So, you own a winery? Congratulations!
I actually have a personal investment and love for our local wineries and I know just how hard they work to make them a success. From planting, to harvest, to bottle, it’s tons of sweat, money and love. A whole lotta love and you can’t be in the winery business and not have a deep love for what you do. A winery owner must be a farmer, a chemist, an accountant, a salesperson, a retail wiz and an online marketer. (Did I miss anything guys?)
Whew, it’s a lot. So while this article is not about how to grow a better crop or the perfect formula for an excellent bottle of red wine, I don’t profess to know much about either of those things. What I do know however is digital marketing and this one’s for you all my winemaker friends.
Step One: Have a Website
This is building block number one that all other marketing efforts will be built on. Having a website will build credibility for your winery and will help your business to rank on the major search engines (eg. Google, Bing). A website is also the official source of information about your brand and should be where you lead potential customers through all of your other marketing programs, be they email, social or even printed media.
While your site will likely have the basics in place, (eg. Home page, contact page) it is extremely important that you take special care and effort in building out pages for the following:
People want to see what you have before they make the trek out to your place.
About the Winemaker
They like to know the personal story of who’s making the wine.
History of the Winery
This is where you can really share just how much effort has gone into that glass of wine they are enjoying. People like to feel a human connection, and wine is a very personal product after all.
Awards, Accolades or Reviews
There is no shame in showing off a bit. Share the great things others have said about your wine, both professionally and personally.
You will also want to insure that your address and phone number are present on each page of your website and a link to your Google map is suggested as well.
Step Two: Be Active on Social Media
While your website will be your cornerstone, social media will be your podium to broadcast your brand throughout the Internet. Let’s run through the various social media channels and how a winery might use it:
For building a community and buzz around your brand nothing will work quite as well as Facebook. This social media platform is ideal for telling your unique story and building customer loyalty all while reaching an audience that is interested in your product. Facebook provides the opportunity to build a network of followers who can help to share your message to their friends as well.
To make this medium work best for your winery you will need to invest the time into it, because you only get out of it what you put into it. Yes, I know, time is of short supply for you, but you cannot afford not to. The return on investment for this will be worth it, I promise.
So, what would an effective Facebook strategy look like? While it will be different for each business there are some overall best practices that can apply to any winery looking to build their brand and increase their customer base.
Facebook Best Practices
Have a fully filled out Facebook page
Make sure you have all of your business information filled out and correct on your profile.
Post when people are more likely to be online and see it in their feed
The known standard times are 12pm, 3pm, and 7pm. But your experience may be different, so test and experiment to see what your optimal times might be. You can see this information right inside your Facebook Insights for your page.
Post original images
As often as you are able use real photos of things, people and scenery around your winery, it resonates better than stock photography and will get better engagement from your followers.
Include a call to action in posts
Don’t expect people to know just what it is you expect of them, just ask or tell them. Don’t be afraid to add a “Visit Us”, “Learn More”, “Buy Now” call to action at the end of a post if it makes sense.
Facebook Engaging Post Ideas
Share a Story
Allow people to feel connected to your brand by sharing personal stories centered around the winery. This is an easy win for wineries, because you have so many great moments to share.
Hint: Harvest from start to ferment stories are great! Let your customer follow along on your grape’s journey from vine to bottle.
Go Behind the Scenes
Share photos of a day in the life of a winemaker. These don’t always have to be primped and ready shots. Sometimes the in the moment and unplanned ones have a greater impact anyways. These are great for showing the human side of your brand and endears your customers to you even more.
Post Selfies… Well sort of
Selfies are great if your face IS the brand, but what if a bottle of wine is? Got you thinking didn’t I? Posting “selfies” of a bottle of your wine or a glass around your winery or even in places you wouldn’t expect. (Think Traveling Gnome) Could be quite fun and engaging for your followers. To take it a step further you could even get your followers in on it and make a game of it.
Maybe have a “Most Fun Wine Selfie Photo of the Month” contest, let followers vote (via likes), and the photo with the most likes wins a free wine tasting.
Ask Fans about Business Decisions
There is no better way to really let your customers feel invested in your business by letting them “help” make small business decisions. Now, we’re not talking about major life changing things, just small events that letting your customers feel involved in can be both fun and engaging.
“We’re launching a new Rosé and need ideas for what to call it”
“We need help deciding on which label we like best… vote in the comments”
“Heading to an awards banquet tonight, which boots should I wear?”
Post Questions & Fill-in-the-Blanks
Don’t have a post preplanned? Pooped from posting? Well, questions and fill-in-the-blanks are your answer. They are quick and easy types of posts that can still get engagement from your followers. As long as they aren’t overused this type of post can help to fill the gaps in your posting calendar quite nicely.
“What’s your favorite wine we make and why?”
“I always drink ______ with _________ .”
“What’s your most favorite memory of a visit to our winery?”
Share Inspiring Quotes or Fun Memes
This is also a great post filler, but people love them. Just try to find quotes or memes that are relevant to your industry and customer base. Try to keep them in good taste, and also always be sure to cite the source or person for the quote.
Now, I know most of you will have a smart phone handy, so no excuses. Next time you are hosting an event, harvesting, making wine, or whatever. If you think it’s a moment that’d be cool to share, video record it and share it. It’s fine if it’s short and sweet and it doesn’t need any fancy editing. If you have enough time to plan ahead try a live Facebook video feed, they are extremely effective.
Twitter is a bit of a different animal and is not always a good fit for all brands. It’s difficult to build a tangible community around this social channel due to the very nature of Twitter, there’s tons of noise on this channel and having your tweets seen is hard. Now, I did say hard but not impossible.
On Twitter you will not only want to post things that people will engage with (eg. Like, re-tweet) but also you will need to keep an ear out for when people are talking about and mentioning your brand so you can respond in a timely manner.
Overall I recommend that a small business with limited resources use Twitter as a brand awareness tool and an alternative channel to spread awareness. Luckily, with some minor edits you can repurpose your Facebook posts to fit the Twitter formatting, which will mean a little less work.
Channel: Pinterest & Instagram
Both of these channels are very visual, so unless you are willing to devote the time to taking and posting photos this might not be the fit for your bandwidth. That being said, these two channels aren’t a bad fit for wineries. Who doesn’t want to see pics of grapes on the vine or a beautiful sunset on a tasting room patio? I know I do. My advice, go ahead and set up these two channels for your brand and snap away. It couldn’t hurt and it just might help to spread the word about your wines.
Step Three: Send Email Newsletters & Updates
If you’re not collecting email opt-ins on your website go do it now! To have a captive and highly targeted audience at your fingertips is marketing gold. There are several email services out there (eg. Constant Contact, Vertical Response) that can help manage your mailing lists and send out your emails in bulk, and most aren’t too expensive.
At the very least a monthly touch with your mailing list is very important in this busy and attention distracted world we live in. Oh sure, your customers are loyal and love you, but they get busy living their day-to-day lives. Just a little nudge from you may be what the need to remind them that you’re there, have a beautiful tasting patio and a new release of Sangiovese that they simply must try.
Step Four: Paid Search
Investing in paid search does not mean you’re doing it wrong or have “given up”, but more that you know it’s competitive out there and are just giving your business that extra little push it needs to drive customers to your door. No shame in that, especially for a business that’s just starting out.
If you do opt to go the paid search route, whether Google AdWords or Facebook Advertising, please do your research. Too often I see business owners who just hand over their cash without understanding just what they are getting in return. Have distinct goals in mind for any paid search campaign you wish to launch and know what your conversion metrics are.
For example, let’s say you want to increase your newsletter signups:
Goal = Newsletter Signups
Conversion Metric = # of Newsletter Signup Completions
The other part of this is understanding just how much a newsletter signup is worth. Let’s say in a perfect world that one newsletter signup is with worth $10.00. Let’s say your monthly budget for the campaign is $100 and let’s say that you are on average spending $2.50 per click. Let’s say 40 people click on your ad and make it to your landing page. Now out of that 40 you get 4 people who sign up for your newsletter, that’s actually a 10% conversion rate, not bad. However, let’s see how the math works out:
$100.00 – $40.00 = $60.00
So… poof, there goes $60.00 into thin air.
For some businesses this is just the cost of doing business, for others this would take a rather large bite out of the marketing budget. Overall it really depends on just how much that customer is worth.
This is by no way meant to put you off of paid search, it can be done within tight budgets with a decent return on investment, as I said, do your research. If you can I’d highly recommend hiring or receiving consulting from a paid search expert so you don’t have to make costly mistakes early on. (Stepping off soapbox)
Online marketing for any business takes effort and consistency. Keeping your brand in front of your current customers and visible to potential customers is what will help to not only keep the lights on but to grow your business into all the dreams you have for it. Whether that be becoming the big corporate winery on the block or just being able to afford that new beautiful tasting room you’ve always wanted. It is my opinion that all wineries big or small can benefit from a professional online digital strategy.
If you need help or would like some guidance with your online marketing we’d be happy to help. Contact us for a free consultation today.
Passionate about digital marketing and helping small businesses succeed online, Shannon has over 15 years of online marketing experience. She loves sharing her knowledge with others to help them become better marketers.