  Visitors e-mail themselves tasting sheets of wines they like or have purchased.
 

Q.  I notice some changes in design since you first launched.  Why is this?

A. ¬†Thank you for noticing. ¬†We LOVE feedback. ¬†Our soft launch revealed that many loved what we were offering, but some said the look felt cluttered. ¬†They wanted less scrolling. ¬†So, we took some time to redesign it. ¬†I think you’ll like what we came up with.

 

Q.  How does it integrate with our website?

A.  Trade Locker is actually separate from your website.  We recommend linking to your Trade Locker page from your Trade page.  Your Trade Locker page will include a link to go back to your website.

 

Q.  Can we customize our Trade Locker page?

A.  We know each winery has its own unique trade needs, so we are happy to include whatever you want to make it easier for retailers, distributors, and reps to sell your wine.

As for design, there are some customization options (background image unique to your brand, button colors, etc.), but, generally, we designed it with ease and usability in mind, so customizations are limited.
 

Q.  How will being on Trade Locker improve SEO?

A. ¬†All websites we build have strong SEO. ¬†That’s just how we have built them for the past 15 years. ¬†Your page on Trade Locker will also have strong SEO — AND it will link to your winery’s website. ¬†Search engines love this.

Further, wineries on the Trade Locker network enjoy promotion on our various ad networks and social media networks, thus improving your SEO even more.
 

Q.  How much is it?

A.  Only $29/month.  Free set up fee for 20 assets.  A small one-time set up fee for assets greater than 20.
 

Q.  What about updates?

A.  You get 5 FREE updates per month.  Additional updates are an affordable $4/per.
 

Q.  How much time is required of me?

A. ¬†Almost none! ¬†If you already have your trade assets up, we’ll simply grab them from your website. ¬†Otherwise, we will set up a Dropbox for you. ¬†Load into the folder what assets you want, and we’ll take care of the rest.

Once we have all assets, your Trade Locker will be complete within one week.
 

Q.  How do I sign up?

Easy! Click the link below and fill out the form.

Sign up for Trade Locker

Questions? Reply to this e-mail or give us a call today. 503-941-0660
Click here to see¬†the Brooks Trade Locker. ¬†Notice it’s EVERYTHING a retailer, rep, or distributor would need to sell your wine.

As always, we thank you for your time, and the opportunity.

Best,
Allison and Jeremy Schubert
Lunabean Media
Trade Locker

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.

 

The Myth of ‘Above the Fold’ in Web Design

Oddly enough, we have had three clients this week ask us about “above the fold” when it comes to web design.

Their concern is that visitors to their websites (designed by various design firms — including ours) are missing important information because those visitors have to scroll to see it.

While “above the fold” is a valid (and popular) concern when it comes to web design (the stats are shocking), it’s one that is often misunderstood and can lead to outdated websites that are difficult to use.

So, let us clear this up for you, once and for all — as the success of your winery’s website may depend on it.

 

First, what is “Above the Fold”?

newspaper_website_similar

“Above the fold” is a term that originated with newspapers. It’s the top-half of the front page that is “above the fold” of the paper. It’s the portion of the paper that editors believe sell a newspaper (or sold a newspaper, as times are changing for the newspaper industry, too).

When it comes to web design, “Above the fold” refers to the portion of the web page that a visitor can see when they first arrive at that web page, without needing to scroll down. Got it? Good. Now, let’s talk confusion…

 

The Misleading Factor: The Statistics

The reason why “above the fold” gets so much attention is because a report came out a few years ago telling us 80% of users spend their time above the fold, and only 20% go below the fold.

A pretty good argument for keeping everything above the fold, right? You can see why it’s gone mainstream, right? Unfortunately, those numbers are misleading.
 

The confusion

The stats above, while accurate, speak of usage, rather than design. Further, it treats all websites (and pages) alike. Confused? I understand. Let me explain.

Think about how you most often use then web. When you visit a website (excluding your Facebook, Twitter, or social sites), you are often going there with a purpose. There is something that you want. That thing could be a product, or it could be information — but you have a goal in mind. So, when you get to a website, the first thing you most often look for is the menu or the search box, so you can quickly get to the product or information you want.

And this is how most people use the non-social web (which, btw, these stats refer to, as the study was released 5 years ago).

And, since 99.9% of web menus and search boxes are “above the fold”, that registers as a non-scrolling use of a website — which is why the stats are so heavily skewed to “above the fold” usage.

But what happens when people get to the page they were looking for? They scroll. They scroll like crazy.

In fact, they are so comfortable scrolling, most people do it without even thinking about it — which is why Apple felt comfortable enough to remove the scrollbar from Mac OS X — and is why the most popular websites (Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest, Amazon, Huffington Post, blogs and news sites) embrace the scroll. People scroll when they are on pages they want to be on.
 

Is “Above the Fold” important?

Absolutely — on your home page and landing pages. First and foremost, you need to be able to show the user what you are about in this space. You are a winery. Is that clear? You’d be surprised how many times we go to a winery site and don’t know they are selling wine.

Second, you want those people who are on your website for a purpose to see your most important thing (an event, a sale, an award) before they click away to their intended page. You probably won’t get them all, but you’ll get some.

Third, navigation and search (if you have it), need to be at the top.

Finally, we like contact information at the top. This can be substituted by a clear “Contact” button in the menu.

And that’s it. Anything more is clutter. Anything more actually discourages scrolling. Anything more makes your website hostile to the world of mobile devices.

When it comes to sub-pages, again, clarity is key. People need to know what page they are on. But, once that is made clear, don’t be afraid to have important information below the fold (although, the most important information should remain near the top). People will scroll to find what they are looking for. In fact, they much prefer the scroll to sub-pagination or too much content shoved up in a tiny space.

As an example, let’s check out Amazon today.

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First, notice a strong “above the fold” design on the home page. Clearly they have things they want to promote. Mother’s Day. Shoes (btw, they know I was just searching for shoes at Nordstrom, so they put shoes in front of me on Amazon — tricky, no?). Apparently they know I love Pringles (yup!). And they are pushing their Amazon Fire TV.

I guarantee 80% of the clicks are definitely “above the fold”. Either searches, menu links, or one of the highlighted promotions. I clicked on the page for the Amazon Fire TV. And look at that…

The important information is at the top. The Amazon we have known for years. Product left. Information in the middle. Buy button in the upper right. But, gosh, this is a big purchase and it’s so interesting…I’m going to scroll, and scroll, and scroll, and scroll, and scroll.

Notice, they aren’t making me click around to several sub-pages, each one telling me one small thing about the Amazon Fire TV. Nope, they’re putting it all on one long page. Because, Amazon.com, the site that puts more money into studying usage than just about any other online company, knows that people, when they want information, scroll. And they scroll a lot.

 

In Summary

“Above the fold” has its place in web design, but it’s not the holy grail of web design. This is particularly true for sub-pages of your website.

What’s more, websites that are designed with “above the fold” as their mantra are, not only, uncomfortable for the user, but they discourage scrolling (so things that fall below the scroll are more often missed), and they will soon be outdated.

On average, thirty percent of those who are accessing the websites we manage are doing so on a mobile device. Within the next few years, more people will be accessing websites on mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, and things we don’t even know about yet), than they will their computer. Meaning “above the fold” is a goner, because “the fold” changes depending on these devices.

More important than the fold is good web design and a designer who is forward thinking — and who knows that statistics are often misleading.